It is almost an election year, and first district Assemblywoman Patty Berg, who represents northern coastal California including Mendocino and Humboldt County, is ready. I know because I received a "Senior Resource and Services Guide" from her. And I'm not even a senior.
Corruption in California seldom takes the form of briefcases filled with non-sequentially numbered Federal Reserve Notes, as you might see "fictionalized" in the Sopranos set in New Jersey or The Wire set in Baltimore. No, its all perfectly legal. Systematized. Its a racket.
What's wrong with sending California citizens a senior guide? Nothing, except that it should be sent by a government agency and have no politician's name on it. The design of the guide, printed on glossy paper, shows its real purpose. There are 8 panels total. One acts as a front cover: a nice white haired couple flying a kite. One panel is the mailer, with Patty Berg prominent in the return address. Two panels are a letter from Patty saying that, hey, this is a brochure for seniors: her name is in big letters. One page has 911 on it. Three panels have telephone numbers. They are the same numbers that are in a Yellow Pages or on the Internet.
So the whole thing is a taxpayer-paid campaign flier.
People get the impression that Democrats and Republicans at the state legislature are at each others throats. Well, not on some things. They all agree that incumbents should be re-elected. They drew (gerrymandered) their districts to make sure that a Republican seat rarely becomes a Democratic seat, and vice versa. They must have agreed to mail out campaign brochures thinly disguised as useful information, at taxpayer expense.
And everyone may work for several masters, but one master rules them all: the real estate industry. Just check all the donor lists if you don't believe me.
But we have the Brown Act in California, which means everything has to be done in public. And we have an awful lot of committees where former legislators supplement their jobs as lobbyists by doing tiny amounts of work for large amounts of government money.
I don't think Patty Berg meant to be a bad person when she ran for the State Assembly. She had never held public office before. The jackals who run the Democratic Party machine in the district came to her and said "We think you'll be a great candidate." She said she had never run a campaign before. They said, "Don't worry about that, we'll help you with it." She said, "It takes a lot of money to win a campaign." They said, "Don't worry, we've got this donor list we've developed over time." She said some good progressive things in her first campaign: better schools, universal health care, protect the environment, etc. Then she got to Sacramento and there is so much to do and the bills are too long to read and some of the same people who ran her campaign are running her office. What to do? Why, when in doubt follow the Democratic Party leadership.
The Democratic Party in California was founded for the purposes of trying to make California a Slave state. While slavery is no longer an issue, the party can't be said to have improved in any substantial way in the last century and a half. The only thing the Democrats have going for them besides their own corruption is that they are not Republicans.
I'll be writing more about California and its strange political ecosystem, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, here's Patty's web site: http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a01/