From the Publisher: Sacramento Problems, Sacramento Solutions

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Arnold G York

The rain finally came and collectively we all can breathe a temporary sigh of relief. I say temporary because we’re not at all sure if this will fight off a bad fire season, in either Northern or Southern California. My son in Sacramento said they got five inches of rain within hours and they had to bail water out of the pool to keep it from overflowing and flooding the backyard. Still, that’s better than burning and let’s hope that we finally drew a lucky straw.

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The law case involving the people in Sycamore Canyon and Joe Edmiston and his various entities—principally, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA)—has been going on for several weeks and there are multiple attorneys involved with all of their billing meters running rapidly and expert witness fees mounting quickly. A number of those attorneys and experts are paid for by the State of California, whereas the locals who are fighting Edmiston have to pay out of their own pockets. It’s a gigantic mismatch of resources and it appears to be the big guy (the State of California) muscling the little guys (the locals). The issue, to oversimplify it a bit, is whether or not Edmiston can buy a lot in a community served by a private road, paid for by all the people on the road, and then open the road up to the general public. It’s a fight about easements and overburdening of easements. This kind of battle actually goes all the way back to old England, and it’s one of the first things you learn about in law school in the real property course. It’s not the law I have a problem with—it’s the imbalance of resources. Generally speaking, no matter how you feel about justice, a well-funded big guy will most often trample a poorly funded little guy, which to my mind is not much of a justice system. I’m not the only one who feels this way. A justice of our California Supreme Court, who is retiring from the court, has raised the issue of this disproportionate availability of resources and their impact on justice in an article he recently wrote.  At one time this imbalance existed in criminal cases, also, and out of that one-sided system, the public defender system was created after the U.S. Supreme Court spoke in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright about everyone’s right to counsel. If the state, or state agencies, are going to go around suing their citizens into submission, that is tyranny and the state should have to pay the defensealso. This is not an academic issue. The legislature just expanded the California Coastal Commission’s authority to fine people for violations of the Coastal Act, which in the Coastal Zone can mean most anything, like having a sign posted that says “private property.” When the coastal commission comes calling, you can give into what they want or you can contest it and risk fines of $11,300 per day. Of course, the court that hears your case is the very same commission: the person prosecuting you is a member of the coastal commission staff and maybe they’ll allow you 30 minutes to make your case. It a system that would make the old East German courts in the time of communism seem almost fair.

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The legislative session is over and the governor signed most of the bills on his desk with a few exceptions. 

They passed a bill to include ethnic studies in high schools by 2029 or 2030. The problem with that is that everyone is going to apply for victimhood status and trying to decide who gets it and who doesn’t is going to create a battle royal, especially in a state like California which is a majority minority state.

They toughed up rules in criminal prosecution about adding gang enhancements onto the charges to increase prison time. This change grew out of some cases in LA that showed many of the facts about those accused of being gang members were very iffy; there was political pressure to run up the gang numbers.

They have decided that the sale of gas powered vehicles will be banned after 2035 and, immediately after the governor signed the bill, Tesla stock went up and various auto companies went public with their electric vehicle plans. 

California has an enormous impact on the auto industry both nationally and internationally and this goal may very well become a reality. Still, the price of oil—Brent crude, for example is over $86 per barrel, which is high—so Big Oil either doesn’t believe we can do it, or they are whistling in the wind.

The state legislature officially recognized that woman have menstrual cycles and that even high school girls have menstrual cycles and menstrual products will now be available free in high school bathrooms.

Cell phone bills will be increasing because the infrastructure costs that in the past were paid by land line users will now be paid in part by cell phone users, which seems only fair.

For many years, it’s been true that kids can piggyback on their parents’ health plans. Now, the legislature decided to make it equal and said that parents could now piggyback on their adult children’s healthcare plans.

The legislature decided to decriminalize jaywalking but the governor decided that was one step too far and vetoed the bill. Why they passed it and why he vetoed I must admit is totally beyond me.

I’ve characterized a bunch of bills that are a lot more complex than I’ve said, with lots of loopholes and “whereas” clauses, so forgive me if I’m almost correct—although I will say in my world “almost correct” is certainly good enough for me.