national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]

















Bill Leonard - Contributor

Bill Leonard is a Member of the State Board of Equalization

A Week Under the Dome
Applauding Gray, Big Bond, Prisons, White House Fellows, Electronic Voting...

[Bill Leonard] 1/20/04

Democrats Applaud Davis

The California Democrat Party held its convention in San Jose this weekend. Gray Davis was one of the keynote speakers and was applauded by the party leaders, as well he should be. After all, it was the greedy p ositions of party leaders that were the final blow to his political career. Even as recall petitions were circulating and his popularity was sinking, they shoved their leftist agenda onto Governor Davis. The party members, in the words of Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, acknowledged that “The loss of the governorship was a staggering blow to this party.” But are they really remorseful? Or do you think if they had a chance to push new legislation to give drivers license to foreigners without papers, or push more new spending plans that they would take it? I think they owe Davis a big “thank you” for sacrificing his Governorship on the rocks of their liberal extremism.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

California's financial status is squarely between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The Governor is proposing a $15 billion bond measure toh elp get us back on track. That is hard medicine to swallow, no matter what your political persuasion. However, a look at the alternatives puts me firmly in support of our Governor's plan. The Democrats' alternative is a tax increase. This defies logic because California does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. The Republicans' alternative is cutting programs now, but the reality is that the Republicans need the time that the bond will buy in order to implement the budget cuts and make program reductions.

A recent poll has me worried that California voters are not thinking practically yet.

The deficit bond (Prop. 57) only has support at 33% and opposition at 40%.Yet, Prop. 56 (the measure that would lower the threshold for raising taxes) is in a statistical dead heat. If voters pass 56, but reject 57and 58 (the Governor's balanced budget proposal), we will have new, higher taxes quickly. Without the bond and the reform in 57 and 58, and with the majority in the legislature empowered by a new law saying they can raise taxes with a mere 55% vote, you can bet that your taxes will be going up soon. So, even if you are not thrilled with the deficit bond, I urge your vote in favor of 57 to prevent a disaster.

Guarding our Safety

With the prison bashing legislative hearings starting today, legislators need to remember exactly what prisons are. I like them. Not to visit but because they keep very bad people locked up and away from my family and me. Californians are enjoying the benefits of the prison construction program re-started by Governor Deukmejian. Prior to that it had been decades since a new prison was opened all the while the number of criminals and their victims soared.

In the 1990s, then-Assembly Republican Leader Bill Jones spearheaded the” Three Strikes and You're Out” legislation and joined with Mike Reynolds and Governor Wilson to get the initiative passed. I had previously introduced the Chronic Criminals Act, which aside from being a great alliteration, was quickly killed by the Assembly Graveyard Committee, erroneously named the Public Safety Committee. The point of Three Strikes and Chronic Criminal Act was this: a certain number of people in our society-- thankfully a small number-- choose life as criminals to prey on others with violence and scams. The civilized solution to this problem is to lock them away from others. Obviously, there is a price to pay for committing crimes.

In California, the critics of this common-sense philosophy have focused on the growth of inmate population. Well, when you do not lock criminals up for years and then the people change that policy, the growth is going to be great. There are now 310,105 people (mostly men) under the Department’s jurisdiction of prison and parole. This is 00.8% of the state’s population, which some might argue is far less than the actual number of criminals who reside in California.

The staff (mostly correctional and parole officers) who protect us from these people numbers 49,729. Since prisons operate seven days a week and52 weeks a year, it takes more than four staff members to make sure that each station is fully covered which means that at any given time there is no more than one officer watching 26 felons. This is less than the average staffing ratio of all other states in America. When a riot starts (and they do, all too often) I do not like the odds of 26-1, and I fear for the safety of our officers. I hope our legislators share my concerns.

Capitol Symbolism

Saturday last I was heading into the office after speaking to the California Congress of Republicans when I drove by the Capitol building. The building and grounds were designed to incorporate symbolism of strength, integrity and justice. These symbols and some of the public activities that take place at the Capitol are enduring, despite the regular and often justified criticism of government as unrepresentative and unfeeling, and they are reminders that there is still much hope that government can be made to work better. What I saw taking place at the Capitol last weekend was inspiring.

On the west steps were the celebrants of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade who were using the steps of the Capitol to remind us about King’s dream of equality and freedom for all. On the south steps, I saw a bridal party being photographed. Their pictures will commemorate a happy marriage and evoke the symbolism of the strong foundation of the Capitol building behind them. On the east steps, beyond the tributes to our veterans, were the remains of one of the huge, century-old Capitol park trees. Many of these trees were gifts from other nations and were not supposed to even grow in this climate zone, and yet many of them thrive. However, there does come a day when age, disease, or other stress causes some of the trees to die. With this tree gone, there is now more room for the park's other trees to grow and for more sunlight to reach the grass and flowers underneath. The old tree will also create ample portions of firewood that will warm many homes-- perhaps even the home of the newlyweds.

White House Fellows

I encourage Leonard Letter readers to spread the word about a unique opportunity available to young leaders. The White House Fellows program is accepting applications for its 2004-2005 class by February 1, 2004.Fellows must be U.S. citizens and have a record of remarkable professional achievement early in one's career. Candidates should demonstrate evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth, a commitment to public service, and the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest levels of the federal government. No age ranges are given, but the White House is seeking people early in their careers. You can learn more at


Electronic Voting May Not Be Best

This is a debate we are going to see intensify over the next few months. The Federal Help America Vote Act provides $3.9 billion to the states to modernize their voting systems. However, in a recent Popular Science story, computer scientists at John Hopkins claim that the most recent technology, called direct-recording electronic (DRE), are vulnerable to hackers and bugs, and do not leave a trail that can be verified by auditors. Here's how the Johns Hopkins group rated the five methods for voting:

Paper ballots -- in use since 1856, these lose the fewest votes, but counting ballots is labor intensive. Might still be good for rural areas.

Mechanical lever -- in use since 1892, every pulled lever punches out chads and a counting wheel records the results. It has been many yearssince these machines were manufactured so the machines in use today are decayed and breaking down.

Punch card -- in use since 1964, computer tabulators read punched holes in card-stock ballots. The Hopkins group says this system was responsible for losing 1.5 million votes in 2000.

Optical mark-sense scan-- in use since 1976, a tabulating device reads the darkest marks on a scannable ballot card. The Hopkins group rates these as a best buy' ($7,000 per unit) and praise their reliability and affordability.

Direct-recording electronic system -- in use since 1978, voters use touchscreen or keyboard interface and results are stored in memory. The downside is the inability for auditors to check the results, vulnerability to hackers, and the software used for tabulation is proprietary.




Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005