An initiative currently being touted throughout California that its proponents are trying to get on the November 2014 ballot is the Neighborhood Legislature. While it may not make this a more Libertarian state, there are some refreshing aspects to this measure that should be of interest to Libertarians.
The basic idea behind the measure is to make legislative districts much, much smaller than they currently are in California. Right now the average California legislator represents around 450,000 voters in the 120 legislative districts throughout the state. This has led to a massive amount of money required to get elected to office and a disconnect between representatives and citizens. If the Neighborhood Legislature is enacted, each of the 120 districts will be divided into 100 tiny neighborhood sub-districts of 5,000 voters (for the Assembly) and 10,000 voters (for the Senate). Each sub-district will elect a neighborhood Assembly Member or Senator who will vote on all legislation. Each group of 100 sub-districts will elect a representative to sit on a working committee in Sacramento.
What Libertarians should find appealing is the pay of the representatives. The pay of the sub-district legislators will only be $1,000/year, and the pay of the working committee legislators that go to Sacramento will only be $50,000/year. At the rate of $1,000/year, the sub-district legislators would essentially be part-time volunteer citizen-statesmen who would need to hold a day job in the real world. Not only would they be actually involved in their own communities, but best of all they would no longer be professional politicians looking to justify their jobs by expanding the role of government. This was how true grassroots representative government worked in days gone by—part-time volunteers rather than full-time mischief makers looking to hand out favors to special interest groups.
An added benefit of having so many legislators is that it will make it that much harder for lobbyists and special interest groups to buy votes since they will have to influence that many more legislators to make a difference. Not impossible, just harder. Currently it’s much easier to buy off one well-paid politician than it would be to buy off what would be essentially 100 volunteers. Plus a lobbyist would be more likely to get caught and exposed if dealing with so many different citizen-statesmen to push his agenda.
One more benefit of more citizen-statesmen being able to run for office in the smaller districts and the diminishing influence of money in politics is that all the smaller political parties may get a real chance to participate. Currently in a state of almost 40 million people and districts of almost half a million voters, it is virtually impossible for anyone other than a Democrat or Republican to get elected to a state office. However with the likelihood of reduced campaign costs to get elected and tiny sub-districts, an appealing Libertarian could get elected by a smaller neighborhood district. (Look how many times Ron Paul got elected and re-elected in his small district in Texas.) New Hampshire, which currently has some of the smallest legislative districts in the nation under an arrangement similar to the Neighborhood Legislature, has seen 35 liberty-leaning Free State Project legislators elected to state office in recent years.
Please visit their website: http://neighborhoodlegislature.com/legislature/
We Libertarians are firm in our conviction that social engineering and manipulation of free markets will inevitably bring negative consequences. To such injury, insult is added when politicians dispense largess in order to keep their positions while they look everywhere but under the sofa cushions for money to finance the largess.
The current economic upswing the City is experiencing is a result of the incentives San Francisco offered the technology industry in order for companies to move in. However, as the companies moved in, so did their relatively well paid workforce, willing to pay top dollar for a nice place in a beautiful city. Now, old-time residents clamor for protection against the inevitable displacement they are experiencing, and the City feels obliged to come up with subsidized, below-market rate housing at great expense and opportunity cost. It also feels obliged to talk about strengthening rent control and Ellis Act exceptions.
Will the City find a way to pressure the technology industry into subsidizing housing? Will voters vote themselves a big property tax hike to “save” the City’s character? Will the City go broke trying to keep their traditional voter base housed if the answer is “no” to the first two questions? We guess we will all stay tuned, since this subject has become a constant drumbeat, as class warfare, the ultimate injury of social engineering and market manipulation, settles in.
