All Hands in the Piggy Bank: California’s Red Light District and the Money Whores at Work



“Well, Prop 1C claims it will take a few simples changes to bring in much more revenue to the state. But is anything the government does that simple?” Huff asked. “It’s making grand assumptions…with anticipated revenues we probably won’t see. And if we are counting on the lottery to bail the state out financially, how is that done when people are gambling less because of a sour economy? For example, lottery officials blamed the economic downturn for the 10 percent drop in lottery sales during the first four months of the current fiscal year. There is no need to change or modernize the lottery. It should be left as the voters intended twenty-five years ago.”

Obviously, Huff thought there were better ways to increase revenue than coming up with some lame schemes, which seem to cause more trouble than they’re worth. I began to agree with him.

In reality, it seemed all of these Props were poor excuses for budget reform, proposed by shady politicians to divert funds away from the places we need spending, in order to fill holes created by spending in places we don’t. For instance, Prop 1D would’ve taken away $1.6 billion from critical local health and education programs for young children and given it to Sacramento politicians, affording them control over the spending rather than the health and education experts; and Prop 1E proposed to cut $500 million from mental health care, limiting treatment and services for people living with mental illness. There had to be a better way.

On the way out of the Senator’s office, I snatched back the business card from the Secretary’s desk, who was busy jumbling through her files while on the phone. My next stop was the Sacramento Bee. I needed to do some research. I wanted to find out more about the “waste, fraud and abuse within the bureaucracy” commented on by Senator Huff and why these thoughtless measures were even on the ballot.

At the receptionists’ desk, I made up some story about meeting Jim Sanders there for an interview on budget reform, presenting the card once more. The girl seemed confused, as Jim wasn’t in the office, and I acted annoyed and assured her he was there, that I’d just spoken with him in the office. After some commotion, she let me though to the elevators… After all, this wasn’t the U.N., and I may have technically been a felon, but I certainly wasn’t dangerous. Passing by the newsroom, I snooped around for a few minutes and finally got to the fact-check library, full of documents, reports, back-issues, and files, definitely better than any public library, as the newsroom’s fact-check area would have documents pertaining specifically to the matter at hand, including unpublished research and interviews, all the work already done for a half-sleeping, speed-induced reporter from Los Angeles with very few up-state connections in the world of California politics.

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