The Jury Talks Back

6/14/2011

School District refunds donations rather than allow Bible verses

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 9:18 am

In January 2010 Palm Desert High School announced a fundraiser for parents of graduates and other parents and community members.  For a donation of $100 or more, donors could purchase a brick or bench, engraved with a message, that would become a permanent part of the campus.  The order form did not specify restrictions on the messages.

Two community members paid for bricks to be enscribed with Bible verses.  Later the financially-strapped school district notified the two Christian women that their bricks were rejected, citing “separation of church and state.”  In response the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit on the women’s behalf.  In the lawsuit the plaintiffs noted that other religious messages had been accepted, including a Bible verse in Spanish and a Hindu quote from Mahatma Ghandi.

Last week the parties reached a settlement in which the school district refunded all of the money and destroyed the bricks and benches.   Although their goal was to participate in the fundraiser — not to stop it — the plaintiffs are being blamed as selfish and un-Christian by many in the community for the loss of the $45,000 that the school district returned to the donors.

The ADF attorney said regarding the settlement, “Christians should be allowed to express themselves on public school campuses just like everyone else. It is cowardly to shut down everyone’s participation in this program simply out of animosity toward Christian speech. There is absolutely nothing unconstitutional about a Bible verse on a brick when a school opens up a program for anyone to express a personal message. The school could simply have allowed the Bible verses, but instead, it chose to punish everyone.”

12/14/2010

PG&E monitored SmartMeter critics, called them insurgents and slackers

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 4:34 pm

Remember the PG&E executive who was fired last month over a sockpuppet scandal?  William Devereaux, the former senior director of PG&E’s SmartMeter program, monitored online discussion groups and used a fake name in an attempt to join one of the groups that opposed SmartMeters.

Statements by PG&E and internal PG&E documents that were released to state regulators detail some troubling details…

  • Employees at various levels of the SmartMeter program were aware that Devereaux “was reviewing online conversations and, in at least one instance, took action based on that information,” according to PG&E spokesman David Eisenhaurer.
  • The utility company kept track of SmartMeter opposition in several Northern California communities.  Company employees sometimes referred to SmartMeter opponents — all of whom were PG&E customers – as “insurgents” or “slackers”.
  • PG&E sent one employee to monitor a SmartMeter demonstration in Rohnert Park in October.  The employee took photographs of protestors and wrote in an email, “This is fun no one said ‘espionage’ in the job description.”

 

Previously: PG&E executive resigns over sockpuppet scandal

11/12/2010

San Francisco considering ban on child circumcision

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 2:59 pm

After it finishes banning Happy Meals, the city of San Francisco will consider the prohibition of circumcision of minors.  A resident is circulating a petition that would make it a “misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the … genitals” of a person under age 18.  If the required number of signatures is obtained, the measure would go on the ballot for the next city-wide election.

(Having frequently argued religion and politics — including the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum — on the internet, I have concluded that no subject elicits more zeal and animosity than infant male circumcision.)

11/11/2010

PG&E executive resigns over sockpuppet scandal

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 8:04 am

Another sockpuppet scandal — this one via PG&E executive William Devereaux.  Mr. Devereaux, Senior Director of the PG&E SmartMeter program, used a fake name while attempting to infiltrate an online group that discusses adverse effects of the SmartMeters.  Although Devereaux signed his message to the site moderator as “Ralph”, his email server displayed his real name.  The moderator wrote back, “Hi, aren’t you the head of the Smart Meter program at PG&E?  We’d love your help!  Can you help us obtain a Smart Meter moratorium ASAP?”

In September, someone using the same email address submitted a comment to the discussion group SmartWarriorMarin:

The hypocrisy of your own arguments as you pick and choose yourself about the science regarding rf [radio frequency emissions], make unsubstantiated claims about smart meter energy use, and make completely irresponsible allegations trying to link smart meters to the tragedy of San Bruno.”

Devereaux admitted that he had monitored other online PG&E critics for months.  A PG&E spokesman reported that Devereaux resigned his position yesterday.

10/30/2010

Ballot choices …

Filed under: California Politics — aphrael @ 11:46 am

Voting:

A quick rundown of how I’m planning to vote on Tuesday, with (brief) explanations instead of the usual 1000 word tomes.

Governor: Dale Ogden (L). Meg Whitman has spent a fortune failing to convince me that she can succeed at doing what Arnie promised to do. Jerry Brown is more responsible than any single other living politician for helping construct the state of California’s current framework of ungovernability. I reject them both, and am slightly more sympathetic to the Libertarians than to the Greens when I look for third party candidates.

