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Election 2008: Dragon Endorsements [Local] - Baxil [bakh-HEEL'], n. My Sites [Tomorrowlands] [The TTU Wiki] [Photos]
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November 3rd, 2008
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Election 2008: Dragon Endorsements [Local]
Also see my state/national endorsements. This covers Grass Valley, CA-area races only. Well, the ones I'm voting in. ]B=8)

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US House District CA-04 - Charlie Brown (D)
CA Assembly District 3 - Mickey Harrington (D)
Nev. Cty. Board of Education District 2 - James Voss
Sierra College Trustee District 4 - Elaine Rowen
Sierra College Trustee District 7 - John Vodonick
Grass Valley Measure Y (urban growth boundary) - NO
Grass Valley Measure Z (voter land use control) - NO
Grass Valley City Council - Rachel Rue, Lisa Swarthout
         (Voted for but not endorsed: Yolanda Cookson)


The explanations

I'll repeat the previous disclaimer: I am a flaming, radical liberal, who nevertheless believes it is government's job to function smoothly and fairly and leave the extremism to us. I am a registered Democrat and embarrassed former Libertarian. I voted for Schwarzenegger in 2006, John Kerry and Gray Davis in 2004, and Harry Browne and [downticket Libertarian] in 2000 (ah, youth). I am fscking sick of the California state GOP's suicide pact against raising anyone's taxes anywhere by any amount, and the corresponding yearly melee it creates in Sacramento; that having been said, dumping new bonds and project mandates on top of the current underfunded mess is really stupid, so every bond measure this year has to pass a damn high bar with me.

My votes have a few variations from both party and progressive orthodoxy, which generally fall into line with the paragraph above.

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US House District CA-04 - Charlie Brown is a strong and principled Democratic challenger that tried to take down our corrupt representative John Doolittle two years ago and lost in a heartbreaker. Tom McClintock is an opportunist who lives in Southern California and so can't even vote for himself this election cycle. Even a glance at McClintock's principles makes this a no-brainer. Charlie's picked up the endorsement of every major newspaper in the area, has given 5% of his raised campaign funds to veterans, doesn't support the retarded Auburn Dam boondoggle ... need I go on?

CA Assembly District 3 - It's not expected to be a competitive race, but Mickey Harrington could use a show of support against entrenched Republican incumbent Logue, and there's nothing that's come out to suggest he'd be a bad replacement.

Nev. Cty. Board of Education Dist. 2 - In a nonpartisan race, incumbent James Voss has solid credentials as a former educator and principal, and has received commendations for his leadership of the Penn Valley/Rough And Ready districts. I am given to understand Buck Stoval is something of a liberal gadfly of unknown educational background (he didn't even submit a candidate statement for the informational pamphlet); he's also had some fierce run-ins with NCTV. Vote Voss.

Sierra College Trustees - Challengers Elaine Rowen (District 4) and John Vodonick (District 7) are running as something of a slate. Dennis Cota (District 4) has picked up a number of newspaper endorsements, and seems like a decent candidate ... but he also has the backing of the Placer County GOP, which has been sending out an impressive number of e-mails and an impressive amount of e-mail has been flying around for what is supposed to be a pair of low-budget, local nonpartisan races. There's some serious grudge matching going on here, and the story all comes down to a single name: Republican rising star Aaron Klein, who's heavily involved in the Placer GOP and heavily funded by them in return. (EDITED TO ADD: See comments.)

Klein made a name for himself four years ago when, immediately upon winning his trustee seat, he launched a blistering attack against then-college president Kevin Ramirez, all but calling him a money launderer. Though Ramirez was ousted, he was later cleared by a grand jury of any wrongdoing, and Klein has dodged two recall petitions since. He's trying to reinvent himself for this election and talk about how wonderful the school's newly balanced budgets are -- while Sierra College has for the first time in its history gotten a warning about problems with reaccreditation. No. Stop. Throw the bums out, and anyone tied to them.

