Friday, July 16, 2010

The "Not-So-Golden State"

The news from California isn't getting better...

The Financially Challenged State: California's governor, the Honorable Arnold Terminator, tried pressuring the legislature - now far behind the statutory deadline - into finally passing the annual budget. He did so by attempting to place more than 200,000 state employees on minimum wage (at a little over $7 per hour). According to the Associated Press, "A judge on Friday declined to force the state controller to comply with an order by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to pay state workers minimum wage while the state remains without a budget." The guv has promised to keep the heat on by appealing to a higher court. No word if he ended his statement with, "I'll be back."

The Overcrowded State: California has long felt the pressures of illegal immigration, and during this time of economic downturn the friction is even greater. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday will order 224 California National Guard troops to the border with Mexico, fulfilling an earlier commitment to President Barack Obama. In May, Obama launched a plan to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the southwest border, alarmed by a tide of smuggled drugs and immigrants and pummeled politically over illegal immigration. Schwarzenegger earlier pledged California’s full cooperation with federal initiatives to secure the border and attack the narcotics trade. 'This is just the beginning,' Schwarzenegger said last month. 'We must find a more permanent solution to our broken immigration system.'" Is there an Arizona anti-illegal immigration bill for California in the wings?

Backing away...

Add illegal immigration: The Sacramento Bee reports that GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman looks to be doing a 180 on previous statements. "Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is backing away from a key immigration proposal she advanced in this spring's competitive GOP primary after farmers and other business interests expressed displeasure with her idea. As she campaigned this spring, Whitman said she would send state and local officials into California businesses to look for illegal immigrants – her own version of federal immigration workplace inspections. But her campaign now says she would wait to act until the federal government institutes a 'fail-safe' way for employers to verify workers' status – an effort that has been more than a decade in the making." Looks like we might be getting a sequel to that last Hollywood flop, "The Governator."

In a Disagreeable State: What's the outlook for California's economy? Depends who you ask. On one hand, you've got three-term U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) - who is angling for a fourth - telling everyone that "clean and green" (jobs) are going to save the state. On the other hand, you've got U.S. Senate-hopeful Carly Fiorina (R), her challenger and the highest ranking female CEO (ever), bringing reality to the mix. According to a piece in the LA Times,"For Sen. Barbara Boxer and her opponent Carly Fiorina, the battle in the next four months may be over two Californias: whether the state is a gloomy place where businesses are still struggling to survive or one that is about to turn the corner and become the bustling hub of the clean-energy economy." Perhaps Sen. Boxer should ask her how her thinking on green-and-clean has worked out for Spain and Germany.

Is the thought half-full or all the way empty?

Add California jobs: "California job climate stagnant in June"...

Serpentine (or is it a case of "rocks for brains?")

Finally (for now), "this state's got rocks in its head": In a state with a current budget deficit topping $20 billion and with unfunded liabilities in the range of $650 billion-plus, you'd think state lawmakers would focus on important, pressing matters. State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) is taking on this charge by trying to eliminate one of California's greatest threats - the state rock...aka: serpentine. A San Francisco Chronicle story explains that, "Serpentine is a metamorphic rock that...can be found in the Sierra Nevada foothills and in 42 of California's 58 counties. It was often found by miners near gold deposits. Fire-resistant chrysotile asbestos is one of 20 minerals that can often be found within the rock. Considered a wonder substance in the 1960s, asbestos was mined extensively for use in building construction, household appliances and for insulation. In 1965, lobbyists for the makers of asbestos products were among those who urged state legislators to recognize serpentine as the state rock. Romero sponsored the [new] bill - which would eliminate not only serpentine, but the entire state rock category - because, she said, California has the highest rate of mesothelioma deaths in the nation and it is inappropriate to celebrate the source of that disease. 'This isn't against serpentine. It's about asbestos,' Romero said. 'Why in a health-conscious state like California do we have a state rock that is related to asbestos? This is a teachable moment. It's time to be sensitive to the fact that people suffer and die from this substance. It's time to drop the rock as a symbol.'" Geologists, scientists, medical professionals and others all say serpentine poses absolutely no threat to anyone's health, whatsoever. But as they say in Sacramento, "never let facts stand in the way of politics."

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