Mark Twain once said that when people start talking about religion, he always grabbed a firm hold on his wallet. So, too, it is with some discussions of “constitutionality.” I was very sorry to see that a federal judge threw out San Jose’s law concerning limits on independent expenditures. It can only mean more money and more sleaze in local campaigns. The Chamber of Commerce should feel more than a hint of shame at its disingenuous primary assault on Cindy Chavez and the subsequent censure by the Ethics Board, San Jose Mercury, just about every other politician running for office, and many of the Democratic establishment lemmings who are so fearful of Chuck Reed and any other independent voice that might crack their hold on power. Why didn’t the chamber just fall back on the truth and call it what it was? For the time being, the chamber avoided being indicted by the Hague War Crimes Tribunal. Of such small victories, are our municipal values formed.
To call these considered “limits” an infringement on free speech is a joke and a disaster—quite a frightful confluence. Now the city has no ordinance and the spending—and hypocrisy—will thicken like an overcooked turkey stew.
For over twenty years—going back to the front committees of Claude Fletcher, the fearful Concerned Christians of the late seventies, and the Bay 101/Democratic Party collusion in the nineties—reformers have tried to keep big money out of local elections while unscrupulous, “the end justifies the means” consultants and candidates looked for ways to evade any restraints. The hypocrisy has congealed enough to need a chain saw to cut through it when our local labor bosses, the fat-cat developers and the “populist” Democratic Party (as said about the Holy Roman Empire, it was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire!) condemn the Chamber of Commerce as they, themselves, closely coordinated a much larger expenditure in support of Cindy Chavez in the recent primary. These local wannabe Mayor Daleys and Jimmy Hoffas are bastardizing our system—selling our citizens out for some small advantages to a few billionaires and the ceding of more power to a few pols and a feckless city council that has taken our city into a sad and distressing place.
As they say in frustration all over the country: “Someone should do something about it!” Well, maybe on November 7th, we will do just that.