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Texas Gov. Rick Perry goes a huntin' for Californians

February 13, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in Beverly Hills, talks about his campaign to lure California businesses to Texas.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in Beverly Hills, talks about his campaign to lure… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

So Texas Gov. Rick Perry is trying to poach California companies?

Perry has been on a whirlwind trip to the Golden State, pitching his own brand of woo, in person, to our sun-splashed but, apparently, anxious-to-bail business folks. (Although presumably he didn’t mention that other kind of whirlwind, the kind that flattens buildings and tosses cars every spring, summer and fall in the Lone Star State.)

And I can hear his pitch now: “Come to Texas, padnah, for three things: our low taxes, our loose regulations and, uh, dang it, don’t tell me, I’ll think of it ... ”

The death penalty? “Naw, that’s a good ’un, but that ain’t it ... ”

Anyway, asked by a reporter to explain his California expedition, Perry put it this way: "You fish where the fish are."

You've got to admit it, the man not only has a way with hair, he's a down-home wordsmith.

Of course, Perry has some tasty bait for certain types of companies. Did I mention Texas’ loose regulatory environment? Apparently, it starts at the top, judging from what the oily governor said after the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010: "From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented."

I’m sure you could hear the cries of “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” in BP’s headquarters that day. Too bad for them -- but fortunately for the rest of us -- the federal government didn’t share Perry’s view. You’ll recall that BP pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges and agreed to pay $4.5 billion in government penalties over that little “act of God.” 

But are companies really fleeing California in droves? Not according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California, which found that from 1992 to 2006, just 2% of job losses here were because of firm relocations. The study found that through times of boom or bust, less than 1% of the state's jobs leave annually.

OK, sure, but not everyone buys that. Take Chief Executive Ron Mittelstaedt of the Northern California trash and recycling firm Waste Connections Inc., which moved its headquarters to Texas last year.

"The overall cost of living and working in California just became too burdensome relative to other options out there," Mittelstaedt said.

"We didn't make the decision to save dollars and cents, though," he added. "We did it so over time we could retain and recruit the best level talent at a lower price point. Over time we believe it will save several million [dollars] a year."

Now, I didn’t go to business school, so maybe I’m missing something. Let’s turn to the slow-motion instant replay on this one, a la the NFL: “We didn't make the decision to save dollars and cents” but “[o]ver time we believe it will save several million [dollars] a year.”

Yep, folks, after further review, I’d say we have an illegal formation of phrases. But Mittelstaedt will fit right in in Texas. Recall this Perry quote from 2010: "George W. Bush did an incredible job in the presidency, defending us from freedom."

And lest you think Perry has lost his non sequitur touch, here’s his response to those who criticize his latest fishing expedition:

"I'm not going to apologize when a major business or a small business says, 'We are going to relocate from California to Texas,'" he said. "I didn't hear anyone from the Giants apologizing for winning the World Series. And I don't think the 49ers would have apologized for winning the Super Bowl."

Which means, I guess, that, a) winners live in California and b) huh? 

But if you want more Perry, why not take the advice he gave to a crowd of conservative bloggers and social networkers in Minneapolis in 2011: "You can always follow me on Tweeter."

And remember, Tweeter rhymes with skeeter. And if you don’t know what the latter is, relocate your company to Texas and spend a summer there. You’ll find out.  

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