It has become plain that California mafia tactics are being used to impose costly mandates on taxpayers and local communities. Paying for protection, and its first cousin racketeering, are terms which describe the manor for which a criminal element extorts money from a business in order to receive monetary considerations in return. One would think this type of activity would be used only by organized crime, but this apparently is not entirely the case. The State of California has passed laws in the legislature to take away sovereignty from local communities which fits the textbook description of racketeering.
California mafia tactics are a criminal like process is being done by withholding tax revenues the State has collected from cities and counties unless they comply with their ambitious social programs. Local governments, who are already struggling to make ends meet, have little choice but to comply or face loss of funds. If this is not the definition of racketeering by government, what is?
California mafia tactics
Case in point is Contra Costa’s largest city, Concord. Its City Council is constantly making decisions that are done to appease the State. Last year it passed a Climate Action Plan mandated by the legislature to reduce green house gasses. By doing this Concord was able to avoid doing costly environmental impact reports each time they wanted to approve plans for new housing. For Concord this was a “no brainer” as the consequence of non-compliance would thwart the construction any projects they might pursue.
When the vote was taken up by Concord’s elected officials, there was no debate on the scientific aspects of the Climate Action Plan.The only thing that mattered was the political expediency of the moment as this plan had to be accepted, or new cumbersome environment impact reports would be required for each building permit they approved.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Concord and other cities in Contra Costa are forced to meet different State guidelines enforced by California mafia tactics or they face losing their share of gasoline tax revenues that are necessary to pay for infrastructure needs.
Even then, the bureaucratic state no longer gives lump sum grants. Instead, they impose guidelines that spell out how cities are to spend these funds. Sidewalk repairs, odd bicycle lanes, fixing pot holes, maintaining parks, updating sewers, etc… are often dictated by Sacramento often without consideration of how cities and counties are impacted. The State feels their judgement is superior to ordinary citizens sitting in the trenches trying to make decisions on a “micro survival” basis.
SOme other California mafia tactics are to take power away from the locals is most notable in urban planning. The One Bay Area Plan is a thinly disguised racketeering type scheme that is designed to enforce the State’s highly questionable regional planning objectives. By controlling funding of Project Development Areas (PDA’s) it is the State’s intent to dictate land use of individual communities. Instead of having Pauley Walnuts type characters from the Soprano’s pointing a gun at local government, the State is saying if you don’t follow our edicts, we will ‘break your legs’ or should we say take away your tax revenues.
Of course this notion is denied by the monolithic Democratic Super Majority in Sacramento. In a meeting last week State Capo Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), while defending SB-1 (which he co-sponsored), said that communities that did not want to co-operate with the State’s New Redevelopment programs, were not being forced to do so. At the same time he failed to discuss the consequences of losing tax revenues for local governments should they not play along with Sacramento’s wishes.
As is often the case, the State’s priorities are different than the municipalities where they want to bring about some cooked up theoreticachange. Increasing the density in downtown areas, silly attempts to eliminate private automobile use, insistence of building curiously located unsafe bike lanes at the expense of cars on major arteries, charging for parking whenever possible, and determining the wages of workers in PDA’s are among the priorities that local communities are being asked to follow.
Playiong the “diversity card” with funds flowing from regional planning agencies, such as the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), enables the State to tell cities the income level, race, marital status, medical condition and other factors to determine who is to reside in their enclaves.
This explains why only wealthier cities in the Bay Area such as Palo Alto and San Rafael have partially opted out of the One Bay Area Plan in order to protect their present lifestyles. In Contra Costa, Orinda, Lafayette, Danville, and San Ramon are looking to possibly go in this direction. Less prosperous communities such as Concord, Pleasant Hill, Pittsburgh, and Antioch, do not have the luxury of rejecting ABAG and the MTC’s frilly grandiose plans. It is a given that these cities must at least minimally comply with the State’s urban planning blueprint if they can expect to retain their share of needed tax revenues.
While the State may or not have good intentions for what direction they want local communities to pursue, they have no idea of the unintended consequences for their directives. How will congestion impact parking and crime? Will existing residents be adversely impacted by these PDA’s? Are there schools and social services to accommodate increased population? And most important with limited tax revenues forecast for these developments, who will pay for needed infrastructure?
Added to this is, the State’s plan through the passage of SB-1 is to have PDA’s be able to tax, issue bonds, and be able to condemn single family homes as “blight” in order to achieve their social objectives. While these advocates maintain that the new redevelopment will be a democratic process, opponents are concerned that taxation and the issuing of bonds may be done without a direct vote of the people.
One thing is certain. While presently telling local communities “The choice is up to you.” The Progressive Super Majority in the State Legislature is usurping power which will take away almost all local sovereignty from their constituents.
There is no doubt the California mafia tactics are being uses to pursue an unprecedented power grab from cities and counties. They have even involved themselves in local labor disputes with public employee’s unions when contract negotiations are at an impasse. Going one step further the power brokers in Sacramento have intervened when cities are unable to meet their pension fund obligations and want to declare bankruptcy.
The noose of State control grows tighter with each legislative session.
At the end of the day those of us such as myself who have lived our whole lives in California, have to ask if government over regulation in everything from environmental laws to determining where we live is a good thing? Only time will determine how this question is to be answered as quality jobs continue to leave the State while self appointed social engineers push forth their aggressive racketeering schemes that take away decision making from those for whom they serve.