Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Feb 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Q&A with Assemblymember Bill Monning

bill MonningGood Times recently sat down with Assemblymember Bill Monning to explore what’s going on in Sacramento. Monning visited GT headquarters on Friday, July 20, just a few hours after news of the State Parks scandal broke. The State Parks Director had resigned and her second in command was fired after a $54 million unreported surplus was discovered in two separate State Parks accounts. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.

How can a government agency get away with hiding $54 million—especially while also overseeing closures of state parks?

It’s surprising and shocking and distressing. There’s been a lot of extraordinary effort [to save state parks] and clearly not knowing about those resources has made that work even tougher. This is not a laughing matter, but I’d say we are usually accused of spending money we don’t have, so it’s rather surprising to find there is money that hadn’t been accounted for. Not excusing malfeasance, the positive is that it will create some more flexibility to address some of the tough issues that State Parks is facing right now.

Regardless, it doesn’t exactly improve confidence in the state government. How can Sacramento ask for public trust when things like this come up?

I don’t disagree. It’s going to require investigation. I hope it’s an aberration. I certainly am not aware of other departments sitting on resources they didn’t know they had. We’ll see what we learn. Perhaps it’s another wake up call that people in positions of responsibility need to be responsible.

imagine that. You recently spoke to GT about how the Affordable Care Act [ACA] will hit home for Californians. As a follow-up to that, how will the California Health Benefit Exchange survive if the federal act is repealed or if a new president comes into office and does away with it?

We moved forward for the last two years, since the signing of the ACA, anticipating that the [Supreme] Court would uphold it. Some people said we should wait to see what the court does, but fortunately from my point of view, the court did uphold the act. … The next hurtle will be in November. It will be critical for President [Barack] Obama to be re-elected to ensure that we can move forward. … It’s really too good not to act in good faith right now. From a public health point of view, if we can prevent a single death or allow a family to gain access to preventative care, [then] we should take advantage of it and cross the bridge of a change of course when we get there.

When it comes to health-related legislation, whether it’s a soda tax, insurance mandates, or restricting vending machines at schools, a key opposition argument is that it isn’t the government’s place to regulate what people eat or how they take care of themselves. You support many of these types of legislation. Why do you believe the government should step in and legislate in these cases?

I understand those who would argue that government should stay out of our lives and that it should be the parents’ responsibility to determine what their children eat. In a perfect world, that would work. But if you look at the status quo in California, it’s clearly not working. A third of the children born in California in the year 2000 will have preventable type-two diabetes by age 25. Among Latino and African American kids, that figure goes up to 50 percent. We have a social-economic dynamic where not everybody is starting at the same place. People don’t always have similar access to food or education opportunity. … I take the position that if government doesn’t provide support at the front end, we all as taxpayers are shouldering the cost.

Do you think the economic aspect of that argument is taking root in Sacramento?

It’s not an easy one to translate. It’s takes connecting point a—best practices—to b—that kid who is left to her own devices today or has access to soda machines selling that product less expensively than the same amount of water—to c—that in 10 or 20 years she will be dealing with complicated diabetes, requiring regular medical attention, pharmaceutical regiments, hospitalizations, [and] a shortened life span. That just took me, what, 45 seconds to say all of that? It is an educational process.

Even among legislators?

Yes, but in the legislature, I’d say it’s a little more cut and dry. Unfortunately it’s a little more partisan. If there is a revenue, tax side to a solution, our minority party now has taken a pledge [the Grover Norquist pledge] that they’ll never vote to raise a tax. That didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago when, when there were deficits in California, there would be a solution that combined spending cuts and revenue increases. That would never happen today.

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Bill Smallman, August 04, 2012
I feel that the government is not working either. School Boards can eliminate vending machines, restrict off campus leave, educate on nutrition and organic gardening, sponsor school lunches with local organic produce, promote athletic activity, on campus gardens, and support local 4H programs. Food vans restricted with their business license. We need to support families that take children very seriously. Many feel taxes & laws will solve all problems. In reality they make it worse. The job is ours, claim it, and prove them wrong.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia