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It’s ‘hasta la vista’ time, California

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POSTED May 15, 2009 2:16 a.m.
Pssst. Wanna buy San Quentin Prison?

Perhaps Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could interest you in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The governor is turning the state’s budget crisis into a B-grade horror movie with days to go before Tuesday’s special election by proposing to sell off California’s landmarks to raise possibly $1 billion to go toward a deficit that is now pushing $23.1 billion.

The list includes everything from the Cow Palace and Cal Expo to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The governor could do us all a favor and cut to the chase and simply sell off the State Capitol. Special interests have essentially bought the place for all practical purposes so you might as well let them buy the physical assets as well.

The existence of a proposal to liquidate California landmarks leaked out the same day the governor finally let the ax fall on the state bureaucracy even if it whittles off just a small sliver. After months of threatening layoffs as the state burned through money, the governor announced he’s ordering the issuance of 5,000 layoff notices today. It’ll be interesting to see how those workers will vote in Tuesday’s election. Somehow I bet it isn’t to raise their taxes since unemployment benefits only go so far.

Some pundits are already saying selling off San Quentin is counterproductive since the state would have to replace it with a newer prison. Why bother, since the state is talking about releasing 20,000 to 30,000 inmates early as a thank-you gift to the cities they are helping to destroy by taking away local money that pays the salaries of police officers so they can keep feeding the huge bureaucratic blob up in Sacramento. Recidivism rates are high enough already without employment pushing 11 percent. Has anyone bothered to ask whether it will cost less for  government – and potential victims who tend to be taxpayers – to not release prisoners early given the fact crime and collaring those who  do it isn’t a cheap proposition?

Of course, whatever fool buys San Quentin in the hopes of tearing it down and building a prime development on San Pablo Bay will come face-to-face with the 62-head monster that is killing California – the layers of bureaucracy you have to go through to get anything done whether it is to educate kids or building  a development.

The governor who believes erasing California’s landmarks by selling them to the highest bidder has the right concept but the wrong execution, pun intended.

Instead of selling San Quentin, he could just dump the thugs out of another prison and move some of California’s finest citizens to that location. San Quentin then could be turned into a money maker for the state by offering it as a modern-day poor farm and/or debtor’s prison.

Since Californians are being taxed out of house and home, the state could rent them affordable housing at $150 a month per cell. There’s plenty of toilet facilities plus communal showers and dining.

While the cells are too cramped for all of the possessions that prisoners are allowed today they should be just right for the typical Californian who won’t have much money left after the state gets through finding ways to raise money to avoid draconian cuts to the bureaucracy.

In fairness to the governor, this isn’t his making. It is a disaster of epic proportions with seeds planted years ago.

Still, I can’t hope but wonder whether we voted for the wrong actor in the recall election.

Had we voted for Gary Coleman, he simply would have called up CashCall to spot us some bucks to get California through tough times.

Everybody laughed at Gary Coleman for coming in last out of 1,001 candidates to replace Gray Davis as governor but guess who got the last laugh.

By the way, Arnold, the number to call for CashCall is 877-860-CASH. It might be your only option after Tuesday.

Don’t worry about the fine print, governor. In the great tradition of Sacramento you can simply pass the loan repayment – it is a 99.25 percent annual interest rate on a CashCall loan - back to the taxpayers.
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