Political Fix (6 August, 2015)

Separated At Birth

In 2004, Visalia City Councilmember Phil Cox declared that he was going to run for Tulare County Supervisor District 3 because, among other things, he was seeking to improve communication between the county and Visalia.

Sound familiar?

At the end of July, Visalia City Councilmember Amy Shuklian declared that she was going to run for Tulare County Supervisor District 3 Supervisor’s seat opposing Mr. Cox. Why? One of her reasons was that she has noticed a lack of alliance between the county and Visalia.

According to the Visalia Times Delta, Ms. Shuklian said, “I don’t think Visalia is being represented as well as it can be the other cities also.”

She continued, And I don’t feel like Supervisor Cox has really stood up for the city of Visalia at those times,” Shuklian said. “I know he’s a county representative also, but he also represents the city of Visalia.”

So, were Ms. Shuklian and Mr. Cox political twins separated at birth? Not quite. The similarities stop there.

While Ms. Shuklian has been a huge advocate for animal services, and recently voted to allow Visalia residents to have pet chickens, Mr. Cox has advocated for the clearing out of all animals from Mooney Grove Park. He has ardently defended Neil Pilegard, manager of Tulare County Parks, who hunted geese in Mooney Grove with a bow and arrow, injuring one that took days to die. When Ms. Shuklian thinks of parks she thinks of people and animals. When Mr. Cox thinks of parks, it’s a mystery what he is thinking because Mooney Grove is an embarrassment to the county.

Another difference is that Ms. Shuklian is an ardent supporter of High -Speed Rail. Officially, Mr. Cox supports Tulare County cooperating with the High-Speed Rail Authority, but he has never really supported the cost of constructing a High-Speed Rail in California.

One huge philosophical difference is their views on Gay Rights. On May 21, 2005, then Assemblyman Bill Maze and Supervisor Phil Cox joined with the anti-gay Reverend Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition to hold a rally against same-sex marriage. On the other hand, as Mayor of Visalia, Ms. Shuklian put forth a proclamation recognizing June as LGBT Pride month, an action the city council supported again unanimously in 2013.

Mr. Cox has one accomplishment that Ms. Shuklian can’t match. Mr. Cox said during his state of the county address in January of 2014, “so I extend a challenge to all within the sound of my voice to join with us to show our faith and ask God to send rain.” He along with his church devoted a few hours one Saturday to pray for rain.

And you know what? It rained for the first time in 60 days.

Ms. Shuklian may need a small miracle herself to unseat the entrenched Mr. Cox, and may want to get some campaign advice from Lali Moheno, who lost to Mr. Cox in 2004. Ms. Moheno was appointed to Tulare County Board of Supervisor District 3 by Governor Davis in 2003 to serve the remainder of Bill Maze’s term after he was elected to the California Assembly. When Ms. Moheno was predicted to win the supervisor’s seat, Mr. Maze took time out of his busy schedule and joined forces with Mr. Cox to aggressively campaign against her. Ms. Moheno and Sup. Cox have since formed a friendly working relationship, but right after the election, Ms. Moheno felt ganged-up on by the good ‘Ole Boys Club.’

Ms. Shuklian told the Visalia Times -Delta (VTD), I would like to see less arrogance on the board. I would like to see more openness.” Now it may be time for Ms. Shuklian to put a crack in that good ‘Ole Boys Club.’

The Chicken Initiative

After a pas de deux between Gingi Freeman and Jerrod Jensen in the VTD, the initiative to legalize mini goats and chickens inside Visalia’s city limits is well on its way. The Urban Farmers for Food Freedom (UFFF) started collecting signatures to get the initiative on the ballot at the Downtown Thursday Farmers Market in the last week of July.

Mr. Jensen wrote an editorial in the VTD against the initiative pointing out, among many things, what a waste this is of tax payer money. If the initiative is put on the June 2016 ballot, it could cost Visalia $120,000. Ms. Freeman countered with her own editorial a week later saying that if the city had negotiated with the pro-goat and pro-chicken advocates there would be no need for the city to pay for an initiative.

This is true. If the city had taken the UFFF’s original proposal and negotiated a compromise, there would be no initiative. But the compromise would have legalized allowing a few chickens and goats in residential areas.

Who is to say that is the will of the people?

