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Todd Finally Chooses…Or Not

Todd Spitzer

If you have been following the race for Third District County Supervisor, you know that, so far, it has not been much of a race. In fact, for awhile, it seemed that Todd Spitzer, who entered the race early, had not even made up his mind whether he was running for Supervisor or for District Attorney, a position he has coveted since his days as a state assemblyman.

Early on in the race, Todd was pitted against another legislative alumni, Chuck Devore. Chuck, probably looking at Todd’s bank account and boyish good looks that could get him into  a democrat’s fundraiser, finally decided to take his own advice and head for Texas. We wished him well and wondered if any worthy candidates would surface to take on the Spitzer machine. After all, Todd has the ear of many prominent Republicans in the county and he had over a million dollars to bankroll his campaign with even before any fundraising occurred on his behalf.

Almost the same day that Devore said goodbye to California and the Supervisor’s race, local Republican activist Mark Bucher threw his hat into the ring. The OC Weekly tied Bucher to the infamous rookie councilman, Jim Righeimer, who they call “arguably the most hated man in California politics” from the union perspective. That suited Mark, who has authored numerous anti-public union “paycheck protection” initiatives that, coincidentally, all failed at the starting gate. He is the penultimate Tea Party candidate in a non-partisan race. He had garnered much media attention with his announcement. Some of it was good, some of it was very bad. We have even written about Mark ourselves (who hasn’t). But that seems to be what those hardcore conservatives like. Oh yeah, and he’s a lawyer, too. But, you probably guessed that already.

So what happened? After his initial announcement, we haven’t heard anything from Mark. There does not appear to be any “Mark Bucher for Supervisor” campaign websites and there has been nothing  written since the first of the year concerning his campaign. He has not filed papers with the Registrar of voters although he still has more than a month do so. Perhaps he is too busy trying to screw public employees with his initiative which, by the looks of things, has qualified for this year’s ballot.

Courtesy of OC Weely

Deborah Pauly

So, what’s a person to do? Enter Villa Park Councilmember, Deborah Pauly. Pauly is also no stranger to politics or the media. Unlike Bucher, however, she hasn’t made her mark criticizing public employee unions. Instead, she has made her mark espousing hatred for Muslims. All Muslims. She has no use for them in any way, shape or form, apparently. Her hatred of Muslims has enamored her to many of her Tea Party friends and garnered the censure of her fellow Villa Park Councilmembers who endorsed Todd for the Third District.

She also hasn’t been able to hold a candle to Spitzer’s fundraising. In fact, her meager attempts at fundraising have netted her a mere $2,180. And, forgetting for the moment the million plus he already had, Todd managed to raise $30,430 among his friends and contributors. That’s without any union help that we know of. His campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard was succinct:

With over 336,000 registered voters in the 3rd supervisorial district, running a campaign in this seat is a very expensive endeavor. Todd’s opponent currently has the resources to spend about 1/3 of a cent for every voter.

It does beg the question as to whether Pauly is serious about running for Supervisor. Rumor had it that she only jumped into the race because of her hatred for Mark Bucher. But, that’s only rumor. And, as far as I have seen, Spitzer only refers to her as, “my opponent”. I have yet to see him call her by name and I don’t blame him. Spitzer has made a career out of being the champion of the underdog, people like Pauly despises.

In fact, his initial press releases after he announced his candidacy almost continuously espoused his support of causes for his clients and the public at large. He has attacked efforts to eliminate the death penalty, spoken at the Irvine City Council in favor or their proposed underage drinking law and championed a law he authored, Megan’s Law. He was running so much press for victims advocacy, many were starting to wonder if he really was running for the Orange County District Attorney’s office. His opponent wondered the same thing at a couple of debates they held in Orange and Tustin. The delusional Pauly, who attacked Spitzer’s vote on pensions and his supposed support of unions,  thought she walked away with the debates while Spitzer walked away with a slew of endorsements including the (minus Pauly) Villa Park City Council who were quick to disavow any knowledge of Deborah and probably can’t wait for her term to end. Two more (long) years, boys.

