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Coastal Voices: Thwarting our right to vote

The Daily Triplicate’s April 20 edition was headlined “LaMalfa: ‘What should I do?’” as our state senator’s response to the state budget deficit crisis.

Sen. LaMalfa first dismissed Gov. Jerry Brown's request to put this critical matter before the California voters by saying the public doesn’t need to vote again on such an issue because Proposition 21 was already defeated by California voters last year.

Does the senator seriously equate a vote on raising some vehicle license fees to pay for state park operations a few million dollars to voting on the state budget crisis amounting to more than $26 billion?

Jacqueline Cochran’s Friday letter (“Voters should have the right to vote if they want a tax hike”) generously called this comparing apples to oranges. I find the senator either totally clueless or playing a political game with us citizens as though we were dumb and clueless.

Seriously, senator? You think the two are anywhere near the same level of importance and substance?

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has concluded that a straight cut-the-budget method would mean cuts of $5 billion to K-12 schools and another $1.2 billion to health and social services. Is this what we want? Or do we want to simply extend a few taxes already in place? Either way, we, the voters, should decide.

But we don’t get to vote to resolve our budget crisis. Why? Because the Republican minority in Sacramento has marched lockstep to say “No! Even on this hugely important issue, you, the citizens, can’t vote!” How undemocratic and how un-Amer­icancan you get, Republicans?

Mr. LaMalfa reportedly said at Wednesday night’s town hall meeting, “A strong economy will fill the coffers faster than anything we can do. The economy is such a bigger wave than us fooling around with tax increases.”

Again, senator, are you clueless? You don’t even know we have to balance our state budget every year? You can’t just wait around until the economy turns around, maybe, and somehow magically,–down the road. Action must be taken this year by law to balance the budget. Where’s your plan, senator?

Or was the senator just “placating the public” as Ms. Cochran suggested?

Was he just playing to an audience that wouldn’t be aware of his political maneuver? Of course he knows what he wants to do:

1) to stay in lockstep with his fellow Republicans to fight any and all tax increases;

2) to cut education and social programs as well as workers’ health care and retirement benefits–— what he calls “surgical cuts”;

3) to deny California voters the right to vote on this critical budget crisis because that would take away his political power. His choice is clear: LaMalfa chooses his political power over democracy and our right to vote.

Our state Assemblyman Wes Chesbro voted for the special election and our right to vote. But state Sen. Doug LaMalfa voted to deny us the basic democratic right to vote.

I urge all Del Norters to call Sen. LaMalfa’s Sacramento office, (916) 651-4004, or locally, (707) 464-1255, and demand he change his position. And let’s remember this at his re-election time and return the favor.

Glen Brunner is a Crescent City resident.

 

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