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John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is a California State Senator representing the 35th District in Orange County. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress. He can be reached through his Senate website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

Tidbits to Make You Mad
The song in Sacramento remains the same...
[John Campbell] 6/1/05

As we come back from a weekend of BBQs, car races and remembrance, here are a few tidbits from the state Capitol that are likely to make your blood as hot as your burning charcoal. But, as we honor those who have served, we should keep in mind that this stuff is all part of the tapestry that is our democracy. To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, our system of government is the worst there is, except for every other form of government that has been tried throughout history.

The Military and the Environment: Senator Roy Ashburn (R- Bakersfield) recently had two bills in a committee on which I serve. One (SB 977) would exempt the military in California from a state law requiring them to report the exact location of perchlorate on a base. This seemed a very reasonable proposal since perchlorate is widely used in military munitions, and reporting it would create public (and therefore terrorist) disclosure of exactly where and in what amounts munitions were stored. The second bill (SB976) would allow the military to replace old equipment with new less-polluting equipment but grant them a waiver from emissions requirements to use that equipment. Both bills failed passage from committee.

Now as you all know, I am an environmentally sensitive kind of guy. I am carrying bills this year for clean solar and hydrogen energy. The military’s role is inherently un-environmental. But it is the actions of our military that defend our freedom to have environmental laws in the first place. The military’s mission must come first or there will be no environmental mission. I don’t think Kim Jong-Il or the Syrians are very concerned about urban runoff pollution.

These bills were very reasonable. Not letting them pass is nuts. Now the Army and the Air Force can pack up and leave California and still accomplish their mission somewhere else. But the Navy and Marines and Coast Guard kind of need an ocean. And the Navy specifically needs deep water ports. They can’t go anywhere. And restrictions like this may make some feel very environmental. But they will be damaging the security of us all.

CALPERS: Some months ago, the state health plan dropped 38 hospitals around the state including Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and Sutter Health in Sacramento. The stated reason was that these hospitals costs were too high. A state auditor found that “savings” from eliminating these hospitals was “questionable” and they could not find any credible basis upon which to justify the savings estimate. So what was this all about? Could it be coincidence that all 38 of the hospitals eliminated were non-union or renegotiating contracts with the Nurse’s Association? Could it be unrelated that there were union-organizing efforts going on in some of these hospitals and that the CALPERS Board is headed by union bosses? I think that this was all about punishing non-union hospitals. And the facts increasingly are proving it.

Special Interests: I carried a bill (SB 333) this year which was a technical bill intended to relieve people over the age of 55 from an unfair property tax reassessment when they purchase a life estate as their personal residence. The purpose here was to help seniors get value out of their homes for their retirement years while still living in the home. I say “was” because the bill was killed in committee on a party line vote. I expect that the bill was killed because it “lowered” taxes, and Democrats rarely vote to do that, even if the taxes are fundamentally unfair. But I was amazed when a member of that committee, Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) asked me why I had no organizations in support of the bill (County Tax Assessors were opposed). The clear implication of her line of questioning was that we must have organized groups in favor of a bill to garner her support. I explained that I thought it was merely good policy and I didn’t know that we had to have the support of some special interest or another to prove worth. Many of these organizations are fronts for unions or trial lawyers and they claim to represent “consumers” or “seniors” or “ratepayers,” but they really only represent themselves and whoever funds them. But they have a firm grip on many of the votes here in Sacramento, as this story indicates.

Historic Church: Here is a bizarre confluence of interests. St. Brigid Catholic Church in San Francisco was constructed in 1900 but has been shut down by the Archdiocese and out of use for over 10 years. The Archdiocese now wants to sell the structure. The County of San Francisco wants to preserve the structure as a historic building. They are currently negotiating with the church for purchase. The law does not allow a local government to force this sale or declare a building historic if it is owned by a religious organization. The Senator who represents San Francisco, Carole Migden (D), introduced a bill (SB 169) to create an exemption from that law for this building and essentially give the church little option but to sell to the County. I am a big fan of historic preservation, but this seems wrong to me on many levels. This creates an exemption for one case and it interferes with the market value and property rights of the owner. But even more egregious is the line it crosses of the state telling a church what to do and not do. Of further interest, what will the County of San Francisco do with the church? I doubt that they will have it used for religious services. How do you preserve a church if it’s not going to be a church anymore? Will it become the ACLU’s meeting place to be emblematic of the victories of state over church? CRO



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