Who could possibly be against making certain that people with deep pockets can’t buy votes?
Well, let’s start with building contractors. When it comes to supporting candidates they believe will vote their way, contractors are famously (or infamously, if you prefer) generous. Then there are unions. Same situation. A lot of unions – oh, let’s say those that represent firefighters or police officers – like to throw around their weight (i.e., bankrolls) in local elections. Contribution restrictions tend to put people like that on a diet. And, of course, some politicians would prefer not to be encumbered by anything that limits their ability to accept donations from anyone. They would prefer to keep their hands extended as long as builders, unions and others are willing to fill them.
And so, a Turlock good-government “Tin Cup” proposal went down to defeat on Tuesday night. It’s not dead yet; Mayor John Lazar set it up for more discussion. But City Councilman Steve Nascimento’s common-sense plan did not pass.
Nascimento was proposing that any candidate who accepts $2,000 from any individual or organization cannot vote on a rule, law or contract that would have an impact on that donor. That rule and that limit sound entirely reasonable in local politics. But Councilwoman Amy Bublak didn’t like it, indignantly saying such a proposal suggests that her “morals and ethics” are in question. Not sure why she took the suggestion personally, but the best way to prove you’re not for sale is to set exactly this kind of limit.
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Oh, there was some blather about a violation of free speech. But the proposal offered no restriction on how much a union or builders could spend on buying billboards or newspaper ads to get their points across. The only restriction the “Tin Cup” proposal places is on the candidate.
Here’s some good news on the higher education front: The Yosemite Community College District – which administers Modesto Junior College and Columbia College – no longer is in academic trouble with its accreditor. MJC had been on probation with The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, but the commission recently reaffirmed its accreditation of the two colleges after a lengthy review. Columbia College had been on warning status with the ACCJC and MJC had been on probation. Accreditation is important because it reaffirms that a school meets or exceeds academic quality standards.
Congratulations and a heartfelt goodbye to Livingston High School basketball coach Angelo Naldi, who is retiring after 33 seasons. Naldi, 62, is believed to have the longest current tenure as a basketball coach in the Sac-Joaquin Section, according to Will DeBoard, the section director of communications. Although he has a great passion for the sport, retirement will allow Naldi to spend more time with his wife of 35 years, Nina, and his four daughters and four grandchildren. “It’s going to be a transition,” Naldi told Merced Sun-Star reporter Shawn Jansen. “I’m sure it’ll be hard at first. We need some time to ourselves. We need to go travel.” Sounds like a plan, coach. Good luck and thanks for all your service.
UC Merced announced two speakers for its May commencement. Kristina M. Johnson, CEO of Enduring Hydro LLC and a former U.S. undersecretary for energy, and Paul C. Lo, a Merced Superior Court judge, will speak to graduates. Johnson is enshrined in the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, and Lo is the first Hmong American judge in U.S. history. We’re sure both speakers will inspire graduates.