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Leaving For More Conservative Pastures

Why one native-born Californian has finally had enough and is leaving for more conservative pastures.

I love so many things about my home state of California, and my hometown of Long Beach.

I believe the people in California and Long Beach are among the most productive, innovative, and interesting in all the world. The scenery in, around, and just a couple of hours drive in any direction from, Long Beach is always breath-taking and ever awe-inspiring.

Strolling about the decks and spaces of our beloved Queen Mary still gives me chills sometimes as I imagine what world travel must have been like during that quieter and slower-paced era, or when I consider the thousands and thousands of soldiers she took to, and brought back from, war. I still have a postcard affixed with a small chip of the original paint from one of her smokestacks, that I received as a boy of about 10, when Long Beach first started to get her in shape to become our City's most recognizeable tourism icon.

I love to camp, hike, and fish and California's Sierra Nevadas have played host to many family excursions over many years...many limits of rainbow trout (always delicious) and many miles hiked and four-wheeled and many campfires around which much laughter has been heard.

I love the big-city culture yet small-town feel of Long Beach -this most diverse large city in the nation- that offers: Community band concerts-in-the-park and full-orchestra symphonies; Community playhouses, Bard-in-the-Yard, and Broadway-class stage productions; Eclectic coffee houses and excellent wine and beer bars; Four-star restaurants and courthouse hot dog stands; Veteran's, Gay Pride, and Haute Dog costumed dog parades; Grand Prix races, Marathons, Turkey Trots; and so very much more.

Yes, there is so very much I love about both Long Beach and California.

Sadly, there are also things about my beloved home state and hometown I have come to dislike -that have become negative- and the negatives, for me, after over 53 years, have finally come to outweigh the positives.

Long Beach just cannot seem to get (or keep) its fiscal house in order. From bad speculative market investments, to incompatible budget/contract negotiation cycles, to chronic deficit spending, Long Beach's budgets consistently sink back into the red within days of having been "balanced" each year.

The logical results of these poor fiscal practices are constant and ever-deepening cuts in progams and services that should be priorities (such as infrastucture maintenance, libraries, and public safety) while continuing to subsidize other programs and services that are not priorities or which should not be subsidized at all (such as the Museum of Art, authorizing/de-authorizing MedPot outlets, and providing free sterile needles to drug abusers.)

As Long Beach has gone, so also California, albeit on a much larger scale and with far more detrimental effects. As I enumerated in a recent column, California has experienced many public policy challenges over the past 40 years. These challenges have been worsening, especially lately.

I had sincerely hoped that the most recently concluded general election might have served to address all or at least some of the challenges mentioned in my prior column. Sadly, it did not. If anything, our challenges are most likely to become far more severe.

The primary reason? Political liberals in Sacramento -the same politicians who have gone virtually unchecked there for decades- now appear to have gained a veto-proof "supermajority" in both houses of the State Legislature.

Please understand this:

If this supermajority does materialize, the very same sorts of legislators who have held the political reigns in California for 40 years -and who, in my view, are largely responsible for the many statewide challenges listed in the previous column- now have nothing and no one (except perhaps the courts) to offer any sort of check or balance against their chronic social engineering, deficit spending, and debt creation in California.

We (you) could elect the most conservative Governor possible next time around but this new supermajority will be able to override any veto he or she might issue. No effective veto means no check on legislative hyperactivity.

No check on the spending. No check on the taxation.

Democrat legislators in Sacramento now have, in essence, a full book of blank checks drawn on the banks of your wallets and purses. This horrific circumstance, coupled with the fact that the majority of voters in California never appear to see a new tax or bond measure they don't like, has now made my beloved California a place in which I simply cannot continue to live.

In my view, California has been going in the wrong legislative direction for decades and rather than begin to slow-engines and correct this disastrous course, instead, we have locked the wheel and set the engines at "full steam ahead".

