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Harris Sherline: ‘Disappointed’ in Election an Understatement

In Santa Barbara County and statewide, some vote results were less than desirable

To say I’m disappointed in the results of the Nov. 2 election is putting it mildly. Waking up at 6 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 3 to catch the early news and hoping for some sign that the voters in California had at last come to their senses and not elected another crop of liberal clones to office was obviously too much to ask for.

Harris Sherline
Harris Sherline

For example, I wasn’t too thrilled with Meg Whitman as a candidate for governor, but to return Jerry Brown to the office where he earned the nickname “Moonbeam” feels more like some sort of punishment to me — especially after we have suffered through nearly eight years of the faux conservative Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who accomplished little more than burnishing his personal résumé.

Some of Brown’s more egregious positions have included his long-standing opposition to Proposition 13, and his recent unwillingness to acknowledge or respond to the allegation that someone in his office referred to Whitman as a “whore.”

For lieutenant governor we got Gavin Newsom, the ultra-liberal mayor of San Francisco. In addition, Sen. Barbara Boxer, perhaps the most do-nothing senator in Congress, won going away over Carly Fiorina, a woman who worked her way up from the bottom of the corporate ladder to head one of America’s largest companies.

In the race for state controller, I was disappointed that Tony Strickland, who is a state senator representing southern Santa Barbara County and an ardent believer in the free market, didn’t win out over John Chiang, who has opposed oil drilling in California.

We also had a disappointing but not surprising result in the county, another center of liberal sensibilities in California. Das Williams, a Santa Barbara city councilman who has almost never held an actual job in his life, defeated conservative Mike Stoker in the competition to replace Pedro Nava, who was termed out.

Moving on to the California ballot propositions, I was disappointed that Proposition 23 didn’t pass. That’s the one that would have suspended California’s climate-change bill, AB 32, until unemployment falls below 5.5 percent for a year.

AB 32, which doesn’t take full effect until 2012, requires the development of regulations to reduce California’s greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, to their 1990 levels by 2020. This legislation may ultimately prove to be the economic undoing of the state, largely by imposing such restrictive and costly limitations on trucking that many if not most independent truckers would be forced out of business. The net result could only drive up the costs of transporting goods throughout California, which in turn would raise the price of goods to consumers — especially on produce.

Fortunately, Proposition 24 failed. This was another example of feel-good legislation that would have eliminated three business tax deductions and only would have induced more businesses to leave the state. The targeted tax breaks included allowing the way multistate corporations are taxed, allowing corporations to seek tax refunds by “carrying back” current year losses to the two prior years, and distributing tax credits among corporate affiliates. California’s tax regulators estimated that about 120,000 businesses in the state would have higher taxes, if Proposition 24 had been approved by voters.

Proposition 25, which enables the Legislature to pass budget-related legislation with a simple majority rather than two-thirds approval, also passed. The problem with this is that it also makes it possible for legislators to label new taxes as “budget” measures, which is merely a legislative trick for making it easier to impose new taxes on unsuspecting taxpayers.

One ray of sunshine was the change to Republican control and leadership of the House of Representatives, which was only slightly marred by the fact that Rep. Nancy Pelosi was re-elected to another term of office in her home district of San Francisco. At least I won’t have to see or hear the soon-to-be-former House speaker pontificating any longer from the dais at news conferences and photo ops for the administration, making such outrageous statements as, “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Huh?

In addition, another disappointment to me was Sen. Harry Reid winning another term as the senior senator from Nevada and his continued leadership of the Senate, where the Democrats managed to maintain control, notwithstanding a substantial increase in the ranks of the Republicans, who couldn’t quite reach the magic number needed to wrest control from the Democrats.

Finally, I was and am most disappointed in the vicious personal attacks on candidates by both sides. For me, it reached a point of such intense revulsion that, after a time, I simply tuned out all campaign advertising. I’ve read that it was effective. Maybe so, but it simply left me disgusted.

Obviously, there are a great many people who see the election results differently than I do. But, as has sometimes been said, “that’s what makes horse races.”

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog, Opinionfest.com.

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