As I readied myself to attend the 46th Annual L.A. Roadsters Show and Swap I was somewhat bummed, befuddled, and pissed off. For rodders who keep tabs on legislative hot rod haps this was not a time of "brightness" in California's legal annals. As you sit and read this editorial remember you will have a chance to make a difference come November. But let me begin at the beginning.
For starters, AB 1740 was defeated by a vote of three in favor, five against. Five out of eight votes is a majority leading one to believe there wasn't that much that was positive in this piece of legislation and, therefore, a litany of negative. Or was it?
A little background, one of the ways to register a street rod, or other special interest car or truck in California, is to apply for an emission exemption: SB-100. This allows 500 special interest hot rods to be built each year that are exempt from current emission standards. AB 1740 would have increased this number to 750 cars per year.
On the surface it's pretty hard to see how 250 hot rods often driven less than 4,000 miles per year could possibly have a noticeable, much less negative, impact on our quality of life. At the same time, these additional 250 cars would have a positive impact on registration/license fees placed into the state's coffers. The state of California is over $20 billion in debt and no immediate plan to reverse the financial crisis is on the horizon. Legislators can get my (our) state into catastrophic debt with no way out and then they can make a decision that 250 more hot rods would be tantamount to social irresponsibility? What's socially irresponsible is being elected to office, accepting the public's money, and engaging in inept and incompetent execution of one's duties.
Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, son of the legendary customizer Dean Jeffries, led a tremendous effort to enhance SB-100 through AB 1740 so that an additional 250 specialty cars could be registered. He saw the benefits and realized the negatives were too inconsequential to register. In the end, the vote was three for, five against. Peculiarly the three in favor were Republicans and five against were Democrats.
What frustrates and infuriates me the most is that something as simple to understand as AB 1740 was turned into political football; straight down party lines. Three Republicans, Vice Chair Robert "Bob" Huff (Diamond Bar), Thomas "Tom" Harman (Huntington Beach), and Roy Ashburn (Bakersfield) voted in favor of the measure. Five Democrats, Chair Alan Lowenthal (Long Beach), Christine Kehoe (San Diego), Fran Pavley (Santa Monica), Mark DeSaulnier (Walnut Creek), and Joe Simitian (Palo Alto), voted against the bill.
I find it strangely awkward that no Republican could find anything wrong with the bill and no Democrat could find anything right with the bill. Give me a freaking break. What's wrong with politics is that, well, it is politics first and the rest of us be damned.
Five Democrats apparently felt that stifling an industry that could lead to less jobs, less taxes, and less of a future is beneficial. What's more frustrating is to realize that the data they used in committee was inaccurate if not outright wrong. (The meeting started and all in support spoke; Assemblyman Jeffries, Dave Schaub of 49 in 9 fame, and representatives of the ACCC, National Street Rod Association, and Goodguys gave excellent speeches that showed CARB's specs were not accurate.)
It should be pointed out that Schaub's efforts garnered $113,000-plus for the Ronald McDonald House in Stanford, California. STREET RODDER recently donated one of its past Road Tour cars ('36 Ford coupe) to an organization that sponsored a charitable auction-and brought in $80,000-and we are currently prepping a second car to be auctioned off for another charity. The L.A. Roadsters' yearly roadster show, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity over the years, is another highly successful car event. Crusin' for a Cure is one of the world's largest one-day charitable car shows. Debbie Baker's efforts through Crusin' for a Cure have raised more than $850,000 over the past 10 years for prostate cancer research through the City of Hope in Duarte, California. Crusin' for a Cure brings in such notable corporate giants as Meguiar's, Automobile Club of Southern California, Firestone tires, Dodge, and various Chevrolet dealers. We are talking about Herculean efforts by rodders everywhere on behalf of charity yet five Democrats couldn't see their way to recognize the good far outweighs the possibility of minimal negative impact.
The United States Senate, at the request of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and its councils, particularly the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO), declared July 9, 2010 as Collector Car Appreciation Day. With all of this positive energy generated by our hobby why are we having these problems? We are products of our own making. Take the time to understand who you are voting for and the impact he or she can have on you, your family, your hobby, and your wellbeing.
I am reminded of a law that was once on the books in Indiana during the '50s stating anything to do with Robin Hood was prohibited. Robbing from the rich to give to the poor was considered communist ideology. Isn't it ironic how simpleminded a law of this nature sounds today yet I find myself uncomfortably squirming in my chair as I believe we are headed into the "Sherwood Forest" of automotive legislation. Vote according to your beliefs, but vote.