Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

The Nazis of the Inland Empire

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    NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 4: A woman leaves a voting booth on Election Day November 4, 2003 in New York City. Voters in New York City answered five ballot questions to amend the city charter and the state constitution, including whether to institute nonpartisan elections. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    The headline in the Riverside Press-Enterprise couldn't be any stranger: "Riverside Water Board Candidate Believed to Be Nazi."

    This isn't a joke, the paper says. There's a Jeff Hall on the ballot -- who appears to be the Jeff Hall who is a well-known head of a neo-Nazi group. Also, someone named Daniel B. Schruender, who is a member of the Aryan Nations, is running for a spot on the Rialto Unified School District board.

    This begs all kinds of questions, but the one question that is relevant to a discussion of what's wrong with California government is: Do we have too many local governments?

    The answer is yes. There simply are more governments in California -- more than 7,000 -- than voters can reasonably expect to pay attention to. These Nazis appear to be counting on the fact that they can be elected without any real scrutiny.

    This isn't a new problem. The Ku Klux Klan secretly managed to elect a majority of the Anaheim City Council in the 1920s. But the decline of local newspapers and media outlets raises the risk that you might end up with a Nazi on your local water or school board. It's another argument (in addition to the obvious fiscal ones) for massive consolidation of local governments.