I firmly believe there will soon come a day of severe social and fiscal reckoning for California and I simply refuse to stay here to watch that happen or to contribute one more penny of my income for elected officials in Sacramento to squander and waste.

I receive a public safety pension from California, for almost 30 years of service in law enforcement in the hometown I so love. I'll be taking that with me too, and happily spending it to benefit the economy (and the tax coffers) of a State that can manage its finances in a far more conservative and responsible manner than California seems willing or able to. 

So I am off to more conservative pastures, my friends. I wish you all the very best of luck. I think you may soon find that you're really going to need it.

Be well and God bless!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John B. Greet April 03, 2013 at 01:53 AM
The City has since recognized that it needs to reduce the pension formulas and has, in fact, done so. POA members (my former "union") were the first City employees to step and agree to these reductions, followed soon thereafter by the firefighters and then, eventually and after much resistance, by the miscellaneous employees (IAM). I based my decision to vacate California on many factors, most of which I listed in this column and in another that I wrote previously. Given the extremely high cost of living in California, it simply made sense to find a place where my monthly budget would go farther. Given the decreasing overall quality of life, particularly in Southern California, it simply made sense to find a place that was far greener, cleaner, less congested, less population-dense, and more civil. Despite my initial intent to not contribute on The Patch any longer, I changed my mind and realized I still had more to say to folks in and around my hometown of Long Beach. Editor in Chief Nancy is not to any degree obligated to continue to publish either my columns or my comments. Like any other columnist here, I submit my offerings to her and she makes the ultimate decision on whether or not to publish them. So long as Nancy kindly continues to publish me, I intend to continue writing here. I will, in any case, continue to comment when and as I see fit, just as Ruehle does.
Mike Ruehle April 03, 2013 at 07:11 AM
Your situation is no different than the many airline employees who lost their pensions after their companies filed bankruptcy. Those pilots and flight attendants also performed their duties in reliance of a compensation promise and contractual agreement that was later judged unreasonable. Your comments appear to interfer California's pension promises should be honored despite what Federal courts decide. Isn't that rather hypocritical coming from a guy who has repeatedly posted on the internet regarding California's medpot laws, "What part of marijuana remains illegal as a matter of federal law do people refuse to understand or accept?" http://www.lbreport.com/news/mar13/aulamj.htm
John B. Greet April 03, 2013 at 02:51 PM
My situation is considerably different. I was a public-, rather than a private-sector employee. I always have and always will respect the rule of law. The 5th Amendment to the federal constitution guarantees, among other things, that: "No person shall be...deprived of...property, without due process of law". Art. 1, Sect. 3(b)(4) of California's constitution makes that same guarantee. Public pension benefits are considered a retiree's personal property. Thus, once vested, they cannot be either reduced or removed without due process. Neither the City Council nor the State legislature can, on their own, make a change such as some suggest. They would each have to ask a court to order it. Which also means I would have an opportunity to address the court on the matter, before such a ruling. If the court ruled against me, I would appeal as far up the judicial food chain as my case would be heard. If I lost all of my appeals, I would accept the removal or reduction of my personal property but I would not be happy about it. Would you be happy if you had fulfilled your part of a legal contract but that the other party failed to, and then took you to court to validate their own failure? I suspect not. Some seem anxious to see the City take back all or a part of vested pension benefits. Can the City also *give* back the decades of service these retirees provided in exchange for those benefits?
tiny April 03, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Faith and Hope. Two necessary realities for mankind.
ROBERT E. FISHBACK April 03, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Hello KGEM country. Went through Boise Summer of 58 on my motorcycle..just 19 then. I spent that stormy night in a tar paper shack motel.. Great bed..listened to old radio with its aerial wire tied around big toe. Picked up KGEM and heard Little Star by the Elegants, Thunder rolling, rain pouring, wind howling, tar paper flapping. A most magical night in Idaho. You miss the best reason of all to leave Cal.....the S.A. Fault..a ticking time bomb....

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