Monday, December 12, 2005

California the Ungovernable

Dan Walters, long time Sacramento Bee reporter and columnist on Sunday began a series of columns on Arnold Schwarzenegger's problems and mistakes in attempting to get control of the helm of our floundering state as follows:

California is an extraordinarily difficult state to govern. Its immensely complex social and economic mélange generates unique issues and unique political conflicts that make consensus on any of those issues virtually impossible.

Indeed, a perfectly logical argument can be made that California is fundamentally ungovernable, at least with a political structure that gives almost every faction a veto power. And the recent political history of the state - wheel-spinning on virtually every front - provides strong prima facie evidence of the theory's validity. More

Sunday, December 11, 2005

How to Proceed

Separatism is not the proposal of this web site. But many of the same arguments that lead to proposals for California being separated from the rest of the Union contribute to the case for dividing the state. (Of course, the one exception is that a new republic could allow immigrants like Arnold to become President without the problem of a Constitutional Amendment. For more on having California "released" from the Union, see my alternative analysis at A New California Republic.)

So how do we proceed to divide the state into three states?

The Legislature needs to place a three state proposal referendum on the statewide ballot. It should provide for the creation of a Commission to prepare on behalf of the Legislature a detailed proposal to divide the State approximately as indicated in the maps here (while we recognize that the boundaries proposed here may need some adjustment, we would hate to see either an effort to divide the state in two nor in three ways horizontally as has been suggested in the past, nor would we want to see peculiar gerrymandering).

The referendum should provide that the Commission's proposal be placed on the ballot by the Secretary State as a proposed amendment to the State Constitution. Finally, it should provide that if the Commission's proposal be approved by a majority of the voters of the State that the State's Congressional Delegation including all members of the U.S. House of Representatives elected from the State and the State's two U. S. Senators sponsor and introduce a bills in each house to implement the division of the State.

That's how it could be done. Now, we need only persuade the Legislature, the voters, then Congress.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How Would Three States Stack Up?

California is the most populous state in the Union with about 10% of the nations population. As of the 2000 census, based on population California was 65% larger then number 2 Texas and 78% larger than number 3 New York. California is the third largest state in area, behind Alaska and Texas both of which are substantially larger.

So how would the three proposed Californias (see map) stack up in the ranking with a total of 52 states?

Southern California would be the 2nd most populous state, slightly behind Texas, and 21st in area, ranked between Washington and Georgia.

Northern California would be a bit larger in area, ranking 19th between Oklahoma and Washington, but would be 21st in population between Maryland and Arizona.

Coastal California would be 9th in population, between Michigan and New Jersey, and 42nd in area between South Carolina and West Virginia.

With the division of the state, Californians would find themselves in states more comparable to others in the Union. Each of the new states would have political influence similar to most other states. Each would have a clearer image of what the state was about.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rationale for Three States

Before tackling the arguments associated with the pros and cons of dividing California, the issue of how many states to divide California into should be examined.

Californians who are familiar with their state know that one can find a rationale for dividing the state into anywhere from two states to eight states. California is physically diverse. The State's California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES) has performed a fairly thorough job of mapping the regions of the State as follows:

These maps indicate that no logical north-south divisions stand out providing a quick way to divide the state, even though most historical efforts tried to use horizontal lines along latitude numbers such as 36 degrees. While a simple approach, it isn't too logical to use horizontal lines. The watersheds and bioregions are a result of topographical features and climate. Consider a topographical map of California:
The first thing one observes from these three maps is that a "Southern California" seems to be identifiable. One might argue that the South Coast would seem to be different from the inland. There is some truth in that. But one can even demonstrate an odd tie between the two - the infamous Santa Ana winds:
One can't help but feel that Southern California is reasonably identifiable as a physically separate area from the rest of the State. The line to be drawn is not literally east-west or north-south. But some relationship probably exists between the physical and existing political boundaries. What about the rest of the state?

Again, in the past some have attempted to simply use a latitude number, a simple east-west line. But as the physical maps above indicate, particularly if one looks at the bioregions and watershed maps, an obvious fact stands out. The remaining portion of California has a coastal area more or less split off from the east by mountains. Further, when we review the political maps such as the 2000 Presidential election county results, we begin to see an area with an orientation:
The fact is a political divide does exist. In their San Francisco Chronicle column of November 1, 2004, Matier and Ross reported on some results by the Field Poll:

California's North-South split now East-West
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Monday, November 1, 2004

Forget the old North-South split -- recent polling is reinforcing the notion that the new fault line in California politics is inland vs. the coast.

