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Ruminations of a Former Supervisor / Quentin Kopp

Kamala Harris
Vice President Harris speaking in Durham, South CarolinaCourtesy of ABC News

Trump, Harris and other pains in the neck.

• • • • • • • • • • March 2024 • • • • • • • • • •

Quentin Kopp
Quentin Kopp

The late great U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once observed, “The only title in our democracy superior to that of President is the title of citizen.” We’ve had scoundrels in elective office, but our presidential choices this November present the worst in my fatigued memory: Joseph Biden and Donald Trump. The latter is obviously the most evil, with his record of draft-dodging during the Vietnam War (remember his alleged bone spur!), coupled with cheating, lying, and being ordered to court for four different criminal violations of federal and state laws. President Biden, meanwhile, aided his son, Hunter Biden, in nefarious governmental contract favoritism in Ukraine and elsewhere. Hunter Biden hasn’t, at this writing, been judicially charged, but I foresee him in the dock and his father a hostile (to the prosecutor) witness or, maybe, a co-defendant.

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The problem with Mr. Biden abandoning the White House is Vice-President Kamala Harris replacing him after his resignation or decision not to run. She’s the one-time San Francisco D.A. who defeated incumbent Terrance Hallinan by lying under oath in that 2003 campaign.”

I’m also concerned with their respective ages. They’re “long in the tooth” with worldly responsibilities that require high intelligence quota and penetrating decisions. I like Trump’s only remaining Republican opponent, Nikki Haley from South Carolina. What an American president she’d be as a woman without Hillary Clinton’s corrupt ambition, a legal immigrant family, and already a proud governor of a southern state. The problem with Mr. Biden abandoning the White House is Vice-President Kamala Harris replacing him after his resignation or decision not to run. She’s the one-time San Francisco D.A. who defeated incumbent Terrance Hallinan by lying under oath in that 2003 campaign. To qualify for “public financing” (i.e., taxpayer money!), she swore she wouldn’t spend over $250,000. So did the late Hallinan. Instead, she raised and spent over $1,000,000 (plus that $250,000), tried unsuccessfully (and illegally) to withdraw her affidavit from the S.F. Ethics Commission, and defeated Terrence, who earned public financing but kept his word to spend only $250,000. Another H.L. Mencken wisely observed: “The men American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring lions: the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

Illegal immigration is another major American issue. Over 2,000,000 illegally entered the U.S. in 2023, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and over 7,000,000 lawbreaking aliens have crossed our borders during Mr. Biden’s presidency, the most in history. Illegal aliens even obtain taxpayer-financed benefits in states like California, whose Legislative Analyst reported a probable $68,000,000,000 deficit in California’s annual budget for 2024-2025, which Governor Newson prepared in January to spend $208,700,000,000. No wonder California lost 338,371 residents to other states while U.S. population increased by 1,600,000 from July 2022 to July 2023, with Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee claiming the most residential growth. That’s Census Bureau population data from December 20, 2023. High state and local taxes comprise one reason for such migration, together with inflated energy (like gasoline and PG&E bills) and residential property prices. New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland also lost population.

Meanwhile, California’s High-Speed Rail project continues to gobble taxpayer money and hoodwink taxpayers. At the same time, untruth-filling construction has begun in the Central Valley for a 171-mile segment between Merced and Bakersfield. By “construction” those Sacramento-based tax-eaters mean diesel track. They might be truthful; their plan is to build that, not electrified train tracks, then rebuild electrified train tracks, depending on funding. “Construction” to those tax-eaters manifestly must mean bridges and aqueducts because no track has been laid, almost 16 years after voters approved (52%-48%) a $9,950,000,000 general obligation bond issue. Last December, the White House conferred another $3,100,000,000 on the boondoggle, which now bears an estimated cost of $100,000,000,000 - and counting. I’m embarrassed, as the 1996 progenitor of the idea, while State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman.

Meanwhile, Bay Area public Transit has been pummeled by Covid-19. The most recent legion on farebox recovery ratios (meaning the percentage of annual expenses paid by annual fare totals) has diminished acutely. BART, which, pre-2020, recovered about half its expenses from fares and 66% from fares on the BART-SFO line (I got that one right!), did not report only 26% farebox recovery expenses in 2022-2023. Muni reported a pathetic 10% (compared to about 25%) before Covid. The Golden State Bridge showed but 7% (although the bridge cost was paid fully by 1980!) and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) maintained its deplorable status even with Silicon Valley’s 1,500,000 population. Hold on to your pocketbooks and wallets because now Governor Newson is a “high-speed” train booster and not the 2019 critic who disclosed: “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long.”

I close with Sam Houston’s soaring observation: “The benefits of education and of useful knowledge generally diffused through a community are essential to the preservation of a free government.

Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, SF Ethics Commission member, president of the California High Speed Rail Authority governing board and retired Superior Court judge. 

March 2024

Quentin Kopp
Quentin Kopp
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