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Sunday, November 15, 2009

San Jose Considers Banning Cycling With A Leashed Dog

From an Oct. 26 article by Lisa Fernandez in the San Jose Mercury News: 

On the heels of a deadly freak accident, San Jose is exploring a law to make the city the first in California — and possibly the country — to address the issue of bicyclists riding with leashed dogs.

Councilwoman Nancy Pyle is convening a meeting Wednesday night to gauge public opinion on whether the city should clamp down in some way to prevent what happened to Beverly Head on Sept. 16. The retired 62-year-old San Jose phlebotomist died after she hit her head when she got tangled up in a dog leash while walking along a popular South San Jose trail.

"This is a horribly tragic accident, but we can't legislate accidents," said Justin Grosso, a San Jose resident. Then there's trail users like Terri Gong, who says she usually doesn't like when government intervenes in the lives of ordinary citizens. But in this case, she said, there's a need for it. "I'm darn near a Libertarian," Gong said. "But at the very least, bikers should have their dogs on the right."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Comparing Top-Two Primary Law in Washington and California

From an October posting by Richard Winger in Ballot Access News:

Washington’s “top-two” law, in effect since 2008, is quite similar to the California “top-two” proposal that will be on the ballot in June 2010, but there are significant differences. In each instance, the Washington state version is significantly kinder to minor parties than the California proposal.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Libertarian Supervisor Blocks Limits On Who Can Run For Tax Collector

Libertarian Tom Tryon is serving his seventh consecutive term on the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors since first being elected in 1984. From an Oct. 28 article by Michael Kay in the Calaveras Union Democrat:

Despite the hopes of Calaveras County Treasurer-Tax Collector Lynette Norfolk, future aspirants to her office will need only a California Driver’s License, after the board voted 2-2 on half her birthday wish — establishing continuing education requirements — resulting in no action.

The requirements are laid out in a little over a page of text in the state Government Code, but adopting them is optional, according to a County Counsel opinion. Under them, candidates are required to have either a degree in a finance-related field, served three or more years in a similar position with a public agency, or be certified as an accountant, financial analyst or cash manager.

“I’m very leery of putting conditions on what the voters can vote on,” said Supervisor Tom Tryon. County Counsel Jim Jones informed the board that the requirements, even if instituted, did not define any penalty for noncompliance.

An unsigned Nov. 4 editorial in the Union Democrat cited evidence against its own position, and then feebly invoked the bad example of occupational licensure:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Libertarian Councilmen Split on Greenhouse Gas Goals

The Mountain View City Council includes Libertarian Party member John Inks and economist Tom Means, a fellow at the libertarian Independent Institute. From a Nov. 5 article by Daniel DeBolt in the Mountain View Voice:

Using 2005 levels as the yardstick, the city wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent by 2012, with gradual reductions until emissions are reduced by 80 percent by 2050.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the emission reduction goals, with member John Inks opposed. Inks said it was important to have some goals for emission reduction, but felt that the city should study what could be realistically expected from environmental measures first instead of copying the goals of other cities. He pointed out that the city's biggest polluters, gas and diesel-powered vehicles, were largely out of the city's control.

Council member Tom Means said he would support the goals because they were "voluntary and unenforceable," though some council members said the state could impose penalties in the future.

According a city staff report, 56 percent of the city's 2005 emissions came from gas and diesel emissions, 25 percent from electricity, 16 percent from natural gas and 3 percent from waste and landfill emissions. Another chart showed that 13 percent of emissions came from residences, 21 percent from commercial uses and 6 percent from industrial uses.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Placer County Outreach Yields Surge In Registered Libertarians

A Nov. 6 email from California Libertarian Party Chair Kevin Takenaga:

Placer County Chairman Roberto Leibman informs me that the LP picked up 190 new registered Libertarians over the past two months in Placer County.

How did this happen?

The Placer County Registrar of Voters does regular outreach to local high schools and registers students who are close to voting age.

As part of this effort, Robert Page (Placer County Treasurer) and other party members, make a trip out to directly talk with students about libertarianism. If you'd like to learn more about how they do their work, contact Roberto Leibman at his email chair@placerliberty.org.

