Cal plays Stanford this weekend. Stanford is playing for a Rose Bowl or BCS berth, while Cal needs a win to make to any bowl (AKA “la toilet” bowl). One fond memory I have is the Cal Band coming to The Chronicle the Friday before game day and playing in the newsroom. It is an ongoing tradition.
All along, I’ve been suggesting that the extremism of tea partiers may have done more harm than good for Republicans. After all most of us are in the middle politically.
In the latest blow for the “tea people,” Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has beat tea party rival Joe Miller in her historic write-in bid to keep her U.S. Senate seat. Miller beat Murkowski in the GOP primary, but she still prevailed as a write in, for the first time since Strom Thurmond in 1954.
The Associated Press called the race today after confirming that state officials had only about 700 votes left to count.
The Bloomberg report is here.
Nancy Pelosi also will continue to lead the House Democrats.
“Is it possible Tea Partiers have done more harm than good for Republicans? They bring national donations and volunteerism from across the country to close congressional and Senate races,” as Newsweek writes. “But in their quest for ideological purity they toppled incumbents and annointed establishment candidates in a minimum of seven Senate race and only three of those — Marco Rubio in Florida, Rand Paul in Kentucky and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania — ultimately won. And two of those, Paul and Toomey, won by less than a more mainstream candidate would have.”
Newsweek reminded us that tea party-insurgent GOP nominees lost in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada.
The Newsweek analysis is here.
Editor’s note: In an Other Voices, our county-clerk recorder Gregory Diaz has some disturbing news: “For the second election in a row, I received written accounts from our poll workers that there was intimidation and disruption caused by poll watchers at some of our polling locations. Voters complained to our inspectors that they felt intimidated by some of the poll watchers.”
I will seek copies of the reports if they are a matter of public record, including the details, with an FOI request if necessary. I have heard the same thing. I have reported the friction over some ballot handling in Truckee. Meanwhile, here’s the Other Voices from Diaz:
The November 2010 Consolidated General Election went well in Nevada County. According to our statistics, at the time of this writing, 80.02% of our registered voters participated in the election. This is outstanding. The state average for voter participation was 56%. Our nation and freedoms are preserved through participation in our electoral system. This is why and how democracy works. I am pleased to say, Nevada County “gets it”.
I always ask our poll workers for their feedback from the Election Day experience at the polls. For the second election in a row, I received written accounts from our poll workers that there was intimidation and disruption caused by poll watchers at some of our polling locations. Voters complained to our inspectors that they felt intimidated by some of the poll watchers. This should not be happening in Nevada County.
Poll watchers typically come to the polls over concerns about voter fraud. The observers are to understand the process, observe the process in action and report on successes and improvements. Poll watchers do contribute to our elections being conducted with accuracy, accountability, transparency and security. I personally welcome this vigilance and concern about voter fraud. However, observers must take care that their monitoring does not cross the line into intimidation.
Nobody condones voter fraud. Every citizen has a right to know that ballots are legitimately cast and fairly counted. Voter fraud is not a problem in Nevada County. Fear of imaginary fraud must not be an excuse to intimidate voters. The right to vote unencumbered with a secret ballot is inviolate; observers must respect that.
Electioneering also poses similar issues about voter intimidation. I have come across dictum from two cases where the court did a very good job of framing the issues involved. This is from a 1998 Mendocino Superior Court Case. The court wrote, in part:
“This ‘thoughtful/quiet zone’ where no further political bombardment can occur actually protects and safeguards even petitioners’ own political free speech. Exercising one’s right to vote to elect one’s leaders and enact laws is the ultimate unrestricted political free speech. The temporary (five to ten minute) covering or removal of political buttons in the limited polling areas while voting is a very slight inconvenience necessary to safeguard a free and untainted electoral process. This protected right and process underlies and is interwoven with all other rights. While a political button without fighting words on its face may seem harmless or inconsequential to a strong or opinionated person, not every voter is difficult to influence and intimidate-even to leave a polling place without voting. Even the simplest button is a political statement which invites a response. Given the strong feelings surrounding most political votes, the response is not always peaceful. Without this 100 foot protective zone, it is a very short slide to walking, flashing, electronic sandwich boards and a return to ‘political gang colors’ and intimidation which hinders free elections.
“The polling booth areas are also not traditional ‘public forums’….Polling areas are immemorially held in trust for the quiet, undisturbed and free exercise of the public’s right to privately vote their political consciences.”
In a U.S. Supreme Court 1992 decision in Burson v. Freeman, the court says, in part:
“In sum, an examination of the history of election regulation in this country reveals a persistent battle against two evils: voter intimidation and election fraud. After an unsuccessful experiment with an unofficial ballot system, all 50 states, together with numerous other Western democracies, settled on the same solution: a secret ballot secured in part by a restricted zone around the voting compartments. We find that this widespread and time-tested consensus demonstrates that some restricted zone is necessary in order to serve the States’ compelling interests in preventing voter intimidation and election fraud.