Senator: Barbara Boxer (D). Carly Fiorina came into HP, failed to understand its corporate culture, the motivations of its employees, or what made it a great company, then proceded to change the company in ways which destroyed all three. There’s no good reason to believe she’d be any better in the Senate.

Lt. Governor: Abel Maldanado (R). Gavin Newsom is a spotlight-seeking political hack who managed to make the gay community in San Francisco love him while scoring a massive own goal for their side; then he proceeded to betray his closest friend (and prominent political aide) and his wife, simultaneously. Abel Maldanado is a socially moderate, pro-environment Republican who is willing to vote for compromise budgets. Given this choice, the answer is obvious.

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen (D). She came to office four years ago promising to restrict the use of unverifiable (and unsafe) electronic voting machines. She did so. She deserves re-election for the simple reason that she kept her primary campaign promise, with the result that elections in California are now more secure than they are in much of the country.

Attorney General: Steve Cooley (R). He’s a relatively nonpartisan conservative who supports modifying three strikes; his opponent ran a DA’s office which has been embroiled in a scandal involving the DA’s office not turning over impeachment evidence about cops with disciplinary records involving dishonesty. That was a fundamental failure of a basic job duty, and blaming it on the SFPD should not earn her a promotion.

Insurance Commissioner: why is this an elected office, again?

Superintendent of Public Education: all I know about this is that it’s shaped up to be a race between the candidate backed by the administration and the candidate backed by the teachers. Since I have no children in the public schools, I don’t follow public school politics enough to know more, so I’m inclined to not vote on it.

Assembly: Ray Bell (L). I voted against the Democrat in the primary for reasons involving local county politics (and because one of his opponents was one of the best candidates i’ve seen anywhere in a long time). He’s guaranteed a win in the general election, so I’m voting for a third party candidate to increase their visibility and numbers.

Congress: Anna Eshoo (D). I’m reasonably happy with her as a representative and don’t think any of her opponents will do a better job.

Proposition 19: Yes. It’s far from a perfect bill, but legalizing possession and growth of marijuana, and allowing some legalization of sale, is a step in the right direction. Aside from the (uncertain) situation with respect to corporate drug-free workplace policies, where I’m somewhat sympathetic to the danger that companies may be unable to comply with both this law and federal contracting regulations, my objections to Prop. 19 are that it doesn’t go far enough, not that it goes too fa.r

Proposition 20: No. I voted for the independent redistricting commission for the state legislature, two years ago; how about we give it a chance, and see how it works, before extending its power?

Proposition 21: No. This is tough: more money for parks (many of which were almost closed last year), tied to a minor increase in the vehicle license fee, balanced by free park admission – it’s a reasonable policy choice which I would vote for as a legislator. But I don’t like ballot-box budgeting; it makes the overall state budget problem worse.

Proposition 22: No. More ballot box budgeting. In a good cause, sure … but aren’t they always in a good cause?

Proposition 23: No. A temporary suspension might be in order (although even then, if we really believe that global warming is a problem that must be addressed, don’t we need to address it regardless of whether we’re in good economic times or not?). But this isn’t temporary: the trigger is a condition of extremely low unemployment … meaning the suspension may be indefinite.

Proposition 24: No. (1) Complicated tax policy is why we have a legislature. (2) I like some of the changes the measure would repeal while disliking others. (3) More ballot-box budgeting.

Proposition 25: Yes If a majority of the legislature can put together a budget which is balanced and which doesn’t require tax increases, they should be able to do so.

Proposition 26: No. Increasing the number of things which require a 2/3 majority vote, and simultaneously incresing the number of things which must be sent to the voters for a 2/3 majority vote, is a recipe for gridlock and further structural inflexibility, making it even harder for government to function than it already is.

Proposition 27: No. We voted to create this redistricting commission two years ago. Nothing has changed. How about we give it a try before repealing it?

10/29/2010

Recall the Fresno County Registrar.

Filed under: California Politics — aphrael @ 1:42 pm

Apparently Fresno County printed the wrong ballot title and summaryfor Proposition 23.

(The summary had been changed by court order, but the Fresno County registrar wasn’t keeping track of it, apparently, and so the ballots went out with a title and summary that a state court had ordered off the ballot).