Roberto also suggests that we lobby our local county registrars to start a> similar outreach program in each county.

Great job Placer Co.!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lodi Resident Moves Town Toward Separating Church and State

Picture at right is of Jane Russell, who reported on demonstrations against the Lodi city council's prayer policy. From an Oct. 20 article by Maggie Creamer in the Lodi News-Sentinel:

The person who started the debate over prayers before Lodi City Council meetings has stepped forward and said a lawsuit is still on the table. Lodi resident Karen Buchanan made the original complaint about council prayers to the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. The complaint prompted the organization to send a letter to the city in May telling the council to enforce its own policy of "non-sectarian and nondenominational prayer" and eliminate references to Jesus Christ or the foundation would sue.

Buchanan appeared on the foundation's radio show on Oct. 12 to speak about the council's decision to continue invocations and allow uncensored prayers. She said the council's decision needs to be challenged in court. "I didn't go to the council meeting to go to church, and so that whole arrangement seemed just totally out of place," Buchanan said on the show. "I felt uncomfortable with being in a church service and being asked to bow my head and to stand and to show respect to a God who is not part of who I am."

The council voted Sept. 30 to broaden its prayer policy to allow religious leaders to offer uncensored prayers and to be more inclusive. The policy also includes opening up the invocation or "Call to Civic Responsibility" to all religious and secular groups.

Buchanan, who has lived in Lodi for at least three years, had originally remained anonymous, but she decided to come forward after receiving support from groups in the area including Lodi United, which resident David Diskin formed to protest the council allowing prayers. "I was just bowled over because I had felt as though I was alone," Buchanan said on the show.

A Nov. 5 article by Maggie Creamer in the Lodi News reports on the first invocation under the new policy:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lawrence Labs Discovers Heaviest Element: Governmentium

Lawrence Livermore Labs in Lawrence, California has just announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Governmentium".

Governmentium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Audio: Lochner and Constitutional Protections For Economic Liberty

Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation spoke last month at Orange County's Chapman University School of Law on the subject of Lochner and of constitutional protections for economic liberty in general.  The mp3 audio is 55 minutes long:

Based in Sacramento, California, Pacific Legal Foundation is a public interest legal organization that fights for limited government, property rights, individual rights and a balanced approach to environmental protection.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Articles Contrast Governments of California and Texas

From an Oct. 17 article by Kate Galbraith in the New York Times:

Texas’s secret, besides strong winds and lots of land, is its lack of regulation. Wind developers rave about the fact that, in essence, they need few state permits to build a turbine farm. They deal mainly with local officials, who are generally permissive (energy, after all, is a well-loved commodity in Texas).

California, by contrast, has all but stifled wind developers. The state built several big wind farms in the 1980s — but has added very few since, because of the cost and delays of complying with stringent state environmental regulations.

Such snags are a key reason California has turned to solar power. It’s more expensive than wind, but plastering rooftops of homes and businesses with panels takes up no extra land. There is still plenty of paperwork involved, but rooftop solar largely avoids regulatory snarls (although there is the occasional only-in-California court battle between tree lovers and solar-energy lovers).

Here is the entirety of a must-read article by William Voegeli in City Journal:

The Big-Spending, High-Taxing, Lousy-Services Paradigm
California taxpayers don’t get much bang for their bucks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

San Francisco Planning Rules Used For Neighbor Extortion

Posted Nov. 4 by LPSF Chair Rob Power on the LPSF blog:

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the extortionist and anti-growth policy known as "discretionary review":
"San Francisco is the only large city in the state that has discretionary review," Planning Director John Rahaim said.
"There has been more than one instance we've heard of where it has been used by neighbors to get money from a person or project sponsor," Rahaim said. " 'Give me $20,000, and I won't file a DR' kind of thing."
Truly, only in San Francisco.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Libertarian Trustee Westwell Opposes Attempt To Ban Book

Libertarian Norm Westwell, the president of the Ocean View School District’s board of trustees, opposed a recent unsuccessful attempt to ban a book from the district's middle schools. From an Oct. 31 article by Annie Burris in the Orange County Register:

Former Westminster School District Trustee Judy Ahrens and Ocean View School District trustee John Briscoe are spearheading the effort to ban Angelou's book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Ahrens read a rape scene of an 8-year-old girl from the book during a trustee meeting Oct. 6 to demonstration on why the book should be banned. The best-seller is the first volume of Angelou's autobiographical series and was the third most challenged book in schools during the 1990s, according to the American Library Association.

