Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
Dr. Edgar Mitchell – a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission – claims aliens exist. What do you think?
Ross Wells, Chino Hills, Ca

Hey Ross,

After watching this budget negotiation process, or lack thereof, I can see why one might think there was life on other planets. There sure doesn't seem to be much life in the Capitol these days. And for all the progress that's being made, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Cogdill might as well be speaking some kind of Martian dialect to each other.

Hell, I wish some three-headed green thing from planet Zorlak would come down and knock some sense into these boys and girls. The state is in a budget hole the size of the Mariana Trench, and we keep farting around the same sandbox.

Look, we all know this budget is a turd sandwich. But eventually, everyone's going to have to take a bite, so best be getting on with it.

It seems as though we're finally reaching that magical point where we might be getting serious about a budget. What exactly that means in this time and place, I'm not exactly sure. But something's going to have to give here soon.

Even Bill Lockyer rose from the grave this week to offer his two cents. "When I was doing it with Pete Wilson, he would have us in his office 10-12 hours a day, every day, or almost every day," he told the Bee.

The best thing about the annual budget stand-off is that we get a reminder that we actually have something called a state controller. And I must say, John Chiang has done his damndest with the gift that Arnold Schwarzenegger has given him.

Not only did this guy get to remind us all of his existence (and he didn't even have to draw crop circles out in Hanford to do it), but he's now emerged as the champion of the average Joe and Jane staring down the big, bad governor.

When the governor tried to cut state workers pay to below state minimum wage, the controller came back strong. "The authority to issue people's paychecks is mine. I have both constitutional and statutory authority. Frankly, (the governor) is just trying to make me do something that's improper and illegal."

So, essentially, the governor has no authority to get me to break the law, try as he might. He simultaneously emasculated the governor and made him look powerless, all in one fell swoop.

Well played, Mr. Chiang.

Even Dean Florez got into the act, getting an opinion from the Legislative Counsel that said the governor could not cut workers wages.

"If the Governor really intended this as more than a ‘motivational' gimmick, he clearly did not do his homework," said Florez. "He is making reckless and false threats against the people who keep our state running, causing undue grief to innocent people — many of whom are already struggling to get by – and I really believe he owes them an apology."

When Susan Kennedy has nightmares, 5-1 says the scariest involve Dean Florez.

For my money, gimme a front-row seat for the political theater, but please, spare me the details. Chiang clearly drew first blood. Let's see if he's got the political chops to avoid overplaying his hand.

Of course, this will all be over soon enough, one way or another, and the controller, much like ET, will once again become little more than a phantom.

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