From the Publishers

Political legacies

by Carolyn Chase

here's Politically Correct and Politically Incorrect. Well, I'm here to report that I'm Politically Confused. But of course, I try not to let that stop me. While pondering the issues on the November ballot, I realized that some political therapy was in order.

I've always suffered from a kind of split-identity when it came to politics. My father is a staunch Republican and anti-tax fanatic, having volunteered with Howard Jarvis of Prop 13 fame while I was a teenager. I remember him telling me the right way to vote early in my voting career. He would go over the ballot with me and I faithfully copied down the right answers.

One of his main lessons was: always vote NO on any tax increases and any bond measures. His basic belief was, since the 1940s and probably before, that the government already takes too much of our hard-earned money. The only rational response for a citizen is to vote and work against taxes. Also, only vote for people who are against taxes. Bonds are nothing but a different form of tax increase and more bureaucrats taking your money for their own schemes. None of this could ever benefit us more than having the money for ourselves.

It's hard for me to figure out how I ever came to believe that government serves any worthy functions at all. I must have gotten my liberal leanings from my mom. We would joke about her lifelong duty to balance out my father's votes, but she has shared no formulas or secrets about politics with me. I just always got the sense she was glad that ballots were, indeed, secret.

So my heritage is confused, politically speaking. I've never really fit in either of the dominant parties, nor have "they" shown any interest, so-to-speak, in me at all - except from time to time to mail me donation requests.

I want the government to accomplish some things and I'm willing to pay my fair share. But I don't want that share to just go for another bureaucrat churning out hundreds of pages of analysis that no working person has the time to read and that will make little or no difference except for transferring my money to their family. But I've also known bureaucrats who worked hard, produced results and were worth the money. Further, I can't get beyond the fact that government is necessary, even quite important. I mean, all the lobbyists are there for something, right?

The recent popularity of transferring power back to the states and local level seems all well and good until you take a close look at the historical and present processes of local incompetence, corruption and tyranny. The federal government has been essential to most of the difficult changes we take for granted today. Like the abolition of slavery and promotion of civil rights. Without the feds, there would be no substantial local habitat conservation, and insufficient clean air and water efforts.

What actually generates action on these issues are citizen and federal lawsuits forcing local officials to do the right thing. Check out this issue's stories about efforts to get us to actually clean up our smog problems. Some state elected officials are already scheming to keep polluters from having to clean up their acts. I swear, the anti-government types won't be satisfied until we have to buy clean air in a can, the way many folks already buy clean water in a bottle. There's no question that some federal mandates can be inappropriate. But there's also no question that most have them have been necessary to guarantee minimum standards of civic life.

We all inherit personal political legacies, and pass them on to our children. While my legacy has started out confused, I do have great hopes for the future. Because the conservative anti-tax culture is familiar to me, I feel comfortable working to introduce that culture to fiscally responsible environmental and conservation efforts. With a foot in the other camp, I feel comfortable working with governmental staff and trying to connect conservation and sustainability with more traditionally liberal forces.

To that end I, have announced a couple of different projects in these pages in the past: Planet San Diego and America's Finest County. Both of these volunteer efforts are being joined into a new Political Action Committee called Californians for Quality of Life, or C-QUAL (rhymes with equal). I hope that those of you who read this paper choose to join C-QUAL and that you tell your friends. There is no other organization doing the political networking, training and organizing that is desperately needed to translate quality of life issues into qualified candidates and political power. Without a political voice, these issues are either ignored by elected officials or given polite lip service. We get neither the money nor the political attention that would be required to actually manage our affairs more sustainably. To receive a C-QUAL brochure please contact me at SDET or send email to .