OC Senator Fail: Harman and Correa get rightly vetoed; RDA-loving Repug Bob Huff wins coveted award from liberal League of California Cities


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“But… but… we got a majority of our colleagues to go along with this thing!” protest the lawmakers.  “Do you know how much work, how much arm-twisting, how much horse-trading, how much compromise that entailed?”

And Governor Brown sternly responds, “Even though we have more laws than we need, many more laws than we need, we keep getting more.   Every year, on average about 1,000 new laws are enacted and most of the laws are solutions to the same problems.  I want you to think about that for a second, because it means that no matter how many solutions are provided every year, we have the same number of problems.

And then he busts out his trusty but invisible Veto Pen.  The OC angle, this week:  two of our illustrious Senators got their unnecessary “solutions” dissolved: Tom Harman and Lou Correa.

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Remember how Harman (R, Huntington Beach) was one of those five supposedly reasonable Republican senators that met endlessly, repeatedly, with the Governor earlier this year, supposedly to work out a deal where they’d consider voting TO ALLOW US CITIZENS TO VOTE on whether or not we’d like to extend our current tax level a few more years to avoid an all-cuts budget?

And even the fact that they’d sit down at a table with the Democratic Governor earned them their heads on sticks with John and Ken, but they knew what they were doing – simply wasting everybody’s time, never intending to compromise, eventually coming up with a ridiculous ransom list of 50+ demands, until it was too late and we were all stuck with the all-cuts budget.

Which, among many other things, necessitated the closing of seventy state parks, beaches and historic sites by next July.

Then Harman comes strolling back again toting his new SB 386, which would require officials to post notices about these closures and “respond to all inquiries from groups interested in running” these closed parks and beaches.

“A good idea, but not one that requires a law,” grumbled Governor Jerry as he slathered paté on Harman’s bill and fed it to his Welsh corgi Sutter.  “What the parks do need is sufficient funding to stay open,” he continued snarkily, “something I feel compelled to note the author and his colleagues refused to let the people vote on.

Ooh, they hate that when that happens!   Harman sulked on his website, and to anybody who would listen, “I had hoped the Governor was interested in looking for new ways to keep our parks open without further burdening the state’s finances.  But instead he chose to make a political statement.  This is pretty disappointing.”

Then he crawled into bed and lay there with a pillow over his face for a while.  And then, just when everybody thought he was asleep, he suddenly burst out, “From the get go I have been concerned that the parks closure list was more of a political football than a real funding issue. Sometimes it is disappointing to be right – this is one of those times.”

No, Tom, you are not right.  The parks closure list IS a real funding issue, and we need real leaders up there to help keep them open.

Meanwhile on the Medicinal Marijuana Dispensary Front…

The medical community, settled California law, and Californian public opinion are all in agreement:  cannabis can be a useful and necessary medical treatment, and Californian communities should have dispensaries in handy locations where the cancer and glaucoma patients who need them can get to them.  Yet many communities – particularly here in the OC – have a prudish, Not-In-My-Back-Yard attitude to dispensaries, and have been pushing them farther and farther into the sticks when they’re not harassing the owners.

Thank God, here comes our own Senator Lou Correa (D-Anaheim) to address the problem.  Oh.  Wait.  Never mind.  Lou wants to make it even more difficult, with his SB 847 requiring that dispensaries be 600 feet – that’s TWO FOOTBALL FIELDS – away from any residence, even further diminishing the territories these important services can operate in.

Governor Brown, who is not a fan of marijuana legalization, but does believe both in settled law and in maximum local control, responded as he fed Correa’s bill through the shredder and handed the scraps to Anne Gust to bake into a batch of brownies, “I’ve already signed AB 1300 that gave cities and counties authority to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries – an authority I believe they already had.”  Licking some of the chocolate batter off his finger, he continued, “This bill goes in the opposite direction by pre-empting local control and prescribing the precise locations where dispensaries may NOT be located.  Decisions of this kind are best made in cities and counties, not the State Capitol.

Not one to take this sort of treatment lying down, our Lou reached over, switched off the stereo, leapt atop the pool table, and announced, “This was NOT an anti-pot bill!”  As all the guests stopped their conversations and turned their attention toward the passionate bald Hispanic glowering down at them, he continued, “This bill would have STOPPED the dispensary fights from happening!  I’m STILL trying to figure this Brown guy out.”

