Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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Oh What a Feeling: Legislature Bashes Toyota

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When times are tough, find a scapegoat. And what better current one than Toyota, mired in a world of hurt over accelerators and brakes that don’t work as advertised.

Or so the California State Legislature seems to have concluded.

Not jumping for joy in Sacramento

Yesterday, the state’s Assembly Rules Committee passed a measure banning the chamber from purchasing vehicles for its fleet if less than half of said auto is manufactured and assembled in the U.S.

It’s a return to a “buy American” rule that was in effect in Sacramento before hybrids — and Gov. Schwarzenegger and the greening of California — came along.

The mastermind behind this move: Assemblyman Ted Lieu. He wants to punish Toyota for, among other things, deciding to stop buying Corollas and Tacoma pickups from  trucks from an independently owned company called NUMMI — a joint venture between GM and Toyota that was set up in the 1990s to produce autos in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It kinda reminds me of a press stunt bck in the summer of 1987, when ten very miffed members of Congress smashed a small Toshiba radio with sledgehammers to underscore their anger at the Toshiba Machine Company of Japan for selling milling machines to the Soviet Union (thus allows the Soviets to build harder-to-detect submarines).

The members called for a “total boycott” of Toshiba to include televisions, VCRs and personal computers. So far, the Legislature hasn’t called for an outright ban on Toyota sales in California. Maybe that’s the Transportation Secretary’s next blunder.

While it’s all good and swell that the Legislature wants to help the beleaguered U.S. auto industry, here’s another thought: how about helping the beleaguered California taxpayer . . . by doing away with lawmakers’ monthly car allowance?

And: howsabout a link, somewhere on the Legislature’s website, to show taxpayers the leased cars their representative drive?

Having lived in Sacramento for five years, I can personally attest to the many commuting options to the State Capitol other than driving a leased car: light rail, bus lines, plus plenty of nice apartments and houses in Sacramento’s downtown and midtown areas that are within easy walking distance of the big white building.

The upside for our intrepid lawmakers: exercise, fresh air, and saving the planet from global warming. Plus, more time to brainstorm and devise clever p.r. stunts.

On second thought let them keep their cars.


Written by Bill Whalen

February 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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