I'm not terribly thrilled about Vodonick's ethics problems and ties to the Stonehouse, a local restaurant with a sordid history of financial malfeasance (including closing when the owners left the doors locked one morning, paying all of their employees' final paychecks in cash and declaring bankruptcty). However, from newspaper accounts, Vodonick doesn't appear to be among the crowd involved in the lockup -- even the story linked by the PCRA's anti-Vodonick website never mentions him by name -- and frankly it's just too important to spank Klein out of there before he can start building up a following and become another Doolittle in this heavily Republican district. (EDITED TO CLARIFY Stonehouse details based on this.)

Grass Valley Measures Y/Z - Measure Z came first, and its effect would basically be to force voters to approve every single change to the city's general land use plan (that added development, anyway). In response, Measure Y was drafted, to do a few things: install an urban growth boundary beyond which development would be banned (until city limits, anyway, when the county regains control); limit building permits; and totally negate Measure Z in its entirety if both pass and Measure Y gets more votes.

Meh. I say again: MEH. Let's take these one at a time.

Measure Z is designed as an anti-development plan. It won't work. What it will do is ensure that any adjustment of city land use to keep up with changing times will face huge voter obstacles; and at the same time, it will basically greenlight any development project with enough money behind it to run a political campaign -- in other words, only the bad ones. Letting voters micromanage functions designed to be handled by government is a Really Bad Idea; government officials generally have the benefit of knowing what they're doing and being willing to study the details, whereas the average voter doesn't give a shit about voting on little local microplanning measures. No, no, no.

Measure Y starts with one strike for the simple reason that it's designed from the get-go to kill another measure on the ballot. Strike two is that, due to its wording, if Y and Z both pass there's the real possibility of costly litigation over that whole "strike down in full" thing. Strike three is the idea of setting an urban growth boundary that stops at the city limits, which is silly on its face. No, no, no. Kill them both with fire, and hope something better comes along for land use problems.

Grass Valley City Council - Six people are vying for three seats, and I don't know much about any of them. Rachel Rue and Vice Mayor Lisa Swarthout have endorsements from both the county Democrats and the county Women Democrats. Terry Lamphier is the third Democratic endorsee, but he's also a firebrand that has left and/or been fired from two appointed offices under heated circumstances and shows no signs of toning down his clashes if he's voted into office. I'll pass on him.

Of the others, incumbent Janet Arbuckle and Yolanda Cookson both have no major controversies hanging over their heads, but I'd say a tie goes to the challenger. (Cookson is also younger and mentions the environment in her candidate statement.)

Special mention must go to Ed Yarborough, who is locally controversial for picketing a Spanish-language church on the grounds that they clearly therefore must be all illegal immigrants. Elected office? I wouldn't trust him with the business end of a running chainsaw.

The research

Other Endorsement Lists (repeated from previous post)
Nevada County Democratic endorsements for GV race and statewide props
Placer County GOP endorsements: Anything this consistently wrong [PDF] is unintentionally useful.
League of Women Voters proposition endorsements

Local Issues
GVCC candidate bios
The Union: Candidate stances and arguments re: Measure Z and Measure Y and both
Union publisher Jeff Ackerman hates Lamphier (and is voting for McCain)
Sierra College: AJ endorses Vodonick, Cota. (Sac Bee as well.)
Klein vs. Vodonick: including perspective on the Stonehouse guilt-by-association jab that the Placer County GOP has been pushing.

Thanks for reading. Hope it was helpful.

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Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:roaminrob
Date:November 3rd, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
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I worked with Yolanda Cookson on the founding of the local Rotaract club; she was its first President at a time when I was still active in the club. I can pretty much say that I know her, and I can say that I've seen her in a political context.

That said ... she's a really super nice person with lots of strengths, but I don't think she's ready yet for a City Council position (sorry Yo!). She had a tendency to want to "create a committee" for even simple projects that could have been organized by one or two people. I think she's still finding her foundations, so to speak.

