Puppy vs. pistol: The famous January 1973 cover of National Lampoon magazine featured a disembodied hand holding a revolver to the head of a nervous looking black-and-white mutt with the headline: “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.”
The bad-taste-costs-no-more image came to mind in reflecting on Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s blackmail proposal to tie $140 million worth of funding for the California State Parks system to passage of his pet project authorizing a lease for drilling in state waters off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The $140 million is the General Fund portion of the state parks budget, about one-third of the $431 million total, with the rest financed by sources like state parks fees and highway vehicle funds, according to the Department of Finance. Not surprisingly, Arnold’s take-it-or-eat it plan, his third bid to gain approval for the twice-defeated Tranquillon Ridge project on behalf of the Houston-based PXP oil company, was sharply dissed by many environmental groups among the 100 that oppose the offshore deal, which include everyone from the American Cetacean Society to Yosemite Area Audubon.
“Pegging the fiscal future of the state park system to offshore oil drilling sets up an unacceptable tradeoff between coastal protection and park preservation,” said a to-the-point statement from the California State Parks Foundation. Sez Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the group:
Tying the funding needs of our state parks to proceeds from the Tranquillon Ridge deal is once again playing politics with our state park system. The threat of park closures over the last two years has shown that long-term, stable funding is needed for our state park system, not these desperate yearly budget attempts to give political cover, instead of true solutions. Californians are frustrated with their state park system being held hostage in the budget process…
In last week’s report on Conan’s new bid to win an official blessing for T-Ridge, Calbuzz said it wouldn’t be “changing many minds.” Now that it’s been out there a couple days, it feels more like his shoot-the-dog play will actually prove counter-productive, by making his push for a special deal for PXP more transparent than ever.
PS: Since the Sinclair Paint decision is Calbuzz bread and butter, we’d be remiss in failing to note that the Legislature could just accept Schwarzmuscle’s$140 million cut and raise park fees by the same amount — by majority vote. Take THAT Cal Forward!
Pot of Gold: With a new initiative to legalize marijuana heading for the ballot, count gimlet-eyed economist Bill Watkins among those who feel it would be a big boon to the state – both in revenue and big-time cuts in costs.
“Prohibition never works,” Watkins, executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting in Thousand Oaks, said in an email.
Led by Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, initiative backers have already gathered about 700,000 signatures, at a cost of a reported $1 million, and say they expect to have a professionally-run, $10 million campaign for a measure on the November ballot. The initiative measure, according to an all-you-need-to-know piece by the indefatigable Timm Herdt,
…is not a pot-lover’s pipe dream, but rather a political document designed to win votes: It sets the legal age at 21, enhances criminal penalties for sales to minors, prohibits the use of marijuana in public places and in the presence of children, gives every city the right to decide whether to allow marijuana sales, and emphasizes the ability of local and state governments to regulate and tax all sales.
Watkins and his posse at Cal Lutheran University, in their most recent forecast, offered a few thoughts on the subject from an economic theory perspective, in a little essay headlined “Marijuana, a Little Tongue-in-Cheek”:
The costs of prohibition are well known. They include law enforcement, corruption, increased crime, more prisons, lost taxes and the like…
What we need to do is completely legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana. Based on newspaper reports of drug raids, the stuff grows like a weed in California. Legalizing it and regulating exactly the way we regulate tobacco and alcohol production and sale would reduce its availability to kids, decrease crime, reduce prison and law-enforcement costs, increase agricultural production and profits, and generate large revenues for the state.
Imagine fields of cannabis in our Central Valley. It’s easy if you try.
Calbuzz sez Amen. That’s change we can believe in.