Wednesday, August 3, 2011
California is Now Officially Out of Control - A Ship That is Sinking While the Passengers Dance in the Grand Ballroom
The Governor of the Largest State Economy Refuses to Show the World Its Books
By Nicholas Contompasis
The arrogance of this Governor in not releasing the details of California's spending is inexcusable. There is no doubt he is hiding many of his misappropriations of taxpayer funds.
With the current financial condition of California, a major disaster is most likely being hidden by this band of irresponsible Liberals that now control one of the largest economies in the world.
To think that billions of taxpayer dollars are now being used as a Liberal slush-fund should scare the hell out of ever Californian and should be a warning to other citizens of other states that find themselves being overrun by these misfits.
California is now officially out of control and a ship that is sinking while the passengers dance in the Grand Ballroom.
Gov. Brown needs to show us the checkbook
By Dakin Sloss
Gov. Jerry Brown said, "There are no secrets in my administration." Unfortunately, that's not the case.
In mid-April, our team at California Common Sense, a Stanford student-led nonprofit, submitted a public records request seeking detailed California expenditure data. Essentially, we asked to see the state's checkbook. Gov. Brown's office denied our public records request claiming that asking for such data was "so onerous that the public interest served by not disclosing the records clearly outweighs the public interest served by the disclosure of the records."
We think it's an abdication of leadership for this administration to suggest it's not in the public interest to share our state's checkbook. And we don't appreciate the irony – it is ridiculous to say that the time it would take to provide the checkbook outweighs the public interest in seeing it.
One is left to imagine that there must be some inconvenient truths to hide. We wonder how a governor who promised transparency during his campaign could in good faith hide the state's checkbook and still assert that he is a proponent of open, accountable government.
The governor's spokesperson, Gil Duran, even tried to divert questions about the denial, claiming that the request asked for "millions and millions of pages." The fact is that California Common Sense asked for electronic files, which, according to the state's accounting system manual, can be easily produced.
Duran claimed that it was unreasonable to request detailed accounting for "every stamp, paper clip and pen purchased in the last five years." California Common Sense believes it is not only reasonable, but also critical to the public interest to account for every stamp, paper clip and pen purchased with taxpayer money. With so much money being wasted every year, we must monitor the state's spending in detail.
We believe that it's important for the public to know that while our state checkbook wallows in the red, we are paying lifeguards six figures. While we can't seem to create jobs for hardworking families, our state apparently has no problem leasing empty buildings in the department of education, using 60 overlapping health care databases to track welfare programs, or spending $47,000 per inmate only to have poor health care for prisoners and high recidivism rates.
California Common Sense is trying to inform citizens about how our government could use resources more wisely. We hoped the information from the state's checkbook could fuel a powerful tool we recently launched – California's first-ever data transparency portal – which includes detailed financial information in interactive visualizations. The portal even includes sections with access to the checkbooks of 20 other states that have already released this data. We intend to add California's checkbook to the nationwide visualization as soon as Gov. Brown fulfills the request.
The transparency portal is a tool that will support accountable governance and reform Gov. Brown has said he wants to implement. Our request for the state checkbook represents a significant opportunity for Brown's administration to support a historic step toward a better, more transparent California. It's even possible that if we ever get to see the checkbook, we could identify enough duplication and waste to resolve most of the recent budget crisis.
So why is Gov. Brown keeping the checkbook a secret? Shouldn't we be seen as an ally working toward a common goal? We may not have the political experience that he does, but we are hardworking students who are eager to apply our engineering and technological skills, along with some old-fashioned common sense, to protect our future.
We are calling all Californians to join us in promoting common sense solutions to our state's problems. Take a stand for transparent and accountable government by signing our pledge (www.cacs.org/take_action.php) to ask Gov. Brown to release our checkbook. Only then we can legitimately say that our government has no secrets.