After the Oct. 6 presentation, school board members directed the superintendent to review the book and the process by which a book is admitted to the library. Rasmussen also pulled the book from the middle school libraries and asked the district's book review panel to reconsider the book.

Ahrens and Briscoe made a similar presentation at an Oct. 20 City Council meeting urging community members to lobby the Ocean View school board to ban the book. The meeting was broadcast live on the city's cable channel.

School board President Norm Westwell said he was appalled. "It seems to me that you want to raise the flag, wave the banner, say, 'Hey look at me. I'm Trustee Briscoe and I can make people do what they don't want to do,'" Westwell said. "That is not what this job about. This job is about educating our children and spending taxpayer money wisely... In my opinion, you aren't doing either one."  Westwell's comments were met with applause from the audience. Briscoe did not respond to the accusations during the meeting.

The book has been at the Ocean View middle schools since 1995 and has been checked out five times. It can only be checked out by eighth-graders, Rasmussen said.

A Nov. 3 OC Register article by Burris reported the outcome of the dispute:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Libertarian Councilmen Vote To Require Design Review For Re-Roofing

The Mountain View City Council includes Libertarian Party member John Inks and economist Tom Means, a fellow at the libertarian Independent Institute.  From an Oct 28 article by Daniel DeBolt in the Mountain View Voice describing a unanimous vote of the Council:

The City Council on Tuesday rejected an owner's attempt to re-roof a run-down apartment complex which has stood vacant with blue tarps covering leaky roofs ever since a redevelopment plan failed almost two years ago. Paul Hogan, attorney for Summerhill Apartments owner Sal Teresi, argued that the city's ordinances allow a re-roofing permit for the building because it is not receiving major changes to the exterior, and because the site is not undergoing a change in land use.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Latest Results From Nov. 3 Election

Updated as of  7am Nov 4.  Percentage in parentheses indicates vote of lowest in-the-money candidate in a multi-winner race. Green indicates LP choice is winning, red indicates losing.

Libertarian Choice
LP Result
Redwood City School Board
Jack Hickey
20% (30%)
Chaffey Community College Board
Chris Agrella
7.5% (33%)
Carmel City Council
Lawrence Samuels
4.5% (10%)
Carmel City Council
Savva Vassiliev
0.7% (10%)
L: San Mateo city sales tax
LPSM arguments against
U: San Carlos city sales tax
LPSM arguments against
A: San Buenaventura city sales tax
LP Ventura opposes
C: San Buenaventura limit large retail
LP Ventura opposes
A: San Francisco better budgeting
LPSF supports
B: San Francisco more supervisor staff
LPSF opposes
C: San Francisco sell stadium naming
LPSF supports
D: San Francisco special sign district
LPSF opposes
E: San Francisco ban extra city ads
LPSF opposes
Sunnyvale City Council seat 2
Mike Flores (unofficial)

The Carmel City Council election was conditioned on the passage of Measure G to incorporate the city, which Samuels and Vassiliev opposed. Measure G failed, with 52% (2178) "no" votes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

San Diego Libertarians Counter-Protest Rent-Seeking Teachers

Email from Jesse Thomas of the San Diego LP, about counter-protesting at an Oct. 29 demonstration in San Diego by unionized teachers seeking increases in state education spending:

It was protest as usual. Fairly uneventful if you are not the one handing out provocative material.

Alex and I parked and walked quite a ways down Park Blvd until we found Dann the Libertarian (you can see him a mile away..) with a large sign that listed some super high taxes. As I approached I saw him engage in a heavy debate with a passenger of a car at an intersection. I got up to the crowd of 100 or so people, many of them wearing Southwestern College shirts and some grubby students and just walked around the crowd handing out flyers. I soon had a crowd of 10 gather around me, asking me questions and say ing things like, "Hey man this is not your venue. What'da doing here?"