Well, well, well. It seems Sacramento, that bastion of liberal freedom-stifling, business-stomping, over-regulating, Nanny state policy makers of the People's Republic of California, doesn't appreciate your tendency to not vote.
So they came up with yet another law to help modify your behavior.
First let me comment about those who don't vote. I think it's appalling that the vast majority of Americans live in their complacent little worlds and don't care to know what's going, don't take the time to know the issues and don't bother to vote - especially in local elections. When I think of all the men and women in uniform who have died on battle fields so that we could live in freedom, the least we can do is to remain vigilant about watching our elected officials, studying the issues and candidates and vote. The act of voting should be done soberly not guessing like it's a multiple choice endeavor, but it also has to be the easiest thing in the world to do.
But Senate Bill 415 seems like an overbearing screwball remedy.
I didn't have to look first to figure out that it was a Democrat who wrote this bill. Only Democrats work this way. Probably a Southern California lawmaker at that, I told myself. Sure enough, I found it was authored by Ben Hueso, a Democrat from San Diego County. The same Ben Hueso who was arrested on suspicion of DUI in downtown Sacramento on Aug. 14, 2014 after driving the wrong way on a one-way street. After he sobered up, Hueso issued a statement saying "I am truly and profoundly sorry for the unacceptably poor personal judgment which I demonstrated last night."
It seems he has "unacceptably poor personal judgment" when crafting laws, too. The same goes for California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown who signed it into law, too.
Hueso doesn't like how voter turnout is low in municipal elections in so-called "off years" so he wants to ban cities from having them. He wants the state to dictate - that's their favorite pastime - that city elections MUST be held during the election cycles when we elect a governor of president because that's the only time the most people bother to vote. (It seems most voters think electing a governor is more important than electing a city council.)
The only exception to his law is whereby the disparity between turnout is no more than 25 percent between "off year" elections and elections coinciding with a gubernatorial or presidential election. Confusing, I know.
Voter turn-out for the Ceres City Council race in November 2015 was 15.93 percent. Turnout for the 2008 presidential race in Ceres was 64.62 percent, if that gives you any contrast. That means Ceres is being ordered to change its election cycle.
I believe that a City Council has more direct bearing on a person's life than what the state does. Oh sure, the state is there to pick our pockets and run business out of the state with extreme regulations and taxes, but when it comes to services, nobody hits closer to home than a city. Consider that a City Council makes decisions on how many police officers are available, how fast firefighting and emergency medical aid calls are answered, how well your streets are maintained, and to some extent how your neighborhoods look. Likewise, a School Board has much to say about the quality of teachers and education. So why then do few people care to vote in those elections?
Here is a thought: Maybe they don't vote because they're happy and content with the things? That's no excuse but it could be an explanation.
Hueso's law is akin to outlawing walking on the sidewalks because people might trip; or outlawing the showing of movies in theaters Monday through Thursday because the house may not be packed like it is on Fridays and Saturdays. When does this overreaching control end?
It's ironic that the state is fine with demanding that cities NOT have elections in certain years. Yet, when the state crafted its California Voting Rights Act, it handed a huge opportunity for minority groups to force cities and school districts to elect city council members and school board trustees by district in lieu of at-large districts (which have worked perfectly fine for over a century). The result of district elections is that an evener slimmer majority of people can put someone in office.
Let me explain district elections, in case you're lost. In years past, anyone running for City Council could throw their hat in one ring and the top vote getter or (vote getters depending on the number of seats open) citywide got elected. That's now been done away with thanks to the threat of a lawsuit. Now we have four rings instead of one. Now, we must elect a councilman or woman on the basis or where they live. This change can result in a city councilmember to be elected with as low as 200 to 300 votes for a city of 47,000. It's insane to do it this way but that's the way the Dems like things.
This brings me to another point. Lawmakers are so adamant about truth in labeling laws - except when it comes to legislation they craft. Hueso calls his SB 415 the California Voter Participation Rights Act. He dressed it up in a cutesy label but it's a lie. People already have the right to vote in any election (if registered) and they chose not to. This has nothing to do about anyone's rights. The bill doesn't expand anyone right. If anything, it excuses the self-disenfranchised who sit out elections that aren't as sexy and glamourous as statewide or national elections. Naming his bill that name is pure poppycock. A more accurate label would be the "Babysitting the Lazy Voter Act." Or the "Tying the Hands of City Councils & Making Them Have Elections Since People Find it Too Inconvenient to Vote Act"?
To realign city elections with the gubernatorial or presidential election, the city of Ceres must either shorten the four-year terms by a year or lengthen them and the City Council has opted to lengthen them. So if you've been licking your chops to run for City Council in District #2 in 2017, tough. You have to wait until 2018 now. And if you were waiting to run for mayor, or the council seats of Bret Durossette and Mike Kline in 2019, now you have to wait until 2020.
Sacramento has truly gone bananas. Where else can you fine people who take an oath to support, protect and defend the Constitution while introducing legislation to bar police from sharing information with federal agents about immigrants being released from custody in order to protect them from Trump's plans to step up deportations. You guessed it, Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, Democrat of Los Angeles.
De Leon should be impeached for violating his constitutional oath of office.
I've said it once and I'll say it again. We need a part-time legislature like they have in Texas to have far less time to meddle and control our lives.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at email@example.com.