It seems that the majority of Visalians want to allow small farm animals inside the city limits. That would make the cost of the initiative unnecessary. But maybe the UFFF is louder than it is numerous. I would have bet my husband’s life that Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza was going to beat Devon Mathis for California State Assembly. But Mr. Mendoza ended up losing by a near landslide.

Will the majority of citizens vote in favor of the initiative? Visalia’s city staff was not willing to speak for all of Visalia and would rather let the process take its course. If that means paying for an initiative, then that is the price of democracy. Putting the initiative on the ballot is still not a done deal. The UFFF needs to collect 7,000 legitimate signatures before it even qualifies to go on the June ballot.

Ms. Freeman and Mr. Jensen’s editorials in the VTD set off quite an entertaining online fight. Jim Reeves, an LGBT equal rights activist and blogger, wrote a response in favor of Mr. Jensen’s editorial. He said, “Tulare County is 4,800 square miles. Visalia is 32. Pick a spot in the county to raise your goats and chickens, and leave those of us who don’t want farm animals over our back fence in peace!” His response set off a firestorm of retorts more impassioned than any anti-gay rhetoric he has received.

In Mr. Reeves Alternating Currents blog he quoted Ms. Freeman as saying, “You advocate controlling what others may do on their private property? Should we also create kid-free zones (some don’t like kids) or Christian free zones or dog free zones…?” At the end of a long day most adults would vote yes on all three counts, but that is a separate initiative.

Mr. Reeves quoted Ms. Freeman again, “for someone who crusades for LGBT rights, you are crazy intolerant of people and lifestyles different than your own.”

Is it mandatory that a gay rights activist be pro-goat?

Mr. Reeves pointed out that equal rights, and where you can raise chickens and goats, are two different things. If, however, everyone could own chickens except left-handed people, then Mr. Reeves would join the fight. Until that time comes, he wants farm animals out of the city. We will see if the rest of Visalia agrees.

The Dream Team

A few weeks ago I was wondering if I was more excited about the Pope’s speech to Congress or the Republican debate. The Pope will be presenting his encyclical to Congress in September and it will be interesting to watch Catholic Republicans squirm in their seats while the Vicar of Christ tells them that climate change is man-made. But, the bloom is off, as his encyclical has been published and the Republicans have already lodged their disapproval. It is interesting to note that while the Pope advances an environmental document, whose sole purpose is to save Earth, his popularity dives in the polls among Republicans. Yet, When Mr. Trump declares Senator McCain is not a war hero, and calls undocumented Mexicans rapists and criminals, his numbers sky rocket. In many polls he is leading by a large margin all other Republicans for the presidential nomination.

Should this or any other paper give Mr. Trump more ink? Probably not because it appears that is the goal of his controversial statements. But concerning the Republican debate, the populace isn’t sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the next time Gov. Scott Walker mentions he is an Eagle Scout and how that qualifies him to run the country. We are all going to watch, Democrats and Republicans, to hear the latest rant from Mr. Trump.

Last weekend, while visiting with a founding member of the Tea Party Patriots, I was enlightened as to why Mr. Trump is so popular. She said that it really bugs Tea Party members when candidates only make statements that are politically correct, which means they must spend most of their lives being annoyed. In a recent The Fresno Bee article, a local Trump supporter says, “I like that he says what he thinks and doesn’t really care what people say about him. In my opinion, that’s something we need.”

Given how the Tea Party feels, one can understand why just hearing the name Hilary Clinton must make them cringe as she is the consummate politically correct animal. Being politically correct is also why Sarah Palin lost some of her luster during the McCain presidential campaign, because the Tea Party felt she was no longer speaking her mind and was muzzled.

The Tea Party’s dream ticket would be Trump/Cruz. When I protested that putting those two on one ticket would not be balanced she countered saying that, “Ted Cruz has the political experience of how to deal with Washington that Trump does not have, and that Donald Trump has the business experience Cruz does not have.”

So the Republican debate wins over the Pope’s speech. When this newspaper hits the stands on Thursday, families across America will be eating pizza and watching the show. Just discovering who has to sit at the kiddy table and who gets to be part of the real debate makes it worth watching. One thing is almost certain though. Ted Cruz has been riding Mr. Trump’s coattails up the polls and might have secured himself a place at the adult’s table. We may not see either of them on the ballot in the California Primary – but we certainly will hear from them.

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