Saturday Jan 22 2011
Ruffalo: Local GOP politics raising some eyebrows
By: Jim Ruffalo
When the Republicans swept into power in November, I must admit I was thrilled. On the other hand, I was also overjoyed when the Democrats did the very same thing four years previous to that. Perhaps it’s the libertarian in me, or maybe because I love seeing an incumbent on any side of the aisle be forced to return to the working world. The celebration over the Democrats’ victory was because Republicans seemed to have forgotten that they usually get elected in order to put a brake on the spending engine. In the past, the political argument usually seemed to be Democrats wanted to spend while the GOP wanted to make cuts. That all changed under Bush II. For some inexplicable reason, the political argument went from “should taxpayers’ money be spent” to “how much taxpayers’ money to spend.” Then came last November where the bulk of us grew weary not only over the quantum leap in spending, but in frustration over what many perceived as very heavy-handed governmental control. That most recent change in political fortunes was cause for celebration. Unfortunately, the giddiness quickly dissipated, thanks to the Placer County Republican Central Committee. No doubt many local political watchers thought that outfit would change once we learned that most of the Tom Hudson machine failed to win re-election in June. Turns out that the election failed to pound a stake into the heart. Need proof? Well, the January PCRCC meeting was a prime example. Hugo Chavez and any other tin-horn dictator would have been proud of Hudson’s machinations that night. Hudson still lives politically, and although nothing he did (along these lines, anyway) appears illegal, there sure was a foul odor. Turns out he got back onto the PCRCC executive committee by getting himself appointed as an alternate. Nothing wrong with that, except the guy who made Hudson his alternate was James Allen, who according to Placer County elections office records, was already a registered voter at Sacramento County, and thus ineligible to serve on the PCRCC. It gets worse. Hudson got his minions to vote him back into office despite the lack of any written documentation that Allen had picked him as an alternate. It was just about then that the more queasy in the audience began exiting, and just in time, because now it was George Park’s turn to be politically resurrected. In case you don’t know, Park was completely repudiated by Republican voters in June, finishing sixth in a four-seat race. But just as rust needs oxidation to do its dirty work, Park had help in getting reborn. The announcement was made that Park received an ex-officio appointment from Assemblyman Dan Logue, whose Third District has a couple of slivers in Placer County at Wheaton and Colfax. And while the night was still young, Park was made the PCRCC’s treasurer, which has to be bad news for the members who've been laboring the past few years to get full fiscal accountings from the leadership. Why did Logue decide to slap the collective faces of those Republicans who’d earlier shown Park the door? I called Logue’s office and got hold of Steve Thompson, Logue’s senior field representative. There were two questions I wanted answers to: Why send Park back to the PCRCC when the voters wanted otherwise, and why go out of your own district to tab Park? Thompson said something about ex-officio reps are there “to vote the will of the legislator,” then promised to get back to me with full answers. I’m still waiting. And just for the record, Congressman Tom McClintock’s ex-officio — Kathy Arts — also voted to bring back the dark side. The whole thing could unravel, judging by an utterance made that night by PCRCC member Karen England. While Hudson, Park and the gang were trying to steamroller yet another fiscal entry into the mysterious Headquarters Partnership, England blurted out that she was not comfortable with such transference of funds, especially because a few months ago she’d been “visited by the FBI (which said) it was investigating” the PCRCC and several of Hudson’s incorporated ventures. Because I wasn’t present when England said this, I checked with her later. She told me that “to the best of my recollection, I did say that,” but declined further comment on the matter “because of the on-going FBI investigation.” Great, first the already announced Fair Political Practices Commission investigation into what may have been political money laundering by the PCRCC, and now the feds are poking into that gang. Excuse my while I re-register as an Independent. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.