Cracking California into six pieces and calling each chunk a state sounds really crackpot.
Don't like this state government? How about five more? What about the notion of Los Angeles students attending UC Berkeley or San Diego State and paying out-of-state tuition? Think L.A. and the San Joaquin Valley have water problems now? Wait until the new state of North California cuts off water flowing south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Yes, splitting California into six states is crazy.
But the proposal could wind up on the state ballot.
Yes, it probably would fail miserably.
But some people — one very rich man in particular — are very serious about the concept.
"California has become the worst managed state in the country," says Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, 55, who's funding a petition drive to place his "Six Californias" initiative on the ballot. "It just is too big and too ungovernable." He doesn't blame Gov. Jerry Brown.
"I think we have a great governor," says Draper, a Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-independent. "We've had great governors. It's just systemic and getting worse and being managed worse." OK, hold it.
Some of our governors have not been so great. But Brown is managing fine. He may lack the imagination he showed during his first gubernatorial reign — a current example being his old-style Delta tunnel plan — but Brown is balancing the books and not going nuts on new programs. The unfunded bullet train aside.
Few people these days continue to claim that California is ungovernable. The Legislature has become much more functional since voters allowed it to pass budgets on a majority vote.
Says Draper: "It's hard for people to defend the status quo. Jobs are leaving California like rats from a sinking ship."
But in reality, jobs are increasing and state tax revenue is pouring into Sacramento beyond all projections.
Draper's split-up-California proposal, he contends, would result in more local control and focus on regional problems.
These would be the six new states: South California — San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties.
West California — Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
Central California — The San Joaquin Valley east over the Sierra to the Nevada line. This would be the poorest state in the nation based on personal income.
Silicon Valley — Monterey though San Francisco counties, including most of the Bay Area. This would be the country's richest state.
(But come on, with a beautiful, world-renowned city like San Francisco, why would anyone name this state Silicon Valley, unless that's where he called home?)
North California — Sacramento extending east and west, up the Sierra to Lake Tahoe, and across through the delta and the Napa-Sonoma wine country to Marin County and the ocean.
Jefferson — Practically everything north to the Oregon border. Lots of redwoods, rice paddies and rivers.
This is all fodder, of course, for late-night comedians. Jokes about the states of smogville, fogville and potville.
But two political operatives are alarmed and trying to form a bipartisan coalition against it.
"It's totally nutty," says Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio, a former communications director for Gov. Gray Davis. "Just when we're getting our momentum back in California, we now have a conversation about how screwed up the state is. And it's totally erroneous."