Friday, February 17, 2017

WILL TRUMP MAKE CALEXIT A SERIOUS QUESTION?

CALIFORNIA FOCUS
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017, OR THEREAFTER


BY THOMAS D. ELIAS
     “WILL TRUMP MAKE CALEXIT A SERIOUS QUESTION?”


          As recently as last July, just 22 percent of Californians favored the idea of California risking a new civil war by declaring its independence from the rest of America. But barely six months later, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found support for California exiting the Union peacefully had moved above 40 percent.


          That’s not a majority, by a long shot. But it is almost a doubling of support, and the reason consists of one name: President Trump.


          Several of the record-number executive orders Trump issued during his first weeks in office implied he has it in for the Golden State which voted very strongly against him. So did testimony in several Senate confirmation hearings for his cabinet appointees and other Trump threats.


          That is spurring a reaction. Right now, many Californians are incensed at seeing Trump fulfill campaign promises on immigration, the environment and other issues that were essentially voted down by about 3 million votes nationally; by more than 4 million in California.


          It’s not exactly taxation without representation, but to a lot of Californians, it feels similar.


Trump, for example, said he’ll order an investigation of voting fraud despite an utter lack of evidence it happened. He named two states as the biggest alleged offenders: California and New York, the two states that voted most strongly against him. One possible goal of such an investigation by an administration which invented the notion of “alternative facts” might be to suppress minority votes in California as Republicans have done in states like North Carolina and Florida.


Trump’s immigration orders could have more impact in California than anywhere else. His appointee to head the Environmental Protection Agency said he will “review” all waivers allowing California to have tougher pollution standards than the rest of America. The target-California list is long.


          The latest poll on secession indicates that with each such Trump  action or stated intent, the separation idea grows more palatable to more Californians.


          The sentiment has grown to a point where there’s now competition to lead the “Calexit” movement: The Yes California group that began under a different name in 2014 vs. a newer outfit organized in 2015 calling itself the California National Party (CNP).


          Yes California, whose leader Louis Marinelli currently teaches English in Russia, is circulating a proposed secession initiative, aiming for the November 2018 ballot. This measure would erase from the state constitution a statement that California is an inseparable part of the United States. It asks California voters to decide in a 2019 special election whether the state should secede. Passage would require participation in that election by at least 50 percent of registered voters and a 55 percent yes vote.


          The CNP, acting like a rival rather than an ally of Yes California, takes no position on this. “Our path to independence is through building a movement and CNP voter registration…Our model is based on strategies that have put independence within arm’s reach in both Scotland and Catalonia, (the Spanish state that includes Barcelona),” said Theo Slater, the CNP’s “national chairperson.”


          The CNP also claims Yes California has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who would enjoy splintering America.


          Meanwhile, Yes California’s in-state leader, Marcus Ruiz Evans of Fresno, wrote the only recent book on California independence, and notes that in a primary election run for a San Diego seat in the state Assembly last year, Marinelli became the first modern candidate to back California independence. Yes California, then, is the only outfit that has actually made moves toward secession.


          There is, of course, no legal process for any state to leave the Union and none has tried since the Civil War. In 1776, there was also no such process for leaving the British empire.


          Secession skeptics note that California uses large federal grants for everything from roads to health care. But the state gets back just 78 cents for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes. All federal grants could easily be made up for if those taxes were paid instead to Sacramento, should it remain the California capital.


          This all is no more than talk today, but for Trump there’s a serious question to ponder: Does he want to risk a new civil war by driving America’s largest and most inventive state into an attempt to leave the Union? 


                  
     -30-       
     Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is tdelias@aol.com 

IGNORED OROVILLE WARNING RAISES BIG QUAKE, LEVEE QUESTIONS

CALIFORNIA FOCUS
FOR RELEASE: TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2017, OR THEREAFTER


BY THOMAS D. ELIAS
          “IGNORED OROVILLE WARNING RAISES BIG QUAKE, LEVEE QUESTIONS”


          Just because nature allows a delay of many years while officials dither over a catastrophe in the making doesn’t make that disaster any easier to handle when it finally strikes.


          This is one major lesson of the Oroville Dam spillway crisis that saw the sudden evacuation of almost 200,000 persons from their homes when the dam’s emergency spillway crumbled under the force of millions of gallons of fast-moving water.