“Here, the state, as recognized administrator of elections, has asserted that the exercise of free speech rights conflicts with another fundamental right, the right to cast a ballot in an election free from the taint of intimidation and fraud. A long history, a substantial consensus, and simple common sense show that some restricted zone around polling places is necessary to protect that fundamental right”
As the County Registrar, I have always put the voter first and worked tirelessly on your behalf to count every valid ballot accurately and to ensure the election process in Nevada County is conducted with the utmost integrity and in accordance with all laws. I ask that all voters, observers, and poll workers who are in a polling place adhere to polling place etiquette by ensuring their actions do not infringe on the public’s right to privately vote in an atmosphere free from the taint of intimidation and/or fraud. When it comes to voting, let’s all agree: vigilance, yes; vigilantism, never.
Gregory J. Diaz
Nevada County Clerk-Recorder
No word in the local press, but there’s a flap over the new proposed location for Hospitality House in Grass Valley.
As I wrote previously Hospitality House has won a $1 million grant to purchase a 5,700 square-foot building on Golden Gate Terrace in Brunswick Basin. The goal is to open the new facility by Sept. 2011.
But the plan is meeting some opposition from neighboring tenants, including a petition campaign.
As the Samba soccer Facebook page states: “Public Hearing @ GV Council Chambers TUESDAY NOV 16th @ 7:00 p.m. This hearing is for the public to voice your concerns regarding ‘Hospitality House Homeless Shelter’ purchasing the building straight across the street from Samba. 964 Golden Gate Terrace. To house homeless people. Please sign the petition at Samba. Petition opposes the property USE Permit at this location issued by the City of Grass Valley.”
The planning commission meeting to discuss the issue has been tabled until Dec. According to my sources, in the meantime both sides, including some other nearby tenants, are trying to work behind the scenes with police and city officials to resolve their differences. They have met already.
I hope that both sides can work this out. This is an industrial-like area that is zoned for a facility such as Hospitality House. It is not a neighborhood.
Having said that, Hospitality House needs to publicize a set of guidelines about how it will operate safely for the neighboring tenants. This includes the kids and their families who play soccer at the Samba soccer facility.
We have a child who plays soccer, and we would not have a problem with him playing there, next to a homeless shelter. We do agree, however, that all the guidelines should be in place and enforced.
All in all, this facility can be good for our community. We need to work together to make it a “win, win.”
Our western county traditionally has been a “cul de sac” — politically, economically and culturally. It has created a “powers that be” of civic, business and elected leaders who are right leaning and long-timers, including many multi-generational families. It also has led to an economy that is lopsidedly focused on the “old,” not the “new.” And it has led to a class structure of sorts, with some “haves” and “have nots.”
But change is happening all around.
Truckee continues to integrate well with the rest of the world, including the Bay Area and Southern California. The precinct-by-precinct poll results that I posted show that clearly — the voting patterns in Truckee are more similar to the rest of our state.
Traditionally powerful groups there embrace change. The contractor’s association in Truckee “gets it,” with its PAC endorsing the most qualified, nonpartisan candidates for nonpartisan posts, as well as “green” building.
The voting patterns in Nevada City mirror the state results as well — more left of center than our state as a whole, perhaps, and aligned with the Bay Area.
Grass Valley is a mixed bag — with some conservative stalwarts — and the south county is more solidly “red.”
All told, this makes us a “purple” county, but it also signals that continued change is afoot. It also helps explain the political rancor that surfaces now and then. Examples of change:
•Prop. 23 was solidly supported by the local business community, long dominated by the “powers that be.” It lost here, however, by 10 points. Prop. 23 also was supported by CABPRO, Tom McClintock, Dan Logue and the tea party. Its solid defeat cannot be underestimated.
A growing number of people see the need to diversify our economy. The former head of the county Economic Resource Council left and invested in a solar company.
•Truckee and Nevada City are increasingly working together, creating political and economic alliances. They see the value of a new world order: promoting energy efficiency programs, sustainability or the APPLE Center in Nevada City. A precinct-by-precinct analysis of the voting patterns bear this out.
•Grass Valley has been a stronghold of the traditional “powers that be.” But it was rocked by the election of Terry Lamphier, who beat John Spencer. Now the most conservative board member has been replaced by the most liberal one.
But all signs point to Terry being a “player” with the other conservative board members. I predict they will work well together — exemplifying and showing the value of our “purple” political landscape. This will disappoint some on the hard right, who like to thrive on dissension and polarization, but it will be a win for our community.
•South county remains politically “red,” along with Penn Valley. But neighboring Placer County is becoming more “purple” too. The same divide between the moderate right and the hard right exists in Placer County. Longtime moderates are getting fed up with the hard right’s “my way or the highway” rhetoric.
•The internet is opening up new channels of communication. It is providing new, independent voices beyond The Union newspaper and KNCO. KVMR and Yubanet continue to grow. In a small town, people are afraid to speak out, but that’s changing too.
Our county is still being influenced by the more conservative politics of our district as a whole: McClintock and Logue are examples. But Charley Brown showed us that a better Democratic candidate can almost win.
