Gray Davis was a pretty poor governor. He ran as a moderate who could manage the state, but utterly failed to deal with the energy crisis of 2000-01, leaving rolling blackouts and skyrocketing electricity bills as his legacy. He cost the state billions. He presided over a legislative budget stalemate. He was a captive of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. He gave the Democratic Party a bad name.
And for all that, nothing he did was close to what his replacement, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Republicans in Sacramento are doing today.
Under Gov. Davis, California reduced the size of public school classes, mandating that K-4 teachers have no more than 20 students. That has made a huge difference in the classrooms, and the results show it. But it's going to be almost impossible for most school districts to stick to that target now, because the schools are getting huge budget cuts.
So are all the other state services, and aid to counties, which means more layoffs and cuts at the local level. And still, the state is $8 billion more in the hole.
Democrats in the Legislature have tried everything they could think of. They negotiated with the Republicans, who have a veto over the budget because of the crazy two-thirds rule. They came up with a plan that fit what Schwarzenegger had been asking for, and he still refused to accept it. And now the Democratic leadership is forced to try to sell a series of state propositions that nobody likes, that will put California in worst financial straights, and that will have as bad a long-term impact on the state as Proposition 13.
Propositions 1A-1F are a terrible deal, the result of GOP blackmail and extortion and they won't even solve the problem. This governor is going to leave the state in the worse shape it's been since the Great Depression. Almost makes you long for the days of Gray Davis.
In 1967, at the height of the antiwar movement, when American cities were in political chaos, a young tenant organizer named John Ross ran for San Francisco supervisor as a radical out of the Mission advocating rent control and an end to U.S. involvement in Vietnam, among other things. But one of his opponents discovered that Ross was a convicted felon who served two years and six months in federal prison for refusing the draft, so they took his name off the ballot.
Now, 42 years later, Ross the writer, poet, unrepentant radical, and longtime Guardian correspondent, may be getting some recognition from the city. Sup. John Avalos is going to introduce a resolution honoring Ross for his extensive literary and political contributions to San Francisco. The May 12 ceremony, at 3:30 in the Board of Supervisors chambers, will be followed by "poems under the dome" a poetry reading at City Hall at 5:30. If you want to help out (or donate money please) contact Diamond Dave Whitaker at 240-0286 or Avalos' office at 554-6975. *