Ruffalo: Local Republicans continue to stink up the place

Looking Behind the Scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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If my only two choices for membership to a political party were Republican or Democrat, I unhesitatingly would opt for the GOP every time. Maybe it’s nothing more than nostalgia, because I still remember the days when Republicans were for small government, personal responsibility and lower taxes. Ah, those were the days. As for national and statewide politics, I’d still opt for the Republican party, although not the 100 percent Kool-Aid (grape, please) drinking way that I used to. Local politics is another matter, mainly because the Placer County Democrats seem to do things more to my liking than do those from the Republican party. Case in point is the recent pronouncement of newly elected District 1 Supervisor Jack Duran. That Democrat needed just a few months in office to see that keeping the so-called revenue sharing operation in force was sheer folly, which is why he called for it to be placed on a one-year’s hiatus during these fiscal difficulties. In case you don’t know, revenue sharing is where the supes equally disburse an annual pot of $100,000 of taxpayers’ money to county schools and non-profits. If that scheme was properly called vote-buying, I’d probably feel better about it. After all, I’m from Chicago and can understand the need to give the voters what we Windy City denizens used to call “walking-around money.” But here it’s different. These guys act as if the money comes out of their own wallets and — not as an afterthought — has anybody considered that another $100,000 in the general fund might mean two fewer county employees need to be laid off? Meanwhile, 5th District supe Jennifer Montgomery — another Democrat — went one step further when she called for revenue sharing to be ended, rather than placed on hold for a year. She then went on to walk the walk by sending her share of $20,000 back to the general fund, calling for it to be earmarked to make up for cuts in such social programs as Meals on Wheels and the like. And while the local Democrats continue to appeal to our better nature, Republicans such as those lurking in their local Central Committee continue to stink up the place. Granted, this one goes back to the 2008 presidential race, but because the only thing transparent about the local GOPers seems to be their motives, we’re just now finding out about it. Seems that on Nov. 1, 2007, a $2,650 check from the Romney For President committee was made out to the “Placer County Republican Party.” The following day, that check was deposited in the account of the Placer County Republican Assembly. Perhaps I’m in error, but wasn’t George Park then the president of the Placer County Republican Assembly, and — again excuse me if I’m wrong — wasn’t Tom Hudson chairing the Placer County Republican Party? Talk about coincidence! But wait! There’s more. About a week after those Romney funds were deposited, the California Republican Assembly had its annual convention at the Sacramento Hilton. A document from that gathering shows 75 local delegates each paid $35 for the privilege of hobnobbing with fellow wizards. If we do the math, 75 members multiplied by a $35 per delegate registration fee comes out to $2,625. Wonder whatever happened to the remaining 25 bucks? Now don’t get me wrong, there was nothing illegal here. On the other hand, doesn’t it make you want to run screaming into a hot shower after first burning your clothes? Yet there’s hope. During the most recent primaries, Republican voters made it plain they didn’t want George Park cluttering up their central committee. Unfortunately, his exile lasted only until Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue appointed him as an ex-officio. Logue should have known better, and once knowing should cashier Park. But as one GOP politico told me the other day, “Logue doesn’t care what happens in Placer County because he thinks it won’t be in his district” after the upcoming reapportionment. Fortunately for the GOP, there’s still the tea party. Remember, it was those Liptonites who wiped out more than a few bad Republicans in the primary. Which is why I point out the tea party will rally on the State Capitol steps on April 14 (from 9 to noon), and will have its annual Tax Rally Day at Cal Expo on April 16. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sundays. Reach him at