          Warnings of precisely this sort of crisis at Lake Oroville were submitted to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission during a 2005 relicensing process, almost 12 years before those predictions came true.


          “A loss of crest control (which has now occurred) could not only cause additional damage to…lands and facilities, but also cause damages and threaten lives…downstream,” environmental groups (Friends of the River, the South Yuba River Citizens League and the Sierra Club) cautioned, recommending relicensing of the dam only if repairs were made.


          Their claim drew scorn from officials of the state Water Project, which runs the vintage-1968 Oroville Dam. “Our facilities, including the spillway, are safe during any conceivable flood event,” said Raphael Torres, then acting deputy director of the Water Project. Plus, some of California’s most powerful water districts, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, didn’t want to fund a fix. They’ll have to pay now, as much as $600 million, by some estimates.


          FERC, loaded with power industry advocates by then-President George W. Bush, disdained the environmental groups, as it usually does.


          So the background of today’s crisis bears warnings, both about preparation for likely future natural disasters and about what can happen when industry advocates control powerful federal agencies, now the case for several cabinet-level departments in the Trump administration.


          For California, alarm should be strongest about earthquakes, and the related issue of levees in the Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. After the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake hit on a previously unknown fault and destroyed a veterans hospital, among other buildings, mapping of earthquake faults became a high state priority.


          Over the next 20 years, 534 maps of faults and their possible damage were published. But in the following 20 years, no new maps appeared because of budget cuts, leaving the project about 300 maps shy of where it needs to be for all residents of known potential damage areas to be properly warned.


          Some areas have used the maps drawn between 1971 and 1991 to pinpoint buildings that need retrofitting, with many projects completed.


          But most of the other 300-odd known faults have yet to be mapped.


          At the same time, California still lacks a signficant quake warning system, and probably can’t complete one without the remaining maps even if it suddenly became a priority. It’s tough to warn people at risk in a major quake if you don’t know what buildings they’re in.


          This issue was no priority at all for Gov. Jerry Brown through most of his current go’round in office. Yes, Brown long supported an early warning system that might give a minute’s notice before shaking from a Big One hits urban areas. But through most of his current tenure, he proposed no state funding for this, saying the money should come from private or federal sources. It did not.


          Brown shifted in last year’s state budget, providing $10 million to create such a system, now in the works from the U.S. Geological Survey and academic researchers, who hope to begin putting their system to limited use next year.


          The dithering put California behind other quake-prone places like Japan and Taiwan.


          Why is this important? The original legislative sponsor of the warning system, Democrat Alex Padilla, now California secretary of state, said in 2013 people need a system giving them “critical seconds to take cover, assist loved ones or pull safely to the side of the road.”


          Even when that system comes online, much more mapping will be needed. For the biggest quakes of the last 40 years came in unexpected places.


          The upshot: California’s water system is not the only area needing better preparation for coming disasters. The problem, though, is the same as it was at Oroville before this year’s massive storms created a crisis: Until an urgent problem occurs, few believe it ever will. Once it happens, it may be too late to act.
         

         
     -30-       
Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is tdelias@aol.com 

Monday, February 13, 2017

TPP WITHDRAWAL A SOUND TRUMP MOVE

CALIFORNIA FOCUS
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 2017, OR THEREAFTER


BY THOMAS D. ELIAS
     “TPP WITHDRAWAL A SOUND TRUMP MOVE”


          From his first day in office, when President Trump kept a campaign promise and dumped the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement painstakingly and secretly negotiated by ex-President Barack Obama, he’s been accused of giving China unprecedented license to move into other Asian and South Pacific markets.


          Not so.


          The first thing to understand here is that the TPP contained some of the worst aspects of the long-controversial North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA, with very few improvements. The second is that for China to usurp U.S. – and especially California’s – trade in the 12 countries involved, those countries would have to be willing partners.


          The pact was to include Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Canada and the oil-rich sultanate of Brunei. None of these countries and states wants to be dominated by China and since Trump pulled the U.S. out of TPP, China has made no aggressive trade moves on any of them.


          Which means all or almost all will likely be back at the bargaining table within a year or so aiming to work out a new free trade deal with Trump.


          That’s political reality, even if some Trump critics don’t like to admit it, choosing instead to blast every move he makes just because it’s he making the move.


          Rather than bemoan the trade agreement that isn’t, how about using that failed, putative deal as a starting point for drafting a new one?


