Forty years ago, like a dandelion spreading its seeds, the bumper stickers started to appear in and across Idaho. Then they proliferated like rabbits as native Idahoans announced their deeply held view: Don’t Californicate Idaho!
Folks in Ada, Canyon, Kootenai and Bonner counties in particular had a sense that an invasion was underway, but few realized at the time how much these transplanted Californians were changing Idaho politics. Many of the newcomers were retirees from places like Orange County and San Diego County, California, and with the huge uptick in real estate values in southern California, they were selling homes at multiples of two, three or four times what they had paid.
They would carry the proverbial boatload of cash north with them and quickly discovered they could buy twice the house size they had in California at half the price. Many of these immigrants were also public employees who were retiring - teachers, firefighters, police—and thus their generous pension was provided by one of the wealthiest and strongest public pension systems in the world - CALPERS.
The vast majority of these immigrants had fallen hard in 1964 for Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s conservative mantle which saw government as the enemy and the consumer of confiscatory taxes with few returns. California Governor Ronald Reagan, who delivered a memorable last minute television plea for Goldwater, picked up the standard and started his march to the White House.
Reagan narrowly lost the 1976 nomination to the un-elected but appointed vice president, Gerald Ford, who inherited the office from the disgraced Richard Nixon. In 1980, Reagan won going away just about the time the in-migration of Californians started to decline.
These California transplants became active in Republican party politics, both regionally and statewide, started to field quality candidates, and following the lead of a very active party chairman, former State Senator Phil Batt, executed in election game plans that brought about victory after victory.
When the smoke cleared the take over was complete. At the local level the GOP captured county commissions and city councils throughout the ten northern counties. The once solid Democratic north was now solidly Republican and Idaho was a one party state.
Thanks a lot, California, for these immigrants brought their values and views with them, which shows Idaho’s support for public education as a percentage of income and economic growth declining steadily since 1994.
Take second district Representative Vito Barbieri. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary this transplanted Californian has voted no on almost every spending bill that has come before the Legislature in the six years he has been in Boise.. This “head in the sand” approach has actually cost the taxpayer more through the annual adoption of over-ride levies that increases one’s property taxes to off-set the Legislature’s consistent under funding.
Rep. Barbieri also voted this year to cap the homeowner’s exemption at $200,000 which will result in further increases in property taxes in coming years.
Barbieri is relying on the voters remaining ignorant and not finding it conceivable that Republicans could ever do anything to increase taxes, Wrong.
Then there’s the case of Alan Littlejohn, a retired firefighter from Placer, California, who is running against State Rep. Eric Redman. He arrives here three years ago, retired, and in his early 50’s with an annual income from CALPERS of $59,000 a year. He decides he’s paid enough in taxes to support the public schools in California. So to hell with paying for Idaho’s children.
His solution is to require school levies to be approved by 2/3’s of the district’s eligible voters instead of the current 50% plus one of the registered voters.
The answer to stem this influx of disease and selfishness is to close Idaho’s borders to any more California immigrants (but we’ll still take Syrian refugees) and to send back to California where they belong any legislator that ever has had anything to do with California by birth, education or business.
We would thereby eliminate ten state representatives and five state senators (see attached list) but in going from 105 to 90 legislators think of the money we could save and put toward building a wall around Idaho.
Admittedly, we might lose a few good legislators but that’s just going to have to be considered a cost of protecting Idaho from further Californication in Donald Trump's brave new world.
(Editor’s Note: Chris Carlson readily admits he recruited former student Kathy Kahn to run against “Veto Vito.”)
List of California connected legislators:
Name Current hometown Connection
1. Vito Barbieri Dalton Gardens, Dist. 2 law school in Fullerton
2. Don Cheatham Post Falls, Dist. 3 LA Police
3. Sue Chew Boise, Dist. 17 born in Oakland
4. Lance Clow Twin Falls, Dist.24 born in LA
5. Sage Dixon Ponderay, Dist. 1 San Jose State
6. John Gannon Boise, Dist. 17 born in Ross
7. Ryan Kerby New Plymouth, Dist. 9 Biola, La Miranda
8. Lynn Luker Boise, Dist. 15 Lompoc; Cal-Berkeley
9.Jason Monks Meridian, Dist. 22 born in Ridgement
10. Paul Romrell St. Anthony, Dist. 35 USC Hospital Admin
11.Lori Don Hartog Meridian, Dist. 22 born in Escondido
12. Maryanne Jordan Boise, Dist. 17 San Jose State
13. Jim Rice Caldwell, Dist. 10 law degree, W.H. Taft
14. Michelle Stennett Ketchum, Dist. 26 born in Sacramento
15. Janie Ward-Engelking Boise, Dist. 18 Whittier College