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'Tea party' picks up steam

More rebels join tax revolt against state

Posted: February 12, 2009 12:29 a.m.
Updated: February 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

A number of rebels invited to Southern California's "Boston Tea Party" is mushrooming to include Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties, one party organizer reports.

"The party is starting," said the spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who last week led the charge for a "Boston Tea Party" tax revolt and urged fellow supervisors to withhold a half-billion dollars of tax money owed to the state.

"They really want a party, judging from the phone calls we've been getting," said Roxane Marquez, Molina's deputy press officer.

"Riverside County has already filed a lawsuit, and there is a high likelihood that we would join Riverside in that suit," she said, referring to legal action against the state considered Tuesday by Los Angeles County supervisors behind closed doors.

"And, if that happens, it is our understanding that Orange County would follow suit," she added. "So we may get that Boston Tea Party, but it won't happen this week."

Supervisors sought legal advice on suing the state of California over money earmarked for counties that is being withheld.

According to Marquez, action was delayed for two reasons.

Supervisors, she said, want to know exactly to-the-penny how much money the county is expected to keep from the state, based on figures provided during the closed door session by Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka. They also want to know if the state can countersue.

Right now, at least $180,000 of Los Angeles County tax money would be withheld based on Tuesday's private discussions, she said.

"They want to know exactly how much it is and where it's going to come from," Marquez said.

Four of five supervisors, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, voted 4-0 Tuesday to authorize county counsel to initiate - or join litigation, such as the Riverside County lawsuit - against the State Controller challenging his deferral of payment of funds to the county.

"Supervisor Antonovich believes that forcing the county to cut public safety services to comply with unfunded state mandates is a recipe for anarchy," said Antonovich spokesman Tony Bell.

"Local governments must let the state know of the full impact their inaction will have on our ability to provide vital services," he said. "For the future, the state needs to implement structural reform including a two-year state budget, a part-time legislature and eliminating term limits."

Last week, Molina, representing the county areas of Azusa and Pomona, called her plan to withhold the county's tax money owed to the state as her own "Boston Tea Party right here in Los Angeles County."

Under her plan, the county would withhold a half-billion dollars it would regularly pay to the state.

State Controller John Chiang announced last week that his office reached an agreement with several financial institutions to provide lines of credit to those Californians impacted by the state's historic cash crunch.

"Without corrective action from the governor and legislature, this cash crisis will continue indefinitely. I applaud those in the financial services community who are stepping up to help Californians in a time of tremendous need," Chiang said in a prepared statement.

On Feb. 1, his office started delaying payments in order to preserve cash flow.

The state has said it will defer $3.5 billion in payments to counties - including $1.4 billion to Los Angeles - until lawmakers close a $42-billion deficit.

Los Angeles County collected more than $506 million from a variety of sources, including $125.7 million from District 5 which includes Santa Clarita Valley, according to its annual report for 2007-08.

Property assessed for the county's unincorporated areas totalled more than $1 trillion, according to the report.

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