"And it's a phenomenon that may be with us for some time,'' said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo.

The emerging split pits the liberal and heavily Democratic coast against the more conservative and Republican inland areas such as Riverside and the Central Valley.

And nowhere is the split more apparent than in this year's presidential race, where recent Field polling showed George Bush ahead by 20 points in the Inland Empire, compared with John Kerry's 17-point lead in the more populated coastal areas.

And the split continues on other issues as well. For example:
  • Proposition 66, the move to roll back California's "three strikes" law. The latest polls show support for the measure is four times greater among coastal voters than inland voters.
  • Proposition 72, to require businesses with more than 200 employees to help pay health insurance costs for their workers. On the worker-friendly coast, recent polls had the measure ahead by 6 points. But among the business- friendly and government-averse inland voters, the "no" side of Prop. 72 was ahead by 18 points.
  • Proposition 71, the $3 billion stem cell initiative. It has a 20- point lead on the coast, but only an 8-point lead inland.
"And this is going to be with us for many years," DiCamillo said. "The inland voters look like America's heartland, while the coastal voters look a lot like the Northeast."

A split in the economies of the regions also applies. Dr. Tapan Monroe in 1995 (while serving as Chief Economist for Pacific Gas.& Electric) noted:

"The economy of the state of California, if it were a nation, would be comparable to that of the U.K. or China, and the President of California would be attending the G7 or G8 summit meetings. However, such a strong economy is not consistent across its regions. Based on geographic and economic activity..., we can divide California into three major economic regions and San Diego County: the...Central Valley, the...San Francisco Bay Area, the...Los Angeles region, and San Diego."

Monroe explains that during the 1990-93 recession the Los Angeles region economy declined earlier and more significantly primarily because of defense industry job losses but by 1995 recovered significantly from growth in service and entertainment industries. The Bay Area was more stable because of the higher education level of the population (remember this was before the dotcom bubble and burst). The Central Valley was the area of the fastest job growth attributed to such things as cheaper housing. He concluded:

In summary, the three major regions of California and San Diego have been recovering at different rates because of significantly different economies. The Bay Area is a relatively stable region due to its well diversified economy. The Central Valley has been and will continue to be the fastest growing region in California due to availability of open space, lower housing costs, and absence of problems that hamper the larger coastal areas. But the Central Valley will continue to suffer from relatively high levels of structural unemployment. The Los Angeles area was hit hardest during the recession because of defense cutbacks and the resultant massive layoffs by prime defense contracting firms. Even though job growth in the Los Angeles area is at a faster clip than in the Bay Area, it will take longer for Southern California to regain its pre- recession job level.

In the most recent recession cycle, Southern California proved to be more resiliant, the housing boom particularly protected the Central Valley while, as we all know, the Bay Area economy tanked. All this confirms that three separate economies exist.

In addition, one more factor helps reinforce dividing the South Coast from the remainder. Appendix H of the Online Guide to California's Marine Life Management Act indicated the importance of this: (emphasis added)

Currents and other bodies of water may differ dramatically in temperature and chemistry, as well as speed and direction. These factors all influence the kinds of marine life found in different bodies of water. In general terms, geography, oceanography, and biology combine to divide California marine fisheries and other marine life into
two major regions north and south of Point Conception. Within each region, other differences emerge. Conservation and use of California's marine life depends partly upon recognizing these differences.

Finally, if one takes a quick look at the California highway and railroad maps one can see that transportation corridors have created an east-west split in the North portion of the State:

Taking all of these physical and economic realities into account plus historical considerations and using existing county boundaries for ease of mapping, it is suggested that California should be divided into three states in some manner close to the following map:

While we will be using the above map for further discussions, it should be noted that some elements of it will be troublesome. Kern County, for instance, might more logically be included in Northern California. If one considers everything it probably should be divided along with Solano and Contra Costa, all as indicated on the map below:

However, these details are not something that can be resolved on this web site. For statistical analysis, the map with undivided counties will be used.

