Political Fix (1 May, 2014)

Decoding City Council Elections

Why is Porterville having its city council election in June instead of November like everyone else? Well, according to Juan Duran, they don’t really know. Mr. Duran, one of the candidates himself and president of Centro Mexicano American Latino, said, “The city council election used to be in November, but a few years ago they voted to change it. About three months ago, they went around in circles arguing to put it back to November.”

Just as strange, Visalia City Council used to hold their election in odd years when nothing else was on the ballot. In 2013, there was a whopping 11% voter turnout. The city was forced to change to even years, like the rest of the civilized world, after being sued to hold by-district elections. Seeing as Visalia just had its city council election, there won’t be another one until 2016.

The cities of Dinuba, Exeter, Farmersville, Lindsay, Tulare and Woodlake will hold their city council elections during the November general election. Lucky for Dinuba, they are on the ballot in June because of a recall vote. If the current council member–Janet Hinesly–is recalled, the Reverend Nate Mendoza will take her place.

Back to Porterville, where there nine candidates for city council are running for two seats. If that sounds like a lot, then consider Fresno’s race for District 1, where nine candidates are running for just one seat. Incumbent Xiong Blong has decided not to defend his seat, but instead to try his hand at running for Fresno County Supervisor. The lack of an incumbent for the district has created a sort of free-for -all.

The Porterville race has a similar situation. Incumbent Gary Shelton has decided not to defend his city council seat , but to try to unseat Mike Ennis on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, District 5. That leaves one incumbent, Pete McCracken, running to defend his seat and one seat open. So who is the favorite to win that open seat? The Valley Voice just reports on elections and does not endorse, but this is Porterville.

My favorite is Mr. Duran; first, because I do not know any of the other candidates, and; second, because he is nice. He speaks with such enthusiasm when talking about Porterville, where he has lived for the last fifty years. “I want to see some honesty. I am sick and tired of all the politics. With these local offices, people run to decorate their resume instead of serving the people. I have nothing to lose running for the city council. I’m retired. We need to have citizens in office who are honest and sincere and doing it for the people because they are the taxpayers.”

Channeling Your Inner Republican

Our State Assembly Representative, Connie Conway, was fond of saying she encourages Governor Jerry Brown to channel his inner Republican. Well, she must have been successful as Gov. Brown has put forth a fiscally conservative amendment to the state constitution.

Gov. Brown’s plan is to require the state to set aside money earned from volatile investments, such as those in the stock market, in flush years for use later during lean times. It’s a pretty basic concept, conceived around the time humans evolved from hunting and gathering to living in communities: put your surplus grain in storage during a good harvest, so that during a bad harvest you’ll still have food.

Both Assembly Member Conway and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari are supporting the amendment. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Kashkari said Gov. Brown’s plan is “a small incremental step in the right direction.” He urged Republican lawmakers to approve it without insisting on adjustments.

Ms. Conway said, “Enacting a rainy day fund should be an important priority this year. By saving unexpected tax windfalls in good budget years like this one, we can ease the pain in tough budget years in the future and protect priorities like education and public safety from devastating cuts.” She also pointed out that Gov. Brown will need Republican votes because he is pushing a constitutional amendment that requires the votes of two-thirds of the state lawmakers.

This Time, It’s A Republican

The California State Senate is certainly on a roll, and this time it’s a Republican. Only a day after Sen. Darrell Steinberg hosted an ethics workshop for his fellow senators, the state’s Fair Political Practices Committee unanimously fined Sen. Tom Berryhill $40,000 for the money-laundering of campaign funds. Sen. Berryhill was charged with committing “serious and deliberate” violations of campaign finance rules.

Sen. Berryhill now is the fourth senator in a line of ethics violators among the senators.

Senator Leland Yee is under indictment for trading his legislative influence for organized crime dollars to pay off campaign debts. Senator Ron Calderon is accused of taking bribes to sway votes on workers’ compensation. Senator Rod Wright has been convicted of perjury and voter fraud.

Carlton Jones and Ruben Macareno Spar on Democratic Endorsement

Tulare Vice Mayor Carlton Jones said he refused the Democratic Party’s endorsement for his bid for the 26th Assembly District seat because he didn’t want to accept the party’s platform.

According to the Tulare Voice, Central Valley leaders from both parties need to sit down and hammer out “our platform,” Jones told the Tulare Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee.

“A lot of good bills for our areas get put aside because of the Democrat/Republican thing,” Mr. Jones said.

According to Ruben Macareno, chairman of Tulare County Democratic Party, “The truth is Mr. Jones and his team actively sought the local and state Democratic Party endorsements. For the state endorsement, both Jones and I paid the necessary fees to participate. Only Derek Thomas Sr., the other Democratic candidate, did not seek the endorsement. In February, Jones lost the endorsement count in Palmdale 16-10. Then in March, Jones and his team drove to Los Angeles to cast their votes at the state convention for endorsement. The vote was deadlocked and so no one secured the endorsement. So, how can he “refuse” something he sought? Furthermore, Democratic Party endorsements are not offered but earned.”

Louie Campos, Visalia Democratic Club president responded with, “Mr. Macareno is correct, but in that deadlocked vote Mr. Jones garnered more votes than Macareno.”

Kaelble and Ward rack up more endorsements

It’s hard to knock off an incumbent, even when that incumbent was appointed, but Ralph Kaelble, candidate for Tulare County District Attorney, has put up quite a fight. Last week, the Porterville Peace Officers’ Association (PPOA) voted to endorse Mr. Kaelble for Tulare County District Attorney, following a presentation and interview process that included the current District Attorney, Tim Ward.

