That faint smell is the whiff of desperation coming from the governor’s office:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to seek the elimination of more than 1,700 state firefighting positions and closure of scores of fire stations if voters reject key ballot measures in the May 19 special election, according to documents obtained by The Chronicle on Monday.
Schwarzenegger’s proposal involves slashing $80.8 million from Cal Fire’s spending plan – a 10 percent reduction – by eliminating 602 full-time positions and 1,100 seasonal firefighting positions. The cuts would be part of a series of deep cuts to the state budget.
Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency, has about 5,000 full-time firefighters. At the peak of last year’s fire season, more than 2,700 wild fires ravaged the state and the agency hired extra help: 3,000 seasonal firefighters.
Arnold seems to have quickly forgotten the record-setting 2008 fire season, and the 2007 fires before that, and the 2003 fires before that, etc, etc. And considering that the US Forest Service’s firefighting problems haven’t yet been straightened out, and that firefighting capacity is being cut as cities try to balance their budgets, Arnold’s proposal is likely a death sentence for many vulnerable communities this coming summer.
Obviously Arnold is trying to scare voters into supporting his craptacular May 19 propositions. But voters can smell desperation a mile away, and they’re not likely to be swayed by this truly insane proposal.
What Arnold’s crazy “let’s burn down California – literally!” plan will actually do is show voters that Republicans, whether they are for or against the May 19 propositions, are really just hell-bent on destroying our government and leaving everyone to fend for themselves. The last time a Republican demonstrated that to the public, as Bush did after Hurricane Katrina, his party’s public support collapsed and they were thrown out of power at the first available opportunity.
The same will happen here in California. The question is whether Arnold and his wingnut allies will destroy the state first. They’re already pouring gasoline on everything in sight…