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Sacrificing local services on altar of the almighty state workers
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Shortly after arriving in Manteca in 1991 I was told by several people of how some Bay Area counties would “pay” welfare recipients to help them move to the Central Valley by providing everything from bus tickets to assistance with getting an apartment.

 For a long time I thought it was an urban myth. Then I met someone who resided in the original Pennebaker Apartments once known by law enforcement rank-and-file as the Manteca Police substation due to the high frequency of daily calls for service. The man - who openly bragged he hadn’t worked in 10 years - said he received a bus ticket from his case worker to Manteca.

The appeal of Manteca in the 1980s was a deal offered by the apartment complex that essentially had a move-in special that just involved $99 for the first month and nothing else paid up front. It was the beginning of the downward slide of Pennebaker Apartments.

It is worth recalling such behavior of one county dumping welfare cases on another in light of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to shift some services back on local counties to put it back where the people can control it.

Before anyone buys that hook, line, and sinker the state will never go back to the way it was which involved establishing general guidelines and nothing else. The state isn’t about to tear apart the welfare system and back off from essentially uniform assistance standards and other requirements. The only difference is that the state instead of mandating and providing the money will mandate and hijack the money forcing local jurisdictions to try to raise taxes in order to avoid cannibalizing other services such as public safety in order to meet state mandates.

 That opens the door for a lot of mischief between counties as well as welfare recipients that a centralized system run by the state eliminated.

The temptation would be great to shed some of your county’s welfare load onto another county. At the same time the more local control of social services opens the door wider to fraud.

It wasn’t too many years ago that instances abounded of people who were gaming the system by collecting unemployment while residing in one county and welfare in another or even picking up welfare checks from two different counties. Decentralizing the welfare system is almost a guarantee that those problems will be revived unless, of course, Brown is blowing smoke about local control.

One can’t fault Brown for proposing what he has proposed. He has been handed a ticking time bomb that is about to go off.

Had the California Legislature and previous governors stopped their spending and looked to reform and streamline government to eliminate duplicity and “re-engineer” the state workforce – that’s the fancy word the private sector uses for consolidating jobs and shedding positions – California might have been able to avoid the coming budget Armageddon.

One doesn’t reform government or streamline operations effectively when one is in panic mode. And given the Brown budget proposal does little if anything to trim the state workforce or drastically change the way the state does business and doles out money, it is obvious the intent is to sacrifice local services on the altar of the almighty Sacramento state worker.

It is ironic that the last government agency in California to admit they had a taxing and spending problem - the State of California - is now plotting a course that will penalize cities, counties, and school districts that have spent the past three years scrambling to get their financial houses in order to pare down costs, reduce staff and streamline services in a bid to survive and thrive. And it will do so in a manner that keeps Sacramento’s bloated bureaucracy intact while forcing local governments to significantly curtail everything from pothole repair to police service

Desperate moves - as we may unfortunately find out in a few short months - do not make good government.