The View From Here

I have practiced Family Law in Orange County for over 17 years. I’ve been a single Mother, raised teenagers, lead Girl Scouts, held a positions on the Little League Board and PTA when they were younger. I love politics and ran for political office in 2010. I'm currently elected to represent the 55th A.D. on the OCGOP Central Committee. I have learned from politics, litigation and parenting, that there is almost always some greater good to be pursued and fought for, and that there are many important things in life that can not be purchased. I have learned that my own voice is far too valuable to compromise. In my professional life, I have been with people in the midst of their most life altering and dark moments. I have traveled a path of transformation with them and right beside them. On this blog, I candidly share some of the mysteries that have been revealed to me in the context of my different roles in life. May these thoughts and experiences illuminate the paths of others as they have mine.

My words to live by:
Live by the sword, die by the sword. Never confuse reasonableness with weakness. Always believe you can lose. Judges are human and appeals are expensive. Peace is priceless.

“What if” and “If only” are phrases I work hard to keep out of my vocabulary. (Yesterday is forgiven, Tomorrow is not promised)

Judge not, that ye be not judged, Matthew 7:1. We each have our own journey.

Friday, October 15, 2010

MEASURE Y: Why indeed?

Jim Drummond, Yorba Linda’s only political columnist, urges a Yes vote on Measure Y even though he acknowledges that the law is flawed. This is consistent with what is a fundamental problem of our government at all levels right now, just because you CAN make new laws doesn’t mean you have to. Drummond’s attitude is the same as John Anderson's, which is, we can just fix it later. Yep, really. We will just get started with something that isn’t right and make it right later. What business runs this way? I certainly could not afford to survive in business if I worked that way. Not to mention, as lawyer, if I proceeded initially in cases in manner that I KNEW would not work, in hopes of “fixing” it later, I wouldn’t win many cases, and I wouldn’t have many happy clients.

Further puzzling is that there is an ethics “ordinance” exactly, word for word, like Measure Y, that was enacted by John Anderson’s majority council in June, yes June of 2010. This “ethics ordinance” says John Anderson, is too easily modified by future councils, so he moved it to a ballot measure. In order to change it, if enacted in this way, would require another vote of the people. Great idea right, create and enact a flawed law, sell it to people on the theory that we will just fix it later, but don’t explain to them how costly and complicated it is to repair it once we have it enacted in it’s flawed state. Super idea, government logic at it’s best.

This need for ethics legislation was born, according to John Anderson, from concerns that he had when he was a traffic commissioner. A City Councilwoman at that time, according to him, inappropriately requested his endorsement during an election, and he felt threatened. This seems to be an issue that should have been dealt with at that time when it occurred, and certainly is part and parcel of having a “whistleblower” policy and procedure. Anderson, as a commissioner would have bee protected and made to feel safe if he blew the whistle on this intimidating Councilwoman. The problem with the proposed Measure Y, is that it does not set forth the “policy and procedure” that would be that whistleblower policy. It leaves it for future council’s to determine and develop. One is left wondering then, if John Anderson’s stated concern related to the necessity of having this duplicative law-creating Measure is to “prevent future council’s from changing it” then why is such an important issue left in this unfinished state? The council members who opposed this measure when presented at the City Council meeting have indicated that more time was needed to perfect the terms of the whole thing. Sure seems that way. The measure specifically states “The City Council shall adopt by a separate ordinance a “whistleblower” procedure”. Then future councils, who are by John Anderson’s definition not to be trusted with this ethics stuff, will have to be relied upon to get this done. Again, super idea, government logic at its best.

The “code of conduct” portion of the measure is also executory and by its own terms incomplete. It states that the city council “shall adopt” a resolution with policies as to how council members should behave toward one another, city staff, and others they may come in contact with in the community. This probably is a good idea, to have a plan, and have it developed by a future council. Can you imagine what a list of do’s and don’t about council behavior would look like if it came from (this) Anderson’s council? It would be something like, "feel free to resort to bickering and name calling whenever you and your buddies on the council feel fully justified in doing so, and when one of your buddies interrupts and is rude to other council who are not your buddies, or starts name-calling and making politically charged comments, feel free to join in, remembering always that you are fully justified in doing so, because you are in the majority." It would probably also have a section related to election time, "When you are running for re-election though, pretend you don't know what your buddies are doing when they send out hate mail against your opponents. Try to convince the voters that you don't support negative campaigns. Just beleive that the voters will probably forget the stuff you said and the way you acted during council meetings". Code of conduct indeed.

The provision on accepting contributions from an interested party after “approving” a permit, was raised as a concern by Councilwoman Horton, who voted against the ordinance when it came before the city council. In that provision, there is nothing related to a party who benefits from the council’s NO vote on a project. This precise situation actually occurred and John Anderson and another council person accepted donations of $1,000.00 from a citizen who benefitted from a NO vote of the council. It took John Anderson about three weeks to think it over before giving the money back. I guess it is hard to think through your moral philosophy when you’re hanging on to a grand in a bad economy and an election year.