We all looked at each other.  Huh?  All the marijuana organizations are declaring victory and celebrating Brown’s veto, but this fellow insists his bill, with its 600-foot limit, was intended as a win-win for both sides.  How does that work?

Correa repeated in an insistent tone, “This bills STOPS fights from happening!  EVERYBODY was with it – and the governor VETOED it!“  A tear shone in his left eye, and he jumped off the table and bolted out the front door, slamming it behind him.

Really?  What was in this bill for pro-dispensaries, pro-medical marijuana people, for the patients and their suppliers?  My head hurts now.  What a guy, what a politician.

The door flew open again and Lou popped his head in and spat out his final words“He botched it!  And he knows it!” Then he slammed the door again, for the last time that night.

North OC’s Bob Huff, Legislator of the Year!

Meanwhile, fresh off his Rectal Valium High (by which I mean his great, heady success in getting his SB 161 allowing school volunteers to administer rectal valium to epileptic schoolkids onto the Governor’s desk, where it prays to not meet the same fate as the two bills described above) Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) has spectacular news – he has just been named Legislator of the Year!

And who exactly has named Bob Huff Legislator of the Year?  Why, naturally, the very “liberal” (as in tax-and-spend) League of California Cities, that’s who!  Gushing over the Republican Caucus Chairman, the League wants us to know that they don’t give out this award every year, but “only in years when the League determines that there is a legislator deserving of the honor.”

Wait a second, why would this liberal, big-spending group find a Republican Senator so deserving of such a rare honor?  Well, their statement makes it clear that it’s ALL about Huff’s “efforts to protect local redevelopment agencies (RDA’s.)” As the League’s chairman raved, “Given his knowledge and experience with redevelopment Senator Huff quickly was referred to by his Republican colleagues as the ‘quarterback on redevelopment’ and as you know, every team needs a quarterback. He is definitely a top pick for League in the battle of redevelopment.”  And Senator Huff sure is proud of this award – beaming from ear to ear, he sent out a press release boasting that “this recognition is a tremendous honor.”

Conservative pundit and OJ friend Steve Greenhut is every shade of livid:

Sen. Bob Huff, the Diamond Bar Republican who led the charge to save the state’s debt-laden, eminent-domain-abusing urban renewal agencies (redevelopment), was named the League of California Cities’ Legislator of the Year. Huff’s wife, by the way, is a well-paid consultant for one of the biggest redevelopers in the state, which was something of a scandal as Huff tried to save these big-government agencies. The League is one of the state’s most influential liberal lobbying groups, an organization that promotes more government spending, higher taxes, reduced restrictions on debt and expanded use of eminent domain and regulatory takings. If you wonder why Republicans never limit government, this might offer you a clue. But Huff is proud of the honor.

A word on RDA’s (longtime Orange Juice readers can probably skip the next two paragraphs.)  Created 60 years ago by California’s voters and legislature to end urban blight in the state, they took $6 billion a year of our tax dollars – necessarily draining money out of education and public safety – to subsidize private development. As Assemblyman Chris Norby explained last year, “It was a temporary fix to a temporary problem.  It was never intended to be a permanent drain on the budget.”

For a time RDA’s were only opposed by the most fiscally conscientious members of both parties – mostly conservative activists.  But given the new harsh economic realities, and taking the cue from our new fiscally responsible Democratic Governor, Democratic politicians en masse turned against them earlier this year, creating cognitive dissonance among both conservative Republicans who had considered Democrats irresponsible wastrels, and RINOs like Bob Huff who had gotten too attached to the system.

I like this story because it’s created yet another fissure in the Republican Civil War, which I enjoy.  (For the drama, you know.)  But it would also be nice, for many reasons, to see Senator Huff defeated next year, and this award should give him a black eye among knowledgeable conservatives in his district.

The numbers aren’t good for any Democrat to win in the new 29th, but the word is former moderate Republican Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher is considering a run against Huff.  There are lots of reasons Democrats and independents should prefer her to the incumbent;  on the other hand, as far as redevelopment goes, she was as knee-deep in it as Huff was, but she should re-consider and make a strong statement against RDA’s – it’s definitely something that’s all right and understandable to be “against after you were for it,” given changing economic and fiscal realities – and hammer on Huff for being stuck in old, profligate ways, and compromised by his RDA-shill wife.

If you’re reading this, Ms. Daucher, good luck!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County. Performs regularly with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem, and at regular concerts at the Huntington Beach Central Library.