Friday, October 10, 2014

Bobby Shriver for L.A. County Supervisor, 3rd District

Two progressives are running for Los Angeles County Supervisor in the 3rd District -- Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver. As a libertarian, I endorse Shriver.

Both Kuehl and Shriver are longtime Santa Monica residents, as am I. So I have watched their political careers for many years. I have no illusion about Shriver being a libertarian, but he is the more libertarian choice.

A member of the liberal Kennedy family by marriage, Shriver's entry into politics was motivated by a peculiarly libertarian epiphany. In 2003, the City of Santa Monica fined Shriver because his hedges were too high.

Writing for the Santa Monica Daily Press (2/13/14), Jack Neworth recounts this "a-ha moment" in Shriver's past:

"Twenty-year Santa Monica resident Bobby Shriver didn't seek a career in politics, surprising given his late parents were Eunice (JFK's sister) and Sargent (Peace Corps director and vice presidential candidate.)

"Bobby was a Yale-educated attorney, an activist and an entrepreneur. (He also founded organizations that raised millions for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS and Special Olympics, which his mother created in the 1960s.)

"Call it fate or officious bureaucrats, but Shriver's 'path' changed in 2003 when he and 700 other Santa Monica property owners were put on notice by the city. The height of their hedges exceeded city limits and the fines for non-compliance were $25,000 a day! (And you thought our parking meters are a rip-off.)

"The city was so arrogant that Shriver ran for council to change the culture at City Hall. A huge number of residents agreed because that November Bobby received the most votes in Santa Monica history. (An independent in a city polarized between landlords and residents, four years later Shriver again garnered the most votes.)"

I regard Shriver's tenure on the Santa Monica City Council as that of a "sensible liberal." He votes to the left, but he's no ideologue. He seems at least willing to listen to all sides, and with an open mind. Most city councilmembers, in this very blue city, have been, and are, worse.

I think that that "$25,000 a day fine" was a wake-up call for Shriver. A learning experience. He felt the heavy hand of government. Yes, he remains a progressive, with all that that implies. But he at least knows, from experience, that sometimes government goes too far.

By contrast, Sheila Kuehl, a former state senator and assemblymember, is a far-left ideologue. She touts herself as a champion of "middle class families." But what does she mean? Has she lowered the tax burden on middle-class families? Lowered the regulatory burdens on businesses so they can create more jobs? No and no.

Instead Kuehl brags that, during her tenure in Sacramento, she passed a "landmark bill for paid family leave" and "cracked down on age and gender discrimination in the workplace." In other words, she imposed further financial and legal burdens on employers, thus making California a tougher place to run a business and provide jobs.

In previous elections, Kuehl bragged about toughening hate crime laws, using that issue to sell herself as being "tough on crime." (Another one of her "crime-fighter achievements" was tougher laws and penalties against landlords.)

Kuehl also brags that she's "the only candidate endorsed by the L.A. County Democratic Party and our local Firefighters, Nurses, and Teachers."

Yes, she has the support of both the Democratic political machine, and the government employee unions. I guess the unions have contributed generously to Kuehl's campaign, and expect higher salaries, pensions, and benefits as a payoff.

Shriver might support some or all of Kuehl's positions, I don't know. But two key things are obvious: 

* The Democratic Party machine and government union bosses trust Kuehl over Shriver -- Kuehl is the one they bought and paid for.

* At least once in his life, Shriver not only suffered under the heavy hand of government, but actually fought back and won.

Some libertarians will say that the lesser of two evils is evil. But others will observe that we must live under the rule of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, so that it is both practical and morally justifiable to pick the less onerous candidate.

If you fall into the second camp, then I suggest that, though Shriver is no libertarian, he is the lesser evil for Los Angeles County Supervisor, 3rd District.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Libertarian Party of California's Ballot Access Strenghtened

Los Angeles Libertarian Party activist Ted Brown sent out the following news item from Richard Winger of Ballot Access News:

"On September 30, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2351. It makes it easier for a group to qualify as a 'party.' It changes the registration test from 1% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 0.33% of total registration. For 2014, a group needed 103,004 registered members to either obtain, or keep, qualified status.

"Although no one can know how many voters there will be in 2016, the last tally (Sept. 2014) showed California had 17,634,876 registered voters, and 0.33% of that number is 58,195.

"The bill also says that a party remains qualified if it polls 2% for a statewide race in the primary in mid-term years. This is an alternative to the registration test. The Peace & Freedom, Libertarian, and Green Parties met this vote test in June 2014."

Ted Brown adds his personal note:

"This means that we don't have to worry about our ballot status in California any time soon. We have almost twice the necessary registrants, plus Jonathan Jaech's vote total for Attorney General in June allowed the LP to keep ballot status through 2018."


Friday, October 03, 2014

LPLAC's Recommendations for 2014 California Ballot Propositions

Here are the Los Angeles County LP's recommendations for the November 2014 California state ballot propositions. (The state LP formed a committee to study the propositions, but its Executive Committee has yet to adopt any of the committee's recommendations.)

