Tag Archive: California


Walking along Berlin’s Tiergarten park trails, one must be wary of stepping in the Hundehaufen.

On virtually any street in the permissive sanctuary city San Francisco, one is hard pressed to avoid encountering Peoplehaufen as well as needles and refuse.

San Francisco has long been a donut with a hole in the middle. The multi-millionaires of Rincon Tower literally must negotiate homeless, druggies and poop droppings to enter and leave their trendy lofty pads. The middle class is nowhere to be found.

Has a stinking pile of human poop replaced the brown bear as California’s mascot?

Is the abandoned high-speed train from nowhere (e.g., Bakersfield) to nowhere (e.g., Merced) become another metaphor for a one-party autocratic state in which so much as gone so wrong, way too fast?

The Golden State with about 12 percent of the country’s population is the “home” to approximately 135,000 homeless or 22 percent of the nation’s total.

For the first time after the 2010 census, California did not gain a new congressional district (electoral vote). After the next census, the Golden State will contract by one congressional district, and actually lose an electoral vote.

Part of the reason is a serious undercount (unreporting undocumented folks) by the state’s population experts. The other reason is people are leaving (net 1 million or 2.5 percent of California’s American resident population outflow in 10 years ending in 2016), accelerating the growing Golden State diaspora.

California will move from 55 to only 54 electoral votes – still the most in the nation – and yet the 40-million person state has less sway over the presidential general election winner.

The blue state is in the bag. Republicans can still raise money in California – The Mother’s Milk of Politics – only to spend it in states that matter (i.e., Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida).

California can still brag about its fantabulous weather, the software and hardware geeks of Silicon Valley, and how its $3 trillion GDP places California only behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany in business productivity (not business climate).

The only problem with these assertions is they were all true back in the 1980s, when the author of Almost DailyBrett served for eight years as a chief message developer and spokesperson for California Governor George Deukmejian.

California was a “Great State” with a “Great Governor” back then. You can’t make that assertion today, not even close.

In the following decade, your author served in a similar capacity for Silicon Valley’s largest industry, the microcircuit designers and manufacturers.

Being modest, Almost DailyBrett knows a thing or two about California. Alas your author, similar to so many others is viewing California with great regret across state lines (e.g., no sales tax, lower cost Oregon).

Speaking ex-cathedra, the chances are slim and none – and “Slim” is out of town – that your author will ever again reside in über-congested California with its stratospheric property values, staggering high taxes of every sort imaginable, and intractable problems including rampant homelessness, acute Central Valley poverty, illegal immigration and yes, poop on the streets.

Want to purchase for $840,000 or more a 1,000-square feet fixer-upper 1905-era bungalow with an annual $9,000 property tax bill in God-awful San Jose? Undoubtedly, it is freeway close to your work in bucolic Milpitas five miles away. It will only take 45-minutes to get there.

No Checks. No Balances

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Dalberg-Acton, English politician, historian and writer

California is in dire need of an “Iron Duke.”

Alas, the Duke passed away and undoubtedly resides in heaven. What could he be thinking as he looks down at what was once the greatest state in the nation on his watch, only to see it easily passed by no-state income tax Texas and Florida?

Governor George Deukmejian refused to raise taxes to close a $1.5 billion deficit, a going away gift from his predecessor Jerry Brown. California’s vibrant economy with all Golden State geographies contributing, retired that staggering debt (1980s dollars) in less than one year without demanding taxpayers dig deeper into their wallets.

Next month, California will once again increase its highest gas taxes in the country (an excise tax of $0.473 on top of a $2.25 per gallon state sales tax). The state income tax regime ranges from 1 percent to 13.3 percent. The sales tax in Los Angeles County is (gasp), 10.5 percent.

Believe it or not, San Francisco City County is lower at 8.75 percent.

In 10 days, California with its record $21.5 billion surplus will surpass New Jersey as the state imposing the largest tax burden on its citizens. Something is not working in California. Will another tax, another entitlement, another social engineering scheme save the day?

Similar to other one-party “C” states (i.e., China, Cuba), California needs a loyal opposition, a few brave souls to demand that homo-sapien poop on the streets is not an acceptable representation of what once was, The Golden State.

Heroes are hard to find in Sacramento these days.

Oh heck, let’s just enjoy another California $15 six-pack with 10.5 percent sales tax and mandated deposit fee. Cheers.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/06/california-third-world-state-corruption-crime-infrastructure/

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-california-economy-gdp-20180504-story.html

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-democrats-census-trump-2020-20180125-story.html

https://lao.ca.gov/laoecontax/article/detail/265

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

Oregon has long been a taxing problem for California.