There is a portion that provides for audio tape recording of "closed" session city council meetings. In May, the City Attorney, Sonia Carvahlo quit. At that time, John Anderson's majority council voted to begin interviews to hire a new law firm. We could have stayed with the same law firm and replaced just the attorney, say with Assistant City Attorney, Jamie Raymond, who is serving now as the interim, but the majority wanted to interview new firms so that process began. The interviews have been ongoing, and conducted in these types of closed sessions and have been recorded. For some unknown and mysterious reason, no new firm has been hired and the process has now been susended,"tabled" as is the popular action by this majority council. The public can't and won't know what has transpired unless the tapes are released. At the last council meeting a motion was made to release the tapes, Anderson opposed it, his majority followed him in their typical lock-step and the tapes are not to be released. In Anderson's campaign for re-election, he continues to preach the gospel of "transparency". Huh? "Transparency"? Doesn't that mean let the public know and SEE what is going on? Ok, well apparently he only means, transparency, when it suits Anderson and his majority, but not ALL the time. This "transparency" provision of Anderson's "ethics" ordinance, requires a vote of ....guess what, 3 of the council. As long as Anderson controls the council, the public will never see THOSE tapes. Maybe there are some other ones they will want us to see. Transparency, indeed. Another great idea.

The part that I have found most offensive relates to limiting the employees, contractors and labor associations associated with the city from endorsing or contributing to candidates, initiatives or referendums. This is really a political issue and many political groups in the current election, have required an “anti-union” pledge before they will consider endorsing a candidate. The candidate is free to be part of that organization or not, political organizations are not the government and membership is voluntary. John Anderson has attempted to take that political agenda and codify it in our city municipal code with this measure. What they have done though, with the broad sweeping language here, is to limit the ability of people running for office, in office, working for the city or contracting with the city (teachers, firefighter and police) from actively participating, endorsing or contributing to candidates. Why is this necessary? Who exactly is served and protected by this? Certainly incumbent politicians, in the pocket of local special interest groups, but it is hard to see anyone else that is benefitted by this.

City employees, Firefighters, police and teachers, are citizens of our city and entitled to be heard, and to be involved to whatever extent they want to be. The U.S. and California Constitutions protect the rights of these people and all of us, to free speech, to associate with whomever we want, and to participate freely without coercion or intimidation in the election process. This section of the measure is vague and easily could be used to intimidate these individuals into silence and non-participation. It is happening. We are seeing this in the current election already. The measure as drafted, benefits John Anderson, his council and the special interests that support them.

The political undercurrent that has lead to the anti-government employee sentiments has to do with the unfunded pension liability of the state and the state budget crisis. Our job as candidates and councilpersons in Yorba Linda is to represent the citizens, regardless of their job, and these employees did not create the budget crisis in Sacramento. Politicians in Sacramento who can not make good choices and stand on their own two ethical feet, they created this crisis. Penalizing public employees by limiting their free speech rights is not in any way the solution. John Anderson said, at the candidate forum on Tuesday, that one of the most important issues was to stop the “pension bleed”. I found that an interesting comment from a public employee who has the advantage of a pension “double-dip”. I wonder what portion of his two government pensions and benefits he is willing to donate back to help us out with the current budget shortfalls?

Anderson’s most recently recruited lackey, his running mate Tom Lindsey, at the candidate debate on Tuesday, October 12, brought a copy of the U.S. Constitution and waved it around. I found it incredibly offensive, particularly from someone who either does not understand or does not appreciate the investment and sacrifice that has gone into that document becoming what it is today. The First and the Fourteenth Amendments, which rights are negatively affected by this measure, are codifications of rights that we gained after bloody conflicts with many lost lives. The first ten amendments came after the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War in which half-million young Americans gave their lives, yielded us the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Half a million lives, all of them American were sacrificed in the Civil War, yes the Fourteenth Amendment is something I revere. I did not find Mr. Linsdsey’s actions amusing at all, I value these rights and the sacrifices that were made to obtain them. Fortunately, Mr. Lindsey has the right, pursuant to these documents and the jurisprudence that follows them, to act as foolish and offensive as he likes, and I have the right to not like it and say so.

“How do I vote on Measure Y?”, the simple answer is, it's just not that simple. Who would oppose an “ethics” measure? Well, of course, no one. All reasonable people agree, ethics is something we want and need from our elected officials. Problem is, THIS measure, is not about ethics. Not at all. It is about the same thing that everything else that comes from John Anderson’s council is, monitoring the behavior of other (and future) council members, curtailing the involvement of anyone who is not one of his friends or supporters, and patronizing his own special interest supporters.

I am lifelong Republican. I voted for Ronald Reagan's re-election in my first opportunity to vote in 1984. I voted at the polling place at the Methodist Church on South Ohio and Yorba Linda Blvd. I continue to want to be part of the party of Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln. A party that stands for individual rights and smaller government. This measure violates both of those principles. It grows government regulation and tramples over the constitutional rights of many, and as such I can not support it.

I urge a No vote on Measure Y. Why? Because it is not about ethics.

Don’t be afraid to see what you see. ~Ronald Reagan

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