Political Fix (3 September, 2015)

Vincent Salinas Running for Tulare County Board of Supervisors

Vincent Salinas of Visalia has filed his paperwork to run for Tulare County Board of Supervisors in District 1. Mr. Salinas has been an active member of the community in many capacities, including serving on Visalia’s Planning Commission for 11 years. His map creating Visalia’s five voting districts was one of the finalists considered by the city council.

District 1 in Tulare County should prove one of the more interesting races for the 2016 election because it will be an open seat. Supervisor Allen Ishida, who currently represents District 1, declared in May that he intends to run for Governor of California.

As is true for all candidates, Mr. Salinas’ main issue will be water. I inquired as to what he plans on doing differently than what is already being done. He said, “Do you want to do some homework?” I said, “No.”

He followed up by educating me about a study that cost $1.5 million, and took two years to complete, called the Disadvantaged Communities Tulare Lake Basin Study. I said that the board of supervisors has referred to that study several times when discussing water policy. But Mr. Salinas pointed out that at the end of the study there are several recommendations that have not been implemented, and are not yet being explored.

Mr. Salinas has read the 300-plus page study and said that it is time for the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to act.

“If you are going to spend $1.5 million on a study, then use their recommendations and expand on it,” he said.

The other three issues on his platform are: public safety, improving the relationship between the county and cities, and economic development. For the last one, Mr. Salinas wants to stem the brain drain from Tulare County. He said we need to recruit research and development companies so that those residents with a college degree or higher stay in the county.

When asking Ruben Macareno, chair of the local Democratic Central Committee, if he had a comment on Mr. Salinas’ candidacy, he said, “We would like a Democrat to run for that seat. Thus far we have no candidate in that race.”

Not only do the Democrats have no candidates in any of the races, Democrats hold no political office in Tulare County except for three city council seats–two of which were appointed.

Mr. Salinas saw the open supervisor’s seat as his opportunity to represent his district and serve his community. This is a non-partisan office, but everyone knows who is a Republican and who is Democrat, and if it is a viable candidate, we don’t have to guess from which party they hail.

Amy Shuklian Introduces New Logo

Any Shuklian, Visalia City Council member and former mayor, has unveiled her new logo. She is running for Tulare County Supervisor, District 3–which encompasses Visalia–against Supervisor Phil Cox.

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Ms. Shuklian has received some good news lately concerning her campaign. First, she received an early endorsement from former Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas.

Ms. Mestas said, “I have officially endorsed Amy Shuklian for Tulare County 2016. As Police Chief of the City of Visalia I saw Shuklian lead from the front and she is a huge supporter of Public Safety. I believe in her ability to connect with County residents and ensure the quality of life thatSupervisor for 2016. As Police Chief of the City of Visalia I saw Shuklian lead from the front and she is a huge supporter of Public Safety. I believe in her ability to connect with County residents and ensure the quality of life that is deserved.”

Ms. Shuklian also received quite a complimentary shout-out from both the Point/Counterpoint columnists for the Visalia Times-Delta. Joe Altschule said that “every once in a while a talented hard-working and compelling candidate challenges an incumbent and knocks him off. That’s precisely what is going to happen….” After a glowing review he added, “She will be a breath of fresh air on the board of supervisors.”

Strangely enough, Tom Fife didn’t exactly disagree with his opponent. He plans on voting for Supervisor Cox but said he also liked Ms. Shuklian and believed she would do a good job.

Even though she has received some impressive words of support the good ole’ boys’ club is alive and well in Tulare County. There is no smoking gun against Supervisor Phil Cox, except maybe Mooney Grove. Mr. Cox may be stubborn and rankle people, but not enough for this incumbent to lose his supervisor’s seat.

Can Devon Mathis Keep His Assembly Seat?

During the November 2014 election for State Assembly District 26, Rudy Mendoza had all of the money and was backed by the entire Republican establishment in the district. Yet, having little money and fewer endorsements, Devon Mathis pulled off a victory.

His victory was solid, but his first year? Not so much. Has Mr. Mathis been able to rise above his underdog status? Looking at the media coverage and staff turnover, among other things, the preliminary answer would have to be, “No.”

He had an inauspicious start, getting little press, having no permanent district office, and an inexperienced staff–four of whom are gone–and it hasn’t even been a year. The Valley Voice covered all of Mr. Mathis’ local events, that is when we knew about them. But it took the Visalia Times-Delta (VTD) nearly six months to stop listing Connie Conway as the 26th District representative. As of August 31, the VTD was still not listing Mr. Mathis in their “Contact your Representative” information box. It is unclear whether the incompetency lies at the feet of the VTD or Mr. Mathis’ staff, or lack thereof.