The last point to be taken up is that of limiting the split to three states. The political facts of life are that even with just three states Californians would gain four U. S. Senators, no small concern for the other states. However, a division as suggested here as of 2004 would create four open Senate seats unless incumbents Diane Feinstein or Barbara Boxer relocated, for they both would live in Coastal California which would be the most liberal new State. The new Southern California and Northern California would likely present new opportunities for both of the two major parties with the real possibility that two conservatives and one or two moderate Republicans could take the seats. Of course, Democrats could take the seats also, but the point is that true opportunities would exist for both parties. This should make the idea more appealing in the current Congress.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Divide California: The History

Proposals to divide California into more than one state date back to before California was admitted to the Union in 1850. In the first 150 years of statehood, there have been 27 serious proposals to split the state. It is an idea that has staying power!

From 1850 to 1860, the issue was constantly before the public, the legislature, and Congress. While abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates in the East tried to capture or disparage proposals, most Southern Californians thought the state should be divided up for many less controversial local reasons relating to taxation and common interests. In 1859, the Legislature put matter to the voters in Southern California and a whopping 75% said create a separate state. Unfortunately, the Civil War distracted the folks in Washington. For an interesting and detailed review of the issue during the State's first 12 years, click here.

Since the Civil War, the issue has been discussed seriously by the Legislature at least once every two decades.

One of the more amusing, but serious, movements began during 1940 when parts of Southern Oregon and Northern California decided to form the State of Jefferson. Again, another war, World War II, distracted everyone. For details, click here.

The most recent proposal occurred in the early 1990's. The original proposal was to create two states - one from the counties in the northern part of California that closely identified with the issues brought up by the Jefferson proposal and the other including all the rest of California. After some debate, the proposal switched to the creation of three states and it passed the Assembly! Several counties put the matter on the ballot in June of 1992. To read about this effort, click here.

This blog continues this long history of advocacy for dividing California.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The 2004 Political Controversy

"...I truly believe there is something distinctly alluring about the state in and of itself -- not just the geography but the California of the mind....
"But focus hard on the reality of 2005, and what we see is a golden state of dysfunction.
"...The underlying problem is the detachment between decision-makers and the results of their decisions. It is a state so large, hobbled by so many initiatives and expectations that not even a life-and-death issue jars the status quo."

- John King, San Francisco Chronicle

The Current Blue/Red State Controversy. The 2004 national election has elicited much discussion on the web about having California remove itself from, or be thrown out of, the Union. This discussion has even received some review in the traditional press. Those responding negatively to the idea have correctly observed that the Civil War settled this issue and that Californians are clearly integrated into the American scene both historically and culturally. And the California economy is too much a part of the national economy to simply separate it out.

Too many people in other parts of the nation see California as someplace weird, out of the norm of the country, because of the press emphasis on Blue/Red, liberal Hollywood, and gay San Francisco . That is a very uninformed view. Consider the last two presidential elections using maps of the results by county:

2000 Presidential Election Results

2004 Presidential Election Results

These two maps should remind you of the national maps of red and blue states. They would seem to be an indicator that the national "values" divide exists inside California.

But is it really a difference in values or just historical inherited partisan loyalties? Fortunately we have the results of ballot measures to examine in 2004:

Stem Cell Research Funding

Mandated Employer Health Insurance

What these two maps indicate is that California includes regions that usually will vote socially and economically conservative (red on the stem cell map) and regions that usually will vote socially and economically liberal (green on the employer health insurance map). California even has "swing counties." Consider a map of another ballot measure that established a 1% income tax on income over $1,000,000 to pay for county mental health programs compared with the 2003 recall election of Governor Gray Davis and you will find potential "swing" counties:

Mental Health Tax

Recall Gray Davis

Politically California is as divided as the nation. As a country on its own, it would have the world's 6th or 7th largest economy and it would be the 59th largest country in area and the 34th largest in population (out of about 237). So it too could become a "divided" nation, but why would anyone propose that?

More logically, it should become more than one state. The intent of this blog is to provide information regarding the idea of dividing California.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Its Time for Three Californias?

There are three Californias. Because of this, California has become ungovernable. The time has come for one of two things to happen: (1) Divide California into three states, but logically, not with just horizontal lines; or (2) Have the United States release California to become a separate nation divided into provinces by its own constitution.