From the Publisher: A Lot Happening in Our Town, State and Nation

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Arnold G. York

The never-ending battle over Measure R (the Reiner Initiative), which, in round one, a Superior Court of Los Angeles County judge held to be illegal, looks to be headed back to court again later this month. The Reiner people and supporters have asked the judge to let them intervene in the case (that means step in and become parties in the case) so they can take it up on appeal in the event the city decides not to appeal. They also want the judge to stay his order while the case makes its way through the appeals process so that no building (that means Whole Foods) can go on in the interim. Lawyers who are far more experienced than me in the appellate process tell me that both requests are going to be close legal questions, which means it could go either way.

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In another court case, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided to take the case related to Obama’s immigration executive orders, and indicated they would hear it and decide it before Obama leaves office. The case and decision could end up being a political bombshell, this being an election year for a new president. I suspect when the court opens this particular can of worms, it could have all sorts of repercussions, particularly in a divided government and particularly with an aggressive president trying to work around a recalcitrant Congress. Whatever they decide, it’s going to also apply to future presidents — Democratic or Republican — and I guess these days you could say Democratic, Republican or “other.”

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Sometimes what courts do seems distant and detached from everyday life. If they do their job well and are impartial referees, their decisions, whether on a local decision like Measure R or nationwide like Obama’s Immigration Executive Orders, are generally accepted by the body politic. But, sometimes, they really mess up and then the consequences can be horrible.

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and I listened again on YouTube to the incredible speech King made at the Lincoln Memorial at the height of the civil rights struggle. That struggle, fundamentally the struggle over slavery, has haunted our nation from its beginning right through to today, with Ferguson, Chicago and many other places.

In the middle 19th century, before the Civil War, the country was struggling with the question of slavery, and trying to keep it confined to the south and not let it spread to all of the new, primarily western states joining the Union. The then-Supreme Court of the United States heard a case called the Dred Scott case, brought by a slave seeking his freedom. In a decision that is generally conceded to be the worst decision ever made by a Supreme Court, they essentially decided that slaves were not people, but property. They decided that African-Americans, whether free or slaves, were not citizens of the United States, could not go to the federal courts and that no state could prevent slavery from spreading to their state, essentially throwing open the door to the U.S. becoming an entire country with slavery.

Rather than put the matter to rest as the court had hoped, we ended up engaged in a civil war, which killed 600,000 Americans and pretty much continues on to today. What the courts do does matters.

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The race for the State Senate in District 27, which includes Malibu, has been turned upside down recently. The seat is open because Fran Pavley, our State Senator, is termed out. Pavley is backing her Senior Policy Adviser, Malibu-raised Henry Stern, a lawyer and strong environmentalist with a very good reputation in Sacramento.

Initially, former Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and his successor on the BOS, former State Senator Sheila Kuehl, also endorsed Stern. Recently, another candidate, attorney Janice Kaminer-Reznik, entered the Senate race and, strangely, both Yaroslavsky and Kuehl decided to change horses and endorse Kaminer-Reznick. It’s not clear what exactly has happened and what it means, but it certainly has turned this campaign into one bare-knuckled fight. 

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Karen and I would like to thank all of you who have sent in nominations for the 25th Malibu Times Dolphin of the Year Awards. As always, we received many more nominations than there are spots, so if your candidate didn’t make it this year, don’t get discouraged and don’t hesitate to nominate them again next year. We try to pick people who have done various and different things, and some years we get several people in the same categories, which necessitates some hard choices. Thanks again.

The winners will be announced shortly.