Calderon Faces the Music: Why No One Cares

Calderon Faces the Music: Why No One Cares

What is it about big money corruption in politics that we all hate so much but refuse to do anything to fix? Despite being universally condemned in America, monetary influence on legislation is alive and well -- especially in California.

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Do you remember California State Senator Ron Calderon? He was arrested in a Las Vegas hotel room two years ago by Federal agents and charged with accepting over $100,000 in bribes to influence his legislation.

This week a judge will decide if Calderon is guilty of the 24 charges against him, which include bribery, money laundering, and fraud. If he is found guilty (he has pleaded not guilty), he faces a maximum sentence of 396 years in federal prison.

Now let’s pause for a moment and think about that. After reading the full story, I immediately have three questions. First, how does a guy like Calderon get elected and then remain in office for nearly eleven years? Second, what is it about California’s system of government that enables such dubious moral behavior? And finally, why don’t we seem to care?

The answer to the first question is pretty straightforward. The fact is that California’s government is so removed from the people that it has achieved an “out of sight, out of mind” status. In any given day, it is hard enough for the average citizen to stay informed about national politics, let alone State and Local. All that Calderon had to do to get elected was make promises to well-funded special interests who then filled his campaign coffers with money.

The second question is more nuanced: what enables corruptible individuals to behave so contemptibly while in government? Volumes could be written about this, but the most obvious reason is that the system is built on a framework of legal or easily hidden bribery. From campaign contributions, to nice dinners, and behested payments, there are dozen of rat holes through which money can travel unnoticed or with a stamp of legal approval. As a result, the statesman who refuses to participate in money politics is rarely elected and struggles to survive once in Sacramento.

Finally, we have only ourselves to answer the question, “Why don’t we care?” The truth is we have a million reasons that we ought to care. Look at our State’s unfunded entitlements and pensions, the decrepit education system that’s failing our kids and their parents, the deteriorating infrastructure, the cap-and-trade system that forces high energy bulls on the poorest people, the pathetic response to the worst drought in living memory, and the list goes on. Why hasn’t Sacramento developed better solutions, planned for the future, and demonstrated agility in the face of disasters?

Because our representatives are busy gambling with bribe money in Las Vegas, perhaps?

That is why Neighborhood Legislature aims to take money out of politics entirely. We want to shrink districts so that a candidate does not need to take money from special interests to get elected. That allows people of character and integrity to run for office and be elected. As a corollary effect of having smaller districts, there would also be more representatives. The more representatives there are, the less power any single one of them has. That cuts the feet out from under those who would ordinarily bribe (or “influence”) our politicians.

Our legislature would be comprised of our neighbors; people who genuinely care about our communities and our State. Interested to know more about how this would work? Read more about the Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act here.

by John Cox, Chairman, Neighborhood Legislature

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  • commented 2015-08-08 00:10:43 -0700
    Clearly you’re not a journalist, so allow we to fact check a few details for you. First of all, he was not arrested in Vegas. The FBI surprised him and told him they had been surveiling him for 7 years. After 6 hours of interrogation, in which he wouldn’t agree to wear a wire to the Capitol, they had nothing solid enough to charge him so they let him go. Use that noodle type thing beneath your cranium (my apologies. I wasn’t sure you if you knew what the word ‘cerebrum’ meant.) and ask yourself, “Why would the FBI let such a scumbag criminal loose after 6 hours of interrogation if they had something solid on him?” I’ll let you ideate about that for a bit. Secondly, he was in the legislature from 2006-2014. That’s 8 years, not 11. Oh, did you mean his brother Tom? Wrong again: he served only 4. Thirdly, your title "is misleading. You claim to champion a cause to benefit California, yet you run a second rate blog asking people for money to keep money out of politics. You don’t even have the intelligence to write a decent post. Not article, blog post. I cringed every time I came across an error. Not just in facts but in the composition. Corollary means, “a direct or natural consequence or result.” I bet you were just so tickled at the thought of being able to use this word so everyone would think you were just a smarty pants. I think the word you were looking for was in the positive form of ‘associated’ or ‘supplementary.’ The sentence would read better as, “As an associated effect of having smaller districts, there would be also more representatives.” It’s just a terribly written sentence all together, but I disgress. Your title is, “Calderon Faces The Music: Why Noone Cares.” This title describes an article about Calderon having to go to court and why it’s not important to anyone and so they don’t care. What your article was actually about is Calderon going to court and the issue this brings to light, which is political corruption that exists on not only a federal level but also a state level, and posing the question of, “Why doesn’t this concern anyone? Why aren’t people doing more to stop this?” I liked it better the first way: Calderon going to court and the fact that this isn’t important enough for people to care because there’s bigger issues for society to deal with. What you just did is remind everyone about how the FBI is spending billions of dollars to entrap smalltime politocians, instead of taking down real criminals, or you know leveraging that same money and helping out our failing government; and how thiefs like you are trying to capitalize on this story by luring people to your website with a misleading headline. Don’t get me wrong, I encourage your readers to support the worthy causes they care most about. Your $20 will surely help this man stop politicians from spending money in Vegas; by spending the money himself at Spearmint Rhino.