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McClintock Plan Angers Women’s Commission : Government: The group criticizes his attempt to cut a related state panel. He dropped the proposal after finding prison funds elsewhere.

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The Ventura County Commission for Women denounced Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) for trying to undermine the gains of women with a bill that would abolish the state Commission on the Status of Women and divert its funding to state prisons.

“With violence against women continuing to rise in today’s society, the commission is astounded that a legislator could be so insensitive,” said Stacey B. MacDonald, chairwoman of the county’s Commission for Women.

But McClintock said Tuesday that he no longer plans to push his bill to abolish state commissions on women and other commissions on American Indians, aging, energy and the arts. He said his bill is no longer needed because the Legislature has budgeted the money he sought to operate two new prisons in Kern County.

Yet McClintock said he remains opposed to the commissions for women and other state-sponsored advocacy groups. “They serve no purpose but to provide employment to otherwise unemployable political hacks,” McClintock said.

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In February, McClintock introduced a bill to shift $1.3 billion to the new prisons by eliminating the state women’s commission, the Commission on Aging, the Native American Heritage Commission, the Integrated Waste Management Board and the California Arts Council.

His bill would have also forced the California Energy Commission to discontinue its energy development and research projects, and would have cut off travel expenses for the Department of Savings and Loans. McClintock also proposed cutting the commission during the Assembly’s budget review, but was defeated by Assembly Democrats.

McClintock said his bill was his last chance to cut the commissions he considers a waste of tax dollars. He is abandoning his Assembly seat to run for Congress in a new district that lumps Thousand Oaks with western portions of the San Fernando Valley.

MacDonald said McClintock’s bill seemed to be aimed mostly at commissions representing those segments of society that historically have had little power. “He has taken the concept of valuing diversity and thrown it in the trash,” she said.

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The Ventura commission voted Saturday to support the efforts of the state Commission on the Status of Women, and denounced McClintock’s for his “attempt to undermine the gains that women have made in California.”

MacDonald said the Ventura County women’s commission views McClintock’s bill as an assault on women’s interests. “This type of legislation would jeopardize the programs and opportunities available to women,” she said. “We can’t go backwards, and this bill would definitely take us backwards.”

MacDonald, who is city clerk of Santa Paula, said the state commission was instrumental in backing legislation that allows women who have been repeatedly beaten to use “battered women’s syndrome” as a legal defense against charges of homicide.

The state commission has also developed self-help manuals for victims of sexual harassment, conducted research on economic issues involving women and helped other statewide organizations address women’s issues.

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McClintock’s legislation also drew criticism from a Ventura County group of American Indians, which supports the Native American Heritage Commission.

“It’s unfortunate that it was considered for a cut,” said Bruce Stenslie, the acting executive director of the Candelaria American Indian Council. “The commission is hardly a big-ticket item,” Stenslie said. The heritage commission was created to review reports of American Indian burial sites discovered at development projects.

Proposing to abolish these commissions is not new for McClintock. During last year’s budget crisis, McClintock suggested eliminating more than 20 commissions as part of his package of $27 billion in state budget cuts.

“Taxpayers cannot continue to pay for this level of expenditures,” he said. “If the cuts are not made, Californians will continue to pay one of the heaviest tax burdens in the nation and face chronic budget deficits.”

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