By June of this year Mr. Mathis was still in search of a permanent district office. The plan, if Mr. Mendoza had won, was for Assemblywoman Connie Conway to just hand over the keys to her Church Street office in the Bank of America Building to him. When Mr. Mathis won instead, the same courtesy was not extended. In fact the rental manager said Mr. Mathis could not have his district office in that building. Ms. Conway has insisted that she has nothing to do with her office’s lease, but it is clear that someone in power did not want Mr. Mathis to get it.

Just as troubling has been Mr. Mathis’ staffing problems. Not only did it take half the year to find a district office, but he hasn’t been able to keep it staffed. While most members of the assembly have four or five district staff, Mr. Mathis has one, with seemingly little discernable experience.

His Sacramento office has fared no better.

The last weekend in July, my daughter and I took a getaway to Sacramento, and Devon Mathis’ Chief of Communications, Amanda Morello, gave us a tour of the capitol. We arrived at room 5126, the office known as the “doghouse.” Ms. Morello pulled out a plaque from a drawer that had every representative’s name who had occupied the notoriously tiny basement office. She seemed to really enjoy working for Mr. Mathis and said that you could hear the laughter down the hall because the staff had so much fun.

Ms. Morrello was gone less than a week later. She said that she resigned.

An anonymous source informed me that, “They all say they resigned…. But they were canned.”

It’s not clear if it is an apathetic media, lack of experience, office assignment, or just bad luck, but Mr. Mathis has exposed himself as a vulnerable for 2016. He has shown a weakness in the very thing he campaigned on–excellent management skills. Mr. Mathis says his intention is to serve 12 years in the Assembly–six two-year terms. The 26th District is about as reliably Republican as they come, but it won’t be a Democrat coming up from behind to take his seat. He will be battling his own party to stay in Sacramento.

One last anecdotal story: I was perusing the Porterville Chamber of Commerce website to do research on an article and Devon Mathis’ contact information came up. So, out of curiosity, I clicked on the link to his website, and gosh darn it if Assemblywoman Shannon Grove’s website didn’t pop up instead. I chuckled, but I wasn’t surprised.

When a Cigar Isn’t Just a Cigar

During the last month I have found myself explaining the Libertarian elements of the Tea Party to my teenage daughter because of the impending presidential election. I said that mainstream Tea Partiers push for fiscal responsibility, less taxes and less government, especially when it comes to do with anything that smells of Big Brother. I told her they also consider the Constitution the highest law of the land and believe in the God-given right of private property.

So she declared herself a Jewish Tea Partier: Jewish because she doesn’t think that our savior has come to Earth yet, and a Tea Partier because she’s a teenager and she doesn’t like to be told what to do.

I therefore took her to a Tea Party meeting and she was the youngest one there. The meeting started out with general announcements about upcoming Republican events like the Lincoln Dinner and Tea Party members handing out mini Constitutions on Constitution Day to local schools. But when the speaker announced that everyone was meeting Saturday at the Fresno Planned Parenthood to protest, with their ultimate goal of shutting them all down–that’s when they lost her.

She leaned in to me and asked, “When I go to college where am I supposed to go for healthcare?” I assured her that Republicans will never shut down Planned Parenthood on the West Coast, so no worries.

Still, there was something jarring about people whose childbearing years were 20 or more years in the rear-view mirror cheering the demise of vital services for young women like my daughter. If Planned Parenthood clinics close, where are women supposed to get healthcare during their reproductive years? When women have to work and raise a family without healthcare, the ones who suffer the most are the kids.

The Tea Party’s newest outrage with Planned Parenthood is that they believe the organization is trafficking baby parts. In reality, Planned Parenthood is recovering the costs of transporting fetal tissue to medical facilities. This is the same fetal tissue that the number two in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, Dr. Ben Carson, has said he has used himself, and says is needed for medical research. Lastly, Planned Parenthood spends our tax money providing healthcare for women. Only 3% of their resources are used for abortions, none of which come from taxes, but rather from donations.

I told my daughter that I didn’t get into the emotional issues when discussing the Tea Party with her, like same-sex marriage and abortion, so she could make up her own mind. Through our recent trip to Sacramento she learned that the Tea Party is against mandatory vaccination. She wondered, if Tea Partiers don’t want to be told to vaccinate their children, then why would the Tea Party tell her when to have a baby and who to marry? How is that Libertarian?

Then there is the issue of the Constitution. Dr. Carson was being interviewed by CNN and he reiterated his belief that the United States is a land of laws and the Constitution is the law of the land. If the Tea Party keeps copies of the Constitution on hand at every meeting, then how can they support the number one in the polls for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump? The Donald is waging a direct attack on the Constitution by saying he will get rid of the 14th Amendment, which says that anyone born in the United States is an American citizen. If they can get rid of the 14th Amendment, then can the rest of civilized society bring the 2nd Amendment into the 21st Century and get rid of machine guns? Or does the Tea Party prefer to cherry-pick the law of the land?

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