The California Performance Review: Devolving Constitutional Government in the Golden State

By Susanna Lynton Jennings
Posted on Freedom Advocates on October 13, 2004

“My relationship to power and authority is that I’m all for it… People need somebody to watch over them… Ninety-five percent of the people in the world need to be told what to do and how to behave.”  — Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. News & World Report, November 26, 1990

In the eyes of many elected officials, America is no longer capable of self-government. Many Americans were stunned to learn that a small group of Congressmen have requested the United Nations to monitor our federal elections this November. Yet at the same time, other elected officials are working to “reinvent” American government at the state and local levels. In California a hand-selected panel representing the political philosophy of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, have cast another vote of no confidence in the citizens. This time, it comes in the form of a massive new plan to “streamline government” – the California Performance Review.

The California Performance Review (CPR) began as a directive from the Governor’s office to remake California government on a new premise. The governor says this reinvention of California government will “eliminate redundancies and save money”. The Orange County Register reported that “Schwarzenegger said he would ignore the ‘squawking’ of opponents and instead work all-out ‘to create an efficient, responsive and responsible government, a 21st-century government for the future of California.'”

The plan itself is no model of plain language and streamlined structure. Just reviewing its 2500 pages takes real dedication. Submerged in the warm and fuzzy words of the CPR are plans to eliminate elected representation, regionalize local school boards, eliminate separation of powers and concentrate government power in the office of the Governor. According to a recent article in the Orange County Register, the CPR “[merges] 11 agencies and 79 departments into 11 departments directly under Schwarzenegger’s control.”

In truth, Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan effectively devolves the constitutionally based government of the State of California by creating a series of councils, conservancies and regional governments that will create new political systems, new methods for educating children and a new land use system that pretends to protect nature by limiting human action in order to consolidate economic power within an elite ruling class.

The Deterioration of California Education

The CPR plan for education is an example of the Governor’s wish to limit California’s choice by eliminating representatives elected by the people. Under the CPR, the Governor’s Secretary to Education heads a new organization, the Department of Education and Workforce Preparation. This appointee will be granted broad powers to manage the California education system from elementary schools to community colleges.

What does ‘workforce preparation’ mean? (link opens PDF) It means government-private partnerships between schools and business; a centrally planned economy; replacing the learning of facts with assessment of attitudes, values and beliefs, and treating children as biological resources of the state to create global collective citizens. This is even more alarming than changing political mechanics. The significant change is about the purpose of education and the premise we hold about the nature and role of children to reach and seek their full potential as human beings.

Homeland Bureaucracy

The CPR recommends that Homeland Security become part of a very large new state bureaucracy, the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security. The appointed department head of this new agency will oversee the California Highway Patrol, and the law enforcement branches of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Alcoholic Beverage Control and Fish and Game. In addition the Division of Fire Protection and Emergency Management, and a new division, the Division of Victim Services, would be placed under the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

California citizens are voicing deep concerns about the elimination of elected representation and the creation of “super-agencies” like the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security that report directly to the governor. This will make it more difficult for citizens to maintain contact with elected representatives who are bound to hold open public meetings. The increasing desire to eliminate elected representation and open public meetings will make government less transparent, which opposes a stated goal of the CPR. The fact that the super-agencies created by the CPR all report to a single person, the Governor, underlines the true intent of the CPR — it is a bold grab for power and control. Systems matter. In a system with virtually limitless power, eventually a police state will arise.

Streamlining a Power Grab

Eliminating redundancy and streamlining government are admirable goals, provided that the scope of government does not expand beyond the constitutional and moral scope of a legitimate government. By this standard California Performance Review (CPR) is troublesome indeed. CPR is a method for devolving California’s constitutional government into a system of appointed boards and governing bodies run by non-elected bureaucrats. It also seeks to consolidate the offices of constitutionally elected officials, directing many of the remainder to report to appointed bureaucrats, thus creating yet another obstacle for accountability to citizens.

“The California Performance Review: Devolving Constitutional Government in the Golden State” by Susanna Lynton Jennings

[This article contains links to outside sources not controlled by Freedom Advocates and therefore are subject to change.]

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