A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Voting Booth

Izzy764As I was finishing my contribution to the democratic process on Tuesday, I ran into Elizabeth (Izzy) Martin, who was likewise engaged. Izzy and I go back a ways in Nevada County politics. The year was 1998. Izzy was running an unprecedented write-in campaign for county supervisor after being dismissed as a planning commissioner by supe Rene Antonson. I had just quit my gig with The Union as a daily cartoonist and moved to a weekly spot on the editorial page with “It Takes A Village Idiot.”

Izzy won the election, beating Antonson, and became the fourth member of the “Gang of Four” with Peter Van Zant, Sam Dardick and Bruce Conklin. (and later, Barbara Green.) The stage was set for some of the most tumultuous years of politics in Nevada County history. Although all four of the supervisors were on the Republican hit list, Izzy probably suffered the worst of the hate campaign. Her kids were bullied at school, and she was harassed endlessly by anonymous callers and letter writers.

She took a leading role in obtaining the Wild and Scenic designation for the Yuba River, despite opposition from our Republican Assemblyman, Senator, and Congressman. She championed the doomed Natural Heritage 2020 land use initiative, which brought out every survivalist right wing nut job in the county. One of her more prominent critics was Calvin Clark, who tried to mount a recall campaign against her in 2001 and ran an unsuccessful bid to replace her the following year. He inspired the cartoon above, which horrified some people, but not Izzy. The original now graces her wall; a battle scar from a veteran of the land wars. Needless to say, she was not reelected.

These days Izzy is heading up the Sierra Fund, working to clean up the toxic legacy of our mining past. Her public profile is not as big, but she’s still fighting the good fight. We don’t always agree on every issue, but I respect her as an honest advocate for what she believes.

While we were talking she brought up a theme that has repeatedly popped up in my cartoons over the years; that the real battle is not so much Republican versus Democrat, but rural versus urban. When you look at the big map of the United States, it becomes painfully obvious. West coast politics is dominated by a thin blue strip at the edge of the Pacific, and everything east is purple-red and red.Urban Calif661 This divide has manifested itself into the State of Jefferson movement, even though the proponents acknowledge the concept is dead in the water. It’s a chance to vent and make some noise.

Nevada County tends to follow the national trend. When Democrats are popular, they do well here. (Izzy was elected during the Clinton impeachment debacle. Local Republicans were beaten across the board.) Four years later, California Democrats were still in shock from the recall of Gray Davis and election of the Governator. Izzy was another casualty of the times.

And so it goes. 2014 will be remembered as a red victory in Nevada County, but it will be forever tainted by the nastiness that pervaded the warring factions. Rightly or wrongly, the Sheriff Keith Royal’s reputation has been forever tarnished. Busting one of the prime movers of Measure “S” during the heat of the campaign was obviously politically motivated, and it doesn’t help that most of the charges have been dropped now that the election is decided.

The marijuana issue is a stark example of the urban/rural split. The “S” supporters were surprised by the size of their defeat, but I saw it coming months ago. Despite all the ugliness between the county and the advocates, the reality is that the vast majority of rural residents do not use marijuana and resent having to live next door to it, especially when the attitude of some growers is “Fuck you…it’s my right, dude!”

And all of us have been affected by the spat of anonymous letters that mysteriously appeared the week before Halloween. The attempt to subvert the city council election is an escalation of dirty tricks even worse than the dark days of NH2020. It appears that Terry Lamphier will be elected, thanks to a high number of absentee votes that had been cast before the “scandal.” Terry deserves his day in court, if it even comes to that.

So I was surprised to hear Councilperson Lisa Swarthout on the radio. Lisa seems to think that Terry should resign, for the good of the City. Huh? Maybe for the good of your majority, but not for the voters who made their choice on Tuesday. Lighten up.

Now it’s up to the winners in this contest to step up and try to heal these wounds before things get any worse, and I think we know they can always get worse. If you won’t do it for the good of the community, then do it to get back at me. You all could make me work a lot harder to find material for my cartoons.



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28 Responses to A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Voting Booth

  1. george rebane says:

    Bob – this political memory lane piece needs and addendum containing a list of the healing salves and nostrums that Tuesday’s ‘winners’ should apply to which of our many wounds – a prescription from the professed middle would be most welcome.

    • rlcrabb says:

      I’ve already cautioned the GV city council to cool their jets until the dust settles. The Sheriff and the growers need to mend a few fences. It’s likely that the urban population will pass legalization in California, and the last thing you want to see is an escalation of violence. Communication before confrontation.
      For all the claims that this country is “center left” or “center right”, the truth is that America is schizophrenic. There is no permanent condition.

