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!