Prop 1 -- Water Bond for $7.12 Billion. This measure authorizes the sale of general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects. This water bond measure has been around since 2009, but it has been postponed from election to election until the current drought "crisis," when the politicians felt it had a better chance of passage. It will take 40 years to pay off these bonds, and with interest and bond expenses, the total cost of the bill will likely be closer to $15 billion. Water projects are best managed and financed by local water boards, rather than writing grants to state bureaucrats trying to secure expensive bond monies. We recommend a NO vote.

Prop 2 -- State Budget Stabilization. This measure changes the rules for how much the legislature puts into "Rainy Day" reserves to help balance the budget during poor economic times. Most of the features in this measure are for the better and will lead to greater fiscal responsibility; however, the requirement for local school districts to reduce their reserves will make local schools even more dependent on state government for funding. We prefer local control of education, rather than centralized control. We recommend a NO vote.

[I'm leaning to vote YES on Prop 2. Fiscal responsibility trumps local control education for me. I don't much care which level of government -- local, state, or federal -- controls education at this point, as they're all making a mess of it.]

Prop 45 -- Health Insurance Rate Changes. This measure gives the Insurance Commissioner the power to decide health insurance rates. This is yet another example of government interference in the marketplace where the bureaucrats have caused the problem and Prop 45 will (they hope) fix the problem. The bureaucrats have limited the number of insurance companies offering insurance to California consumers through excessive rules and regulations, which has led to less competition and higher prices. The fix is an "Insurance Czar" who will decide if insurance rate increases are reasonable to "protect" the consumers from "price gouging." The loosening up of regulations so many more insurance companies can sell to Californians will do a lot more to lower rates than any "Czar" can accomplish. We recommend a NO vote.

Prop 46 -- Drug & Alcohol Testing of Doctors. This measure requires random testing for substance abuse and raise the cap on malpractice lawsuits for pain and suffering. It is not possible to prevent every type of medical error that might occur -- and no government mandate is going to accomplish this worthy goal. The medical insurance industry already monitors doctors and will not insure doctors with problems or will charge them higher rates for the added risk. Mandatory testing will only add to the already high cost of health care by passing the cost on to consumers. Raising the cap on lawsuits for pain and suffering will only encourage more ambulance chasing in our lawsuit-happy society. We are also concerned about the requirement in this measure that requires doctors to turn in "suspected" substance-abused doctors and the requirement to use a government database before issuing certain prescriptions, as government databases have a history of problems. We recommend a NO vote.

Prop 47 -- Criminal Sentences. This measure downgrades many less serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, thereby reducing the number of people incarcerated in California's prisons and jails. In particular, it reduces the penalty for possession of most drugs for personal use from felonies to misdemeanors. Locking up people in prisons for less time for victimless crimes is a good start toward ending the drug war -- and reforming the criminal justice system to focus on actually doing justice instead of promulgating injustice. The savings of not incarcerating those who commit nonviolent crimes should go back to the taxpayers in the form of reduced taxes, rather than other government programs. More fundamentally, the California Dept of Justice should be focused on real justice issues, such as deterring crimes against persons and property, providing restitution for victims of violent crimes and thefts, reforming the system to provide more equity and fairness, and improving its customer service levels in handling civil disputes. It should stop destroying the lives, families and careers of people who have harmed nobody except themselves (and in many cases, not even themselves). Although we will continue to advocate for complete decriminalization of all victimless conduct, this measure is a step in the right direction. We recommend a YES vote.

Prop 48 -- lndian Gaming Compacts. This measure allows a new casino to be built near Highway 99 and the City of Merced in Central California. The casino will provide an outlet for many consumers who enjoy the recreation of gaming at a more convenient location than the current casinos that are further inland. It may also increase activity in an economically depressed area of the state by attracting jobs and business. While the casinos further inland do not want the competition of a new casino, it is not the proper role of government to protect any business from competition. Neither is it a proper role to ban businesses from operating, and then grant favors to special interests in the form of exceptions to the ban. We decline to take a position on this measure.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Two Peas in a Pod: Vladimir Nabokov and Ayn Rand

Gene H. Bell-Villada is a professor of romance languages at Williams College, having earned his doctorate in the field at Harvard.

He's written or edited eleven books, including Art for Art's Sake & Literary Life, a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Pianist Who Liked Ayn Rand, a collection of essays and short fiction, including a novella that satirizes the Ayn Rand cult phenomenon.

Bell-Villada's latest book, On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind, returns to Rand, finding parallels between her life and philosophy, and that of Vladimir Nabokov.

Read what Bell-Villada has to say about Rand and Nabokov in this interview.

Monday, April 14, 2014

State Senator Ted Lieu Supports Accused Rather Than Police

California State Senator Ted Lieu (D - Westside) is running for Congress, hoping to replace retiring Congressman Henry Waxman.

Lieu's no libertarian. I'm sure he's taken many "progressive" positions. But he's currently sponsoring a bill that should please libertarians.

