More political battles are a brewin’

Editor’s note: This is going to be interesting. Aside from qualifying a MJ initiative (marijuana, not Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan) for the ballot, the MJ contingent is siding with the hard-right contingent:
Will this fodder be used against our incumbent clerk-recorder in next year’s political race? Of course.
The alliances forged around here in the name of “peace and justice” can make your head spin. Just keep your head down and “follow the money.” It’s never as altruistic as it seems.

Today, Dec 30, representatives for Americans for Safe Access delivered to the County Elections office, petitions containing 10,729 verified signatures- more than enough to qualify for a Special Election sometime next year. The standard to qualify is 9,133, but our County used “new math” to raise that number to 9,960. Thanks to all of you, we met and surpassed their threshold by almost 1,000 signatures.

Now that we have submitted more than enough signatures, we plan to contest the County’s methodology to qualify an initiative for a general or special election. The CA Election Code clearly states that the number of signatures needed to qualify an initiative for a General Election shall be based on 10% of the votes cast for the office of Governor in the last election (20% for a Special Election). Nevada County also counts “under votes” – people who chose to not vote for the office of Governor, which in this case meant we had to gather 790 additional signatures. Our hope is to spare anyone who undertakes an initiative in the future from having to meet the County’s inflated standard.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

13 thoughts on “More political battles are a brewin’”

  1. Jeff, you are way off the mark in your comments about the Americans for Safe Access marijuana cultivation ordinance. People from every political party have rallied to our cause for many different reasons. Although we have NOT aligned with “the hard right” (or any particular group), our initiative has garnered support from some pretty unlikely places.

    Barry Pruett contacted me to see if we needed representation to deal with the County. We already have counsel, so we politely declined his offer.

    I would like to state for the record that we do not have a problem with the Elections Office or Greg Diaz. They have been extremely cooperative and helpful throughout the entire process. We simply disagree that including “under votes” for Governor follows Election Code. Hopefully, we can resolve this issue without a court proceeding, but we feel it is necessary to challenge the policy for anyone who decides to start an initiative in the future.

    I would like to point out that it is extremely rare to qualify a voter’s initiative. We gathered over 16,000 signatures to reach the benchmark of 9,960 set by the county (after vetting the duplications, PO Boxes, and unregistered voters). It is simply unfair to demand petitioners gather an additional 790 signatures to meet a standard that is not required in the Election Code.

  2. “Barry Pruett contacted me to see if we needed representation to deal with the County. ”
    Patricia, thanks for making my point.

    Ben EmeryDecember 26, 2013 at 8:54 PM
    Patricia Smith addressed this the other day on the Cannabis Crusades. She said the mix up could have been just as easily her fault than somebody else. I have found the local elections office very helpful and professional. Any plans on running?


    Barry PruettDecember 26, 2013 at 9:03 PM
    Diaz is bush-league. Even Patricia Smith who has no election law experience knows more about this area of law than our elected official. Diaz makes Nevada County look bad.


  3. Jeff
    You seem unconcerned that our Elections Clerk doesn’t apply Election law properly and doesn’t know math very well and more concerned about this issue becoming a left and right “thing”.
    The first claim of this appears on your website sir, might you be wanting for this to become a left vs right “thing” so as to generate blind support for Greg Diaz? ..
    I worked harder than you might imagine to assist getting signatures and I am a conservative that understands the difference. This is not a Left or Right “thing” It is first and foremost a First Amendment “thing”
    This is the first time in Nevada County a special election has qualified.
    It is to be celebrated as a prime exercise in Democracy . A fact you sadly overlook in favor of stirring the partisan pot.
    Enjoy your blog Jeff but you missed the boat on this one.

    1. Don,
      Your hard work has led to some real tunnel vision. Wouldn’t it be ironic if your MJ initiative lost, but your “new best friends” and alliance with the hard right still were able to peel enough votes from Lamphier, Diaz, Vernon and other “progressives” for them to lock down local politics. Seems like a good strategy for them — and judging by your responses, it’s working according to plan. Do you think they really want your initiative to pass? Please. “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

  4. Jeff

    There are no”new best friends” Perhaps allies, perhaps not.
    A.S.A. is not aligned with either side, as our name indicates it is first and foremost an American thing, citizens doing what they can to shape the future. I fully expect many of those “new best friends” as you refer to them, to vote for our ballot measure.
    I urge you to join conservatives, progressives, independents, etc.
    to join in support of ASA. If not at least give kudos to those who have
    stood up, went to work and accomplished what never been done before. Qualifying a Special Election initiative for the ballot.
    Sad that you do not offer congratulations to ASA for an outstanding First Amendment exercise.
    Here let me: Congratulations Americans for Safe Access for being the first to qualify a citizens initiative for a Special Election in Nevada County!!!
    Still reading you and now wondering about your agenda. Doesn’t seem “middle of the road” in my opinion.

  5. Don,
    Congratulations to ASA for an outstanding First Amendment exercise! Having said that, you might want to be a little bit more savvy about “unintended consequences.” But don’t take my word for it. Ask around.
    Happy New Year!

