It may be too early to write the obituary of California’s four newest cities, but the near-criminal case against the perpetrators of these municipal murders is clear, undeniable, and indefensible.
State penal code defines the charges:
“To cheat and defraud… to obtain money… with fraudulent intent not to perform those promises.” Conspiracy.
“Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm.” Assault with a deadly weapon.
“The unlawful killing… upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” Voluntary manslaughter.
Despite trumpeting years of deep cuts to the state budget, Sacramento remains relatively flush with cash.
Looking at the General fund alone, one would see billions in reductions in the state’s coffers. But the whole picture – one that includes the dozens of special funds designed to circumvent education funding and protect programs from being cut – shows a sharply different picture.
As the Sacramento Bee’s Kevin Yamamura pointed out in a recent article, with Governor Brown’s tax measure, the state is preparing to set a new, all-time record for total spending. And it’s a mark that wouldn’t just be eclipsed; it would be annihilated.
This year, the state would spend $142.4 billion – or $4.4 billion more than at the peak of 2007-08.
From that $142 billion, Governor Brown falsely claimed in his veto message of AB 1098 that the state simply can’t afford an $18 million hole to fulfill its legislative promises made to newly incorporated cities. Since 2006, a portion of Vehicle License Fees has gone to support the state’s youngest cities as they worked to establish themselves on firm fiscal footing.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
SB 89 is now a weapon being plunged into the guts of cities like Jurupa Valley, which incorporated in June of 2011. Leaving the city on life support qualifies for assault and maybe even attempted murder.
Before SB 89, new cities received a temporary “bump” in their allotment of Vehicle License fees. That money was designed to help the cities find firm financial footing, and support them during their earliest days. It was supportive of a position taken by Local Agency Formation Commissions that have encouraged the annexation and incorporation of municipalities across the state.
In Jurupa Valley, the VLF funds they’d relied upon for their fledgling budget amounted to roughly $6 million of the city’s $14.5 million budget. Without the money, they face the dubious prospect of being the first city to disincorporate since 1973.
Voluntary Municipal Homicide
“The unlawful killing… upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.”
In a person-on-person crime, this is called voluntary manslaughter. But when one government destroys another through an act, it is municipal homicide.
Consider the facts of the case: The Governor refused to save as many as four cities over $25 million – roughly .00017 percent of the total state budget. Even that might be an overstatement of the impact that AB 1098 would have had on state revenues.
SB 89 created a $12 fee that was intended to generate roughly $300 million to cover administrative costs at the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is now expected that this fee will generate $355 million. The $25 million, as the League of California Cities pointed out in its letter to the Governor, would have come out of an unexpected surplus. The much like the Special Fund / General Fund juggle that has helped avoid cuts at the state level, the State would have still ended up with more money than intended.
Every good legal drama includes a carefully drafted defense strategy. Backing the veto of AB 1098 was the California State Association of Counties, who feared that AB 1098 would erode some of the funding promised to Counties as part of Realignment.
However, as the League of California Cities pointed out in its letter requesting the Governor sign the bill into law, this portion of the MVLF funds was never allocated to counties to begin with.
No; what’s happening in Sacramento is premeditated municicide.
Since the state’s founding, only 17 incorporated cities have folded. Three were later re-incorporated. In the modern era, however (defined as the 49 years since the creation of LAFCOs), only two cities have disincorporated.
The actions taken by Sacramento have Jurupa Valley, Eastvale, Menifee, and Wildomar on life support. Should they fold, Governor Brown will be at fault.