      • george rebane says:

        That sounds like a restatement of Rodney King’s advice, which I’m sure you don’t consider to be the only prescription from the middle for a plan forward.

  2. Tom Odachi says:

    I knew Izzy as a Supervisor and had the pleasure of working with her on a community project. Like you, she also has my respect and admiration.
    I also know Terry and Brad, and feel sad that politics has stooped to such a low here in the county.

    Finally, after listening to the KNCO radio interview, I learned that the GV City Council serves as judge and jury!

  3. Todd Juvinall says:

    Having fought against Wild and Scenic as CABPRO’s CEO back then it is revisionist history to allow the subterfuge go unchallenged about the designation. All the things I and others said would happen if the usurper from the Bay Area, Sher shoved the measure through the legislature has come to pass. SYRCL and Sierra Fund and others have taken the grants and tax money and fight all the measures regarding water storage, re-licenising dams and even the tearing down of the Englebright Dam. Land use (except for their own) is restricted along the river and its “viewshed”, they fight mining and favor illegal growers. I watched all the Plannng Commission hearings for the General Plan and Izzy Martin was the leader against property rights and in my view is anti-constitutional.

    So, there certainly is more but the county is not better off because she and the others were in charge. As a target from the moment I threw my hat in the ring in 1984, I and my kids and family were subjected to all kinds of hate from those on the other end of the issues. Of course I did not complain then when I received numerous death threats and my vehicles were tampered with. You can complain about “right wingers” all you want but the left was much nastier and meaner over the years.

    • rlcrabb says:

      Yeah, yeah…I know you are but what am I? One thing I’ve noticed about Izzy is that she doesn’t hold a grudge. She’s moved on, and works with Republicans whenever she can. Basically, all you do is throw shit.

      • Todd Juvinall says:

        And rightly so. Your cartoons don’t do the same? Too funny.

        • rlcrabb says:

          Not really. My cartoons are usually pictures of other people throwing shit, and they are equal opportunity. I’ve never seen a kind word from you for anyone who doesn’t vote like the party line.

          • neil says:

            Come on and be real … you are a sycophant, (noun 1.
            a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.),
            for the left that only has praise for statists like Izzy Martin and Bernard Sanders! Admit it so we all can move on!

          • rl crabb says:

            I’ll add “fawning parasite” to my job title. Last week it was “old cracker oppressor.”

    • Terry says:

      Yes, Todd. Your opinion and a buck fifty will get you a cup of coffee. When will you realize that not many of us care about your past “conquests” or present condition especially when it comes to your rabid diatribes. And for all your so-called “accomplishments”, what have you done lately except snipe at anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with your decidedly one-sided views. Perhaps you would get a bit more respect if you would at least consider being just a wee bit more objective, but perhaps that’s asking for too much.

      • Michael Anderson says:

        I agree with Terry, Todd. This constant jousting is not getting us anywhere. Why can’t we just get along?

        • rlcrabb says:

          As Todd may have guessed by now, I’ve blocked him from polluting my blog. He’s welcome to trash me on his own soapbox. Go for it, big guy.

          • rlcrabb says:

            Todd is upset about some guy named RL Crann dissing him. Yeah, I’ve put him into the phantom zone, because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life checking my comments for his bullshit. (In the last message I got from him, he called me a “pussy” for not letting him rant endlessly. He must be talking about all the anonymous trolls that are too chickenshit to sign their names on his sorry excuse for a blog.)

  4. Niel Locke says:

    Well said Bob in both instances, if the Repubs and Tea Baggers continue their same attitude and actions, 2016 shall be a very interesting year.

  5. Republicans in Congress should take this advice from former national party chair Haley Barbour: “Republicans should not take this election as some rousing endorsement. It is more that the people are very dissatisfied and they are giving us a chance to fix it.”

    Naturally, this advice will be ignored, and the likes of Ted Cruz, Jeb Hensarling and Louis Gohmert (why do so many Republican loonies come from Texas?) will pave the way for a Democratic comeback in 2016.

    • Robert Lovejoy says:

      Don’t mess with Texas. They call our grasshoppers ‘kangaroos’ down under. Why do so many looneys come from Texas he asks. Cause oils well in Texas.

      • Michael Anderson says:

        On a trip to Austin in April of this year, I flew to Midland then Austin, and was completely awestruck by the number of drilling pads below me at 30K ft. From the eastern border of New Mexico, to the brown plains west Texas, and then along the edges of the Colorado River on the way to Austin, the changes to the land were staggering. Only about 50 miles from Austin did the rapacious drilling finally taper off.