“Fresno County is a county of significant size in California and in a close election, its vote, now tainted by this serious error, could call into question the state results and possibly give rise to an election contest and require a new statewide election on Proposition 23.” So says an attorney for the Yes-on-23 campaign. And she’s right: if state law requires a particular title and summary and a different one was provided on the ballot, it’s not even clear that the election results are valid.

I’m pretty forgiving of most human errors. But this one is inexcusable.

9/29/2010

Vote for me because I am a woman

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 7:48 pm

I’m one of those people who takes my voting very seriously.  I study the election pamphlets in order to make choices for each of the offices.  All of the judicial offices, the water district, the sheriff, etc.  I cross out any candidate who failed to submit a statement.  Then I study each statement in order to find anything that can help me choose to vote for or against the particular candidate.

Sometimes I can make a choice based on the person’s stated positions, priorities, or background.  In some cases, the candidates are equally vague or unacceptable, so that I don’t vote for that office.  In this election, however, one of the candidates made my choice very simple.

Deputy District Attorney John Creighton is running against Administrative Law Judge Victoria Kolakowski for Alameda County Superior Court Judge.  Both candidates have 20 years of legal experience and are rather vague about their priorities.  Creighton touts his prosecution of gangs, while Kolakowski worked in consumer law.  Normally this would be a tossup for me.

But Kolakowski cited an ad hominem reason to vote for her:

Less than a third of the judges currently serving on the Alameda County Superior Court are women, and it is time for another experienced woman to be added to the Court.

This statement is very helpful in my decision.  A person is qualified to be a judge based on judicial experience and the ability to give parties equal and impartial treatment before the law.  Kolakowski’s statement suggests to me that she tends to group a person into categories rather than as an individual.  If she expects the voters to treat her based on her gender, then should we expect that she will treat each case based on the personal characteristics of the litigants?

John Creighton will not receive my vote because he is a man.  Creighton will not receive my vote because his opponent is a woman.  Creighton has earned my vote specifically because his opponent has played the gender card.

* * * * *

Yesterday, after I had prepared to write this post, the Oakland Tribune published an article about the race.  It turns out that there’s even more to the story.

[The candidates] have different opinions on what qualifications are necessary and what the bench currently needs in a judge.

Kolakowski, the transgender candidate who won a three-candidate primary election in June, says her background – both professional and personal – will add a much needed splash of diversity to a court system filled with prosecutors.

Creighton, who has the backing of roughly 80 percent of the judges in the county court system and an endorsement from the candidate who came in third place during the primary, says he has the legal experience — more than 25 years in the district attorney’s office and thousands of hours in trials — necessary to run an efficient, compassionate and fair courtroom.

Kolakowski cites her experience as a political activist, and devotes an entire page on her web site to her transgender identity, implying that voters should elect her so that she can make history as the first transgender trial court judge in the United States.

There are many places where a diverse membership is desirable, even advantageous.  Councils, commissions, and other groups can benefit from the diverse backgrounds and experiences of the various members.  By contrast, the judiciary should be populated by judges who are qualified, not by their diversity, but by their ability to make sound decisions based on the facts and the law.

The reasoning displayed by both candidates reinforces my confidence in my decision.

9/14/2010

Propositions 20 and 27

Filed under: California Politics — aphrael @ 3:50 pm

In 2008, the California voters narrowly passed (by a margin of 1.8%) Proposition 11, a sweeping reform measure which denied the state Legislature the power to draw state legislative district boundaries, vesting it instead in a commission comprised of citizen volunteers randomly drawn from a pool created by staffers of the state auditor. (Disclaimer: I was an early applicant for the commission, but failed to make it past the first round).

The proposition was designed to apply only to state legislative offices in order to not draw the ire (and opposition) of the national Democratic party.

Districts created by the Commission would have to respect pre-existing communities of interest, a term which was not defined.

Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, activists have qualified two ballot measures to change it: Proposition 20, which would give the Commission the added responsibility of drawing Congressional districts; and Proposition 27, which would abolish it.

Proposition 20 would:

(a) take the power to redraw the borders of Congressional districts away from the state legislature and hand it off to the Redistricting Commission;
(b) subject Congressional districts to a higher standard for minimal population deviation than other districts are held to (Congressional districts “shall achieve population equality as nearly as is practicable”, while other districts “shall have reasonably equal population with other districts for the same office”);
(c) define ‘community of interest’ as ‘a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation’;
(d) allow any registered voter to petition and stay implementation of districts if the district map is subject to a referendum;
and
(e) make a bunch of minor, substanceless wording changes.

