Pregnant pause

Jun 23, 2011

So what happens now? California's budget is in limbo, everybody is waiting for lawsuits, the state controller hath spoken and Jerry Brown says he has a budget up his sleeve.


From Steve Harmon in the Contra Costa Times: " Anticipating Gov. Jerry Brown's next move on the budget is as beguiling as parsing the mutterings of an oracle on a snowy mountain top."


"Does he have any other surprises to spring on Democrats?"


"Is he any closer to persuading a handful of Republicans to vote for tax extensions?"


"The developments over the past week were stunning: Brown's veto, the first in modern California history; then Controller John Chiang's unprecedented decision to not pay legislators, declaring that the budget the Democratic-controlled Legislature approved was not balanced."


Meanwhile, the normally low-key state Controller John Chiang is the man of the hour, having docked lawmakers' pay in a move that may be popular with the public but of dubious legality. Just who is John Chiang?


From Shane Goldmacher and Evan Halper in the Los Angeles Times: "As a high school kid in Illinois, John Chiang ran for student council on a populist platform: ridding the lunchroom jukebox of disco music."


"That was the major wedge issue," recalled a friend who was his campaign partner. Disco was fading. Punk and new wave were coming in. They won."


"Chiang, now the Golden State's controller, became vice president of the student body — a notable achievement for one of the school's few Asian kids and the target of name-calling and racial slurs. The friend was Dave Jones, who today is California's insurance commissioner."

"This week, the boyish-looking, mild-mannered Chiang took another bold stand: In his capacity as the state's cashier, he made headlines by deciding to dock state lawmakers' pay. Their budget math "simply did not add up," he said, and he hit them with voter-approved sanctions for late spending plans."


And more on Chiang's action: It may have been a dramatic move, but it also reflects bad public policy. And in the end, is Chiang just another politician on the make using the Legislature as a scape goat? The Times' George Skelton takes a look.


"Threatening to seize a legislator's pay unless he votes for a balanced budget — even if it means shortening the school year by two weeks (a very strong possibility now) or denying care for the elderly disabled (already happening) — is simply legalized extortion. Or bribery."

"It also affects legislators differently, depending on whether they're well-heeled or living paycheck to paycheck."

"Some Republicans pride themselves in never having voted for a budget. But since they line up at the same pay window as Democrats, you'd think they'd all be feeling the same financial pressure and be a bit more inclined to cast a budget vote."

"Not many citizens fret about the constitutional separation of powers, I suspect."


Meanwhile, Don Novey, the legendary former chief of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association has filed for bankruptcy. The Bee's Jon Ortiz tells the tale.


"A May 17 court filing provides a window into the life of the former military intelligence officer and amateur boxer who has been credited with building one of the most powerful labor organizations in California. It also hints at what happened after CCPOA and Novey split amid accusations he had breeched his consulting contract with the union."


"Reached today by phone, Novey declined to talk to The Bee. "I can't talk to you," he said."


"Novey and his wife, Carol, filed for Chapter 13 protection, stating that their liabilities total $630,000 against assets of about $354,000. From December through May, which is the period of time the bankruptcy court is considering their income, Don Novey has earned an average $28,205 per month,which works out to an annualized earnings of about $338,470. Much of that income is exempt from creditors' claims."

"That's down significantly from his 2008 income of $673,443 and the $576,225 he made in 2009."


The times they are a changin' -- especially when it comes to the composition of California households.  The LA Times' Kate Linthicum, Ari Bloomekatz and Scott Gold have the story.


"New census figures show that the percentage of Californians who live in "nuclear family" households — a married man and a woman raising their children — has dropped again over the last decade, to 23.4% of all households. That represents a 10% decline in 10 years, measured as a percentage of the state's households."

"Those households, the Times analysis shows, are being supplanted by a striking spectrum of postmodern living arrangements: same-sex households, unmarried opposite-sex partners, married couples who have no children. Some forms of households that were rare just a generation ago are becoming common; the number of single-father households in California, for instance, grew by 36% between 2000 and 2010."

"For centuries, "family" connoted a sprawling, messy, almost tribal identity. Industrialization, wealth and mobility allowed, even encouraged, the family unit to shrink. The term "nuclear family" didn't enter the lexicon until the boom after World War II — a suggestion that the immediate family, built on a foundation of marriage and traditional gender roles, was the nucleus of social structure, even of American morality."



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