CALIFORNIA LIBERTARIANS VOTE TO MUZZLE GOVERNMENT
by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.
[February 24, 2005]
[HollywoodInvestigator.com] While Democrats and Republicans are busy growing big government, the California
Libertarian Party has added a policy item to their 2005 legislative program
that could muzzle government regulators -- and the Hollywood Investigator
Last month, this reporter
(who was also a CLP convention delegate and platform committee member)
wrote of his plans to introduce prosecutorial
budget-sharing into the California Libertarian Party platform. On February 18, 2005, the CLP's Platform Committee convened at Los Angeles's
Sheraton Gateway Hotel. There, I proposed the following new plank
to the committee:
Because a person is innocent until
proven guilty, whenever any governmental entity fines, or tries to expropriate
money or other property (as in civil asset forfeiture), or demands compliance
to a law or regulation that a defendant feels has been misapplied or misinterpreted,
then there must first be a jury trial, and the prosecutor shall be required
to estimate his budget at the start of court or administrative proceedings
and turn over an equal amount to the defendant to be used for the defendant's
Whenever the prosecutor goes over budget, he shall
simultaneously pay an equal amount to the defendant. If the defendant
is found guilty after expending all appeals, he shall be required to refund
said amounts, with interest at market rates.
During the ensuing discussion,
committee member M. Carling worried that my proposal legitimized civil
forfeiture and other laws and regulations that the CLP seeks to abolish. I countered that I merely sought to mitigate the damage done by such regulations,
until their abolishment. Several members were bothered by the requirement
that interest be paid. In the end, Region 68's Jason Gonella suggested
that my proposal was more appropriate for the Program Committee. When others concurred, I submitted my proposal to the Program Committee,
which was meeting a few rooms down the hall.
The CLP's Platform is a somewhat
utopian declaration of the party's principles and end goals, whereas its
Legislative Program is a more pragmatic list of the nuts-and-bolts policies
the party hopes to advance in the near future through legislative action.
The Program Committee improved
my proposal's language and resolved that it be added to the CLP Legislative
Program under Section IV, as Item 6. Their resolution, passed by
unanimous consent, read as follows:
Government fines, civil commitments
and prosecutions can be as damaging as criminal prosecution. While
in cases of criminal prosecution, the defendant is entitled to representation,
no such right exists in civil cases.
To remedy this, in all cases of government civil
prosecution, civil commitment, or regulatory fines, the defendant shall
be entitled to representation and funding equal to that of the prosecuting
agency's, to be paid from the agency's budget.
But their resolution
still required approval by the convention delegates. Due to time
constraints, however, delegates were almost denied the opportunity to vote
on the matter. In that case, the resolution would have automatically
One reason for the convention's
time constraints was that the elections for CLP officers took so long. This needn't have been the case. Candidates for Northern Vice Chair,
Secretary, and Treasurer ran unopposed. For each of these elections,
CLP Chair Aaron Starr made a motion for delegates to elect these candidates
"by acclimation," meaning that the body need only say "Aye" and be done
with it. But in each case, because San
Francisco LP's Starchild objected ("None Of The Above" is an option in
all libertarian elections), delegates were required to use paper balloting
for each unopposed seat. Thus, the convention lost at least a half
hour electing unopposed candidates.
Consideration of the Platform
Committee Report had been scheduled for 2:20 to 3:45 p.m., followed by
the Program Committee Report from 3:45 to 4:45. However, the elections
lasted until about 4:15, consuming the Platform Committee's time. Fresno
County Chair Rodney Austin moved that delegates extend convention business
past the scheduled 5 p.m. closing.
Starr countered that they only
had the Sheraton ballroom until five. So Austin made a second motion
that the remaining time be split between the Platform and Program Committee
Reports. His motion passed.
Three of the Platform Committee's
six resolutions were considered during this newly allotted time. My resolution on the Program Report was fifth among seven items, so it
appeared that we'd run out of time before the delegates could reach it. However, Region 62 Chair Bob Weber made a motion for my proposal to be
moved to the top of the Program Report. His motion passed.
In the ensuing debate, Santa
Barbara County Chair B.J. Wagener said that although he "loved" my
he worried that it was so out there, its inclusion would make the CLP appear
to be nuts. Weber and San Luis Obispo
Chair Gail Lightfoot rose to defend my proposal.
Both Weber and Lightfoot
had served on the Program Committee, and both had just been elected to
the Judicial Committee.
A few minutes before five,
Sunday, February 20, 2005, the CLP convention delegates passed my program
proposal, with only time enough for one other program item to be considered
before the clock called the convention to a halt.
Although the CLP does not
currently have any elected state legislators to advance its Legislative
Program, its drafting of one is not a pointless exercise. The CLP's
Program, like its Platform, provides issues for the party's candidates
to run on. Additionally, program items can still be advanced by the
party through California's initiative and referendum process.
Some delegates grumbled about Starchild's time-consuming demands for paper
balloting on unopposed elections, but he told the Investigator in his defense:
"I had asked the Chair to allow us to take up other matters while votes
were counted, and he refused. Furthermore, about ten or fifteen minutes
after the business session concluded, someone came in and showed a film,
which a couple dozen of us watched. An hour or so later, the hotel
staff had still made no move to clean the room. We should have used
the time during balloting, and we should have continued the session until
there was some sign the hotel wanted us to vacate.
"People are often reluctant to visibly oppose the group or particular individuals,
especially when those individuals are present. You will often get
a different result from a voice vote than from a secret ballot. As
part of the LPC's dissident faction, I wanted to see those 'None Of The
Above' votes formally recorded."
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