Motoring south along Oregon 101 last March, your author noted the strategically located presence of “Stateline Cannabis” about 100 yards north of the California line … and 0.40 mile away the Golden State’s Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station.

Driving my Mazda Miata little green chariot with its Oregon “Pacific Wonderland” plates, your clean-cut Almost DailyBrett author and his wonderful spouse, Jeanne, were simply waved through the inspection station.

Had to think: ‘What’s the point of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station, if they just send you on your merry way?’

The short answer is California is trying to protect its largest industry – agriculture — from dangerous pests. The question that immediately came to mind: What about Stateline Cannabis’ agricultural products?

Statewide Cannabis describes its business as a homeopathic pharmacy. Does the State of California agree?

Why should the Golden State care?

Oregon has zero sales tax.

In contrast, California has sales taxes up the wazoo, including an incomprehensible 10.5 percent in Los Angeles County.

Immediately germane to the Oregon 101 border region, California’s Del Norte County collects sales taxes of 7.5 percent and Humboldt County, 8.75 percent.

Oregon does charge a 17 percent tax on cannabis sales, including marijuana sold at Statewide Cannabis.

California in turn assesses the statewide sales tax, plus a given county’s portion of the sales tax, a 15 percent excise tax and a cannabis business tax. A $100 retail pot price results in a $124.20 total sales price.

Any which way you assess the question, cannabis is cheaper in Oregon than California.

More to the point, the export of cannabis from Oregon across state lines ist verboten, regardless of the fact that Mary Jane is also legal in Washington to the north and California to the south.

What if the Almost DailyBrett author was sporting a ratty beard and was driving a wreck on wheels with California plates … would he and his wonderful spouse, Jeanne, be merely waved through the Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station?

Don’t think so.

California Sales Tax + Interest for An Oregon Subaru?

Back in the 20th Century, your author purchased a new $16,000 Subaru Legacy as a lawful resident of Portland, Oregon. There were zero sales taxes charged or paid.

As Martha (Stewart) would say: “That’s a good thing.”

Two years later with a move to the Bay Area, there was the necessary evil in the form of an agonizing, mind-numbing and desultory visit to California DMV to register the Subaru and secure its plates and tags.

Houston we have a problem.

The State of California under the aegis of former Governor Pete Wilson’s Department of Motor Vehicles would not register Almost DailyBrett’s Subaru Legacy even though the car was bought legally two years prior in Portland, Oregon with no-sales-tax.

No amount of honey or vinegar was going to change a bureaucrat’s mind that day. It was pound sand all the way.

Pleasanton DMV flat-out refused to register the Subaru and provide the necessary plates and tags unless and until the applicable Alameda County sales tax was paid (presently 9.75 percent) applicable at the time of the sale (forget about depreciation) plus two years of compounding interest.

Your frosted author wrote a four-figure check on the spot in order to register the car. As the say in Avenue Q, it sucks to be me.

You can only imagine the surprise two years later when an unexpected envelope from California DMV arrived in your author’s mail box. California lost a lawsuit and was required to pay back the two years of improperly assessed sales tax, plus interest.

Thank you, Howard Jarvis Tax Association.

The Dynamic Effect of Tax Increases

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to procure the largest quantity of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.” – France Minister of Finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert

“Tax the rich. Tax the rich. Tax the rich. We did. Now, God forbid, the rich leave.” — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Almost DailyBrett is not making any aspirations against the folks at Stateline Cannabis, who are making a living selling a once-taboo product.

The inevitable issue is that many Californians will one way or another react and respond to ever-increasing taxes – call it the dynamic effect.

If a short drive over the California-Oregon border will result in paying less … plenty less … for homeopathic pharmaceutical products, don’t you suppose more than a few folks will be naughty rather than nice?

Something tells Almost DailyBrett the Smith River Agricultural Inspection Station is looking for more than hitch-hiking insects.

https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2018/12/31/oregon-pot-marijuana-exporting-weed-out-state/2415786002/

https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/04/18/oregon-grew-more-cannabis-than-customers-can-smoke-now-shops-and-farmers-are-left-with-mountains-of-unwanted-bud/

https://www.currypilot.com/csp/mediapool/sites/CurryPilot/News/story.csp?cid=4264302&sid=919&fid=151

https://www.salestaxhandbook.com/california/rates

https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Pages/FAQs-Taxes.aspx

https://lumatax.com/blog/california-cannabis-sales-tax-everything-you-need-to-know/

https://mjbizdaily.com/legal-hurdles-interstate-cannabis-exports-oregon/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/mary-jane-supply-and-demand/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

 

As a member of the California Governor’s Press Office team, all I wanted was a good wire-service photo, just one-awesome still … and okay maybe some video too.

