Assemblyman comes to Taft for breakfast

On Wednesday morning, the community of Taft, California gathered at the newly-built Transit Center. The community met with Assemblyman Vince Fong to discuss California laws, taxes, and various other forms of politics. After a short and sweet introduction from Taft Chamber of Commerce Director, Kathy Orrin, the microphone was passed to Vince Fong. Assemblyman Fong formally introduced himself, and began to talk about the various problems that California is facing in political matters.
The first issue that Vince spoke about was California's affordability. California’s affordability is slowly decreasing, as an increase in taxes for gasoline, housing, and automobiles puts more stress on low-income families who cannot afford these increases. Although this clearly shows a problem for low-income families in California, the taxes contribute to infrastructure and other various programs that are necessary for life in California. Fong continued to address political constraints, as he next spoke about unnecessary fees in California.
Fong provided a great example of an unnecessary fee, as he stated that California charges the highest fee for starting a business compared to other states. Shortly after this, Fong started to accept any questions that the public had. The first question had to do with the High Speed Rail,  that keeps being brought up but shows no sign of completion. Fong’s reaction to the question was humorous as well as serious. Fong stated, “I think it is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.” Fong also stated, “When you are digging a hole, you should stop digging and use that money for other purposes.”
The next question came from Dennis Schertz, a local restaurant owner, dealt with the proposed ban on plastic straws. Once again, Fong took the more humorous and relatable approach, as he answered the question. Fong said that a ban on plastic straws was not as realistic as it seemed. He supported this statement by saying that, “We are currently not drowning in plastic straws.” Fong referred to an example of the many diversions happening right now in Sacramento, by speaking on how, for example, $28 million was being shifted from the tire tax and $18 million was being shifted from the motor vehicle fund to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to support oceanography and wildlife protection--he showed how these monies are being wrongfully shifted. Now, reasonably speaking, a tire tax should not pay for this support because the two matters are not directly related in any way at all. Fong supported this statement by saying that, according to the head of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Cars kill animals on the road and in parks...but I don’t see any cars in the ocean.”
Redistricting was the next topic of discussion and was raised by Les Clark Jr.. Fong answered that the Voting Rights Act affects how the district lines are drawn. Fong then spoke on how redistricting affects his ability to control certain aspects in these types of situations. “I lose certain communities due to how these lines are drawn.”
The next topic that was discussed involved how bureaucracies can make decisions, however, it is odd that we, as voting citizens, cannot hold them accountable for those decisions like we can our lawmakers. An example of this was that 91 new rules and regulations were instituted in a 45-day period in the State of California, all adding costs to someone without voter input.
With regard to sanctuary cities, Fong stated, “Our number one priority is the coordination across the board to make sure the public is safe...For the State of California to pick and choose [which laws to follow] makes no sense and should not be allowed.” Fong encouraged all citizens to get involved in what is happening in politics. “We should all get involved...what they are doing in Sacramento is very important and has a huge impact on people’s daily lives.”
As part of this public gathering, Fong presented former Chief of Police Ed Whiting with an Assembly Resolution. Whiting was also presented with a Congressional Record Statement by Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s Representative Cole Karr.