Rampant thought police

Timing in elections, as in real life, is everything. I said, not long ago, that I would never again contribute anything to your Letters to the Editor section, unmindful of the admonition, “Never say never.” Perhaps I should have said I would limit myself to one each millennium — unless sorely provoked. But let us get back to the subject of timing.

Jeff Jennings, as a notable example, is a master of timing. Jennings, shortly before the April 1998 Malibu election, filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission a complaint regarding the Malibu Citizens for Less Traffic newspaper ads about his and other council persons’ voting records on development issues. Next, he went to the press with his complaint just before election day — early enough to gain maximum political advantage and late enough to prevent effective response.

Two years have now passed in the FPPC investigation of Jennings’ 1998 election complaint. No charges have ever been made, and late last year the original FPPC investigator was removed from the case. But the file in this long dormant investigation, which the FPPC should have been able to wrap up with perhaps two months (not years) investigation in 1998, remains technically open. This, most convenient for Mr. Jennings, enabled him once again to make political use of his 1998 election complaint two years later, less than two weeks before the April 2000 election.

Does this chain of circumstances provoke any concern or suspicion? In my view, especially sinister and frightening is the chill on exercise of First Amendment rights to exchange information and opinions on public issues and the boost to Jennings’ political campaign caused by Big Brother California FPPC’s threat of prosecution of Malibu citizens posed by its expressed interest in investigating associations of people and the specific wording and factual accuracy of ads place by them respecting local Malibu issues. Who appointed the California FPPC as thought police over Malibu’s city elections, anyway?

Artfully timed, but much cruder (they are not lawyers, after all) is the March 30 Malibu Homeowners for Reform’s reprehensible piece of hate literature, which is too full of new deliberate falsehoods for detailed item by item response in these last days before the election. I’ll just take one, the lead item in MHR’s March 30 ad.

Charge: “Van Horn has an illegal, unpermitted second kitchen in her home.”

(Based on city of Malibu letter to council candidate Carolyn Van Horn, dated November 2,1993, requesting removal of second stove.)

Fact: The stove was promptly (in a matter of days) removed in 1993, and was replaced by a hot plate, permitted in the “Granny” portion of the premises then used by Carolyn’s mother, which are now occupied by Carolyn’s legally blind son. Any honest objections?

Do the good but mean-spirited folks at MHR really expect anyone to believe the Malibu Code Enforcement Officers took no action for over six years? Would you buy a used car from anyone so free with the truth? Following the advice of people like this as to who you should vote for could cost each of us in Malibu a lot more than what one might lose on an MHR used car.

Art London

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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