Advertisement

Community Commentary: Lobbying is a statewide, local problem

October 27, 2011|By John Kreber

The Economist article "Lessons from California: The perils of extreme democracy" sums up the political environment in California like a Webster's definition.

It's alarming not because of its explanation of broken state government under the thumb of special interests who control between 70% to 90% of the state's budget. It's alarming because local special-interest groups have found they can make just as much money at the city level as they can in Sacramento, at a fraction of the cost and none of the regulations.

In Laguna Beach, so-called activists have gone from sponsoring initiatives like the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) to writing them on their own behalf, but the writing is on the wall for what they provide — an administrative cash cow for the lobbyist who wrote them.

Advertisement

The MLPA started life as a feel-good, $300,000-a-year idea deemed as a secondary insurance and not a solution. At the start, MLPA quickly ran into funding problems and was shelved until they could find funding.

Oil companies, who where faced with cleaning up four off-shore oil wells at the cost of billions of dollars, offered a compromise that would allow them to unload the liability of the clean-up cost on the taxpayer and in return the oil interests would pay for the cost of the MLPA, and a lobbyist's dream was born.

The cost would be based on money from the oil companies and not the state of California. The oil money was shot down, leaving the state holding the inflated bill for MLPA and instead of a $650,000-a-year budget like the one for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, it grew into a $55 million yearly budget. State lobbyists at this point needed local lobbyist support and now those same unregulated lobbyists are sponsoring local initiatives like the Open Space Initiative in Laguna Beach.

MLPA has accomplished one thing: forcing the closure of almost 25% of the state parks and the layoffs of more than 200 people in order to cover the cost of this initiative without any oversight while confirming that special interests run the state at taxpayer expense.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles
|
|
|