“We are pleased to announce our endorsement of Ralph F. Kaelble for Tulare County District Attorney in the June 3, 2014 election. The membership overwhelmingly voted to support Ralph due to his proven leadership skills, his passion for the position, and his vision for the future. We believe he is the best candidate and wholeheartedly support him,” said Aaron Sutherland, association president.

The Kern Law Enforcement Association (KLEA) also announced its endorsement of Mr. Kaelble. This is another key endorsement, as there are times when crimes occur across county lines and the Tulare County District Attorney must work with Kern County law enforcement to successfully prosecute such cases.

Mr. Ward just received the endorsement of the Deputy District Attorneys of the Office of the District Attorney. According to their letter, “We wholeheartedly support and endorse Tim Ward as our District Attorney. Tim has the vision and insight to continue to lead the Office of the District Attorney into the future. Under Tim Ward’s leadership, the attorneys of our office have been given the support, training and encouragement to achieve justice for victims. As our District Attorney, Tim effectively restructured the Office in a way that will obtain maximum efficiency and effectiveness while maintaining the highest standard of professionalism and integrity. Tim created a Crimes Against Children position, enhanced the Violence Against Women division, which now includes a dedicated prosecutor assigned to Domestic Violence Homicides, and is fully committed to continuing aggressive prosecution of gang violence and agriculture crimes. Tim has also taken steps to modernize the Office. He has developed and implemented technological advances to increase our internal efficiency.”

Assembly Hopeful Holds a Dinner/Fundraiser

State Assembly hopeful Teresita “Tess” Andres is hosting a fundraising meet and greet dinner. The event will be at the home of Mr. and Mrs. David Lucio, 5814 W. Elowin Dr. in Visalia on Sunday, May 18th from 4-7pm.

Ms. Andres is one of four Republicans running for the 26th District state assembly seat currently held by Assembly Woman Connie Conway. Ms. Andres was born and raised in Butuan City, in the province of Agusan del Norte, on Mindanao in the Philippines. She is a naturalized citizen and has lived in Visalia with her husband for twelve years. While in the Philippines, she worked in the office of the Executive Secretary to President Fidel Ramos, who was in office from 1992-1998. During Ms. Andres’ world travels she met many international dignitaries and has had the life experiences to “be an effective instrument in helping District 26.”

According to her website, she will be the first COS student to have run for this office. “I enjoy being a lifelong learner, with various certifications, ranging from emergency medical technician to public notary. My experience as a student is instrumental in this race to Sacramento.” She wants to serve in the state assembly because of her desire to give back to the community and share her experiences as a dedicated public servant.

Another Race to the Bottom

In an exercise in sheer futility, the two front-runners in the governor’s race behind Gov. Brown are slugging it out for second place. Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari should be the two Republican front-runners, but the only electable candidate on that ticket, Neel Kashkari, is currently experiencing a downward spiral.

Mr. Kashkari, who has pretty much staked his bid for governor on his experience as a federal budget bailout czar, was criticized by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She accused him of lying to her in her new book, A Fighting Chance, when he led the taxpayer-funded federal bank bailout.

It gets worse.

A public opinion research firm just completed a poll that listed Mr. Kashkari as lagging behind a registered sex offender. Not only is Mr. Kashkari not in second place, he is in fact coming in sixth, behind a field of Republicans including Glenn Champ, who was put on the state’s sex offender registry after he was convicted in 1993 of two counts of assault with intent to commit rape. Mr. Champ also killed a man while driving, and was convicted of soliciting a prostitute.

Mr. Champ told the Los Angeles Times he has since found God and turned his life around.

Tim Donnelly has also had a bad week, but when your tin foil hat is on too tight, that translates into a great week. Tim Scott, a Kashkari supporter, filed a formal complaint against Mr. Donnelly for failing to report an RV as a political contribution. The donated motor home, which of course, Donnelly calls “the Liberty Express,” is frequently featured in his social media posts and emails as he campaigns for governor throughout California.

According to the L.A. Times, Mr. Scott felt that Mr. Kashkari’s campaign raised some very valid questions about Mr. Donnelly’s financial reports. “If you’re running for governor, you have to play by the rules.”

Obviously, Mr. Scott has not been following California politics.

But the two issues that are always sure to fire up Mr. Donnelly’s base are immigration and guns.

Since there just aren’t enough guns on the street, Mr. Donnelly introduced a new bill to relax the rules around who has a right to carry a concealed gun. He declared unconstitutional the restrictions that many California counties have used to sharply limit the right to carry a concealed weapon. Mr. Donnelly’s AB1563 would strip county sheriffs of the authority and discretion to grant or deny such permits — and instead give that authority to the state Justice Department.

Mr. Donnelly is still on probation for carrying a loaded .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun in his carry-on bag as he tried to board a plane at the Ontario Airport.

On immigration, the Los Angeles Times just dug up this week a 2006 speech where Donnelly painted an alarming picture of illegal immigrants. He explained in the speech that the notion that illegal immigrants come to this nation for a better life “is one of the lies,” he said. “At least 20% are coming to commit the crimes that American criminals will no longer commit. Of that 20%, how many are rapists? How many are murderers? How many are child molesters? And how many are terrorists? We don’t know. We are on the brink of a battle,” he said, “unlike the likes of which this nation has seen since 1861.”

According to Around the Capitol website, “Business interests that normally fund GOP candidates have abandoned this field (of gubernatorial candidates) and it will likely have ramifications down-ballot come November. There will be plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking following this year, but Mr. Kashkari erred in waiting to launch his campaign, and Abel Maldonado’s campaign uncertainty didn’t help.” Mr. Maldonado is the former Republican Lieutenant Governor who dropped out of the governor’s race in January. There is no indication that he would have fared any better than his compadres, seeing as he was appointed by Mr. Schwarzenegger and had never won a statewide office.

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