According to Gary Walker, writing for The Argonaut (April 2, 2014):

"Lieu's Senate Bill 980 would compel police departments to allow inmate defense teams to conduct DNA testing on biological case evidence and allow courts to act against law enforcement officials who destroy DNA evidence in violation of state code."

Especially noteworthy is the part I put in boldface. The article continues:

"Law enforcement agencies are currently allowed to destroy biological evidence six months after a conviction, but Lieu's proposal would extend the timeline to a full year. It would also mandate that DNA evidence be run through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System in cases where DNA evidence is found not to match a suspect or inmate.

" 'I think one of the greatest injustices that a government and a society can commit is to wrongly convict an innocent person,' said Lieu, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General prosecutor.

"Since 2000, there have been 244 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, including eight in California, according to the California Innocence Project, which is co-sponsoring the bill with the Northern California Innocence Project."

You can read the full story here.

I don't know who I'll vote for in June, in California's current Top Two primary system. But Lieu's support of Senate Bill 980 is a consideration. Not just for the issue itself, but because it indicates his willingness to support the rights of the accused, in the interests of truth and justice.

Monday, April 07, 2014

California Libertarian Party Seeks 2014 Write-In Candidates

California LP activist Ted Brown has requested that libertarians "please forward this to all LP lists in California."

The Secretary of  State has posted the certified list of candidates for the June primary election:

There are only 6 Libertarian candidates:

Attorney General - Jonathan Jaech
CD 7 - Art Tuma
CD 25 - David Koster Bruce
CD 33 - Mark Matthew Herd
CD 51 - Michael Benoit
AD 8 - Janice Bonser

However, it turns out that there are 21 offices where only one candidate filed.  It is now easy to qualify and run as a write-in candidate.  Between April 7 and May 20, you just need to collect 40 valid signatures from any registered voter in the district, and you would become a certified write-in candidate.  There is no cost.  If you receive more write-in votes than any other write-in candidate, you become one of the "Top Two" and move on to the November election.  The Peace & Freedom Party qualified three candidates this way in 2012.  We tried it in two districts, but they were the same districts as P & F, and their candidates got more write-in votes.  

Anyway, here are the districts:

Board of Equalization, District 3 - most of Los Angeles County - Jose Castaneda is going to run for this one.

Congress, District 23 - Kevin McCarthy (R - House Majority Whip) - Kern, Tulare, and L. A. County (Lancaster)
Congress, District 44 - Janice Hahn (D) - Los Angeles County (San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson, Compton, Lynwood, South Gate, No. Long Beach)
(note:  Congressional candidates don't have to live in the district.)

State Senate, District 16 - Jean Fuller (R) - Kern, Tulare, San Bernardino County (rural)
State Senate, District 22 - Ed Hernandez (D) - Los Angeles County (Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Temple City, Arcadia, East Pasadena, Azusa, Covina, West Covina, La Puente)
State Senate, District 36 - Patricia Bates (R) - Orange County (Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, San Clemente, Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Coto de Caza); and San Diego County (Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas)

State Assembly, District 5 - Frank Bigelow (R) - Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Madera, Mariposa, Mona, Tuolumne, Placer (Auburn & Newcastle)
State Assembly, District 14 - Susan Bonilla (D) - Contra Costa and Solano Counties
State Assembly, District 21 - Adam Gray (D) - Merced and Stanislaus Counties (Modesto, Newman, Patterson)
State Assembly, District 23 - Jim Patterson (R) - north part of Fresno, Clovis
State Assembly, District 26 - Rudy Mendoza (R) - Visalia, Tulare, Porterville, Sequoia Nat'l Park
State Assembly, District 31 - Henry Perea (D) - Fresno south and west, Selma
State Assembly, District 41 - Chris Holden (D) - Los Angeles County (Pasadena, So. Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Claremont, San Dimas); Upland in San Bernardino Co.
State Assembly, District 51 - Jimmy Gomez (D) - Los Angeles (Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Silver Lake, Echo Park, East L. A.)
State Assembly, District 58 - Cristina Garcia (D) - Los Angeles County (Artesia, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Norwalk)
State Assembly, District 59 - Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D) - Los Angeles (USC, South from I-10 to 95th Street, between Western and Alameda)
State Assembly, District 60 - Eric Linder (R) - Riverside County (Corona, Norco, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, west end of Riverside)
State Assembly, District 67 - Melissa Melendez (R) - Riverside County (Murrieta, Wildomar, Menifee, Lake Elsinore)
State Assembly, District 75 - Maria Waldron (R) - Riverside County (Temecula); San Diego County (Escondido, Fallbrook, San Marcos)
State Assembly, District 76 - Rocky Chavez (R) - San Diego County (Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista)
State Assembly, District 79 - Shirley Weber (D) - San Diego County (various parts of City of San Diego - look at a map)
State Assembly, District 80 - Lorena Gonzalez (D) - San Diego County (National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, San Ysidro)

If you are interested in running for any of these offices, or know of someone who is interested, or if you have suggestions about who would be a good choice, please let me know.

For liberty,
Ted Brown