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Succession -- No, Not Really

by Indy, published

Her turn: When we met, I thought he was smart, fun-loving and charming. He charmed me with his go, go, go attitude. Now, I'm not so sure. We fight all the time over finances. I want to stabilize the budget by cutting back, but all he wants to do is spend, spend, spend.

His turn: She's never been as flashy as I am, but that's part of what attracted me to her. She's dependable, solid. Lately, though, she's at my throat about everything. She says I don't understand her world, and I do try, but she just seems so closed-minded.

Counselor: How long has this been going on?

Both: Since 1864. We filed for divorce then, but Congress wouldn't let us.

Thus begins the news installment of "Can California Be Saved?" The latest edition is brought to you by a former Republican assemblyman from Visalia.

According to The Sacramento Bee, under Bill Maze's plan 13 coastal counties from Los Angeles to Marin would split from the remaining 45 counties. Maze has established a nonprofit group called Citizens for Saving California Farming Industries to push the idea.

"We're looking at establishing a breakaway state," he told The Bee, with a new government and a new capital. "We'd actually be creating a 51st state."

The November passage of Proposition 2, which banned certain types of animal cages, spurred the group to start the latest succession effort. Except technically, it's not a succession effort since the group wants to keep the name "California" and evict the other 13 counties.

Maze is even offering to take on the state's $45 billion debt, since the 45 breakaway counties are more conservative. "I bet they these people will say, 'We take the debt,' and will pay it off in two or three years," he told the Visalia Times-Delta.

The group makes liberal use -- that might be a poor choice of words given its leanings -- of a comment it attributes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that "the state is ungovernable."

They're probably right about that, but for the wrong reasons.

California is nigh unto ungovernable because of its ridiculous requirement that budgets be approved by a two-thirds majority.

The state is in financial chaos because of an initiative system that makes it easy for virtually any pet project to appear on the ballot regardless of whether there's money to pay for it -- and because voters approve the projects without worrying about where the money will come from.

The state is at political loggerheads because of gerrymanders designed to preserve the partisan status quo of 1991, the year legislative and congressional lines were last redrawn.

The state is a fiscal mess because of structural deficit of billions of dollars annually that officials have known about for years but refused to address.

The state lacks government leaders in part because of a system of term limits that throws them out just as they're becoming skilled at working within the system.

And none of that has anything to do with urban versus rural, farm versus city.

While the idea of a new state is intriguing on some levels - it would be interesting academically and intellectually to see what framers could come up with if they blew up all the old assumptions -- it's not going to happen.

Wouldn't it be nice if organizers would invest their time and money into working out solutions instead of trying to start divorce proceedings?

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