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September 11, 2013

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September 11, 2013 California Commentc/W Stopping Local Governments From Electioneering by Jon Coupal In 1996, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association ran a successful statewide campaign winning passage of Proposition 218, the Right to Vote on Taxes Act. Prop 218 gave California homeowners the right to approve or reject a host of property related fees and taxes. Not wanting to cede political power to the unwashed masses, local government officials and their political allies fought hard against Prop 218. But one tactic caught us by surprise -- the use of seemingly public funds by municipal =associations" such as the League of California Cities (League). In the weeks before the 1996 election, we noticed in the official Secretary of State campaign finance reports that the League had contributed $50,000 to oppose Prop 218. This was odd as government entities are strictly prohibited from using public resources for political advocacy and the League receives most of its revenue in "dues" from taxpayer funded local governments. Why is there a prohibition against government involvement in election contests? Because, as recognized by the California Supreme Court in Smith v. U.C. Regents, the Free Speech clauses of the federal and state Constitutions prohibit the use of governmentally compelled monetary contributions (including taxes) to support or oppose political campaigns since "uch contributions are a form of speech, and compelled speech offends the First Amendment." Moreover, the California Supreme Court in the Stanson case found that the "use of the public treasury to mount an election campaign which attempts to influence the resolution of issues which our Constitution leaves to the 'free election' of the people... presents a serious threat to the integrity of the electoral process." After the $50,000 contribution become public, the League merely refiled its official campaign report removing the bare reference to "League of Cities" and replaced it with "League of Cities non- public Funds Account." The League then argued that it had "segregated" its public funds from its "non-public funds." While $50,000 to the average citizen is a lot of money, it is chump change in California politics and it pales in comparison to what the League of Cities and other government associations have spent on contested election issues since that time. The most galling of all was the League's full scale assault on Proposition 98 (2008) seeking to restore property rights in California. In reaction to the infamous Kelo decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, California property rights activists qualified an initiative to ensure that private property could not be taken by eminent domain for the purpose of handing it over to another private interest. That property rights campaign was lost due, in no small part, to the fact that the League spent millions of dollars from its "non- public funds" account to assure the defeat. The League defends this practice by first arguing that the League itself is not a public entity. That may be true, but the League would not exist but for the membership dues paid by local governments which themselves are supported by public dollars. This renders the nature of the League as a fundamentally different sort of organization from other trade associations, business groups or labor unions. Adding insult to injury, the League refuses to reveal the source of these millions of dollars for the specific purpose of supporting or opposing ballot measures. So those millions spent against property rights? We still don't know whee they came from. Anyone who doubts the political clout of the municipal "industry" should consider what happened last week to a modest effort by Senator Jerry Hill to correct this undue influence on the electoral process. His bill, Senate Bill 594, would have clamped down on the most abusive of these practices. But, after intense lobbying by local government interests, the proposal has been rendered substantially weaker. The lesson here is that local governments, working through their lobbying associations, are as powerful a special interest as any corporation or labor union. The only difference is, they're the government. And that means they have power over us that no other interest group does. Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- Cafifornia's largest grass-roots taxpayer organizaOoo dedicated to the protection Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers' rights. 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Offered for $45,000 "V' Harrison Park - 2-5 acre parcels, well & septic, great views, pad. $150,0OO S tl' ;;[ '-ge --i-- -------- Weekly SUDOKU Answer 6 L  17 L 9 S 9 lt was noted American author Ambrose Bierce (sometimes known g 8 9 L L 17 6 as "Bitter Bierce" for his acerbic wit) who made the following sage L S L  9 t 6 9 .... observation: "It is by the goodness of God that we have in our country t, 9 8 6 S g Z I. l L three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of L 6  t g L S 9 conscience and the prudence never to practice either." Did you ever wonder why pirates often had pierced ears? lt seems 9 17 L 9  6 L S that the belief at the time was that wearing an earring improved 9  6 S L It 8 L California's almond crop is the biggest in the world eyesight. S L 8 Z 6 9  # You might be surprised to learn that there is a world record for the tallest recorded hairdo. Even more surprising is the fact that ACROSS 1 Chic, to Austin Powers 4 Crooked 8 Implement 12 Tramcar contents 1 3 Decorative case 1 4 Unsightly 1 5 Relinquish the throne 1 7 Smile 1 8 Squid squirt 1 9 Big-time operator? 2!1 19-Across, e.g. 2!4 Chart format 25 "Eureka!" 26 Run-down horse 28 Financial King Cr(,s: rvvo;;d w-- I 2 12 15 II ->1 22 Eq-- 47 5 5 7 19 23 ->4 = 27 34 35 39 43 44 - | 49 5  53 57 org. 51 Actress Sorvino 52 Suggest 9 Shrek is one 40 Ornamental advisor Suze 56 Greatly 10 Hodgepodge material 32 Teeny bit 57 Dazzle 11 Singer 43 Checker 34 Deviate off 58 Driving site Loretta move? course 59 Zilch 16 Bankbook 45 Buddy 36 Antitoxins 60 -- -a-ling abbr. 46 Muscat's 37 Dickinson 61 Right angle 20 Carnival site land output 21 Moist 47 Narc's 39 Space DOWN 22 Canton's measure 41 Water barrier 1 Bygone bird place 48 Press 42 Suitable 2 Sphere 23 Shaft of light 49 Con 44 Literary 3 Commit (to) 27 Choke 53 Press for comparison 4 Signal, as 29 Treat an payment 46 Last major with a nod ailment 54 -- Aviv battle site 5 Schedule 30 Asian sea, 55 Morayor of WWII abbr. really a lake conger 50 Lobbyists' 6 "Phooey!" 31 Appellation 2013 King Features Synd., inc. i i 10 11 30 31 54 55 60 7 Traffic jam 33 Spring (from) 8 They're in for 35 Existed the long haul 38 Hot tub the record-holder's beehive measured a whopping 6 feet, 6 inches tall. Food trucks are rapidly gaining popularity all over the country, both at fairs and at stand-alone food-truck bazaars. You might be surprised to learn that the origin of the food truck goes all the way back to 1872. At that time, in Providence, R.I., all the restaurants closed at 8 every night, leaving factory workers who got off late without a place to eat. At the time, a man named Walter Scott (obviously not Sir Walter Scott) was working as a pushcart peddler, selling odds and ends out of a glorified wheelbarrow. Like a true American entrepreneur, Scott saw a need and moved to fill it. He put a small stove in a horse-drawn wagon and began roaming the streets late at night, selling sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs and coffee. His success spurred imitators, and soon the city was teeming with the "after- hours lunchwagons." Thought for the Day: "/ have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret ff as though it had an underlying truth." -- Umberto Eco 2013 King Features Syndicate, Inc. Never eat more than you can lift. -- Miss Piggy Highest Auto Insurance Rates l. Louisiana 2. Michigan  t 1   3. Georgia 4. Oklahoma 5. Washington, 13.(' 6. Montana 7. California : 8. West Virgima / 9. Rhode Island k/I -- Yang Crossword -- Answers Solution time: 25 rains.  ,INInI,IsI,Io! V _zZ 1 PIVO d iii00 _.03_ 1 N I H V x  onlilnllllulo o o lt.lllolol 2013 King Features Syndicate, tnc.