This week California’s State Treasurer Johnny Chiang announced that the Golden State’s finances are completely tarnished:

State Treasurer John Chiang unveiled a new open data website today, providing important details about $1.5 trillion in debt issued by state and local government entities as part of his ongoing efforts to promote transparency in government. The site,, makes it easier for taxpayers to track proposed and issued debt, cost of issuance, and bond and tax election results.

“The state and its local governments have borrowed more than $1.5 trillion from Wall Street over the past three decades to build roads, schools, and other critical public works,” said Chiang. “Bonds are not free money and, indeed, obligate the public to repay them through higher taxes and fees. DebtWatch aspires to empower Californians to hold government accountable for its borrowing decisions.”

Meanwhile, our state’s Chief Executive seems to have added to that debt, after requesting a state deparment complete a gas and oil survey of his property at taxpayer expense.

Gov. Jerry Brown last year directed state oil and gas regulators to research, map and report back on any mining and oil drilling history and “potential for future oil and gas activity” at the Brown family’s private land in Northern California, state records show.

After a phone call from the governor and follow-up requests from his aides, senior staffers in the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency over at least two days produced a 51-page historical report and geological assessment, plus a personalized satellite-imaged geological and oil and gas drilling map for the area around Brown’s family ranchland near the town of Williams.

State regulators labeled the map they did for Brown “Oil and Gas Potential In West Colusa County,” and “JB_Ranch,” referring to the Brown family land in Colusa County.

Shocking behavior for a climate change warrior, indeed!

In response, Californians across the state took a page from the Tea Party playbook and began requesting their own free surveys.

Hundreds of Californians have requested free custom research of their property from state regulators, following the governor’s request for a personal evaluation of oil, gas and mining interests on his Northern California ranch.

. . . . . State officials, including department heads appointed by Brown, defended the governor’s actions by saying that he received the same services that are available to members of the general public. That claim inspired the statewide advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog, to send out an email campaign urging average citizens to obtain their free oil, gas and mining maps.

“Isn’t it a misuse of public funds for the governor to have the state’s oil and gas agency map and survey his personal property?” wrote Carmen Balber, executive director for Consumer Watchdog. “Why not find out if your house is sitting on a black gold mine? Go to our website and send an email asking for your free oil and gas map.”

To say that the environmental activists within the state are unhappy with Brown would be an understatement. Our governor recently has the temerity to appoint a Republican who has worked as an oil industry executive as district deputy in the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, which regulates the state’s oil industry.

Additionally, the amount of “big oil” donations to Brown and his pet campaigns and the continuation of fracking in this state has been noticed.

Just two months after [Derek Chernow and Elena Miller — two state regulators who oversaw the oil industry] were ousted — and four days after obtaining a fracking permit — Occidental Petroleum donated $250,000 to Brown’s campaign to raise taxes, according to campaign finance records reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

In August 2012, Occidental donated another $250,000 to the campaign, and ultimately oil industry interests contributed more than $800,000.

….“Overall Brown is good at talking the talk but he’s been very disappointing when it comes to walking the walk,” Adam Scow, the California director of advocacy group Food and Water Watch, said.

Personally, I support fracking and appointing regulators in office who aren’t openly hostile to business. However, the fact that the rabid eco-activists who propelled the second installment of Governor Brown are exceedingly upset gives me a rare chance to enjoy some state-based schadenfreude.

And I am enjoying it a lot more knowing that many Californians haven’t given up on their own dreams of becoming rich on oil! It takes me back to a truly golden era in this state.


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