Redistricting should also help make our elected representatives in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., more moderate — not Democrats, mind you, but more moderate than the hard right of a McClintock, Logue or Sam Aanestad. The jury is still out on Doug LaMalfa, but I am optimistic he can be conciliatory over time.
The co-founder of the tea party — Mark Meckler — happens to be in our backyard. Mark has a lot of “negatives” in our county too, not just fans. But you’ll notice that he’s spending more time organizing out of town than here.
The latest video that I posted showed that. I encourage you to watch the video, however, to understand what the tea party plans for our community and others. Moderates, not just liberals, often find the rhetoric counterproductive. Some of them find it downright scary.
The bottom line: Most of our local problems, as I’ve said all along, are nonpartisan. In addition, people want our economy to be diversified beyond the “old line” businesses here. They have seen the downside of being too dependent on construction and real estate.
Lastly, they do not respond well to the high-pitched, partisan rhetoric, nastiness and name calling that characterizes the local and national political landscape. I think we heard that loud and clear with the results of clerk-recorder’s race, for example.
All told, change is afoot, as you might expect with changing demographics and more open communications brought on by the internet.
Editor’s note: With the June and November elections behind us, it’s time to revisit one of my favorite posts: A call for democracy in our small towns, from April 2009. It is happening in our county — politically, economically and culturally. And it explains the rancor that surfaces now and then. Change is sometimes hard to swallow:
Thanks for sharing this insightful article. In the last 6 months I have spent a great deal of my time traveling to the small town in the Sierra Nevada usually catalyzed specific requests to help identify economic strategies to adapt to the recession. There are about 150 communities with populations between 100-2500, and 30 with populations between 2500 and 30,000, in our region. I am hearing about the “decline of civic infrastructure” everywhere I go.
I am noticing that in many cases “decline” may be the wrong word. There is another cultural and demographic trend playing into the change we are seeing: we are witnessing an intergenerational transfer of power within our civic infrastructure concomitant with our recession.
The traditional economic power centers in our small towns (chambers of commerce, economic development commissions, large single employers and old line multi-generational families) supported the more traditional economic development strategies of growth for growths sake and many younger people are seeing that as a failed strategy.
The intergenerational transfer is driving key changes that civic leaders should be aware of and could adapt to in order to improve results.
1) There is a strong desire for greater ‘democracy’ driven by discontent with the old order in our communities. Many younger business people and community leaders, more attuned to the values of a younger generation, want a greater say for more people in civic processes. Many people believe that unresponsive government has disempowered large segments of our communities, business organizations have valued the status quo over change, and we have allowed oligarchic decision-making processes.
2) There is a growing respect for and acceptance of diversity in class, ideology, political philosophy, gender, race and thought. New leaders are put off by divisive language and personal attacks often seen as a lack of respect for equity.
3) There is a changing definition of leadership with the old order possessing a command and control leadership style where power is rarely shared unless forced and position and turf is jealously protected. The younger leaders preferring a collective leadership model where power is deeply shared and decisions are more collaboratively developed.
As the WSJ aptly points out, civic leadership has been concentrated in too few hands. I suspect that we have also allowed the baby boom generation, my generation, too hold too much power for too long. We need to learn how to share power.
If we can embrace a key business and ecological theory, that diversification of a system creates resilience and increases adaptability to new conditions, we may be able to turn the current recession, and 20% correction in the global economy, into an opportunity for civic improvement.
The following quotes are from an August 2007 article in the Harvard Business Review titled The Next 20 Years: How Customer and Workforce Attitudes will Evolve, by Neil Howe and William Strauss:
Defining the baby boom generation (born 1943-1960 now age 47-64), “…Boomers loudly proclaimed their scorn for the secular blueprints of their parents—institutions, civic participation, and team playing—while seeking inner life, self-perfection, and deeper meaning.”
Defining Generation X (born 1961-1981 now age 26-46), “…Xers learned early on to distrust institutions, starting with the family, as the adult world was rocked by the sexual revolution, the rise in divorce, and the R-rated popular culture. …..After navigating the sexual battlegrounds of AIDS and blighted courtship rituals as young adults, Xers have dated cautiously and married late. Many of them have begun to construct the strong families that they missed in their childhood. In jobs they prefer free agency over corporate loyalty, with three in five saying they want to be their own boss. They are already the greatest entrepreneurial generation in American history; their high tech savvy and marketplace resilience have helped America prosper in the era of globalization.”
And their final conclusion on Gen X, “Gen X political leaders will seek pragmatic, no-nonsense solutions and will argue far less than the Boomers ever did. Having grown up in a time when walls were being torn down, families dissolved and loyalty ties discarded, they will focus on reconstructing the social frameworks that produce civic order. They will waste no time on the obviously insoluble and won’t fuss with over the annoying. To them, the outcome will matter more than the method, money or rhetoric used to get there.”
Gen X, empowered by the election of the first Gen X President, wants results, resilience, a shift in American values and the return to sanity in our politics and leadership ethic. This is exactly the sort of pragmatism and energy we should empower to overcome the stagnant leadership and self-serving turf wars that inhibit many small towns. If we can connect the Gen X desire for democracy, diversity and shared leadership maybe we can finally start making some progress.”