Proposition 27 would:

(a) abolish the redistricting commission;
(b) vest the power to draw districts back in the state legislature;
(c) explicitly allow referenda for laws changing district boundary lines;
(d) require districts to be precisely equal in size unless that is mathematically impossible, in which case a variation of no more than plus or minus one person would be allowed;
(e) require districts to minimize the division of cities and counties and prohibiting cities and counties with population smaller than the ideal population of a district from being split (except to achieve population equality or contiguity, or to comply with federal law)
(f) require a broad public hearing process for the legislature to ask for citizen input on district boundaries;
and
(g) limit the amount of money spent on redistricting to $2.5 million

I voted for Proposition 11 not because I thought it was an ideal solution to the problem of redistricting, but because there is something fundamentally problematic, in my mind, about legislators drawing their own districts. The 2000 redistricting was abominable, a plan whose entire purpose was to protect the incumbents of both parties by drawing districts which were more partisan and therefore more likely to re-elect; preventing a repeat performance is in the interests of everyone in the state.

But the plan itself was problematic, and I understood why many voted against it: in particular, it had conflicting goals – it wanted both to increase the competitiveness of elections and to require that districts be compact and represent definable communities of interest. These are incompatible goals; no electoral district drawn as a subset of San Francisco and the peninsula will be competitive (nor will a district drawn out of the northeast corner of the state), and yet a system which ensures that districts respect communities of interest will draw such districts.

Still, I will be voting against Proposition 20 and Proposition 27.

The case against Proposition 27 is easier to explain.

For one thing, it would jettison the current system without ever giving it a chance to operate; that might be necessary and good if the system in place were clearly a disaster, but it’s really difficult to say that about a system which draws random volunteers, screened for conflicts of interest, and hands them the power to do their best. What we enacted two years ago is as close as it’s possible to get to enpaneling a disinterested jury; until and unless it produces flawed results, it seems worthwhile to give it a try.

But even if the current system were problematic, this proposed system is absurd.

In a world with apartment buildings, drawing district lines with a maximum variance of one person is a statistical improbability. It is a virtual guarantee that all new district plans will be tied up in court, and that the lines will ultimately be drawn by a special master appointed by the Supreme Court – because the state Constitution will be demanding the effectively impossible, and the legislature will be unable to comply. (Similarly, requiring a broad system of public hearings but then limiting expenditures to $2.5 million creates an inherent conflict: holding hearings up and down the state will be expensive).

Worse yet, the measure is fundamentally dishonest. “Our political leadership has failed us”, the findings and purpose section of the initiative says – and it proposes to fix that problem by taking power away from randomly selected citizens and handing it back to the political leadership of the state Legislature. The Findings & Purpose declaration also claims that the current law will enable the creation of severely underpopulated districts reminiscent of the ‘rotten boroughs’ of the past – never mind that the districts created under the current system must comply with Supreme Court rulings on the relative sizes of districts. It also claims that the reason state Assemblymen have a home field advantage when running for the Senate is that current law requires that each Senator represent two Assembly seats – while ignoring the fact that the current districts were drawn under a different law which didn’t require that, which makes it clear that any home-field advantage currently held cannot possibly be the result of that law, which has never yet been acted on or carried into effect.

So: Proposition 27 tries to replace the current (not-yet-used) system with a return to gerrymandering by the legislature, helped along by an all-but-impossible absolute equality provision, and misleading and dishonest justifications.

The previous system was broken; Proposition 27 doesn’t address the things which made it broken.

The current system is untested and worth a try.

And the findings & purpose section of Proposition 27 is so dishonest that its authors shouldn’t be trusted to run a lemonade stand.

My problem with Proposition 20 is subtler, and it boils down to two things:

(a) The Proposition 11 system is untested and, while I believe we should give it a shot, I’m hesitant to give it more power while I’m not yet sure how well it will work. Experimenting can be good; but rushing headlong into adopting the new way of doing things before we even find out the results of the experiment seems unwise.

(b) I think it’s an error for California to voluntarily abdicate its power to effect the composition of the national legislature without other powerful states doing so. It’s tantamount to voluntary disarmament in an arms race; it can only hurt California’s political interests.

I usually find the arguments for and against propositions in the state voter information pamphlet to be useless and unconvincing at best and misleading at worst.

