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June 27, 2009

State Parks - What Next?

As of this writing, I have received news that while the motion to deprive the California State Parks of all general fund support has passed, the motion to provide them funding through a vehicle registration surcharge has failed -- leaving the Parks without a cent in the future budget.

If there is a "Plan B", I haven't heard about it, and searches of various websites and newsfeeds have so far proved fruitless.

It looks like the State Government has utterly failed to live up to its promise to preserve our natural and historical legacy, and I now despair of future attempts to get them to re-promise.

I note however, that those parks which will remain open are those which have an alternative revenue stream. Perhaps it is time for the people who support and love those other parks to see if they have the wherewithal to create an alternative revenue stream for their parks.

The State Parks are amazingly bureaucratic, and move at a glacial pace, and most cooperative associations (the non-profit organizations that provide volunteers and funding) are less than dynamic, but perhaps this moment of crisis might be able to galvanize the volunteers into action and get the bureaucracy to get the hell out of the way.

I think it is the time for each local community to look at its parks, take stock of what is needed to keep them open, and negotiate an alliance between local non-profits, community organizations, the local governments and the State government to move some of these parks from the "No funding-Closed" to the "Self Supporting - Open" column.

I don't know if this is even possible in these hard economic times, and it will almost certainly not be possible for some of the more remote parks, but I'll be damned if I can see an alternative.

Posted by Walter at 07:11 AM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2009

The Current Plan to Save the Parks - I am Pessimistic

The current plan to save the parks involves instituting a $15 fee for all non-commercial vehicle registration fees (a "car tax"). This will provide enough revenue to run the Parks in perpetuity. In return, all California registered vehicles will get a free pass to all State Parks.

This proposal is included in the current budget plan which will, at some time in the next month or so, go before the Legislature and the Governor. (More information)

It sounds like a fine idea, but it is a revenue increase and will therefore require a 2/3rds vote. In the past, the Republicans have threatened anyone in their caucus who votes for any revenue increase with political execution. I am not sanguine that this will change in this case and our State Parks may be sacrificed to the cause of political posturing by both sides. Perhaps our only chance is that a few of those who have already been sentenced to political death for past crimes of collaboration will figure they have nothing left to lose.

I encourage you to call and write your State Representatives, but this won't make a lot of difference if your representatives are Democrats. Politicians only listen to their own constituents, and only if a worse fate than party displeasure awaits those who vote to kill the parks is there any hope.

Find your Representative

And that is where things stand right now.

Walter Nelson

Posted by Walter at 08:43 PM

June 03, 2009

Getting Through to Your California Politicians

My particular cause is State Parks, which the latest budget plan will virtually eliminate. The State Parks Foundation has been circulating a website where you can, with considerable ease and zero expense, send your representatives an angry email.

The State Parks Foundation Angry Email Site

However, while using this tool falls into the "couldn't hurt" category, I am dubious of the effectiveness of any method of pestering an elected representative that is too easy. Such methods are likely to be overused and thus ignored.

What ever your particular issue may be, whether it be parks, education, health care or what ever, I would suggest that you might want to look at a more traditional alternative when it comes to registering your opinion with your elected representative: phone them and write them letters.

When phoning, the specifics of your rant will not carry any weight with the long-suffering staffer on the other end, but you do need to be clear on whether your check mark should go in the "for" or "against" column. Be kind. She isn't the cause of your problems. She's just doing her job. Be prepared to give your name, address and phone number.

When writing, be succinct and make sure your opinion is clearly stated in the first paragraph and be sure the letter has a clear "Subject" title. The staffer may not get past that. Also give your name and address and phone number in the letter header.

You should only pester YOUR elected representatives. Your vote doesn't matter a jot to a politician you aren't in a position to vote for.

Here's the link to find the number and address for your California politician.

I understand that politicians generally assume that every person who takes the trouble to call or write, there must be hundreds of voters with the same opinion, who can't be bothered.

So, what ever your particular opinion might be, let your politicians know what you care about.

Walter Nelson

Posted by Walter at 07:36 AM | Comments (1)