Friday, June 30, 2006

Most corrupt city in CA?

I've been watching the story of Vernon's corrupt city officials since it was first reported in the LA Times early this year. The LA Times has apparently chosen it as one of its pet causes, which is good, because a city that has not had an election since 1980 is disturbing. Here is a bit from the latest story on Vernon from the Times:
Vernon, an industrial town of only 91 residents, has refused to count the ballots since the April 11 election, saying three challengers and their roommates were not residents and should not have been allowed to register to vote or run for office.

Attorneys for the city have argued that the ballots need to remain unopened and uncounted to resolve lawsuits filed on behalf of the city and against it.

Vernon fought for months to keep the challengers out of the election, the city's first contested race in 25 years. But a judge said they should be allowed to run.

A bill introduced by Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), now stalled in the Legislature, would give the county registrar of voters control of Vernon's elections for the next two years. But the bill has garnered only modest interest, with some legislators saying they don't want to delve into the town's politics while court cases are pending.
I hope the legislature does not drop this issue.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Paparian picks up endorsement of Dem primary challenger

Green Congressional candidate Bill Paparian's campaign sent out a press release on Wednesday that begins:
Bob McCloskey, the Democratic candidate who challenged incumbent Congressman Adam Schiff in the June 6 Primary, announced today that he has endorsed Bill Paparian for the same congressional seat in November.
McCloskey, running against Schiff's support for the war and the Patriot Act, got 17.4% in the primary.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Spiteful developer rejects community farm deal

Ed Ruscha Monument
LA disappearing: Twitchell's
Ed Ruscha Monument (above), South Central Farm
After publicly stating he would sell the South Central Farm for $16 million (an $11 million profit in three years after a sweet-heart backroom deal with the city), developer Ralph Horowitz rejected the money, and finally evicted the farm's supporters and bulldozed the community garden.
LA Times: The 14-year effort to establish an urban farm in the heart of South Los Angeles came to an end today when authorities evicted the farmers, as well as some celebrities who were supporting them by keeping vigil on the land.

The eviction occurred during a frenzied day both at the farm site and at City Hall as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other city leaders negotiated with the landowner through the morning, failing to reach a deal to save the farm even though the mayor said they had come up with the owner's $16-million asking price
More: LA City Beat | PoliZeros

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Election problems

A number of Greens have reported problems at the polls yesterday.

Our experience was somewhat troubling as well. Erin and I were told our precinct had been combined with another, so we had to go farther from our home to vote. When we got there, I signed in, and was asked, "Are you a Democrat, or Republican?"

I responded, "Green". The poll worker said, "huh?" and I had to repeat myself: "Green Party".

I know there are a lot of people, including registered Greens, who don't remember what party they registered with. Given the choice of taking either a Democrat or Republican ballot, how many would just take what was on offer?

Then there was only one booth set up for third parties, so Erin had to wait while I voted. Later Erin passed our old polling place, and guess what, it was still a polling place. Were only members of smaller parties forced to vote elsewhere?

Here are some of the other reports from election day, compiled from Green Party email lists:

- In Oakland, Alameda County, the Peace and Freedom party candidate for Treasurer, Gerald Sanders, was told that he could not vote in the Peace and Freedom primary as he was supposedly registered "decline to state". His wife was told she was registered in the American Independent party. Both of them, of course, are actually registered in the Peace and Freedom Party. (He couldn't have gotten on the ballot if he wasn't.)

- In LA County, a Green reported being sent a Republican absentee ballot

- Another woman complained, "I went to my polling location today, and they did not have a ballot for the Green Party. They gave me a non-partisan ballot and asked me to use this to vote. Was this the correct procedure?

-Another Green said, "FYI, we went to vote and they had no Green party ballots out, some workers and never heard of the party, but noted that the Voter list said "GR."
"What's that?" we were asked. "Green -- Green Party." Took about five minutes to rummage in the box to find the ballots."

-Another Green: "I too had problems. They had six precincts in three rooms and they kept sending me back and forth. They said I could cast a provisional ballot (because they couldn't find my address in their books) and I wouldn't have it. Eventually I found the right room on my own. All of this was before the usual hemming and hawing about my Green registration. Then they told me I couldn't do a write-in. I had to insist on my right to do that too. In the end I cast a regular ballot but only because of my own stubbornness and ingenuity."

It seems that most of these problems are the result of a lack of training or political ignorance among voluntary poll workers, who should be praised in general for their willingness to take a day off from work to run the elections. This incompetence, however, does a material disservice to the Green Party and our registered voters.

If you saw or heard about similar problems, please add your experience in the comments or email me at This is an issue the next County Council (I'm on it) will be taking up.

Paparian's election night party

Green Party congressional candidate Bill Paparian with the Dalai LamaErin and I went to the Bill Paparian election-night party in Pasadena. Ed Begley, Jr., the actor and environmentalist--and a high school classmate of Paparian--introduced the candidate. Paparian, a defense attorney and former mayor of Pasadena, spoke about his experience in the Marines, and how his counsel of a fellow soldier led him to go into the law and public service. He also argued convincingly that his Democrat opponent, Adam Schiff, had severed his ties with the community after being elected to Congress and moving to Washington. He said Schiff bought a large house in Maryland, where his family lives, and is now only a resident of California on paper, having registered to vote at a small apartment in his rarely-visited district.

Unfortunately, my camera was out of batteries, so I didn't take any pictures at the event. I'll try to find and post some later.

[Update: Bob Morris put audio from the event on his blog, Politics in the Zeros]

Up-to-the minute election night results:

Green Party primaries:

U.S. Senate (77.4% of precincts reporting as of Jun 7, 2006 at 1:29 am)
Todd Chretien.........45.2%
Tian Harter...........37.9%
Kent P. Mesplay.......16.9%

No big surprise here, probably a lot of people voting randomly. Tian Harter's long activist participation in the Green Party helping him, but Chretien's more high profile campaign as part of the "Million Votes for Peace" slate carrying the day.

State Assembly District 44 (99.3% of precincts reporting)

Ricardo Costa..........60.5%
Philip Koebel..........39.5%

Both candidates--friends who ran in a contested primary to raise the profile of the Green Party in Pasadena--were at the election-night party. I wasn't paying much attention to this race, but I was told that the result was somewhat a surprise, as Koebel had name recognition from an previous campaign.

Non-partisan races:

Superintendent of Public Instruction (78.4% of precincts reporting as of 1:45 am):
Jack T. O'Connell.......52.8%
Sarah L. Knopp..........17.1%

Sarah Knopp is a Green, and a teacher in Los Angeles. It is a nice surprise that she did this well in the election, coming in second among five candidates and garnering 478,107 votes (and counting). Although it would have been amazing if Jack O'Connell had been held under 50% and she got into a runoff.

Oakland City Council (50% of precincts reporting):
Patricia Kernighan.......50.5%
Aimee Allison............33.4%
Shirley Gee..............16.1%

Aimee Allison is the Green in this race.

In other races of note, Phil Angelides has won the Democrat primary for Governor, Debra Bowen won the Dem primary for Secretary of State, and both propositions are losing.

Oh, and Roy Moore went down in flames in Alabama. :)