But, others also apparently thought Spitzer was running for DA. When someone on Spitzer’s campaign sent out a press release that erroneously tagged Todd as a current Assistant District Attorney rather than a former one. It was corrected almost immediately and, sensing they would have an issue, he must have sent DA Tony Rackauckus’ spin doctor, Susan Kang Schroeder, a corrected release. Schroeder, who has been rumored to covet the DA position for herself when T-Rack disintegrates, shot off a letter to Todd upbraiding him for the faux pas. Funny thing was, Pauly got ahold of a copy of it a full day before it was postmarked and tried to use it against Todd. Todd cried foul, of course, claiming the DA was playing politics. Unfortunately, who is going to investigate the matter? Certainly not a DA who has been called by some the most corrupt DA in California for his non-investigations of his cronies and benefactors.

Susan Kang Schroeder

But, Schroeder, who happens to be the wife of GOP bigwig Mike Schroeder, says she is not conducting any political activity. She claims a complaint from a third-party (who could that be?) initiated the letter and that she disputed all of Spitzer’s allegations. “he’s mentally unstable and unfit to serve. … He’s got everything wrong factually. This is vintage Todd … ready, fire, aim.” That sounds like good old campaign mudslinging to me. And, if things work out as I suspect they will, Todd will, in effect, hold the purse strings of the DA’s office. If I were Susan, I would sit down, shut up and hope Todd was telling the truth when he recently reiterated that he would not seek the DA’s office if and when it were to become vacant. She should also hope that a truck hits Spitzer because that appears to be the only way he is not going to win the Supervisor’s race.

So, Todd Spitzer has made his choice. He publicly came out and said that he will not seek the office of Orange County District Attorney….yet. That is a good move on his part. For whatever reason, our current DA-come-used-car-salesman has no intention of leaving anytime soon and, if anyone honestly believed that he would ever support Todd (I didn’t) for the office, that notion has been clearly dispensed with. Spitzer has answered all the arguments against him made, chiefly, by Pauly and her friend, Schroeder.  He has admitted his mistake in voting for enhanced pension benefits but rightly says that he was not the only one to do so. And, given what he knows now, he would not do it again. He has also proven that he is an effective, if exuberant County Supervisor. His track record in local politics, unlike his tenure in the Assembly, is solid. So, unless that proverbial truck we talked about hits him or Pauly suddenly sees a huge infusion of money (how much did Mike Schroeder promise you?) and a resurgence of anti-muslim supporters, it is doubtful Spitzer will have to spend much more than the thirty thousand he raised last year. And, the only thing the public will have to suffer is Todd’s somewhat opportunistic grandstanding. I think we can live with that.

So, everything is great, except… Todd recently admitted to the OC Weekly that he has tried to contact T-rack and has even had coffee with Susan. He has weakly admitted that he would like his old job back. From the OC Weekly Story:

Spitzer—who is often passionate in his endeavors—admitted he left voice mail messages for the DA. He cautioned me to appreciate the circumstances at the time of the calls: He’d just celebrated his 50th birthday, was unemployed for the first time after losing his “dream job” as a prosecutor, and was worried about how he would financially provide for his family.

I again asked him if he’d asked for his job back. He paused before answering, “I might have. . . . Okay, I probably did, but it was more of a global thing with Tony—where can we go from here?”

There is no doubt that Todd is running for supervisor. The question is, if the DA’s office were to suddenly open up, would Todd jump ship like Lou Correa did  for the legislature and go for the job? My guess is a solid probably. After all, Todd still has a huge warchest that could easily accomplish running back to back campaigns. But, regardless of the OC Weekly story leaning that way, I have to believe as supervisor he would take great satisfaction in being Schroeder’s and even T-Rack’s boss. The real question is, after having coffee with Schroeder, has he made a promise to be a good boy?

One thing is for sure. Todd will pick and choose his opportunities. Susan, you might want to watch your back.

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Does Lowe’s Hate Muslims?

