Honor 9/11 Victims by Helping California Fight Livestock Diseases (and Pay State Employees)!

Today’s “Are you kidding me, really?” news out of California’s decade-long collapse into insolvency comes from the Associated Press as part of an investigation of a memorial license plate fund for the survivors of the 9/11 attacks.

The AP reports that of the $15 million California collected through the sale of specialty “We Will Not Forget” memorial license plates, a mere $21,381 has actually made it to California children of 9/11 victims as part of a scholarship fund authorized by state legislation.

So where did the rest of the money go to?

The Legislature sent $3.7 million to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, according to the Department of Finance, to establish an online food monitoring database and implement a variety of worker safety programs, including hiring industrial hygienists to tend to worker health.

The response contained itemized budget reports going back six years and listing payments for all types of government functions, ranging from salaries and benefits, to printing costs and communication equipment. Among the details: $18,163 for furniture in 2006 and $11,492 for auto inspection in 2009.

The response also included a legislative report on the threats the agriculture department is targeting with an online database the license plate program helps fund. A similar report from 2006, when the license plate money was first authorized, lists bioterrorism as a potential danger. But the 2011 report focuses on food safety and livestock concerns, including foot-and-mouth disease and meat and poultry monitoring.

Emphasis added to highlight that California is using a 9/11 memorial fund to pay government employees. Read the description of what an industrial hygienist is here and wonder why the government is paying for them in the first place.

The scholarship program the license plate is supposed to be funding doesn’t even exist anymore. California’s treasurer’s office closed it in 2005. The money not used for the scholarships was supposed to go to law enforcement to be used to buy more toys for local SWAT teams  “exclusively for purposes directly related to fighting terrorism.”

Instead, in addition to spending the money elsewhere, both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Jerry Brown have drawn more than $3 million from the fund as loans to help balance the budget, an offense that is almost comically absurd, given the state’s standing budget deficit of $16 billion.

Wallow in the outrage fatigue among Californians (or former Californians, in this case) when it comes to the state’s budget:

Patricia Anderson, who paid $98 for a personalized memorial plate reading "WE R 4US," said she signed up for the program primarily to show respect for victims of the 9/11 attacks. Anderson said she was disheartened but not surprised to learn that much of the money has gone to fill the state deficit or used for general purposes.

"That's California," said Anderson, who now lives near Austin, Texas. "It's kind of a given these days — nothing is spent on what it's supposed to be."

Oh, and up until the Associated Press contacted the Department of Motor Vehicles last week, the agency’s website was still advertising that the money from the memorial plates would go to children of 9/11 victims, seven years after the fund was actually closed.

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  • fried wylie||

    "That's California," said Anderson, who now lives near Austin, Texas.

    'nough said.

  • Brett L||

    This is how shit gets ruined. Californians move to a nice place, then want CaliLite. I love Austin, but I want it to go back to being a pot smoking town with a musician infestation.

  • mjs||

    I grew up in rural western Washington during the 80s. Same scenario. Californians moving north, mostly to the Seattle area. Turned it into California. Then they wonder why (some) things suck so bad now.

  • R C Dean||

    Its a hard lesson that most people never figure out.

    There's no such thing as a dedicated fund in government accounting. Taxes, fines, lottery proceeds, whatever, are all passed with solemn assurances that the funds will be spent on cuddly puppies and fluffy bunnies. But the money all goes into the general fund, where the puppies and bunnies are easy meat for the kleptocrats, unions, corporatists, and affiliated rent-seeking scum.

  • Vote yes!||

    This will all be ameliorated by voting in the right people, Top Men if you will. A few more Team Blue members in the legislature and California will finally make big government work.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm going to take credit for my reference to kleptocrats, corporatists, and rent-seeking scum triggering the auto-ad for David Dewhurst, the Texas LG running for Senate.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Right on.

    In Sunny Minnesota a bunch of outdoorsman/conservation groups tried to get a dedicated sales tax to pay for outdoors stuff. Before it could get on the ballot, the arts groups snuck in an amendment to make the fund for outdoors stuff and the arts.

    It passed because everyone thought it would be great for clean water etc. Now it is becoming clear what a boondoggle it is.

    At one point it was seriously floated as a funding source for the new Vikings stadium, because they were part of our "cultural heritage."

  • ||

    How are folks there reacting to the stadium deal? I'm a big Vikings fan, but if I lived there, I'd be damned pissed if I had to pay for that thing. How much is it going to cost each household? On the Viking's Facebook, it seemed like a lot of people were in favor of giving the owners whatever they wanted. Maybe those people didn't actually live in MN.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Sadly, there doesn't seem to be much anger. I think the main reason is that on paper all the money will come from electronic pull tabs. So if you don't want to contribute to the stadium you won't have to.

