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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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In-and-Out, Big Macs and budgets

Uploaded: Jul 7, 2016
Wonder why McDonald’s has re-organized to try and spark sales (it has been working nationally).
We stopped for fast food in Salinas last Saturday at 7 p.m. We went to In-and-Out, which had 20 or more cars lined up in the drive-through. We went inside and waited while the 20 orders before ours were delivered. \
Next door was a McDonald’s with NO cars in the drive-through line. None. All day breakfast was not helping on Saturday night.
There’s likely a lesson here in picking what you do and doing it very well.

Seeing budgets passed on time in Sacramento is no longer a surprise. With voters eliminating the two-thirds majority requirement, Republicans are unnecessary to pass the budget so the Democratic-dominated chambers and the governor do what they want. They have the significant incentive of avoiding getting their pay docked if the budget is not on time.
What was striking this year is the normally parsimonious Gov. Jerry Brown signed the budget passed by the Legislature without using his blue pencil. He vetoed no spending--the first time it has happened in 32 years since Brown’s first term. The other no-veto budget was signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan.
In Brown’s case, he and his senior staff had negotiated key provisions in the budget with legislative leaders after the governor released his revised budget in May. According to the Sacramento Bee report, other governors have vetoed $1 billion or more in spending on several occasions.

One of the most shameful practices in the Legislature is the so-called “gut-and-amend” maneuver where a legislator takes a bill that already has passed one house and removes its entire contents and amends new measures into the bill. This completely bypasses the committee process in one house and can skip both of the bill is amended while it is on the floor. It must go back to the original house and pass on the floor before going to the governor’s desk.
Two measures seek to halt this shameful practice. Charles Munger, Jr., a wealthy Stanford physicist and major supporter of Republicans in state politics and former state Sen. Sam Blakeslee have qualified a measure for the November ballot that would require bills be in print and available on the internet for 72 hours before a final vote.
The legislative leadership, clearly concerned about the initiative, has written its own version of a constitutional amendment that did not advance because the leadership could not round up Republican votes for the necessary two-thirds. The deadline for the ballot passed last week, but the legislature has been known to bend those rules dramatically. We will see what happens when he Legislature returns from its summer recess Aug. 1.
Without reading either measure, my gut says the initiative likely would be better—lawmakers writing their own rules is fraught with problems.

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