Most Democrat legislators I know are extremely comfortable introducing a plethora of bills designed to intrude on the daily lives of Californians and California businesses. They have no trouble letting the government tell you what to eat, warn you of impending chemical doom or making sure your (or your neighbor’s) dog doesn’t replicate without the blessing of the government.

They also don’t mind over regulating business to the point some would say is driving industry out of our great state. And, if it isn’t enough to stifle business expansion with ever-tightening industrial regulations that seek to protect the populace from every conceivable ill, real or imagined, now one Democrat would also like to tell business where they must spend their advertising dollar.

Senator Ted Lieu is a democrat from the Southbay area. He is a prolific Tweeter who has taken the political correctness thing to an entirely new level. Recently, he has been tweeting about an issue between Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers and a reality-based television show on  TLC called, All-American Muslim. The program purports to show the lives of every day, average Muslim-Americans living in Dearborn, Michigan.  From the TLC website:

Each episode offers an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community.

Controversy arose when Lowe’s, who advertises heavily on nearly every major TV network in America, received communications from “every perspective possible”, including the Florida Family Association. Calling the show a lightning rod for political and societal views, the corporation decided to pull their advertising for the show saying, essentially, they did not want to become embroiled in any debates or discussions regarding Muslims, American or otherwise. Yes, they just wanted to run their business. It should have been as simple as that. It was a business decision.

It Wasn’t that easy, however. The Council on American-Islamic Relations immediately denounced Lowe’s, asking other advertisers to continue to support the show and stand up against “bigotry and hatred in this country”. Even one of the “actors” on the show, upon which the controversy is surrounded, blasted Lowe’s on Facebook and other social media. Factions from both sides of the debate have vigorously defended their stand on the issue.

Enter Senator Ted Lieu.

Lieu began tweeting about this issue almost immediately. First he bashed Lowe’s for pulling their advertising, saying he felt it was wrong. Then he sent a letter to the CEO of Lowe’s callling on him, personally, to stop the “bigotry against Americans who are Muslim.” Lieu apparently felt that was not enough so he has been sending tweets out with the hashtag, #boycottLowes. His latest tweets have stated that he plans to introduce legislation to prevent this kind of bigotry from occurring. In fact, in the letter to CEO Robert Niblock, he threatened both a boycott and legislative action unless Lowe’s apologized. The letter also called Lowe’s actions “profoundly ignorant” and “religious bigotry”.

Apparently, Ted doesn’t feel that business can be trusted to spend their advertising dollars wisely. What he sees as an act of bigotry was, according to Lowe’s, simply a corporation making a business decision for the benefit of the company. Rather than leave it at that, Lieu has now threatened legislative action. Kathy Grimes of the Cal Watchdog political website points out that any legislative action Lieu could take would be largely symbolic, probably taking the form of a Senate Resolution. We certainly hope it does not go farther than that.

Lieu’s grandstanding approach to this issue should not even be allowed to take the form of a resolution because the state senate has more pressing issues to deal with than whether a corporation was politically correct in making, what amounts to, a business decision. We hope that no business entity will ever succumb to the “will” of government when it comes to making business decisions regarding advertising. That would be another step down the slippery slope of socialism that Democrat lawmakers in this state seem to embrace.

We also hope that Lieu will find better things to tweet about with the new year. The state budget remains in peril. Prison realignment is quickly becoming a questionable balancing act for counties ill-equipped to manage such populations. And, as far as business goes, maybe he should get his comrades to take a look at why Waste Connections has decided to move their corporate headquarters from Folsom to Texas. The CEO stated the move was due “in part because the company sees California as a poor place to do business.”

In the meantime, the flap over where Lowe’s spends its advertising dollar will blow over, whether Lieu and the proponents of the so-called reality show like it or not. And, I seriously doubt there will be much impact on Lowe’s bottom line because of their decision. If there is, then they will have to decide for themselves if the call to pull the advertising was worth it. But, again, that is a business decision and one government should keep their noses out of.

