The Jury Talks Back


Appointment or election for county supervisors?

Filed under: California Politics — aphrael @ 11:26 pm

While the United States is in general a two-party state, some of us have the misfortune of living in areas which are, in effect, one-party regions. The San Francisco Bay Area is now one of them; our entire legislative delegation consists of Democrats, and they typically win by more than 2/3 majorities, meaning that there is no realistic chance of a competitive race. (It’s worth noting that tihs isn’t the result of gerrymandering; even perfectly reasonably drawn districts in the region would yield this result).

While there are sometimes competitive races for city government and school board, the city councils and the school boards outside of San Francisco tend to be low key, low controversy bodies that don’t attract much interest, with popular incumbents and little in the way of competition.

This extends to County Boards of Supervisors, as well. In theory, these are powerful positions and should attract competition; but incumbents tend to be well-regarded, and it’s next to impossible to unseat them. So nobody even tries; in my county, San Mateo County, it’s been more than ten years since the last competitive election for County Supervisor.

So it’s a big deal when an incumbent dies, retires, or is promoted; open seats are the only time there’s any competition at all. It ought to be a source of democratic excitement, then, that San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill has been elected to the Assembly; his seat is vacant! A rare, competitive election is at hand!

Except that it might not be. The local press says that the County Board of Supervisors is considering appointing a replacement after a public interview process.

They claim they are motivated by the high cost of an election. If they are being honest, they are wrong; it’s so rare that there is a meaningful election for this office that they should be seizing this rare opportunity to have one, and the cost is tiny compared with the benefit to the public. Failing to do so creates the appearance that they are more interested in providing a cushy job to a friend than they are in representing the interests of the public.

But perhaps it’s too much to expect that the leadership of a one-party state be concerned with appearances; there’s very little incentive to show such concern when you are more or less guaranteed re-election. And perhaps it’s too much to expect that same leadership to allow membership in their ranks to be the result of an election, rather than a process, however public, in which they cast the only votes that matter.

But they have a duty to their constituents to allow the election, and they should carry out that duty.

Welcome, one and all

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 10:33 pm

First, I want to say how honored I am that Patterico offered me this chance.  The fact that he considers me someone with something worthwhile to say is, frankly, a sad commentary on you folks.  :)  However, let’s try to not hold his choice against him, hmm?  I mean, we all make mistakes, right?

Anyways, I would like to say what I, personally, hope to accomplish here, and what you can expect from me.

  1. I will do my best to cite sources and read all valid counter points, amending and editing my posts as time permits and facts warrant.
  2. I will be fair.  I will do my best to listen to all sides, and attempt to emulate that paragon of fairness, DRJ.
  3. I will speak my mind.  I sadly tend towards the vulgar and profane, and while I will try and keep f-bombs to a minimum, they will happen, as will s-bomb, and all other kind of bombs I can’t even think of right now.

I will admit right now that I hold a lot of conservative positions, but I like to think of myself as more libertarian.  I hope to be open to new ideas, and I really hope to learn something from this whole experience.  At the least, I hope to learn how to consolidate my stream-of-consciousness style of writing into something less chaotic.

Anyways, welcome to the grand experiment.

Welcome to “The Jury Talks Back”

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:56 pm

Welcome to “The Jury Talks Back,” a new reader-written blog at As you can see, the address for the blog is But you don’t have to remember it; there are buttons on the right margin, just underneath the recent comments, that allow you to toggle back and forth between the main site and this one.

I am in the process of creating user accounts and e-mailing the participants. But hopefully you’ll see new content here very soon.

I’m excited about giving readers a chance to post their own thoughts as fully conceived blog posts. Enjoy.

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