It’s an odd thing to watch. State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) faces little opposition in the June Primary for the 11th Congressional seat held by George Miller who announced his retirement. Yet, without a credible foe, DeSaulnier seems to disconnect from his constituent’s concerns.
Within the Democratic Party, no viable liberal is opposing DeSaulnier in the June primary. Insiders point to his huge bank roll and lineup of party officials and stakeholder endorsements. No one dare run against him. This is a shame because democracy works much better when differing views are offered to voters.
A similar sad state of affairs exists on the Republican side of the ledger. In`Northern California, the GOP holds zero seats in the legislature and often fail to present viable candidates. Once elected, Democrats have little fear of being unseated which leads to complacency with nothing except term limits preventing them from holding on to their offices.
The same goes for the on-again off-again California Democrat Super Majority in the legislature where there is little incentive to think about the folks back home. This one party rule in California has resulted in over regulation, cap and trade, absurd urban planning, job killing taxation on small businesses, and a general disregard to the economic plight of the declining middle class that has previously been the bulwark of the State’s prosperity.
The State Senator is no exception. The manner in which Desaulnier disconnects from voters is typical of the malaise which pervades California politics these days. He and his ilk, are so intent on saving the world with their latest draconian five year plans centered on reducing carbon emissions through regional planning and punitive land use policy, that they have lost touch with what is really important to constituents.
For example, over a month ago at one of DeSaulnier’s so-called Town Hall campaign meetings, I raised the issue that with the loss of revenue from Redevelopment, gas tax receipts, takeaways and mandates from the State during the recession, many of the cities in his district have had to resort to raising their sales tax (such as Measure Q in Concord), to keep local governments above water. I then asked that with the State now able to balance its budget, how come legislative leaders including himself have not returned this lost funding back to municipalities?
The Senator’s answer was that my question was too general and he would be pleased to get back to me if I could get some specific information for him to review. That’s exactly what I did with the assistance of Concord City Manager Valerie Barone. She and her staff researched the data which chronicled Concord’s loss of revenue from the State (See Table nearby). This information was relayed to DeSaulnier in a letter I wrote dated April 14th. Two weeks later DeSaulnier’s office sent back a snippy (read the small print) memo from Jonathan Uriarte of DeSaulnier’s Walnut Creek field office. He explained that the loss of redevelopment funds:
As part of the 2011 Budget Act, and in order to protect funding for core public services at the local level, the Legislature approved the dissolution of the state’s 400 plus RDAs. After a period of litigation, RDAs were officially dissolved as of February 1, 2012. As a result of the elimination of the RDAs, property tax revenues are now being used to pay required payments on existing bonds, other obligations, and pass-through payments to local governments. The remaining property tax revenues that exceed the enforceable obligations are now being allocated to cities, counties, special districts, and school and community college districts, thereby providing critical resources to preserve core public services. These funds were provided to locals under the authority provided by the state in the first place. The State compromised and when the cities went to court over it, the Supreme Court has ruled again that the State acted within its authority. In regards to prop. 1A funds, what was borrowed by the state has been repaid per the California Constitution. So again, I am unsure as to what you are referring to when you say the state needs to “return” tax revenue. Redevelopment as it existed is unlikely to return and those funds will not be coming back. There are, however, a number of pending bills to create new economic development tools akin to but more limited than the old redevelopment. They fall into two categories: 1) bills based in part on the old redevelopment law; and 2) bills expanding infrastructure financing districts. The most relevant bills are: Redevelopment-based SB 1 (Steinberg) AB 2280 (Alejo) IFDSB 33 (Wolk) SB 628 (Beall) AB 229 (Perez)AB 243 (Dickinson) If there are any other questions on this regard, please instruct the City of Concord and their City Manager to send us correspondence directly identifying the amount they believe they are owed by the state and the source of that revenue.
Cutting to the chase, Uriarte and previous Office Manager Lupe Schoenberg, all sing the same tune, that the cities were to blame for the loss of redevelopment funds because they went to court rather than be patient for the State to fund them when economic conditions improved. I was also told that DeSauonier and the legislature thought it more important to direct monies to different programs and needs that they felt was more important.
It is becoming painfully obvious that State Senator DeSaulnier and his colleagues in the legislature are out of touch with the needs of their constituents. Fixing pot holes, taking care of buildings, parks, and sewers is a lot more important than their proposals on redevelopment listed above. The above legislation, not to mention SB-1, is a way for DeSaulnier, Steinberg and the rest to say we will spend your money on their Progressive agenda no matter what.
In effect they want to fund State and regional agencies such as The Association of Bay Area Governments ABAG. They are taking away funding from cities to bankroll their carbon-foot print-land-use agenda, instead. Heaven forbid local communities use the money to keep police and fire services running, or fix a sidewalk or two.
Senator DeSaulnier arguably has good intentions with his new subsidized low-income housing scheme to be paid with a new $75.00 per transaction real estate transfer tax < He also champions a new program to counsel abused women. In addition he has proposed:
- SB-1258 to monitor prescription drug distribution.
- SB-1372 co-sponsored with State Senator Lonnie Hancock, (D-Berkeley) which is intended to reduce the disparity in pay between CEO’s and workers.
- SB-1301 Designed to make it easier to organize socially responsible corporations
- SB=1405 Written to insecure safer use of pesticides in the schools
Unfortunately, these Progressive grandiose plans are hardly the priorities of the average middle class family in the Diablo Valley that has seen their standard of living constantly eroding in the past decade? Job creation in high paying fields (other than government and project labor contracts) along with taking care of basic needs in local government would appear to be more important to most people.
It seems DeSaulnier and the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party in California is increasingly focused on boutique issues that have little to do with getting Californians back to work and increasing their prosperity. As DeSaulnier disconnects from voters and their real bread and butter issues, our State and Federal representatives should be reminded that their constituents care more about local matters. Balanced city budgets, safe neighborhoods, jobs, taxes, education, and their homes are far more important to them than the grand designs politicians like DeSaulnier champion.
This disconnect between the next person elected to the 11th district slot in the House of Representatives with average Joes apparently does not seem to matter. Almost all elected officials in the area stand docilely by while Senator DeSaulnier with virtually zero opposition runs his well funded progressive bandwagon on the road to victory this November.