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Phony baloney recall effort an abuse of petitions
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I've never been one to sign a political petition outside a grocery store.

It never seemed right to me that someone could stand outside a place of business and ask me, a stranger, to sign a petition that they are promoting. They are, after all, only giving one side of the issue - theirs.

As well informed as I am, I wouldn't feel comfortable signing my name to a political effort without weighing the issues from both sides.

I am sure that many people sign petitions outside of stores not because they know what the issue is all about but because they feel intimidated or because they just want to help the petitioner. There is a bit of peer pressure. Kind of the same feeling you get when a bum sides up to you asks for spare change. ("Oh, I'll help the poor sap.")

We need to stop doing both giving spare change to bums (who usually take it and buy booze or alcohol), or giving special interests power that they shouldn't take by signing petitions.

I'd imagine that you could set up a table outside a Wal-Mart and petition that we make Donald Duck the official bird of the state and you could probably get enough people to qualify it for a state ballot. It's plausible given the state of the electorate today. Or, I could probably get people to stand in line to sign a petition that would strip the pay from elected officials, make their positions completely voluntary. I could argue that taxpayers would save millions of dollars. But the opposing view would be that nobody would be able to afford serving in public office. How many people would actually think about the cons before adding their name to such a petition?

Lots of people could argue that the initiative process is the power of people. But as long as the electorate remains unwilling to check out issues and pursue them with intellectual honesty, special interests are running the initiative process.

Let's say you are a Democrat in Sacramento and there is one Republican senator who has been standing in your way of passing legislation. I mean, he stands on his principle and doesn't budge. You want to pass a budget that is not balanced and if this guy would just flip his vote you will have your majority and you can get it passed. But he doesn't budge. Damn him and his principles.

The political answer is to get rid of him. No, we won't shoot him, we'll just recall him. Yeah, yeah, great idea. Let's start misleading his own constituents about his record, just totally put his voting record into a blender and setting it on high. Heck, we'll even l-i-e if we have to.

Let's get 50,000 dummies to sign a petition and put it on the ballot. Sleazy politics at its finest.

The recall tool was intended to be used by the people for public officials guilty of malfeasance. That's a term meaning, "wrongdoing or misconduct," or crimes. It was never intended for partisan bullies who want to remove an opposition party member merely because of the way he votes.

Let there be no mistake: Democrats are leading and bankrolling this effort. The recall effort is being bankrolled by a Sacramento-based Voter Education and Registration Fund, which sounds like a noble organization on the surface. But it's tied directly to Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. Its spokesman is Paul Hefner, who is a spokesman for Perata, the man who exacted revenge on Denham for his "no" vote for a state budget.

Democratic leadership has been nipping on Denham's heels since the summer over Denham's vote on the state budget. Denham was removed from the Government Organization committee by Perata in an attempt to pressure him to vote for an unbalanced bill. Denham replied, "If you want me to vote for a budget, make it balanced and don't repeal the teacher's tax credit, for starters."

Denham didn't buckle and held to his principles that the 2007-08 state needed a balanced budget. The budget eventually passed without Denham's support. But Denham stood his ground that $700 million of red-ink spending needed to be slashed from the $145 billion budget.

Hefner gives a flimsy justification for a recall, saying Denham "stands out as somebody who campaigned as one thing and is running around now entirely different." He notes that Denham cast the lone vote against a flood control bond. Denham opposed it because it didn't give enough money to Valley projects.

And if saying one thing and doing another is the criteria for which to remove public officials, we'd have to dismantle every official in Sacramento.

Need I remind this conservative district that Denham has kept his promises to his voters?

Denham has fought tirelessly for cutting government waste and spending, and reducing the regulatory burden on businesses. In 2003 he called for the state to sell off unnecessary surplus properties as a way of get the state out of its sea of red ink. He's also introduced and supported bills to get tough on criminals, such as SB 882 which called for provide more jail time to those convicted of using the internet to lure minors. When the state was facing huge budget deficits, Denham took the high moral ground and volunteered for a pay cut of 5 percent, or $4,950 per year from a salary of $99,000.

His 2003 voting record won him an "A" grade from the California Taxpayers Association

Fluent in Spanish, Denham has been highly visible throughout his district. He's been to Ceres more times than we can count, including the Education Summit he held at Central Valley High School in Ceres on Sept. 25, 2007.

Doesn't sound like a man who is guilty of malfeasance.

Let's be honest, this is all about Democratic Party strategy. Getting Denham out of the way means less trouble for Democrats to get away with their business of raising taxes and promoting their liberally social agenda. Denham's significance in the Senate is that he gives Republicans a 15th vote, enough to block legislation that requires a two-thirds majority.

Why else would the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association PAC President Jon Coupal say this?: "Jeff Denham refused to vote for last year's badly out-of-balance budget and in response the liberals in the Senate launched this recall effort." He concludes that Denham should be praised for standing his ground and that the recall is "an abuse of what the recall law was intended for.:"

Denham was elected to the Senate in November 2002 after campaigning on his military service, successful business and conservative values. It was a remarkable performance given that his Democratic opponent, Rusty Areias, was well-known and more experienced. He was overwhelmingly re-elected last November in a 59.5 percent to 40.5 percent outcome over Democrat Wiley Nickel.

Denham has been widely respected as a man of honor and integrity in his 12th Senate district, which covers Ceres and goes all the way over to the Salinas Valley communities of Hollister, Salinas, Soledad and King City.

Could it be, too, that Democrats are also concerned about well-liked Denham being successful in his bid to become lieutenant governor in 2010 after he cannot run again for the Senate?

Think about what kind of government you can expect to get when you allow a vindictive party leader like Perata to trick voters into removing a conscionable and resolute legislators like Denham. If he succeeds, the stench in the Legislature will grow too rancid for honorable people to serve.

How do you feel? Let him know at