        • Robert Lovejoy says:

          Everything is bigger in Texas. Longhorns, ten gallon hats, and it looks like California without the bathhouses.

          • Robert Lovejoy says:

            Alright, the wing nuts are bigger in Texas. How about that sweet foxy lady running for Governor of The Lone Star State on the Democrat Ticket. Her campaign was based on rallying the troops in opposition to the rumor that the Republicans , if elected, would ban sex toys. Thus, her nickname Debbie Dildo. Everything is bigger in Texas, including Debbie’s dildo.

  6. Russ Steele says:

    RL if you are looking for some additional insight to the left/right divide, I recommend you spend a few hours reading Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict. Kotkin does not place the blame for the growing divide on the left or the right, but rather on the economic disparity between the urban rich who are promoting the “green” policies stifling the rural economies by limiting our choices. The lefties on the coast are promoting the secular urbanism that they idealize. Some of those idealist have moved to the foothills to escape the urban blight they have created, and they brought their urban values with them, thinking we should all conform to their world view. It is clash of urban/rural values that is fueling the conflict, left and right are only labels.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      I disagree with that premise. I believe that any “class” conflict is but a part of the overall problem. It is my media-generated opposition to your media-dictated position that generates the impetus of the two party system. On many of the issues facing us today it is a fact that the overwhelming majority on both sides agree on the solution, yet when those solutions mean a change in the monetary power structure we are subjected to an onslaught of the usual menusha, where opinion is equal to scientific fact, religion is equal to reality, and logically-arrived consensus can be labeled unpatriotic.
      When natural consensus is achieved it is a threat to our adversarial, monetized system of politics and the power of Wall Street to control the natural progression of society, which would otherwise leave those with the most power in the back seat of history.
      As in sports, the political objectives are theoretically the same, except; if society scores, the players on the field lose.

  7. rlcrabb says:

    Uh oh! Scoopy and his pals ain’t gonna like this at all!!! Tell Sacramento to go to hell? Say it’s not so… http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/11/05/california-county-passes-historical-law-declaing-right-self-governance/

    • Chris Peterson says:

      It’s a sad statement when the people have to pass proclamations exercising our most basic Constitutional rights, but good on them for doing so. And rather than labeling it bi-partisan, I would call it a non-partisan revocation of top-down governance.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      I think the Mendocino ordinance will be either be roundly ignored or challenged. If there are actually oil or gas wells, the owners of those mineral rights may well be able to challenge that fracking ban as a taking, or just ignore it. Self governance is good, but democracy sometimes can resemble two lions and one lamb voting on the menu for lunch.

      Federal law does have primacy and, in the case of fracking, it may be one of those rare times that applying the interstate commerce clause is actually plausible. For pot growing, state law is (or should be) primary.

      • Chris Peterson says:

        There’s no doubt that the oil companies will challenge it; they’ve got the money and lawyers that do nothing but. But when a community backs a law by 67%, there’s no way it will ever be ignored. And good for them for taking a stand.
        It is interesting that, while one side makes an effort to preserve the environmental protections passed over the last 100 years, the other side comes up with fracking, which is undoubtedly the most destructive form of fossil fuel extraction to date.

      • Robert Lovejoy says:

        Democracy is not liberty if it infringes upon the rights of others. Majority rule Democracy is at odds with freedoms and rights if one happens to be in the minority. Thus, the brilliance of our Constitution. Commerce Clause. That two edged sword that is often loved and scorned will come into play. You can bet your sweet bippey on that.

        • Chris Peterson says:

          The actions of the majority should only be usurped if it harms the minority, in most cases. Some object to having a military, or paying for education, but it does the minority no appreciable harm, so the majority’s viewpoint is validated.
          Fracking does harm to all, and to future generations, so in this case both the majority opinion AND harm are in agreement. The fact that it is good for the all-mighty dollar, and the enrichment of the few, is hardly a criterion for governance when the good of the people is our principle goal. It’s a concept that has disappeared from society on higher levels, (the larger the body, the more corrupt), and is frequently more honestly applied in smaller communities than large ones.
          The largest minority in our history ironically fought for their “right” to own slaves. They were rebuked because it caused harm to individuals, and not in the stated interest of our society.
          Most of the time majority rule is just, and if money was not allowed to have any sway in our decisions, most of those decisions would be quite easy. Minorities have plenty of power, as witnessed by the fact that 1/6 of the American voters just decided to have an all republican Congress. (The rest decided that it makes no difference.)

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