California Budget Crisis: Yard Sale Edition

Monday, August 31, 2009 , , 0 Comments

Pic credit: Daryl Cagle

I am not quite sure how I feel about this. Is California clever or just pathetic?


Ever wanted to buy a used Chevrolet Cavalier signed by a budget-challenged governor? Now’s your chance!

In a maneuver that signals both the pluck and ingenuity of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California’s desperate finances, officials have been frantically preparing this week for a two-day sell-off of items drawn from every corner of the state’s pack-rat bureaucracy.

The event, starting Friday at a warehouse here in the capital, is being billed as the Great California Garage Sale, and it is the largest such surplus sale since the state last rolled out its unneeded odds and ends in 2004.

“We’re going to have 6,000 items at this sale,” said Fred Aguiar, the secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, which is overseeing the sale. “There’s furniture, computers and office equipment. It’s a great opportunity for Californians.”

Ordered by Governor Schwarzenegger in July during a budget crunch, the sale is also an opportunity for the state’s agencies to clean out closets, drawers, garages and back rooms.

Among the ticketed items for sale will be a grand piano from 1862, complete with ivory keys and decades’ of dust, which is offered by the Department of Parks and Recreation. There are two collections of souvenir bobblehead dolls from the 2003 Sacramento Kings confiscated by the California Highway Patrol and going for $15 (decorative stands included). Then there are the oddities of unknown origin, including a songbook from a German opera, “Der Waffenschmied,” which may be overpriced at $3.

Where does it end? Why don't we crack into the evidence lockers of our many police departments across the state and unload all those kilos of cocaine and heroin to make up our budget "shortfall"? There has to be a few billion just lying around at Oakland PD alone!

Wait for it.

How much the sale will net is unknown, of course — Mr. Aguiar guessed the state could clear $1 million — but one thing is certain: it will not be anywhere near the $10.5 billion California needs to borrow to get through the current fiscal year. The state’s budget crisis included a $24 billion gap and the issuing of some $2 billion in i.o.u.’s.

The biggest-ticket items in the sale are likely to be about 650 passenger vehicles ordered sold by Mr. Schwarzenegger as part of a 15 percent reduction in the state’s fleet. They will be auctioned off whereas almost all the other items have price tags.

The governor, a Republican who has been actively publicizing the sale online and elsewhere, calls the sale the end result of a “promise to eliminate waste in state government.”

“This is a win-win for the state and shoppers,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, who ordered the similar sale in 2004, just after being elected.

Among the vehicles are five “CHiPS”-style BMW motorcycles, dozens of former highway patrol cars, and an untold number of Chevy Cavaliers, apparently California’s governmental car of choice. The governor even autographed the visors of some of those vehicles to help move merchandise.

Autographed Cavaliers? WELL SHIT! There's no way this could turn out badly. Personally I'd pay more for a signed "My Governor Fucked Up My State Budget and All I Got was this Lousy T-Shirt" t-shirt than I would some burnt out state Cavalier. Or even better, since the state might be too broke to cover the shirts themselves, how about Arnie just Sharpies his name across my chest with a note about how he's sorry but they couldn't afford actual shirts?

(h/t cl5v5r for this hilarity! It's so sad that it's funny, only because *I* live in this sad state and cl5v5r does not. Win-win indeed)

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.