And that photo and related earned-media would capture/cover Governor Duke and Mrs. Duke greeting the Prince of Wales and the Princess at Expo ’86 in Vancouver, B.C.diananews

Guess the best-laid plans of PR dudes/dudettes and mice often go astray …

… or to be more precise, fainted on the floor of the California Pavilion.

Princess Diana, the ever-telegenic Princess of Wales, ended up lying unconscious on the floor of our pavilion in front of dozens of American, Canadien and always charming Fleet Street reporters and photographers about 50-feet away from my loafers.

Say “goodbye” to one great photo; enter an international crisis communications incident relating to probably the most famous celebrity on the planet at the time in about four nanoseconds.

Out Cold on The Floor of the California Pavilion

“She (Princess Diana) was walking along and had gotten to the bicycle exhibit. It appeared to me that she moved closer to her husband (Prince Camilla Parker Bowles) and sort of tapped him on the arm and was beginning to say something when she fainted – very gracefully.” – California Governor George Deukmejian

It was an unusually warm day in early May in Vancouver, B.C. The Pacific Northwest is considered to be situated a temperate-maritime climate (read: clouds and rain), but on this day El Sol was high in the sky and the temps were mucho calor.

The British media described the Royals May 6 schedule as “heavy and relentless” including stops at the Saudi Arabian, Russian, British, American and the California pavilions. They even labeled our pavilion as “stuffy” even though “The Californias” was largely designed by Disney.

Prince Charlie and Lady Di were at the height of their global celebrity, five years after their supposedly fairytale wedding ceremony. Literally thousands of gawkers were lined-up outside for a mere glimpse of the royals.

The photographers were particularly out in force, including undoubtedly some of the same Paparazzi types that later contributed to Princess Diana’s ultimate demise in 1997.

As it turns out, the geography of Expo ’86 grounds and its dozens of pavilions mandated that the California pavilion was last on the royal couple’s exhausting schedule. That’s where Governor Deukmejian, Gloria Deukmejian, Chief of Staff Steve Merksamer and the author of Almost DailyBrett waited.georgegloria

Another factor that contributed to my desire for a super photo of the Duke and the Prince/Princess was that 1986 was a gubernatorial election year in the Golden State. We were running way in front of our two-time challenger, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, but nonetheless we were following the George Deukmejian Laws of Politics:

  1. Take Nothing for Granted;
  2. Always Run As If You Are Running Behind

Even though Expo ’86 was not a campaign event and easily qualified as official gubernatorial business promoting California as superb vacation destination, there was no denying the political implications in the traditional blue state.

Was The Princess in “Delicate” Condition?

“We have certainly heard nothing about her being pregnant though I am sure she will be given a check-up by her doctors when she returns home just to make sure.” — Vic Chapman, Buckingham Palace press secretary

Once the princess slumped to the floor of our pavilion, the Royal Family folks summoned the doctor and his ammonia inhalants. The media were immediately ushered outside among the throngs. The governor, Mrs. Deukmejian, Steve Merksamer and yours truly were moved into a holding room.

We were just in the process of being debriefed by the governor, when a Buckingham Palace type entered and announced that the Prince of Wales wished to continue the tour sans his fainted spouse … and you wonder why the marriage went kaputt 10 years later?

The governor expressed his concern to Charlie Prince of Wales, who gave him a look that translated, “This woman is embarrassing me again.” It was time to get back to the tour, which was cut short the moment Diana was revived.

Outside Buckingham Palace press secretary Vic Chapman was fending off the Fleet Street piranha inquiring whether the Princess was preggers. He insisted that was indeed not the case, which spurred further questions including: “How would you Mr. XY Chromosomes know?”

Just as the good government is good politics, it is also sound expedient politics to simply show compassion to someone, who seemed to break under the heat and the pressure. I was proud of my boss: California’s Governor George Deukmejian.

Alas I can’t say the same for Prince Charlie, who was personally mortified and was seemingly unconcerned about his spouse.

He  ultimately opted for ground beef (e.g., Camilla) as opposed to filet mignon (e.g., Diana).

It is still troubling nearly 30 years later to reflect on Diana prone on the floor of the California pavilion; it is far worse to contemplate her fatal car crash as she was chased by the Paparazzi.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufaxGcxfdPQ

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-05-07/news/mn-3572_1_princess-diana

http://articles.philly.com/1986-05-07/news/26051483_1_diana-princess-royal-visit-charles-and-diana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana,_Princess_of_Wales

 

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