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Cronyism Rolls On in the Golden State

Monday February 27th, 2017   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 2:26am PST   •  

As we noted, California has made it difficult for veterans to apply their medical skills in civilian life. Like many others, these veterans must contend with the labyrinth of state boards and commissions. According to the state’s Little Hoover Commission, a watchdog agency of sorts, one out of every five Californians must receive permission to work, down from one in 20 sixty years ago. That includes manicurists, who must contend with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, which the state eliminated in 1997 then resurrected in 2002. The board now boasts 94 employees and a budget of more than $17 million.

Few of the state boards serve any useful purpose but they do come in handy for rewarding political cronies. For example, after working for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Alexis Podesta served governor Jerry Brown as director of external affairs and chief of protocol. Governor Brown has now appointed Podesta as secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. There she will bag an annual $194,105, all paid by California taxpayers.

Dean Grafilo has been chief of staff for assemblyman Rob Bonta and legislative assistant for assemblyman Alberto Torrico. Governor Brown has appointed Grafilo as a director at the California Department of Consumer Affairs. There Grafilo will bag an annual $176,691, all paid by California taxpayers. These posts hardly exhaust the prospects for the sinecure seekers.

California’s can’t offer anybody a ride on its bullet train, a certified boondoggle. On the other hand, the high speed rail project does provide a board slot for Lynn Schenk, a former member of Congress and chief of staff for California governor Gray Davis.

Likewise, former state senator and Democratic Party boss Art Torres had no medical or scientific expertise but the state stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, duly brought Torres aboard and promptly tripled his salary to $225,000. They did this after businessman Duane Roth, who did have a biotechnology background, offered to serve with no salary. CIRM has spent nearly $3 billion and failed to produce any of the promised cures. Government agencies, boards and commissions are short on results for taxpayers but rich in rewards for political cronies.

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February 2017