  6. Jeff, I am a staunch supporter of Terry Lamphier – not because he voted against the County’s cultivation ordinance, but because he is actively engaged in our community. Every event I attend (and I attend a lot of events), Terry is there to learn want his constituents want for Nevada County. I’ve never seen any other Supervisor at these events.

    However, over the course of this campaign, I have made acquaintances with people from every party and have found them all to be great people. I keep looking for what we have in common and how we can build on those commonalities to make effective changes that benefit us all.

    Do I think every conservative will support our initiative? Of course not. Nor do I believe every progressive will support it. I believe our initiative will pass because a majority of our citizens understand what is at stake – our basic freedom to chose what medicine we use and what crops we can grow on our own property.

    We worked on our initiative for two years to fine tune its provisions. Of tantamount importance was preserving Homeowner’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of their properties which is why we ban outdoor cultivation in residential areas, but increased allowances on agricultural parcels so they may provide medicine for those who cannot grow their own.

    The issue is now in the hands of the voters.

    1. Patricia:
      “The issue is now in the hands of the voters”, don’t pop the corks just yet. How the process works is a percentage of the total signatures are checked and each invalid signature is given a percentage also. In other words each invalid signature is worth more than one invalid signature because they are not preforming a 100% verification. You may have enough valid signatures to overcome the bad ones but it is not a simple one for one. Checking a 100% of signatures is time consuming and expensive. If you have enough valid signatures the board could just adopt your ordinance and forgo the election. I would hope the board would choose this option and save the county the cost of a countywide special election, but don’t hold your breath. Congrats on your hard work ASA!

  7. Then did it occur to you that the same people who are courting your initiative from the hard right are not supporting Terry? Did it occur to you that they will be courting votes among MJ supporters against him because, after all, they are just “great people”? In a close race, that could well make the difference. It’s a pretty good political strategy. I don’t vote in that District but I can see it happening. Though the real target for the hard right in this instance is Greg Diaz, there will be “unintended consequences” for all the progressive candidates. The “property rights” issue has been used before for the hard right to lock down our local politics. For those of us in the middle it’s troubling.

    1. You seem to be looking at a “glass half empty” . I see this in exactly the opposite light as you. I believe we may pull votes to candidates that support our initiative rather than lose them. In fact, several candidates you support have expressed the hope that our initiative ends up on the primary ballot because they think it will help them.

      I base my opinion on the fact that we have registered unprecedented numbers of new voters from all parties who support this initiative. I think they will vote for the candidates that support this position also.

      This is a voters revolution!

      1. Thanks Patricia. But when this gets promoted as a “property rights” issue, all bets are off on that scenario.

  8. I found it rather “interesting and exciting” that the ASA has been able to garner more new registered voters than any other issue in Nevada County history.

    I understand that it’s well over 1,000 brand new voters and if you consider that they were able to get @15,000 signatures that would mean that there are @3,500-4,000 others that were either not registered or duplicates.

    Statistically this would mean that the ASA group would have (if all of these unregistered people can become registered) @13,500-14,000 voters that would be willing to vote “yes” on their petition measure.

    If you consider that the people who supported this petition came from a very large sampling of the community (except the Truckee area), and if you look at the demographics of this group (which from what I have heard) was a large cross section of the county. Young and old, poor and affluent, which should bring a completely different venue into the voting prerogative than we’ve seen before.

    The “normal” Nevada County political breakdown (from Wiki) show the following:

    Registered voters 61,557 62.6%
    Democratic 20,298 33.0%
    Republican 23,315 37.9%

    Democratic–Republican spread -3,017 -4.9%

    Independent 2,208 3.6%
    Green 1,421 2.3%
    Libertarian 585 1.0%
    Peace and Freedom 140 0.2%
    Americans Elect 1 0.0%
    Other 140 0.2%
    No party preference 13,449 21.8%

    This means that there could be some very “interesting” changes in the political arena if the ASA group was able to harness the energy that they have been able to develop for their petition into political changes.

    I know that this group worked very long and hard to overturn what was forced on them by the Law and Political leadership in this county, and I am looking forward to seeing this move forward…..

    I was listening to KVMR news, and just heard that Mr. Diaz will be checking all of the individual signatures (and not doing the statistical sampling), which make sense, but in effect the ASA group should have had the opportunity to have their special election as this is what they have worked to do, and done….

  9. I left out one thought on Mr. Diaz….

    I bet that the ASA want’s Mr. Diaz to actually do his job, and if they (the ASA group) were able garner @2,000 additional qualified signatures (when the question at hand is whether then needed the additional 792), then I do not think that they really care about political issues with his office.

    I bet the ASA folks are more concerned with having this thrown out because County Counsel is not satisfied with the methodology used to verify these petitions.

    Mr. Diaz won (Greg Diaz: 69.91% Pruett: 30.39%) which means that Nevada County voters expect a “high caliber” of integrity…..

    I just hope that the decisions that Mr. Diaz made in regards to the voter count will not make him look “ineffective” and “wrong” at this point in the game.

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