          The rejected agreement had some huge flaws, just as NAFTA does. Labor leaders who applauded Trump as he signed the order killing the proposed TPP said some of its provisions figured to send many thousands of jobs out of America – particularly from California. Environmental groups said it bore the potential to contribute to global climate change by placing factories in countries with flimsy air and water quality regulation.


          But its worst feature was an international tribunal of lawyers from various countries with the power to override some laws of member countries and even to overrule the U.S. Supreme Court.


          This was an outright assault not just on tough state environmental restrictions like California’s, but also on national sovereignty. Supporters of the TPP denied this, claiming such usurpation of powers would never happen.


          But just that threat was realized early in NAFTA’s history with the overturning of some U.S. dolphin-safe regulations for canned tuna because they impeded free trade. In short, because some Mexican fishermen were not careful to avoid catching dolphins in their nets in waters off Southern California, federal rules designed to spare an intelligent species died at the hands of foreign lawyers more interested in money than mercy.


Something similar almost happened to California quite directly, also under NAFTA. This case involved a Canadian company called Methanex, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, which made and marketed a gasoline additive called MTBE that could cut smog while boosting octane ratings. But MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) turned out to have noxious odors and taste when it inevitably leached from gasoline station storage tanks into ground water. The additive also sparked cancer fears, although that alleged threat was never proven.


          California, under former Gov. Gray Davis, banned MTBE in the late 1990s. Methanex sued in NAFTA’s tribunal and the case was heard in Washington, D.C., far from affected Californians. The case took several years, and eventually Methanex lost because of MTBE’s health effects. Validating the California ban, the additive has not been used widely in this country since 2005.


          The entire Methanex effort at using NAFTA to override California’s health concerns was a travesty. Yet, the TPP was written to allow similar cases.


          So the TPP was a bad deal on several scores. Which doesn’t mean a better deal can’t be negotiated. Trump touted his supposed deal-making skills incessantly during his campaign last year. Now he has a chance to negotiate a better, safer, cleaner, fairer trade deal with Pacific nations than Obama ever could.      

           
-30-

    Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

DEFUNDING CALIFORNIA: WHOSE MONEY IS IT?

CALIFORNIA FOCUS
FOR RELEASE: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2017, OR THEREAFTER


BY THOMAS D. ELIAS
“DEFUNDING CALIFORNIA: WHOSE MONEY IS IT?”


Time and again, President Trump threatens to withhold federal grants from California cities, universities and the state itself unless they accept policies he wants to pursue, from large-scale deportation of undocumented immigrants to bashing the heads of campus protestors.


“California is in many ways out of control,” he said in one recent interview. Out of his control, he seemed to mean. Then, asked if “defunding is your weapon of choice” to force the state into line, he allowed that “It’s a weapon. We give them a hell of a lot of money. I don’t want to defund a state or a city. I don’t want to defund anybody…If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly, that would be a weapon.”


          Two questions he wasn’t asked: Whose money is he talking about? And, who gets most of that money?


          The answer to the second question is easy: Most federal money arriving here goes to ordinary people, via Social Security payments, Medicare and Medi-Cal payments. That accounts for the vast majority of the $367.8 billion the federal government spends in California every year. (The figure comes from a Tax Foundation study.)


          Meanwhile, Californians pay in much more than that in income, Social Security and Medicare taxes. So we’re really talking about our own money here, with the federal government mostly acting as a conduit.


          Should California adopt a wide “sanctuary state” policy requiring all cities and counties to follow the practice of police in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Ana and other California cities that – among other things – don’t inquire about the immigration status of most people they arrest, Trump says, “If we have to, we’ll defund.”


He plainly thinks he can take any federal funds he likes from California and its cities. Does he also propose to cut off Social Security benefits to Californians if legislators adopt the plan they’re now considering?


No one knows precisely what Trump intends. But he plainly believes he can withhold funds at his will.


But that’s not how most federal grants work. Repeated court decisions, like the 1987 case of South Dakota v. Dole, say there has to be some link between the purpose for withholding federal grants and whatever program they’re being taken from.


This means that Trump cannot withhold Pell Grant money from California students just because he didn’t like it when police failed to beat black-clad marauders who violently took over a demonstration at UC Berkeley that began as a peaceful protest over a scheduled speech by an editor of the alternative right website Breitbart News. Nor can he out of pique withhold cancer research funding.


