A little-known fact about Howard Jarvis is that, long before achieving fame as the author of Proposition 13, he ran for the United States Senate in 1962. According to those who knew him, he promised that, if elected, he would put a big sign on the door of his Senate office with the single word “NO” in capital letters. That word capsulized his view on government spending and government in general.Not surprisingly, as the taxpayer organization founded by Howard, we continue with the tradition of saying no to higher taxes, more debt and bigger government. In fact, most of what we do is to oppose what happens in Sacramento.
Nonetheless, and in the spirit of the holiday, we’d like to take a few moments to shed our Scrooge persona and acknowledge a few of the good things we’ve seen from our political ruling class and media.
Gov. Gavin Newsom deserves credit for appointing McGregor Scott, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, as special counsel to investigate the multi-billion-dollar EDD debit card fraud. Sure, the horse has already left the barn, but if Scott can claw back any taxpayer funds from the bad guys, it would be a blessing.
Speaking of EDD fraud, a thank-you to the handful of district attorneys, including Sacramento’s own Anne Marie Schubert, who blew the whistle on the massive amount of fraud and are working hard to prosecute EDD fraud occurring in their jurisdictions.
It is clear to us, as it is to most Californians, that almost all those employed in main stream media view their jobs as solely to advance a progressive narrative. But occasionally, reporters do an outstanding job of uncovering waste or fraud that otherwise would have gone undetected.
Jason Henry with SCNG for his stories on the corruption in the City of Industry. Ralph Vartabedian with the Los Angeles Times for his unrelenting pursuit of the truth about California’s high-speed rail debacle. Emily Hoeven with CalMatters reported on California’s up-to-$1.7 billion contract with a COVID-19 testing lab “so plagued with problems that state health officials warned it could lose its.” Scott Rodd with CapRadio found the governor overstated, by 690%,“the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns in the very forestry projects he said needed to be prioritized to protect the state’s most vulnerable communities.”
Mackenzie Mays, then of Politico, now at the L.A. Times, broke the story about the hiring of Daniel Lee, California’s first superintendent of equity, who lives and works in Pennsylvania. There are others as well, like veteran political reporter Dan Walters, now with CalMatters, who has a decades long reputation of speaking truth to power.
There are also still a few government employees that remember they are public servants. Elaine Howle, who has been the California state auditor for more than 21 years, comes to mind. Howle, recognized internationally for her work, has been a much-needed light in the bureaucratic fog during her many years as auditor. As the Legislature searches for a replacement, it would be wise to look for someone with a similar apolitical dedication to accountable, efficient and transparent government.
Gabe Petek, the legislative analyst of the state of California, is another.
Since 1941, there have only been seven heads at the LAO, including the famous A. Alan Post who served from 1949 to 1977. California has been lucky to have straight shooters occupy this office. Although relatively new to his position, Petek has continued the tradition of remaining above the political fray. And while we don’t always agree on specific issues of public policy, we appreciate the independence of that office and hope it continues.
For much of the year, this column highlights why many in our state and national government deserve coal in their stockings come Christmastime, but that’s the nature of running a taxpayers’ association in Taxifornia. The truth is, though, occasionally our political ruling class and media get it right. It might not be enough to get them off the naughty list, but at least it’s something. So in this time of giving, let’s give credit where credit is due.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association