Roundtable meeting with Steve Poizner, Republican candidate for governor

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Tonight I attended a 90 minute “Steve Poizner for governor Roundtable With Orange County Elected Officials.” This meet and greet event was held at the Orange County Association of Realtors HQ on La Paz Road in Laguna Hills.

Some of those whom I recognized or spoke to tonight included Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, OC Supervisor Pat Bates, former OCGOP Chairman Tom Fuentes and Susan and Mike Schroeder. In addition there were around 40 city council members, most of whom I recognize as being from south Orange County. Blogger Jon Fleischman of the Flash Report was also present.

After a brief time for fellowship, Gary Macrides, 2010 President, OC Association of Realtors, welcomed the city council members than turned the event over to Assembly Member Diane Harkey.

In her remarks Diane told the audience that in looking for a governor to support “we don’t want a novice.” She also said that a governor “needs to build a loyalty” while pointing out that Arnold means well but he “doesn’t understand how to count to three” ( a comment that every city council person understood). Diane also pointed out that “you need to walk the halls” something that has been lacking with governor Schwarzenegger.
 Diane has endorsed Steve Poizner for governor.

Following Diane to the microphone was my 5th District Supervisor Pat Bates who also endorsed Mr. Poizner.

Pat said that “before I endorse  (the next governor she studied his proposals” and “reviewed his record of accomplishments.”

She then proceeded to provide some of Insurance Commissioner Poizner’s successful business background including his “taking a year out of his life to teach in  inner city schools.’

Pat said that Steve “supports Charter schools” and that he “understands what it takes to build an economy.”
She went on stating that “we have the highest sales tax in America.”

Pat gave us a preview of Steve’s “10-10-10 plan” that I will cover based on the candidates remarks. She than introduced Mr. Poizner who thanked the council members for giving up watching the BCS championship game between Texas and Alabama. In fact Steve pointed out that he graduated from the University of Texas.

And now for some of the candidates one liners followed by attendee questions:

  • We must yank power out of Sacramento
  • We won’t be pilfering local funds from the county to pay the state’s obligations
  • I believe in the “free market”I want CA to be the capitol of innovation again
  • CA has been a magnet for innovators for over 100 years with one wave after another  creating jobs in the military, high tech and nanotechnology
  • Steve pointed out that “3,000 people leave CA every week”
  • We need to transform our tax system.
  • He proceeded to tell us that he “has a plan–it’s  comprehensive–it’s bold”
  • Steve said that our statewide spending will go up $12 billion dollars, a 14% increase

“We need to freeze government”

  1. no hiring
  2. stop spending more
  3. stop borrowing (followed by a comment that we have $15 billion in new debt that has yet to be issued)

His 10-10-10 plan is as follows:

1. Ten percent tax cuts (including 50% cut in Capital Gains)
Steve said that “raising taxes has been a disaster. ”
We have “got to make the tax cuts permanent”
If we “reduce tax rates we will be more competitive”

2. Cut spending by 10 percent.
A large part of our budget is devoted to “welfare programs.”
Steve points out that OC has “12 percent of the state population with 30% of the welfare cases.” He suggests cutting the benefits from five years to two years and that we enforce the work rules. We should not be a magnet.
Steve feels he can save $10 billion dollars with this approach

3. Create a rainy day fund.
Have an iron clad spending cap in our Constitution.
“We are bankrupt as a state” and have “the lowest credit rating  in America”

Steve went on to share his core beliefs listing “personal responsibility, smaller accountable government” and that he is “passionate about free markets.”
He closed his presentation by saying that “all of our problems are man made.”

The first audience question was from Laguna Niguel councilman Paul Glaab.  “There has been a report of a 50-50 % chance CA will default on (our) Bonds.”

Steve responded saying that “we need to keep our debt service below 6%. We have a $1.6 trillion dollar economy. We need to target cuts, not across the board cuts, and bring jobs back.”

Marcia Rudolph of the Lake Forest city council had two questions. Her first relating to our current water crisis and the second regarding his position on a “part time” legislature.

Steve tackled the 2nd question pointing out that “he is a strong proponent of the concept” pointing out that “there are 40 states including Texas” that have a part time legislature.

After saying “it’s not a silver bullet” Steve acknowledged that “a lot of Bills are nonsense” –adding that we should “focus on issues that really matter.”

In responding to Marsha’s question regarding the water crisis Steve said that in our central valley we have endured “$1 billion in crop damage” and that “tens of thousands of farm workers have been cut.” This current “crisis is man made” and a single Federal Judge is blocking the resolution.

One of his strongest emotional replies was his comment that “If I were governor now I would sue the Federal Judge.” He went on to say that Nancy Pelosi is keeping Congress from voting on relief.

The next attendee question was about pensions. Steve responded that we have “$100 billion in unfunded liabilities” that is not accounted for properly. “We have to start with new forms of pensions moving forward.”

The next council person asked Steve “How can you implement your plan with the current Democratic Legislature?”

Steve responded mentioning his support of the new Paycheck Protection initiative and that “using the government system to collect money is wrong.”

He recognized that “no one can parachute in(to) California and solve the problem.”
Steve said “we need leaders who will tell the truth, leaders to offer solutions.”

At this point Assembly Member Harkey pointed out that the problem with the (current) governor is that “when he doesn’t have the votes he will pull back” followed by a valid comment that “Republicans don’t trust him.”

Based on his remarks about our deficit and debt service I asked him for his opinion on the CHSRA High Speed bullet train especially in light of the fact that we have neglected our transportation infrastructure. Steve said he is a frequent flyer on Southwest Airlines and that all factors considered “he opposes the project.”

Steve closed by pointing out his accomplishments as CEO of Snap Track (a high tech firm that added GPS receivers into cell phones which he sold to Qualcomm for $one billion dollars) followed by his current term as our Insurance Commissioner for the past three years.

He proudly pointed out his cutting 15 percent of his department budget. Steve who inherited a $5 billion deficit with 1300 staff, and with their cooperation, now has a surplus while reducing and eliminating unnecessary operations so that they are now getting the job done with 1100. And while the cuts were taking place he added resources in their Fraud Unit.

When asked about one of his competitors who is spending millions of dollars, Steve said he has $18 million in cash in the campaign and is currently raising money. He also pointed out that his campaign is supported by a staff of 25 full time employees some of which were there tonight.

Note: Although we each received a handout entitled “The Poizner Budget Plan: Closing The Gap Today & Protecting Our State for Tomorrow” this post is based on the exchanges reported above.

About Larry Gilbert