He also can’t take money from sewer or mass transit projects if he’s unhappy with policing in sanctuary cities getting those grants.


          But the decisions probably do mean that if Berkeley again cancels a similar sort of speech, Trump could halt grants used in part to pay campus speakers – although there is no record of federal funds paying for this.


          A significant question is why Trump singles out California, which contains a relatively small minority of the nation’s 106 sanctuary cities. Why, for example, did he not threaten Tucson, Ariz., whose sanctuary policy is one of the oldest, dating from the 1980s?


          Might it be relate to the fact he carried Arizona last fall while losing California by more than 4.5 million votes? Is this more a matter of revenge than policy?


          Only Trump knows what he intends and why, just as only he knows why he left Saudi Arabia off the list of nations whose citizens he’s trying to deny admission to the United States, when most perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, the most significant terror ever on American soil, came from there.


          Like much of Trump’s agenda, widely defunding California would require action from Congress. It’s doubtful many California Republican House members would meekly acquiesce in withholding funds from the state in a general, non-targeted way that could severely affect their constituents.


          All of which makes it highly unlikely that Trump alone can deny much money to California, even if he tries. That’s only fair, since the money he’s talking about actually comes from Californians, even if it is later mingled with other funds while in the Treasury.
                  

    -30-       
     Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net

Monday, February 6, 2017

POT BILLBOARD BATTLE AIMS TO PROTECT MINORS

CALIFORNIA FOCUS
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2016, OR THEREAFTER


BY THOMAS D. ELIAS
     “POT BILLBOARD BATTLE AIMS TO PROTECT MINORS”


          For decades, a struggle has raged across California and America to protect young people from negative aspects of drinking beer and hard liquor. Now that fight has begun to spread to newly legalized recreational marijuana, with several state legislators trying to ban pot advertising along state highways.


          This is happening at a time when no one is quite certain whether new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime foe of marijuana use and a former four-term U.S. senator from Alabama, will begin pursuing criminal prosecutions for selling and using pot in this state, despite last fall’s Proposition 64, which supposedly legalized almost all use of the weed.


          Sessions’ decision matters because federal laws always trump state ones where they conflict, and federal law continues to consider marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and ecstasy, to name just two others.


          Even before Sessions can do much of anything – and no one knows how much he will prioritize pot prosecutions – California lawmakers are trying to minimize the exposure of children and teenagers to advertising for cannabis products of all types, from medicinal marijuana to pot-laced brownies.


          The effort just now takes the form of a bill to outlaw marijuana advertising from state highways, about 15,100 total miles of roadway. That would strengthen a portion of last fall’s pot-legalization Proposition 64, which bans billboards hawking pot from major state roads that cross state lines, a total of 4,315 highway miles.


          There is some precedent for this from the liquor front. While California has no state laws against booze billboards, cities like Oakland and San Diego do. In Oakland, beer and liquor ads are not allowed in residential neighborhoods or near schools, playgrounds and libraries, among other locales. In San Diego, billboards for alcohol are not allowed within 1,000 feet – about three blocks – of schools, recreation centers, child care centers and other places where children often congregate.


          The proposed statewide restriction on pot ads goes farther than anyone ever has against alcohol. Beer ads are seen in stadiums and arenas, some of them even named to promote breweries, as with Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Milwaukee’s Miller Park.


          While academic studies establish a definite connection between boozy billboards and use of alcohol by minors, nothing has stopped the liquor and beer industries from spending a combined $4 billion yearly to promote and advertise their products, including plenty of signage in ballparks frequented by children.


          All this suggests there is plenty of merit in the proposed highway ban on marijuana product advertising. If, as plenty of studies show (including some published in 2014 editions of the medical journal Current Addiction), using pot as rarely as once a week can lead to cognitive decline, lower IQ and memory problems, why not try to keep it away from children whose brains are still developing?


          Not to worry, said legalization advocates during last fall’s campaign for Prop. 64, the law’s age limit of 21 will keep pot away from teenagers. Of course, when recreational weed was illegal, plenty of teenagers found ways to get it. In a state where young adults of legal age commonly lend IDs to teenagers seeking alcohol, what’s to stop the same practice with pot?


