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T he C oast News

DEC. 8, 2017

Opinion & Editorial

Views expressed in Opinion & Editorial do not reflect the views of The Coast News

Will top-two ‘jungle primary’ aid Feinstein? California Focus By Thomas D. Elias

Ferret legalization proclamation needed By Pat Wright

This is an unusual request. Normally this is an issue for the Fish and Game Commission. And we’ve been trying for 30 years. After meeting every objection they placed in our path they finally said, “Yes we know ferrets are domestic, but they’re classified as wild. If we proceed with the legalization process, we’ll get sued by the “environmentalists.” It’s out of our hands — find a legislator to introduce a ferret legalization bill.” This is their way of moving the ball out of their court. “Find a legislator?!” They knew we’ve been trying to recruit a legislator since Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed a ferret amnesty bill in 2004. How easy is it for an underfunded group to recruit a legislator? From Sen. Andy Vidak’s legislative director after we formally asked: After reviewing your proposal, along with the history of introductions and vetoes of similar bills and your recent ballot proposition attempt, our office has decided we will not be introducing this measure next year. To even get a response from Sen. Vidak’s office took a few hundred emails from ferret lovers. Legislators’ normal response is to ignore us. A fact that Assemblyman Marc Steinorth mentioned at a town hall meeting. He later said he was joking but that

does seem to be the official Republican position – ignore California ferret lovers. We heard from multiple legislative directors they expect our annual appeal to find a legislative sponsor. They roll their eyes, they say no or they ignore us and expect it again the next year. What’s the big deal with ferrets? Certifiably domestic. Legal in 48 states. Never an issue of feral populations or attacks on wildlife. They’re harmless house pets. Yet it continues to be a misdemeanor in California. People can’t move here with their ferrets. You probably can’t get a security clearance or be a foster parent. I myself was denied a real estate license because of my ferret activism. This is clearly a case of when the door slam shuts, crawl through the window. That is what we are doing. When I asked the city of La Mesa for a proclamation, I felt it landed with a thud. Luckily on our City Council is Kristine Alessio, an activist with the Savannah cat community who has faced similar issues. We also had Councilman Bill Baber, who knew a ridiculous law when he saw it. Thanks to them and the other two City Councilmembers, Guy McWhirter and Colin Parent, and our outstanding mayor, Mark Arapostathis, the city of La Mesa issued the first procla-

mation calling on the state Legislature to pass ferret legalization legislation. We have politicians with courage who stand up for the little guy. What a great feeling! All politics is local. And meeting City Council members at the grocery store or on my dog walks brings a connection. Meeting state legislators at official functions puts the little guy at a disadvantage. The ferret community of California is now looking to Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and the four City Council members to stand up for us. Examine our issue (which neither the Fish and Game Commission nor the state Legislature has ever done) and come up with the only sane conclusion: 1) Ferrets are domestic animals 2) There is no reason to prohibit them 3) Ask the legislature for an introduction of responsible legislation to legalize them. Please help us. We are running out of windows. We are locked out of the Fish and Game Commission and we haven’t been able to attract a state legislator. Help us crawl through this window. Freedom rings! Pat Wright is a North County native currently living in La Mesa.

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However they sell it, it’s a bad plan No matter how the Cardiff School District Board of Trustees portrays the replacing and/or renovation of the current K-3 campus to include buildings, parking/ drop-off areas and landscape design, the hidden fact is that approximately 24,000 square feet of George Berkich Park will be eliminated to accomplish the reworked design. Due to a recent public outcry this past month the plan originally presented, which included a new kindergarten complex using park area, was replaced with a fresh multi-purpose room to include an addition-

al reconfigured drop-off/ pick-up parking paved track in an adjacent area next to Montgomery Avenue. At the most recent school board meeting, when challenged on this “sleight of hand” design movement, it was revealed that the 24,000 square feet takeaway would remain the same. Reviewing the contents of Measure GG, the Cardiff Elementary School District $22 million school improvement bond initiative passed in November 2016, there is no mention that any portion of George Berkich Park area would be taken away to complete the project. At no time during the recent presentation was the present school design placed side by side with

