Friday, May 30, 2008

An Amazing Headline

Now here's a headline that put a little extra crunch in my Corn Flakes: "Republicans block California prison medical plan." It heads a story in today's Los Angeles Times.

The headline is apt and accurate, but I haven't seen that kind of accuracy when it comes to the shenanigans of the GOP in what seems like decades, and certainly not in the last twelve years. For the most part, the allegedly "liberal" mainstream press has given a pass to Republicans when it comes to behavior that effectively cripples the legislative process, focusing instead on the ineptness and weakness of Democrats.

Here's the back story on the article. The Federal Courts in California have held that the state's lack of adequate medical care for prison inmates is unconstitutional and a three judge panel appointed a federal receiver, J. Clark Kelso to rectify the problem. Mr. Kelso has come up with a plan and presented it to the state senate, which was expected to approve it and to come up with a plan to finance it. Republicans refused to go along with the plan claiming that they were tired of a "liberal" federal court telling the state what to do.

Kelso's plan entails renovating existing prison clinics and construction of 10,000 beds in up to seven new facilities for sick and mentally ill inmates.

The bill providing the funding, SB 1665, would have authorized $6.9 billion in debt to be repaid over 25 years, and $100 million from the state's general fund. The plan employs a type of bond that does not need voter approval.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, had endorsed the receiver's plan. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who appointed Kelso, wrote a letter last week urging lawmakers to pass it quickly.

The governor approved of the plan, but his own party members in the senate decided to engage in what could very well be a the kind of game of chicken in which the loser would be the state. Mr. Kelso has made it clear that if the legislature doesn't go along with his plan, he intends to raid the state treasury (a power given to him by the courts) to implement it anyway. That treasury right now is in such sorry shape that the state could very well be bankrupted by the move.

Now, it is understandable that a lot of people are not comfortable with the notion of the federal courts taking over the state's prison system and potentially the state treasury, but the fact is the state deserved it. The state's prison system failed miserably when it came to providing even the most basic of medical care for the inmates.

Apparently the Republicans don't care. The vote in the state senate, cast pretty much along party lines didn't meet the two-thirds approval required for a bill which would go into effect immediately. failed, 23 to 15, on a mostly party-line vote. Only one Democrat, state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), voted against it. One Republican, state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria), abstained.

So, a good article and an even better headline.

More like this, L.A. Times, and I might consider re-subscribing.

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Blogger Nancy Willing said...

great post!
I can relate. My state's prison's are under federal review also.

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you keep cutting taxes -- services that you need end up getting cut too.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The headline has been changed...

Now reads; "Billions at risk over prison flap"

Factually accurate, but lets the Republicans off the hook. The first graf still reads;

"SACRAMENTO -- A court- appointed receiver vowed Thursday to raid California's depleted state treasury for billions of dollars as the state Senate's minority Republicans blocked -- for the second time in three days -- his plan to build prison medical beds."

Good to see this sort of news getting coverage.

1:39 PM  
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