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Al Franken: When you win an election this close, you know that not one bit of effort went to waste.

CUTTING COSTS… As California continues its death march – toward issuing IOUs for the first time in 17 years, toward financial bankruptcy and falling off this proverbial cliff that lawmakers like to talk about – legislators from both houses met all day and well into Tuesday night, long past Squid’s bedtime, which is unfortunate because Squid likes the circus.

“The 1992 version of this melodrama ended badly, with drunken shouting, a fistfight, and a mysteriously stopped clock in the Assembly,” reports the Sacramento Bee. “Ultimately, the production ran all summer, with IOUs, court fights and rock-bottom performance ratings for politicians of all stripes.”

Sigh. Sounds exciting!

Midnight Tuesday (or, technically, Wednesday morning) was the deadline Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted the Legislature to solve the $24 billion budget problem – without new taxes.

Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, the California Citizens Compensation Commission voted unanimously to cut state legislators’ monthly car allowances, fringe benefits and their per diem allowance by 18 percent. Currently, lawmakers’ per diem runs about $173 each day the Senate or Assembly meets. The daily allowance adds up to between $30,000 and $35,000 a year, and it’s tax-free.

Squid knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But now, for lawmakers, there’s no such thing as a $173 lunch, either.

PARANORMAL SQUID… Squid loves a tentacle-raising scary story. That’s why Squid was real excited to learn that the 1st Annual Northern California Paranormal Conference was scheduled to take place in Monterey this July 17-19. Put on by the founder and president of the Nor Cal Paranormal Investigators, Douglas Carnahan, the parade of ghost hunters, paranormal probers and spirit wranglers were supposed to give speeches at the Marriott and conduct tours of haunted local landmarks including Stokes Adobe and Willy’s Smokehouse.

Squid looked forward to learning more about speaker Bill Bean – whose bio grandly stated that he’s none other than “a victim, survivor and conqueror of evil” – and Loyd Auerbach, the man known as “Professor Paranormal” who ends his e-mail correspondences by writing “ESPecially” above his name. But, now that Carnahan has informed Squid that the event is cancelled due to soft ticket sales, this cephalopod is just haunted by thoughts of what could have been. Nevertheless, Squid was heartened by the story in the local daily last week on the spectral event – so spectral that it didn’t occur. The story, “Calling All Ghosts,’’ ran with an “If you go” infobox about an event that didn’t happen. Ah well, maybe there was interference from the Other Side.

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