The following was posted on the Libertarian Party of San Francisco Facebook page by La Mesha Irizarry in reference to a photo of Kenneth Wade Harding Jr’s killing:
“La Mesha Irizarry: This Kenneth Wade Harding Jr, killed on 7-16-11 by officer Richard Hastings (who ever since was arrested in Concord for sexual abuse of a 14 yr old boy over a period of two years). Kenneth was left to choke on his own blood until he stopped moving, while the cops held a horrified crowd at gun point all around the scene. I hosted the first press conference about this killing 2 days later at that very corner, 3rd and Revere in SF Bayview. I manage Justice 4 Kenneth Wade Harding Jr. Facebook group since that day. Denika Chatman, Kenny's mother, does a community feed + coats and shoes for the Poor at that corner every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11 am.”
La Mesha Irizarry’s work to bring police accountability not only to disadvantaged neighborhoods, but to all of San Francisco and beyond is well known to the Libertarian Party of San Francisco. She is no stranger to tragedy. Her son Idriss Stelley was shot and killed by police in 2001.
Our City leaders say San Francisco is experiencing unparalleled economic growth; while we at LPSF worry about the ineffective governmental micromanagement that is fuelling this growth and keeping a lot of folks relegated to government assistance. We urge citizen involvement in demanding top-rated schools in all neighborhoods, encouraging small businesses in all neighborhoods, voluntarism, and of course accountability – by police and everyone.
Let us all work towards a prosperous 2014 for everyone. Best wishes for the New Year to all from the Libertarian Pary of San Francisco.
Although City planners have generated a great many ideas and goals within the past three years or so, they do not seem to be developing a cohesive and credible plan. One day they speak of the urgent need for affordable housing, below-market-rate units, or safeguards against evictions. The next day they promote high-end ecodistricts, transfer of capitalization and control of public housing to the private sector, and high density areas catering to higher-income workers.
We would like to offer three samples of San Francisco’s current planning and development projects as examples of our point of view.
Central SoMa Eco-District Task Force Recommendations – Released November 2013.
These recommendations call for massive transformation of a 24-block area south of Market Street, from Market Street to Townsend, and from 2nd Street to 6th Street: “This once-industrial area is now positioned to become a growing center of the city’s and region’s high-tech industry. With the construction of the Central Subway (scheduled to begin operation in 2019), undeveloped or underdeveloped parcels in the area offer significant development opportunity. The Central SoMa Plan will propose rezoning this area for dense, transit-oriented, mixed-use growth and hopes to capitalize on rezoning to incorporate district-level energy and water infrastructure.”
To us, this sounds like the normal gentrification that naturally occurs when higher-income workers or residents move in. But the planners say, not so: the plan calls for “Equitable Development,” to “Promote Equity and Local Opportunity,” by establishing a “Locally-based employment program with specific focus on low and medium income workers, to be incorporated into Eco-District project development.” Wherever there is massive gentrification, would anyone not expect the need for custodians, gardeners, security guards, fast food handlers, street cleaners – not many of whom able to live in the area?
You will want to see the report yourself, as well as the extensive list of other similar projects:
Either the designers of the drastic regional upheaval, commonly known as “Plan Bay Area” or “One Bay Area,” thought they could work around the fact that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, of they did not connect this physical law with human behavior, as most common-sense folks do.
The Libertarian Party of San Francisco, as well as many other groups, sprang into action, as should have been expected, as soon as Plan Bay Area started to take form. We began disseminating information, attending public meetings, and reaching out to form coalitions. See our articles "Plan Bay Area: Vision or Micromanagement?" and "Plan Bay Area Adopted Under the Cloak of Midnight, Literally!" In the second article, we joined many other groups in sounding the alarm that Plan Bay Area would be a factor in the disappearance of affordable housing, loss of property values in some areas, increased use of eminent domain, and loss of livability and transportation choices.
The second round of reaction came soon after Plan Bay Area was adopted on July 18, 2013, in the form of lawsuits from the right and the left, aimed at the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the architects of Plan Bay Area. Here is a list of current lawsuits, all of which could use the public’s moral and financial support.