At one point, someone asked for a show of hands of those who had been in prison themselves, or had a loved one who was now, or had been, in prison. Nearly every hand in the audience went up. I estimate that audience to have been more than three hundred people.
Congresswoman Bass nodded and smiled at us. A staff member (the same one who told us at another townhall that the ACA train had left the station, and we better get used to it) pointed us out to several of their group. I think it's important that these "representatives" face people who hold them accountable. I think they need to know not everyone is a sycophant.
There was a four-person panel at the beginning of the event. Each panelist represented an organization that was involved in helping inmates find jobs, housing, and social services. While I think some of them probably provide a valuable service, they all want more taxpayer money. It occurs to me that there is no end of "valuable services" one could come up with to "help" some group or another….. And each "valuable service" would require a facility and staff paid for by taxpayers.
Along with Congresswoman Bass, the other elected officials there were Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer, and State Senator Holly Mitchell. Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer was the first to speak. He was very happy. He said this was the Age of Aquarius, and the stars had aligned. He almost broke into song. We have a liberal Mayor, a liberal Attorney General, a liberal Assembly and Senate, and a liberal Governor. The Assemblyman said now was the time to get things done (code for spend more money). He said there was $40 million in the budget for "re-entry services", but he wished it was $400 million.
Senator Holly Mitchell spoke next. She talked about 39% of inmates being black, but blacks being only 13% of the population. Liberals rarely, if ever, address the real reasons blacks and Latinos commit more crimes than other demographic groups ~ fatherless homes, gangs, no jobs, etc. ~ but they love to infer that whites and other races aren't arrested as often, or punished as severely. Apparently, they think that once the black population of prisons reaches 13%, we should stop arresting blacks. They said it costs $50,000 a year per inmate (by the way, Texas only spends $14,000!) and wouldn't it be good to spend that elsewhere? It never occurs to them that securing the border would reduce the 56% of the prison population that is Latino. Or that, if we saved money on prison population, that money should stay in the taxpayers pocket.
Senator Mitchell ended her talk with an Affordable Care Act push. She told the audience not to believe Fox, that the stories aren't true, that the program is going extremely well, especially in California, and for anyone who hasn't signed up, there were people available right then and there who could help them.
Congresswoman Bass was the last to speak, she was literally giddy about California having money to spend. Forty million dollars for "re-entry" programs manifested out of thin air. She thought this was wonderful. She was so very excited. Of course, for liberals, if there is more tax revenue, they MUST spend it immediately. Forget saving it. If there isn't a program that needs money, they'll make one up. Every time anyone spoke of more money, the audience cheered. Of course, they aren't paying the bill.
When they opened the floor to Q&A, people lined the walls to the back of the room….. But first they asked some of their friends (all representing some organization or another) to speak of their good works …… And state all the reasons THEY should get a piece of that $40 million. Nearly everyone who spoke represented some program: incarcerated kids, incarcerated illegal aliens (who they said needed a pathway to citizenship…… Why, exactly?), incarcerated women, alcohol and drug addiction, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum. All of them talked about their "victim" group needing jobs and money. I find that interesting, since it's the liberal policies that are killing jobs, but these people don't get the connection. The Keystone Pipeline could put lots of those people to work.
One man said he had served 45 years in prison and was so grateful for the re-entry programs (he got applause for this), another woman said she spent 32 years in prison (for what, you might wonder) and was jumping up and down with praise for the programs. Prison sentences that long indicate SERIOUS crimes, but these people were applauded as if they had just graduated from college. The man who served 45 years said as soon as he could vote, he'd vote for more money for these programs. I wonder how many of us know that in California felons can vote as soon as they finish their parole? Even murderers.
A stylishly-dressed woman said she had been a City Councilwoman and had been sent to prison (I assume for some malfeasance), and, since getting out, she started a program for women, but was denied funding because she was a felon. The staff member holding the mic kept trying to pull it out of her hands, but she was having none of that. She yanked it right back, and kept talking. She thought the law should be changed to allow felons to get public funding for these good works. She's just going from one publicly-funded job to another.
I agree with our panel of Representatives that our prisons shouldn't be filled with drug offenders. But the panel spoke as if all those being released were drug offenders. That is simply not the case. My friend, Keith, asked if any of these programs taught civics, ethics, or morals.
After they adjourned the meeting, people surrounded the elected officials. Our friend Mark went up to State Senator Mitchell and told her she shouldn't lie to people about the ACA. She replied that they simply had a difference of opinion. He responded that it wasn't opinion, it was fact that ACA wasn't working, and she shouldn't lie about it.
One man I spoke to after the meeting said the room was filled with "poor pimps". I had never heard that term before, but it did ring true. I had no idea there were so many programs for drug addicts, alcoholics, released prisoners, at risk youths, etc. There is no end of people who have made careers out of starting programs that use public funding. They pay themselves handsome salaries as the head of the program, and get patted on the back for their good works. The results of their programs aren't as important as their intentions….. And what are their intentions? A cushy job and title, or actually helping people?