Sunday, October 9, 2022

17th Century and Nevada County's Measure V Collide

What in the name of Hades does Measure V have to do with the 17th Century?  Well, it is the old English common law allowing members of the House of Commons to send correspondences without paying postage, I tell you. 

The U.S. Senate's website provides as follows:

Franking privileges—the ability to send mail by one's signature rather than by postage—date back to the seventeenth-century English House of Commons. The American Continental Congress adopted the practice in 1775 and the First Congress wrote it into law in 1789. In addition to senators and representatives, the president, cabinet secretaries, and certain executive branch officials also were granted the frank.  

Even though the title of the U.S. Senate's article is "Senate Ends Franked Mail Privilege," and as we have seen with Nevada County and Measure V, the title to the article on the Senate's website is highly misleading and does not match the text of the article.  In fact, at the end of the article, the Senate admits that, in 1891, "Congress restored full franking privileges. Since then, the franking of congressional mail has been subject to ongoing review and regulation."  Note the words "congressional" and "regulation."  "Congressional regulation" is also commonly known as "the fox guarding the hen house."  Next time you receive a mailer from an elected representative, double check the required disclosure on the mailer and determine who mailed it to you.  It will surprise you that, often times, the fluff mailer about your elected representative that you received in the mail came from your elected representative, but he used your tax dollars to send it to you instead of his campaign funds.  It is the privilege of incumbency.  Congress codified this self-serving use of taxpayer dollars in 39 U.S. Code sec. 3210 which provides, in part, as follows:

It is the intent of the Congress that mail matter which is frankable specifically includes...mail matter which constitutes or includes a biography or autobiography of any Member of, or Member-elect to, Congress or any biographical or autobiographical material concerning such Member or Member-elect or the spouse or other members of the family of such Member or Member-elect...

So, in short, Congress made it legal for a congressman to send mass mailings to you using your taxpayer dollars in order to provide you with a biography of his wife!  That is what congressional regulation looks like.  Sounds shady and self-serving, right?  It is shady and self-serving, but it is legal both federally and on a state level.  Elected representatives and government officials abuse this codified and very old common law privilege on the regular by using taxpayer dollars to pay postage for these mass mailers which tend to support an incumbent or support the government in general.  

Our ancestors, the progenitors of western freedoms, and in a time without telephones or the internet, understood that our representatives need to freely communicate with the electorate and other people by mail in the course of their representation.  The intent of the common law was not to self-servingly send out tens of thousands of mass mailers to voters on the back of the taxpayers, but rather to necessarily communicate as needed in the regular course of one's representation.  Fast forward to today, communicating with others in the regular course of one's representation is no longer a problem.  Just pick up the phone, send an email, or a text.  Yet unsurprisingly, we still have laws on the books that allow the abuse of the original intent of these laws for the benefit of the government winning elections and not for the general betterment of the people.  

Assuming that Nevada County sending out mass mailers in connection with an election is legal (not sure if it is), it is these very principles which Nevada County self-servingly violated when the County sent a mass mailer using taxpayer dollars to all of the registered voters of Nevada County "informing" them that Measure V is a wildfire prevention sales tax increase.  See mass mailer to the left.  D
ouble check the mass mailer on the bottom right-hand corner and determine who mailed it to you.  The County of Nevada paid for that.

First of all, and as has been discussed here before, Measure V is not a wildfire mitigation sales tax as they pretend; it is, by the County's own admission, a general tax with which the County can do as it pleases.  As such, the County's mass mailer is highly misleading to the electorate and downright dishonest. Second, and relevant to our discussion herein, your Nevada County government (the Office of Emergency Services) spent your taxpayer dollars on a misleading mass mailer which misrepresents Measure V in order to self-servingly try to convince you to give Nevada County another $12 million to be deposited in the County's general fund.  Sounds shady and self-serving too, right?  That's because it is shady and self-serving.

When it comes to elections in this country, the will of the people rules.  The government which results from these elections should be as neutral as Switzerland and completely silent when it comes to the public debate.  The government should never take partisan positions, because they have no vote and no say in how the people decide to administer such government.  Yet as we have seen in Nevada County, time and again, whether it is recalls, election transparency, and Measure V, our local government is not only vocally taking partisan sides but using your taxpayer dollars to do it.  It is wrong and is a gross mismanagement of public funds to spend taxpayer dollars on partisan positions especially when the partisan positions are self-serving to the local government administrators themselves who wrongfully spent your money for their benefit.  Tell the Nevada County government that enough is enough.  Vote No on Measure V. 

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