If the vote were purely for someone to be trustworthy, respectable, honest, then I would agree with voting for her. However, the GV City Council is quarrelsome, and I don't think she has the chops for it yet. (Again, sorry Yo.)

On a similar note, Terry Lamphier is one of the local individuals that I've followed closely for several years. I was disappointed when he dropped the ball on a recent project -- unfortunately I can't remember now what it was -- but on the other hand, it's inarguable that he has passion and a deep love for this area, and most of what he says makes sense. He is the enemy of the "grow-or-die" developer set, and that makes him my friend. He will be getting my vote, in spite of his problems.

...Actually, I should call him as a random local voter and tell him that I'm voting for him after agreeing with his views, but that he'd also better get his act together and make sure he attends meetings and puts actual time and resources in to them.

IIRC, his firings from recent positions are more political than professional.
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:November 3rd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! I appreciate the additional perspective, and hope my other Grass Valley readers (all two of them, plus Aaron Klein ;-)) benefit from your recommendation. I'm honestly not sure how it slipped my mind to ask if you had opinions on any of the candidates -- I'll have to fix that mistake next time.
[User Picture]
From:roaminrob
Date:November 3rd, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
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No worries -- realistically, those were the only candidates that I had any direct information on.

There's an NCTV interview with Dan Miller and Terry Lamphier up on Google Video.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 3rd, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)

Humorous

(Link)
Hi Baxil,

I've read your blog here and there over the last few years, and my Google Alert pinged today, so I saw this post.

Would love to get a cup of coffee with you at some point in the future -- you sound like one of those liberals who I'd probably disagree with on a lot of issues, but who can think for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

That being said, I wanted to tell you what a chuckle I got out of "Republican rising star" and "heavily funded by them." The Nevada County Republican Party gave me $200 and the Placer County Republican Party gave me diddly squat. :)

But in any case, I'm proud to be supported by Republicans, Democrats and independents. I'm certainly a Republican -- no secret there -- but attempts by my opponents to attack me for my party affiliation are backfiring pretty badly for them, in any case.

Anyway, appreciate your post. Shoot me an e-mail some time if you want to grab that cup of coffee.

Aaron
ak@aaronklein.com
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:November 4th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Humorous

(Link)
Aaron,

Thanks for the reply! It really does increase my respect for candidates (especially local ones) when they take the time to respond directly to critics -- especially out here in Internet-land. And I hope you're having a pleasant Election Day, whatever the ultimate result of the voting might be.

Your offer of coffee is generous, if logistically unlikely (I live in Grass Valley and my schedule tends to be rather full). Perhaps I can keep an eye out for trustee events at the GV campus, which is not far from my home, and at least meet you in person some time. :)

(The remainder of this is unlikely to matter, coming as it does on Election Day. I just wanted to set it down for the record.)

I stand by my statements, with one correction: I wrote my post under the mistaken assumption that the Placer GOP paid for all of the mailings I've received. I've since reviewed the multiple messages I've received and all but one were from "Friends of Aaron Klein"; with my immediate resources I'm not able to follow the money and substantiate my claim. I've edited the post appropriately.

However, I don't think it's fair to say you've gotten nothing from the Placer GOP. The PCRA PAC sent out at least one e-mail attacking your opponent and are maintaining the website http://www.johnelaineandbill.com . You've been getting incredible institutional support for two elections in a row (the endorsements on aaronklein.com and especially the archived copy of your 2004 site, which reads like a who's who of the old Doolittle machine). And, certainly, you've received heavy financial support in the past: a quick web search indicates the 2004 campaign cost almost $100,000.

You're right that in an R+16 district (well - that's CA-04; the Sierra College district may differ) you're not going to lose any electability for your affiliations. I knew I was signing up for that when I moved into the foothills. C'est la vie ...
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