California’s fiscal crisis is just the right time for it to become a laboratory for progressive reform, at least according to according to organizers of this year’s Netroots Nation conference. From the schedule:
This panel will examine how progressives are working to move California from being a failed state to a progressive laboratory for change, consider the opportunities and possibilities for fixing what has become broken and assess the obstacles the state still faces as we seek to restore the California Dream. California’s crisis continues, but we now have an opportunity to assess what needs to be done to provide solutions that meet the needs of all Californians. We’ll bring together progressive leaders from across the state to talk about the budget crisis, jobs and economic recovery, immigration reform and how activists in the netroots can help build coalitions with other groups and elected officials to produce change.
Producing change? I hope they’re referring to the “clink clink” change and not Obama’s “Lobbyist Appreciation Day” variety of change, because Californians need more of the former and less of the latter. We’ve already seen what happens when the state becomes a progressive laboratory: It becomes a piggy bank for special interests.
Two panelists on the speaker list are perfect examples of this.
Robert Cruickshank, the public policy director at the “Courage Campaign” which bills itself as “empowering more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progress change and full equality in California across the country.” Buyer beware: When the numbers for netroots and grassroots are combined, they’re usually just adding up the email distribution list. Cruickshank is also the chairman of the Democratic Party in Monterrey County and started an interest group campaigning for high-speed rail. So he’s basically responsible for empowering people to elect candidates to his party to filter more dollars into his pet transit projects.
Even better: Hon. Fabian Núñez, another panelist, who is former political director for the Los Angeles Federation of Labor and former California Assembly Speaker (he left in 2008). His current bio for Mercury Consulting lists him as a lobbyist and boasts of his experience as “the Assembly’s lead negotiator on the California state budget, responsible for producing four state budgets, which ranged as high as $103 billion.” As high as? In California’s fiscal climate, you’d think negotiating a smaller budget would be the “change.” Unions such as his previous employer are the exact reason the state is in such dire straits.
In other words, the panel doesn’t even need to happen. We know what it’s about because we’ve already seen it: Spend more, spend now, and spend forever. And it’s killing California.