          Many who believe America’s war on drugs has failed are fine with marijuana being readily available to all. Some even hearken back to a 1985 U.S. Senate hearing where Florida Republican Paula Hawkins, concluded that “Our record contains no facts which would justify legislation to ban or censor advertising beer or wine products…”


          Applying a similar conclusion that there’s no evidence of harm from marijuana sufficient to ban billboards would essentially make California’s children guinea pigs in the rush to legalization. Many cannabis advocates reason that pot is now legal, so why not allow advertising it, just like any other legal product?


          But the legislators behind the proposed billboard restrictions, from locales as disparate as South Los Angeles, Oakland, Healdsburg and Palmdale, see it differently, warning that billboards can make pot smoking seem like fun, even to small children riding in the back seats of their parents’ cars.


          The bottom line: Experimenting with the brains of California’s children is a bad idea, and it’s a good thing some legislators realize this.



-30-
    Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

MANSON ‘FAMILY’ PAROLE EFFORTS JUST KEEP COMING

CALIFORNIA FOCUS
FOR RELEASE: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017, OR THEREAFTER


BY THOMAS D. ELIAS
    "MANSON ‘FAMILY’ PAROLE EFFORTS JUST KEEP COMING”


          They simply are not content to leave Californians alone, these once-murderous followers of racist guru Charles Manson, who has himself tried and failed 12 times to get parole.


          Like a plague that’s all but impossible to eradicate, the multiple members of this killing crew keep trying to win their freedom. Some have become prison preachers and academic stars while behind bars. Others have more or less vegetated. But their consistent theme as they try for freedom is “We’re old now, and harmless; let us go.”


          It should never happen to even one more of this bunch.


          Bad enough that back in the early 1970s, prosecutors bargained with Manson acolyte Linda Kasabian, who allegedly never personally wielded a knife or gun during the evil troupe’s deadly raids, but admittedly was along on jaunts where the convicted killers broke in on their targets. Kasabian never did jail time.


          Equally wrong that Steve (Clem) Grogan, a sometimes musician who helped as Manson, Charles (Tex) Watson and Bruce Davis murdered stuntman Short Shea, won parole in 1985 after drawing a map that allowed police to find Shea’s body.


 Shea had earlier befriended Grogan and often bought him clothes while Grogan lived on the now-defunct Spahn Movie Ranch above Chatsworth between Los Angeles and Simi Valley before the Manson gang began squatting on the ranch. (The late owner George Spahn once told this reporter he never wanted Manson or his followers on his picturesque acreage, where Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and many others made Western movies.)


          Now come Davis and Patricia Krenwinkle, the most recent of these slayers of innocents to seek freedom. While Watson, Davis, Leslie Van Houten and Beausoleil have all been denied parole during the last three years (and fellow Manson acolyte Susan Denise Atkins died in prison), Krenwinkle’s lawyer Keith Wattley imaginatively argues that she suffered from battered woman’s syndrome at the time of the cult’s crimes. (A parole panel has just approved Davis for release for the fourth time; it’s again up to Gov. Jerry Brown to veto that.)


          Krenwinkle was one of the crew that cut power and phone lines at the Beverly Hills-area estate of actress Sharon Tate in 1969, and then murdered her and four others there. Krenwinkle’s roles: Chasing coffee heiress Abigail Folger and stabbing her 28 times, then writing “Death to Pigs” in Folger’s blood on a wall.


          The next night, she participated in the murders of grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in the Hollywood Hills, helping carve the word “WAR” into LaBianca’s stomach and scrawling a bloody “Helter Skelter” onto a wall.


          Wattley’s battered-woman argument has never before been raised in a Manson Family parole proceeding, and the state Parole Board indicated it might take months to think about it.


          Tate’s sister, Debra, said she doesn’t agree that Krenwinkle was a victim of any kind, noting she was free to leave the murder scenes at any time and helped in killings on consecutive nights. “She’s totally minimized her actions and blamed everything on other people,” Tate told a reporter.


          Like Watson and Davis, Krenwinkle has led an exemplary life since her death sentence, which was commuted to life in prison when California’s Supreme Court in 1972 briefly ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. She’s earned a college degree in prison, trained service dogs and counseled other inmates at the women’s prison in Corona.


          Is that enough to justify freeing her when jurors in 1971 made it clear they thought she didn’t deserve another moment of life, let alone years of freedom?


          Other parole boards have said they thought other Manson killers had paid sufficiently for their crimes and posed no further danger. But no governor in more than 30 years has allowed any of this gang to go free.