While I’m not going to vote for Proposition 20, I find the argument against it in the ballot pamphlet to be a great example of this: it tells me that Proposition 20 will cost millions of dollars and that I should vote against it for that reason. But this is silly; for one thing, a few million dollars is worth it to get a reasonable redistricting process in place; for another thing, most of the costs of the redistricting commission are fixed, up-front costs; assigning them more responsibility may trigger an incremental cost increase, but that will be tiny compared with the fixed costs already being spent.

Worse yet, it claims that the proposition requires that districts “must be segregated by income level.” But that’s not true; it requires that district lines be drawn to “minimize the division” of “a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.” The proposition then goes on to cite as examples “those common to an urban area, a rural area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area, and those common to areas in which the people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities, or have access to the same media of communication relevant to the election process.” This isn’t an attempt to segregate by income; it’s an attempt to say, hey, districts should be drawn in a way which maximizes the similarity of social and economic outlook of the voters of that district.

This does seem to me to be inconsistent with one of the premises of Proposition 11 – that the districts should be more competitive. But since Proposition 11 had internally conflicting premises, weakening one of them is probably a good thing overall … and even if it isn’t, the argument against seriously mischaracterizes it.

8/29/2010

S.F. Chronicle visits Imperial County – what could go wrong?

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 9:19 am

Tiny Imperial County could play a decisive role in the battle over same-sex marriage in California.  In the 2008 election, citizens of the county, which is overwhelmingly Hispanic, voted by 62% for Barack Obama and by nearly 70% in support of Proposition 8.  If Imperial County is granted standing to appeal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision overturning Prop. 8, then it’s virtually guaranteed that the case will go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle featured a front-page article that completely distorted the positions of Imperial County civic and religious officials regarding same sex marriage and the county’s attempt to defend Proposition 8 in court.  The article, as described by the Imperial Valley Press, painted the county as a ”queer-hating, Bible-thumping bastion of backwater bigotry.”  I was disturbed by several aspects of the Chronicle reporting.  According to the opening paragraph, Imperial County was ”taking a lonely stand” — despite the fact that the initiative received support from 7 million voters.  The county is described condescendingly as ”an impoverished, sun-baked desert backwater pasted into the southeast corner of California”.  One particular quote stood out like a sore thumb, in which the reporter summarized the position of county supervisors and religious leaders:

It’s not like we’re bigoted against gays and lesbians, they say. We feel Christian love for them.  We just believe they are sinners, say county supervisors and religious leaders who are leading the pro-Prop. 8 fight here – and the sacred institution of marriage has no place for sinners.

The idea that sinners are not allowed to get married didn’t make sense to me, since everyone is a sinner according to the Christian Bible.  I contacted four county civic and religious leaders to see if they agreed with the statement.  All of them expressed disappointment in the article, and none recalls having made such a statement, and none of them agrees with it.  

County Supervisor Wally Leimgruber spoke with the Chronicle reporter and photographer about the case for at least an hour.  Leimgruber was interested in discussing the legal aspects of the case.  However, when prompted by the photographer, he did respond that he agreed with the statement that the homosexual lifestyle is a sinful lifestyle.  Fellow Supervisor Jack Terrazas did not recall himself or any other supervisor discussing marriage with respect to sinners.  Terrazas wrote, “my reason for the appeal and the request to enter into the case was to follow the wish of the voters in Imperial County, who by an almost 70% voted for Prop. 8.” 

Terrazas suggested that the reporter may have generalized the views of religious leaders and county supervisors as one view.  So I checked with two members of the pastoral staff at Christ Community Church in El Centro.  Associate Pastor Chris Nunn was portrayed in the article as a judgmental Bible-thumping bigot:

He opened up his Bible and began jabbing his finger at passages such as Corinthians 6:9-11, which lumps “homosexuals” and “sodomites” in with idolaters and thieves as being among those “who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Nunn wrote to me that he was saddened by the distortion of his position in the article.  “I can assure you that we did not say, nor do we believe that there is no place in marriage for sinners.  I am a sinner.  I am the first to admit it…. If I believed that sinners shouldn’t marry then I wouldn’t have been able to get married myself.”

Associate Pastor Steve Messick agreed that the article was “beyond recognition when compared with the topics and demeanor actually discussed during the interview with the Chronicle.”   During our telephone conversation, Messick referred me to several passages from the Bible that discussed love and marriage.   He also quoted Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Obviously if sinners were excluded from marriage, then there would be no marriage in the first place.  Messick was charitable to the Chronicle, saying that the distorted view was either a misunderstanding or a misquote.

