A LETTER TO CHUCK REED,
THE MAYOR OF SAN JOSE:
BREAKING UP THE STATE
The recent effort of the entrepreneur Tim Draper, initiating a process for dividing the State of California into six separate political units, in my opinion, is long overdue. As difficult as this seems to those critical of his proposal and ballot measure, it is not impossible, at least to those with sufficient intelligence, imagination and determination. What this comes down to is the ever present cost/benefit analysis. Given the current fiscal idiocy and overall special interest corruption inexorably dominant in Sacramento, I think that the costs of dividing up the State into smaller polities would have to be prohibitively high to offset the long term benefits of doing so. Most of the issues harassing the future of the people living in modern day California have been gone over in great detail by Steven Greenhut in his tour de force on the corruption of our State and local governments, Plunder, How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation. It is both a deeply thoughtful and courageous analysis, reflecting a rare commitment to the public interest. It makes clear, as does the day to day experience of the majority of the general public interacting with California’s governments at all levels, that the political machinery from the Mexican border to that of Oregon to the North has fallen into a paralysis of corruption, preying upon the rest of us with impunity. All normal efforts to correct this mess have failed. The insiders’ hold on power and the apparatus to which we turn for Justice is so tight that our situation is for all intents and purposes hopeless.
Our current governor, Jerry Brown, has taken full advantage of the mindless stupidity of the Republican Party to turn California into a one party state, leaving only the very expensive initiative process and the equally costly petition of recall as the only means to effect the improvement of the general interest. Combined with the gerrymandering of the State, there is virtually no political fresh air left to breath. We, the general population, are suffocating in the acrid putridity of political self-dealing. California has now become a vast network of “rotten boroughs.” This must change, and change soon, if our standard of living, and most importantly the publics’ health and safety, are to be maintained both for ourselves and for those who will follow us in the future.
The best, and I think the only realistic path forward, is to cut off entirely the root source of sustenance that keeps this negative paradigm in existence, which is the centralization of power in Sacramento and the bureaucracies that enable it. Breaking up the State of California would do this. It would bring the government back closer to home, back to the people, where it belongs. This is not a perfect solution, but it moves us in the right direction, towards responsiveness and accountability.
TIME FOR ARCADIA:
I have one major concern regarding the current proposal to divide California and that is the way it is to be divided and the manner in which this particular division was arrived at. Specifically, the inclusion of Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties in a combination with the other counties following along the route of Highway 80, going East into the Sierra Mountains. Our three counties have much more in common with our neighbors to the North than we have with those either to the East or South. We share a similar geography and common transit corridor (Highways 1 and 101) with Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity Counties. We have natural borders with the San Francisco Bay to the South, the Mountains to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West. We also host numerous parks and wildlife preserves for people in our neighboring areas to recreate in. We are one of the World’s most famous wine growing regions. Our agricultural interests and industries are focused on small scale organic methods. We are largely suburban, exurban, farm and wilderness, with only two major cities, Santa Rosa and Eureka. We are a West Coast version of Vermont and New Hampshire, not a New York or a New Jersey.
The whole point of reducing the size of government is to improve its responsiveness, accountability and focus.
Linking us with the Central Valley and the Foothills, would neither benefit us, nor them. The Central Valley has issues quite distinct from ours, as I think anyone thinking on this will agree. The issues for the Central Valley and the Mountain communities to its East are the mountain resorts, managing the snow pack resources, the river basins and their periodic flooding, the Sacramento River Delta, the economic well-being of the large scale agricultural businesses and supporting industries, the Highway 80, 5 and 99 corridors and connecting thoroughfares. This area has several large cities supporting these large scale agribusinesses, each with their own particular complexities. Its geography is distinct from ours. Its logical political center, Sacramento, is already in place.
Unfortunately, when Mr. Draper’s team took their pencils to the map, they did not adequately consider the best outcome for those of us in Northern California living outside Silicon Valley. Hopefully after passage an amending convention could be held to fine tune these adjustments. At the very least, passage of his initiative will blow open a long needed dialogue to end the political corruption in California, I will support it with the above stated reservations.
Clearly, the way it divides the State benefits the people living in the San Jose area, extraordinarily, as I think it was meant to. So, I would expect them not only to support this measure, but to do so enthusiastically. If pursued thoughtfully, we could initiate a long overdue new understanding of the role of government in the life of the community. In fact, I would anticipate that the forward thinking people living in Silicon Valley, unconstrained by the embedded legacy investments and habits of the past, might reinvent the entire way government does what it does, having the creative technical skills to do this.
The visionaries of Silicon Valley are leading us into a new technological future, one that is increasingly rejects hierarchy, and is paving the way to massively networked Peer-to-Peer operating modalities. This will phase into all future aspects of industry, commerce, communications, and society. It is time for politics to catch up. This is a fine opportunity for those of us who have enjoyed the benefits of living in this special place to use our resources, experience and understanding to help give birth to this new paradigm.