This week has seen a bizarre mixture of positive and negative news hit the airwaves with regard to California. Actually, we could preface all 52 weekly newsletters a year with that single sentence. It seems that with every spoonful of sugar we get, there’s a heavy dose of medicine in waiting.
Take, for example, the news that California managed to somehow stay in the Top 10 rankings of global GDPs, clocking in at number 9. Lawmakers rejoiced as they were able to maintain bragging rights to one of the most oft-cited statistics when talking about our innate ability to climb out of this cavernous hole we find ourselves in. It’s a reality for those in Silicon Valley, in San Francisco, in Palo Alto and in San Jose, where much of the income-generating innovation that helps maintain our state’s lofty status occurs.
But in San Bernardino, it’s a different story altogether as a member of City Council volunteered to clean city toilets. This, along with letting grass-eating animals graze away the overgrowth on city parks and asking for donations as obscure as chlorine for public pools, are being reported as proposed cost-cutting measures in the largest California city to declare bankruptcy to date. Something tells us they’d have a hard time believing we’re still somehow outpacing India’s GDP despite a meager 2 percent growth last year.
Yet, there are still sources of pride. Take, for example, the recent Brown University study which places five California cities in the Top 10 of the most diverse cities in the country: Vallejo (#1), San Francisco (#2), Stockton (#3), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (#6), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (#9). From north to south and small to large, California cities span the cultural gamut and form a microcosm of what the United States will like resemble as a whole in years to come.
But (yes, another one), is our state government responding to the needs of such a diverse population? With many recently immigrated or first and second generation families disproportionately dependent on state services such as public education to make the transition into the middle class, will the cuts deepen and further hamper that leap?
Gov. Brown’s treatment of recent legislation concerning new immigrants suggests something of a tone deaf attitude at a very base level: which bill will affect who the most. AB2149 stands to give driver’s licenses to 450,000 work-eligible immigrants (Brown supports it) yet the Trust Act, “a bill that would prohibit local authorities from complying with federal detention requests except when a suspect has been charged with a serious or violent crime,” and would affect a vastly larger swath of new immigrants and their relatives
The Californian dance between yin and yang continues as we approach November 6 and an entire state wonders if we’ll be left standing on November 7 with a shotgun-sized gaping hole in our state budget where at least one of two tax measures were meant to stop the buckshot.