Government: "Our Mistake, But You Lose"
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Write baronboy@... and place your order today!Government:"Our Mistake, But You Lose"Daily NewsMonday, August 21, 2000 http://www.dailynews.com/archives/2000/08/21/edi01.asp
Los Angeles County Supervisors don't have to do much to preserve their hold on power. Sometimes, they don't need to do anything at all.
The Fabulous Five have what amounts to lifetime tenure. They are able to amass such enormous campaign warchests that they rarely face even token opposition.
Naturally, they would like to keep it that way. That's why they have fought so vigorously to kill any effort to impose term limits on them like other local and state officials face.
Helping them along is the county bureaucracy, which has thwarted the latest effort to reform the board.
Christopher Skinnell, a 23-year-old from La Crescenta, and his associates compiled 300,000 signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would limit supervisors to two four-year terms.
By all accounts, Skinnell and company followed all the right protocols, turning in their signature lists in June, well before the Aug. 11 deadline.
But the County Registrar's Office has declared more than a third of their signatures invalid -- rendering the initiative 1,120 names short of making the ballot.
When members of Voters Organized for Trustworthy Elections went back and checked the registrar's signature count, they discovered that the county had miscounted -- Skinnell's initiative should be on the ballot.
Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Conny McCormack acknowledged the mistake but said that the deadline has passed and she can't do anything about it.
"There's nothing in the law that addresses a recertification," she said. "It's sort of a loophole."
Actually, it's sort of an outrage.
McCormack's office spent $250,000 in taxpayer money miscounting Skinnell's 300,000 signatures and not getting the job done until it was too late.
Unless Skinnell succeeds in a courtroom effort to get his question on the ballot, those funds stand to go to waste.
There's no telling if the county miscount owes itself to ineptitude or corruption, but the fact that it conveniently benefits the Board of Supervisors raises suspicions.
As does the legalistic claim that, because the Aug. 11 deadline has passed, it's too late to put term limits on the November ballot.
In Connecticut, Joe Lieberman has up until the week before the election to decide whether his name or someone else's will appear on the statewide ballot for U.S. Senate. There's no reason why California should need 10 weeks to do what Connecticut can do in one.
Election laws exist to guarantee fair access to government -- not to deny it to law-abiding reformers.
Let's hope the judge has a greater respect for democratic principles than the government of the county of Los Angeles.
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