          For sure, if the Parole Board rules in Krenwinkle’s favor, Brown will again confront memories of the terror that afflicted the Laurel Canyon neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills where he lived at the time, just two canyons east of the Tate home in Benedict Canyon.


          He surely knows any such parole would taint his legacy, perhaps even more than the several forms of corruption that he has steadfastly glossed over during his current, second administration.
                  


     -30-       
Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. For more Elias columns, go to www.californiafocus.net. His email address is tdelias@aol.com 

Monday, January 30, 2017

LINES EVER BLURRIER BETWEEN CITIZENS, NON-CITIZENS

CALIFORNIA FOCUS
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017, OR THEREAFTER


BY THOMAS D. ELIAS
   "LINES EVER BLURRIER BETWEEN CITIZENS, NON-CITIZENS"


          Almost no one seemed to notice during last fall’s election that yet another line between citizens and immigrant non-citizens was breached. Even before then, there were few privileges and rights that immigrants – both documented and not – could not enjoy in at least some parts of California.


          Drivers licences, check. Illegal immigrant children eligible for state-paid medical insurance under Medi-Cal, check. In-state college tuition, check that, too. Undocumented immigrants even have the right to practice law here under a bill signed in 2015 by Gov. Jerry Brown. And legal immigrants can be poll workers at election time, too, because of a perceived shortage of multi-lingual election officials.


          About the only thing non-citizens can’t do is vote. But wait a minute. San Francisco voters by a 54-46 percent margin last fall decided to blur that, too, for immigrant parents of public school pupils regardless of their legal status. They passed the local initiative Proposition N to give non-citizen parents of public schoolchildren the right to vote in school board elections.


          So non-citizens, even if undocumented, now can help decide who will spend taxpayer money, and indirectly, how it will be spent.


          There is one fly in this ointment, at least for the undocumented. One that local officials have not yet figured a way around.


          Most school board elections in San Francisco and elsewhere coincide with votes on myriad other offices and issues. But noncitizens there are authorized to vote only on school board candidates.


          Does this mean noncitizen parents exercising their new local right will be handed special ballots at the polls or, under California’s soon-to-be-implemented new election system, receive special ballots in the mail? Will they fill out different forms when they register from the ones used by citizens?


          This has not yet been decided, but if noncitizens do receive special forms and ballots, it will be because they’re honest enough to admit their actual immigration status. If they do admit it and get separate, unequal treatment via ballots dealing with only one type of contest, they might just be risking deportation.


          That’s because President Trump has said for more than a year that he intends to deport all illegal immigrants, regardless of how law-abiding they are in other ways. He’s said he wants to start with undocumented immigrants who are also criminals, but that has not changed his ultimate goal of ousting virtually all illegals. San Francisco’s voting records might provide a method for his operatives to locate some of them.


          This leaves local officials a tad perplexed. “We have to craft a really strong privacy policy so if anyone wants to vote we…ensure their contact information…isn’t revealed or given over to the federal government or any entity like (immigration) enforcement,” said former San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored Prop. N.


          That won’t be easy, considering that Trump’s Justice Department can subpoena any voting records it likes, just as federal lawyers have done for years while fighting voting rights cases in the old South.


          San Francisco’s school system spent years trying to convince parents of pupils that their records will be safe. That’s one reason the local school databases don’t list citizenship status. There are other complications, too, including the question of whether some parents could vote twice in school board elections if the schools sent out special schools-only ballots to parents, while citizen parents would also see the same contests on their regular ballots.


          So San Francisco has a lot to work through, with no easy solutions in sight. But the city has already taken the issue of non-citizen voting a step beyond where it is anywhere else.


          Yes, in New York City, left-leaning Mayor Bill de Blasio and his sympatico city council have several times considered a law allowing all legal residents, regardless of citizenship status, to vote in local elections. Their rationale is that citizens and non-citizens are equally affected by public policy from tax levies to road building and policing, which they say ought to entitle all residents to an equal voice in local matters. But it has not yet happened there.


          But giving non-citizens the ultimate right belonging to citizens, along with all the other privileges they’ve already attained, would remove most of the motive to do the very basic book-learning needed to become a citizen.


          Which makes this ultimately a destructive practice.


         
     -30-       
Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is tdelias@aol.com