Ted, if you want a real glimpse of Muslims living in America, I suggest you follow @MonaShadia, a writer for the LA Times. Her blog, Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C., gives a great perspective on what it is like for Muslims here in California. Her unabridged, tell-it-like-it-is writing may give you a more realistic glimpse of the Muslim experience than a highly edited “reality” show. In any case, good luck with that legislation.

When 1st Amendment Rights Collide

Like any good Constitutionalist, I have been following the trial of the “Irvine 11“. The trial, which began last week pits competing 1st Amendment rights against each other.

Last year in February, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, was invited by several campus groups, including  “Anteaters for Israel”, to speak on the UC Irvine campus. The speech was political and sure to be controversial, as it encompassed the Israeli state and the issue of Palestinian statehood. It was expected that there would be a protest of some sort by pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli groups.

The group centered in the spotlight consisted of members of the Muslim Students Union. Eleven members of the group, including three students from UC Riverside, participated in the protest which consisted of slogans shouted out by each protester, one after the other with the intention of expressing their views of Oren’s speech. The protesters were, of course, escorted out of the audience by campus police, who were waiting en masse in the aisles. They were patted down and arrested. University officials subsequently sanctioned the Muslim Student Union and the specific individuals involved. That’s as far as it should have gone, but it didn’t.

For whatever reasons, the Orange County District Attorney’s office chose to prosecute the protesters for disrupting the Israeli ambassador’s speech. The specific charges were, conspiracy to disrupt a meeting and disrupting a meeting, both misdemeanors that could result in fines and probation. It did not take long for the case to gain international recognition and support, with several youtube videos going viral and even  Jewish news services apparently supporting the students’ rights.

Why?

Because, universally, the world recognizes the Muslim Students right to free speech.

Our forefathers were wise men. I believe that the Constitution, as written, is as valid today as it was over 200 years ago when George Washington said, “I don’t expect this Constitution to last more than 20 years.” George wasn’t infallible, just a great Father of our Country. If he were alive today, he would be proud that our Constitution has not only lasted this long but has been the framework for numerous other constitutions of countries around the world. He would also be proud that our Constitution has lasted largely untouched for so long. We have the oldest unchanged government in existence. In fact, constitutions change so frequently that over 100 have been  written since 1970. Even our old “friend”, France, has had 10 governments in the same timeframe. El Salvador has had 36 written constitutions since 1824.

The protection for our Constitution has been attributed to the first Ten Amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights. The 1st Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Pretty plain speaking, as the framers of the Constitution were. The 1st Amendment is a fundamental right of the people and cannot be abridged.

But, what about when two parties claim 1st Amendment Rights to free speech as the parties in this case have? Where is the line drawn? If we look at history, then we can find the answer. When I was (much) younger, Angela Davis was the communist du jour, speaking often at the Berkley campus of UC. Her speeches were radical, insightful, and downright unamerican. I was a patriot and had just joined the military service during Vietnam. To me, her speeches at the time bordered on traitorous activity. She had been arrested several times for her open advocation of communism and Ronald Reagan attempted to have her barred from teaching at any US university. I look back and see that I had a narrow view of an intelligent  and thoughtful person. At the time, she was respected by many intellectuals around the world. 40 years later, she has my respect. And, so do the Irvine 11.

I may not agree with their message. However, I will defend with my life their right to convey their message in a peaceful manner. That is because free speech is fundamental to a free society. While we may be reminded of the old adage that you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, that was not the case here. These students, in the best tradition of university protest, made a unique display of demonstration and stood for what they believe in. It does not matter if you or I believe their message. Whatever the message, they had a right to be heard. And, the Orange County District Attorney and the University of California Irvine chose to squelch those rights. We, as a free society, cannot allow that to happen.

What about Michael Oren’s right to speak? Let’s not forget that he was able to complete his speech and, although the prosecution says he did not get to finish the question and answer session afterward, the defense says his real reason for leaving so early was because he wanted to attend the Lakers game. In fact, the defense was barred from showing the jury a photo of Oren with Kobe Bryant. Go figure. The case is in the jury’s hands at this writing.

If you have a view, disparate or concurrent, please comment.