A retired fish and game warden, Messick told the Chronicle about a memorable conversation he had during the battle over Proposition 8.  On the street a lesbian woman yelled at him, “What have you people got against love?”  He responded by going over and talking with her.  Over and over the next half-hour, they discussed love from a personal and Biblical perspective.  At the end of the conversation, Messick reports that the woman was moved to tears.  Messick also discussed some of the ways that his church is impacting the local community.  Located in a low income, high crime area, Christ Community Church is committed, in his words, “to seeing God change the area.”  Its New Creations street ministry has helped hundreds of people affected by homelessness, substance abuse, and other afflictions.  Yet none of this was reported – apparently it didn’t support the Chronicle’s desire to protray arrogant religious leaders.

I received no response to an email I sent to reporter Kevin Fagan.

However there have been a number of responses to the article itself.   A letter to the editor criticized the “organized homophobia” of the “religious right”, claiming (based on the article) that church leaders want to deny marriage to gays and lesbians “because they are de facto sinners.”  The  Imperial Valley Press editorial called for Supervisor Liemgruber to be removed from office.  And Leimbreiber forwarded correspondence that he received condemning him as a “bigot” whose ”homophobic opinion” is “on par with the [mid-20th century] racism in the deep south”.

7/30/2010

Prop 14 lawsuit filed

Filed under: California Politics — aphrael @ 12:18 pm

The first lawsuit against Proposition 14 was filed yesterday.

The claims are:

(1) Prop 14 violates Article 2, Section 2.5 of the California Constitution by denying people the right to have votes cast for eligible write-in candidates be counted.

(2) Prop 14 violates Article 1, Section 2(a) of the California Constitution (the free speech clause) by denying people the right to have votes cast for write-in candidates be counted.

(3) Prop 14 violates the 1st amendment and 42 USC 1983 by denying people the right to have votes cast for write-in candidates be counted.

(4) Prop 14 violates the Elections Clause by denying people the right to have votes cast for write-in candidates be counted.

(5) Prop 14 violates due federal process by denying people the right to have votes cast for write-in candidates be counted.

(6) Prop 14 violates state due process by denying people the right to have votes cast for write-in candidates be counted.

(7) Prop 14 violates state equal protection by not allowing candidates to state a preference for a minor party which isn’t ballot qualified.

(8) Prop 14 violates the elections clause and 42 USC 1983 by not allowing candidates to state a preference for a minor party which isn’t ballot qualified.

———–

(1) is just wrong , as the clause only requires that votes cast in accordance with state law be counted (“A voter who casts a vote in an election in accordance with the laws of this State shall have that vote counted”).

(2) and (3) are bizarre, and the complaint doesn’t explain the theory under which this denies free speech.

(4) and (8) are inconsistent with my understanding of the elections clause (which would in any event only apply to federal offices) and would represent a gigantic change in federal elections law which would force many states to change their laws (effectively *requiring* write-ins and declaration of preference for unrecognized parties, everywhere, even though they often aren’t allowed now in many places).

(5), (6), and (7) are novel but I suspect unlikely to go very far.

6/24/2010

Oops

Filed under: California Politics — aphrael @ 3:32 pm

It appears that the Democratic candidate for SD-16 may not actually live in the district.

To be fair, the county elections office claims he does, despite the fact that the State Senate’s tool and the county’s own GIS mapping tool says he doesn’t.

It’s not clear to me who should prevail on the inevitable lawsuit – clearly he’s required to live in the district, but ultimately if the elections office of his county tells him he’s in a given district he should be entitled to rely on that authority, but if there’s a valid state authority it probably isn’t too much to expect a campaign for the state legislature to check it.

But it’s funny (and embarassing) and quite an indictment of the 2000 redistricting that it’s even an issue at all.

6/14/2010

Another unknown candidate surprises everyone ….

Filed under: California Politics — aphrael @ 5:38 am

There’s been a lot of talk in the political press and blogosphere about the weird result in South Carolina: an unknown candidate who didn’t bother campaigning won a primary election, and there are allegations that somehow the opposing party was responsible.

Apparently something similar happened in California: an unknown candidate for Insurance Commissioner, whose campaign expenses consisted of paying the filing fee, paying for his statement in the voter guide, and flying to an endorsement meeting, appears to have won the Republican party primary.

Perhaps, in a year with a strong anti-incumbent backlash, this shouldn’t be surprising. But the fact that it is happening makes the similar occurrence in South Carolina seem less bizarre.

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