President’s Message by Lee Sanders, May 2014


At our meeting of April 9th, newly re- elected Culver City Council member Jim Clarke presented a challenge to the club: We need to get more Democratic voters to become permanent absentee voters. More permanent absentee voters means higher turnout. Culver City and other local elections rarely get more than 20% turnout of registered voters. If we, and our friends, now request permanent absentee status (AKA vote-by-mail), we can impact the June and November elections!

For Culver City residents, the most important item on the June ballot is the school bond, Measure CC, which this club overwhelmingly endorsed. The CCUSD has found a clever, useful and fair way to help us understand where some of the bond money would be used, if Measure CC is approved. They are offering free tours of school facilities on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons, until the end of May. Mike Reynolds, CCUSD’s Assistant Superintendent, Business Services, has been overseeing CCUSD facilities improvement projects, and assessing future needs. To RSVP for a tour, contact him at (310) 842-4220, ext. 4226. For further study, go to and link to the Facilities Master Plan (revised 01.10.14), the Bond Discussion and Capital Needs, and FAQ’s. To volunteer for the Measure CC campaign, contact Kathy Paspalis, Laura Chardiet, or Nancy Goldberg.

The CC Democratic Club will have several discussions this year about the many dangers faced by the traditional American (i.e. democratic) voting system. On May 14, we will hear from Bob Stern, who Sacramento Bee columnist Peter Schrag called “the godfather of modern political reform in California.” His legislative think tank, the Center for Governmental Studies, which closed in 2011, listed 72 studies on its website, 40 of which were about campaign finance reform. He worked on the proposition that created the current system of redistricting by an independent commission, which seemed to result in districts which are fair and even favorable to the Democratic Party.

He also worked on the so-called “Top Two” primary election proposition, which has caused us some worry. Remember, it was forced on the Legislature by Abel Maldonado in return for his vote to approve a state budget. Maldonado was then “primaried” out of the legislature by those who control the Republican Party. Also, remember that no voting system can be perfect, although they seem to be fair to all when there are only one or two candidates. There is mathematical proof of this in the book “Gaming The Vote: Why Elections Aren’t Fair, and What We Can Do About It” by William Poundstone (2008, Hill and Wang).

An excellent test will be the current race for Congressional District 33, which is now held by the legendary Henry Waxman. Of seventeen candidates, only three have significant government experience: State Senator Ted Lieu, former L.A. City Controller Wendy Gruel, and former host of Left, Right, and Center on KPCC, and former Clinton administration bureaucrat Matt Miller. If two of them make the runoff, that result will seem normal. But a nightmare scenario is more than possible: what if the many Democrats and little party independents take out the above three and the November vote is between religious independent Marianne Williamson and the one lonely Republican? That would remind me of the failure of the Democratic Party to find a winning candidate to replace Senator Ted Kennedy in Massachussetts. And Democrats would have to devise a better way to have primary elections; there are various forms of ranked voting, I like the idea of instant runoff, so only one election is needed. Another strange but predictably common outcome to “top two” primaries: If a Democrat gets 90% of the vote and a Republican or MugWump gets 5% there will still be a runoff between them.

Finally, we must discuss the proposals to overturn “Citizens United,” McCutcheon, and several other Supreme Court blunders of the past, through properly worded Constitutional Amendment(s). Passage of Ted Lieu’s SB 1272 will be a good start to this process. The Supreme Court mistakes, combined with the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), threaten to make the American electorate irrelevant in serious politics.