There are plenty of legitimate reasons for the state of California to shut down a restaurant; but unless the Salisbury steak competed the night before at Santa Anita Racetrack, or the letter grade on display in the front window tells you which type of hepatitis you’re going to get after trying the veal, the state and the restaurant should be able to settle any disagreements without the need for armed police officers and padlocks.
The key word in that sentence is should. But thanks to the newly minted California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the heavy hand of government just got heavier.
First, some background; up until recently, the state Board of Equalization acted as an appellate body for income tax cases. If you had a tax dispute with the state, the five member board would adjudicate your appeal.
The BOE, which consists of four elected members and the state controller, has long had the reputation as being a pay-to-play agency. If you had a case pending before the board it’s no secret that hiring the right attorney or writing the right check could reap big dividends.
It was never an ideal situation, but if you were at odds with the tax man, your elected representatives at least had to feign concern for your plight.
But Board of Equalization member Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood, had to ruin it for everyone.
In a private meeting with actor Rob Lowe and his wife Sheryl Berkoff, Horton asked them whether they had “Jewed down” the contractors who had built their house.
In an email first obtained by Bloomberg, Lowe described the incident, “Appalled, we asked him to explain his comment. He doubled down, saying, ‘C’mon. You know what I’m saying. Did you Jew them down? You must have.’”
As if the problem was that Lowe didn’t hear him correctly.
Then Horton generated more negative headlines after he spent $118,000 of taxpayer money on office furniture, despite being barred from running for re-election due to term limits.
I guess he’s not into IKEA.
That proved to be the final straw for the BOE, as the governor and Legislature stripped them of most of their power and gave it to the newly created California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
Now, if you end up in a tax dispute with the state, a horde of unelected bureaucrats have the power of God over you.
What could go wrong?
As its first order of business, the new department sent uniformed and armed California Highway Patrol officers to shut down the popular Palm Springs…