Tuesday’s election saw the sound defeat of five statewide ballot propositions designed to help “solve” California’s financial problems. The sixth measure, which freezes legislator’s pay in deficit years, passed by nearly a three-to-one vote.

It’s an understatement to say that Californians are mad as hell, frustrated and damn angry. The Public Policy Institute of California’s recent survey (as reported on Calbuzz.blogspot.com) revealed, “By virtually every measure, three out of four Californians believe that in Sacramento, the fix is in.”

“Among likely voters (in the May 19 election), 76 percent say special interests dominate … . In other words, when ordinary people think of the Capitol, they see insiders skimming the financial and political cream, while they’re stuck on the outside looking in, noses pressed to the window.”

Our local state politicians were conspicuously silent while this latest fiscal debacle played out.

Santa Monica Assemblymember Julia Brownley’s legislative highlights (on her Web site) say nothing about fiscal issues and are mostly in support of education. Talk about being in La la Land — how about her recent Assembly bill requiring a 25 cent, state-mandated charge for throw away plastic and paper bags from supermarkets and drug stores? Nothing like nickel-and-diming voters in hard times.

Santa Monica Senator Fran Pavley has already announced her reelection bid to the California Senate in 2012. She has a heavily pro-environment legislative advocacy including AB-2628 which allows hybrid vehicles to use HOV lanes on freeways. HOV or car pool lanes were supposed to be incentives for commuters to double up to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. AB-2628 allows single-occupant, 45-mpg, low-polluting hybrid vehicles to use freeway HOV lanes. This does nothing to reduce traffic congestion and may actually encourage more driving. Brilliant thinking. No wonder the state is in trouble.

The big question is whether the current discontent will affect local politicians and ballot measures here next November. The city has not announced massive program cuts or layoffs, so it appears it may be business as usual for the City Council with three seats up for reelection.

Over at the school district, reductions in state funding may mean increased class sizes, elimination of programs and layoffs. How the school board deals with these cuts and other ongoing issues will weigh heavily on the four individuals up for reelection in 2010.

Nevertheless, school supporters — many who seem to be in another world — want over a hundred million dollars in “joint-use” funds from the city to finance new sports, classroom and parking construction at or near Santa Monica High School. And, rumors are another $300 million construction bond is coming. No fiscal crisis with these folks, huh?

I hope voters are still angry next November. Maybe we’ll finally get way overdue changes in state and local government.

Making Santa Monica look ‘daffy’

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous — those over-the-top Santa Monica Treesavers held a “First Anniversary Memorial” two weeks ago to commemorate structurally compromised ficus trees removed from Downtown streets last year because they posed a danger to the public.

According to a Treesavers press handout, the event was to “remember and mourn the destruction of 23 mature, healthy ficus trees on Second and Fourth Streets” — their words, not mine. Their charade included a funeral procession and “stump-side” services.

Participants in this embarrassment included three former candidates from the 2008 City Council election. They and others marched with candles in hand, shared memories of the trees, read poems, quoted scripture and “commemorated each killed tree with yellow and purple memorial ribbons.”

This whole stunt reads like a “Saturday Night Live” put-on but without a punch line. For those who wondered why I didn’t support Susan Hartley when she ran for council last November, this says it all. The ill-conceived showboating makes us all look daffy to the outside world and undermines the group’s good intentions.

Showing respect

Today, the 71st Annual Memorial Day Services are being held at 11 a.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery at Pico Boulevard and 14th Street. Music will be provided by John Adams and Lincoln middle schools’ combined choirs and Fairfax High School band.

There will be a presentation of wreaths by veterans groups and local organizations, two Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters flying in formation, a dove release and a 21-gun salute. The keynote address will be delivered by Los Angeles County Sheriff (and former U.S. Marine) Lee Baca.

The observance is sponsored by the City of Santa Monica and Woodlawn Cemetery with assistance from the Santa Monica Elks Club, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Knights of Columbus. Free parking will be provided by Santa Monica College. Complimentary shuttles will run from SMC parking lots to and from the service.

Attending this or any other Memorial Day service at a constituted cemetery is a fitting way to honor and remember those brave souls who paid the ultimate price in service to our country.

Bill Bauer can be contacted at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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