    Now if you have questions about how electronic pull tabs are going to generate 500 million dollars, get in line with the rest of the taxpayers.

    A decent writeup on how corrupt it was is here

    In the end it always goes back to the fact that the billionaire welfare queen has $$ to spend on lobbyists, while the taxpayer really has no advocate.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Oh, and the constitutionality of the funding mechanism for the Vikes isn't exactly clear.

    But no worries, they have a work around using a time tested legal dodge.

  • ||

    California: WHSV

    (wretched hive, scum, villainy)

  • fried wylie||

    For anybody who cares, Mos Eisley has actually turned itself around in the past 20years. Good schools, safe neighborhoods, and a thriving downtown.

  • sloopyinca||

    I never got the disdain Obi Wan had for Mos Eisley. They needed a pilot and they found one. Their government, if you want to call it that, was never shown to be corrupt. If one didn't want to do business with the Huts, they didn't have to. There was no compulsion at all. The Huts may have vigorously gone after people that didn't fulfill their end of a contract (like Han Solo apparently), but they never coerced anyone into business that I could recall. And even when they have outstanding debts, people are given reasonable time to satisfy their obligations (noted by Jabba's willingness to cut Han some slack after he fried Greedo).

    I don't condone the slavery that existed in the prequels, but since those movies were not made or even envisioned with Episode IV was penned, Lucas was calling them out for no good reason.

  • sloopyinca||

    Mos Eisley was also relatively safe from sand people.

    And would one rather live there, where people were free to forge their own way, or would one rather live on a planet ruled by the Empire?

    (Reason 369 why George Lucas is a despicable human being)

  • fried wylie||

    I never got the disdain Obi Wan had for Mos Eisley.

    "I mean sure, I ended up enacting the the very oppression I sought to prevent, but smugglers? Ugh!"

  • fried wylie||

    If one didn't want to do business with the Huts, they didn't have to.

    Not so sure about that assumption. Lucas didn't get into it, but I suspect that doing business in Hutt controlled territory meant doing business with the Hutts.

    Nice moisture farm you got there, be a shame if anything were to happen to it...

  • sloopyinca||

    Nice moisture farm you got there, be a shame if anything were to happen to it...

    But you never heard anything like that. The Jawas traded openly with the farmers. I never saw any Hutt guards fucking with them. Even in Episode I (which doesn't really exist), Jabba starts the race to fanfare...none of it looks feigned by the people. There are no legions of armed thugs keeping people in line. As a matter of fact, the only organized armed force appears to be the imperial troops that show up. In Episode II (which doesn't really exist), or was it Episode III (which doesn't really exist), the men band together to look for Shmi when the sand people take her. Would the Hutts allow the men to be armed? Would they allow all of the people in the cantina to be armed? Doubtful if they "ruled" by force or intimidation.

  • fried wylie||

    The mafia doesn't care about gun ownership. It's not like it will do you any good.

  • ThemAPPLEs||

    Mos Eisley's casual consent of slavery was kind of a turn off. It clashes with my delicate (l) sensabilities. I bet property taxes were reasonable though.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    This is why I don't give money to do-gooders of any allegiance, stripe, or persuasion. If you won't let me see your books, how can I trust you to do what you say you will do with my money?

  • ||

    Lots of organizations let you see their books. Just not government. Or Soros.

  • RFID||

    Hey, what would the world look like without Telephone Sanitation Engineers? I'll tell you - someone would catch a deadly virus from a phone-borne illness, dooming the population to a scenario where the survivors will envy the dead.

  • 16th amendment||

    One of the best things we can do is repeal SB400. Then we won't be chronically in debt.

    Last week they were saying how Facebook stock would raise $2B in CA taxes over the next year. With FB trading around $30, I don't know if the money raised will be as much. And anyway, is it sensible to rely on a few tech giants to fund CA. They can go belly-up.

  • sloopyinca||

    I wonder with the capital gains reporting laws in place, if CA will even see a dime from the Facebook IPO. Seems to me all of the big players that were given stock will have to go long, and many people who bought trying to make a quick buck will either be reporting a loss or will be going long as well.

    Either way, it'll all be moot when the SEC freezes all transactions of FB stock in the next few weeks.

  • 16th amendment||

    Evidently Zuckerburg exercised a bunch of options on IPO day and paid around $1B in federal and state taxes. I suppose other executives might be in the same boat. And assuming Facebook gives restricted stock to their employees, in 6 months they will likely sell their shares. Even the 'poor' employees can make 100k, which can go towards a house in the Bay Area. So when they sell their RSU, there is more tax. I'm not totally sure of how exactly all of it works.

  • SKR||

    So what are the odds that the revenue from prop 29 will go to cancer research?

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