the one showing the kindergarten complex and the now multi-purpose room location, which would have absolutely shown reduced park land. This fact had to somewhat reluctantly be exposed by the presenter after public questioning. No one is against the board’s proclamation of lofty goals to modernize and enhance the student learning environment, education and safety, but the appropriation of limited valuable ocean view soil to accomplish such can be considered at best disingenuous. Once paved over, this ground will be forever eliminated. George Hejduk Cardiff

Strong irony is in the air as California heads into the hot political year of 2018, with an initiative to end the state’s “top two” primary election system in play just as top two, also known as the “jungle primary,” may be about to accomplish its central purpose. That aim was to allow voters in the minority party to influence elections and elect more moderate members of the larger party when their own party either has no candidate in a race or fields a sure loser. So it is today as moderate Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein bids for another six years in Washington, D.C., amid opposition from state Senate President Kevin de Leon and possibly others from the Democrats’ left wing. So far, no Republican has entered the race, and in past reelection efforts, Feinstein has trampled GOP opponents anyhow. This leads to two key questions to be answered in the next 11 months: Will the ‘jungle primary’ system so detested by Republicans and fringe party members help save Feinstein’s long career? And will she be the last to benefit from that system, which pits the top two primary election vote-getters for any office below the presidency against each other in the November runoff, regardless of party? Most likely, Feinstein next fall will share the ballot with the initiative seeking to return California to its previous primary system based on parties, with each party participating in the primary entitled to have a candidate in the runoff. Candidates and parties now must earn runoff slots with strong primary election performances. If top two is even partly responsible for a Feinstein win, she would be the most prominent case of that system fulfilling its aim. The Democratic left, which came within a hair of taking over the party’s state apparatus last fall, excoriates Feinstein because she once urged patience with President Trump, because she’s had Wall Street ties and has not been as shrill in opposing Trump as some younger senators, including California’s other senator, fellow Democrat Kamala Harris. (Harris endorsed Feinstein the day she announced for reelection.)

No one yet knows how wide the appeal of a so-called progressive candidate like de Leon or activist billionaire Tom Steyer might be among baseline Democratic voters, so it’s impossible yet to determine whether Feinstein might need Republican votes to win reelection. But that is a definite possibility, and if it happens, it would fulfill the purpose of the jungle primary, backed when it began by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and ex-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, both moderate Republicans. They wanted their sort of candidates to have a chance to win and their sort of voters to be able to influence election outcomes in places where they previously could not. Now comes Feinstein, who could be the rare California incumbent getting less than half her own party’s primary election vote. Republicans, with barely over a quarter of California’s total voter registration, would be unlikely to place a candidate on the ballot this year, just as they failed in the 2016 Senate contest. But if they vote in decent numbers, they are more than sufficient to combine with moderate Democrats to keep a far-leftist candidate from winning. That only works if Republicans actually vote for Feinstein, even if they would much prefer voting for a fellow Republican. Returns from 2016 show that almost exactly 1 million fewer Californians voted for a U.S. Senate candidate than for president, indicating many Republicans didn’t bother to vote in a race between two liberal Democratic women, Harris and then-U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. If most of those in the vote drop-off were Republicans and there is less dropoff this fall, they could assure that California gets the moderate Feinstein and not someone substantially to her left and less patient or willing to compromise. Such an outcome would represent the explicit purpose of top two, and it’s just possible that it might also be the last gasp of that system. For if voters opt to go back to party-driven primaries, the extreme wings of both major parties will once again provide almost all candidates. This would assure plenty of November choices, but would essentially disenfranchise Democrats in Republican-dominated legislative districts and Republicans statewide, as well as those living in the many Democratic-dominated districts. Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com.

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