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Thursday Night Live W/ State Assembly Candidate Diana Shaw

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On Thursday nights I interview candidates, activists, and other interesting political figures.

This Thursday Night I am interviewing State Assembly candidate Diana Shaw. To read about her background go to her website.

Click on continue reading to see the interview.

23 Comments

Diana,

Sorry for the late start.

The state is currently in another year with a late budget and a massive gap in the budget. Would you support any tax increases? What group of taxpayers would take the largest hit to balance the budget?

Hi - This is Diana Shaw, I'm running for the 38th Assembly District seat. The 38th, with a population of almost 1/2 million people, stretches from Glendale, across the north San Fernando Valley, into Santa Clarita, and all the way to a slice of Simi Valley. I want to address my campaign to the people who live in each of the unique communities within the 38th, and that includes the people of the Simi Valley. If there are any questions from you, Brian, or any of your readers, please feel free to ask them. Check out my website at ElectDianaShaw.com. Diana

Diana,

Most people think that yet more cuts are inevitable. What expensive programs should be cut? How will these cuts that you support impact Californians?

Thanks Brian. That's a perfect question to start your interview.

First of all, let me state unequivocally that nobody likes taxes, including me. But, the state is in a serious crisis and legislators must have the courage to do what is right rather than bowing to special interests. Legislators can boast that they are not raising taxes, but when they raid local treasuries to balance the budget, that hurts middle class taxpayers, the very people who I pledge to protect. A legislator who allows this kind of shell game is actually stealing taxes, not protecting against them.

Let's talk about some ideas to close this budget gap. When oil is taken from the ground, it is gone forever. That's why the 21 other oil producing states in this country charge a little extra for the privilege. It’s called an 'oil severance tax' or an 'oil extraction tax.' Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed an oil severance tax as a way to help close California's budget gap. An oil severance tax is good enough for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s good enough for Sarah Palin's Alaska, it’s good enough for George Bush's Texas, it is good enough for every single one of the other oil producing states in the union. California can’t afford to give our oil away as a gift to the oil companies.

I'm ready to balance the interests of all parties when I go to Sacramento, and make the hard choices. But, I will not abide by the lopsided protection of large corporate donors. What am I talking about? At the conclusion of the last legislative session, in order to pass the budget, concessions to big business were made - without any debate or public announcement. The legislature passed a new way of accounting, called the 'elective sales factor.' This has become the biggest change in California's tax law in a generation, with a price tag estimated at over $1.5 billion a year. The biggest corporations now get to decide what type of accounting system will best serve their purposes in any given year. I understand how important it is to attract and keep business. But, we have much to offer in California, like our ports and rail systems, and a large trained work force to attract business. Now, when first responders and teachers are being fired, and aid to disabled children and seniors is being cut, is not the time to experiment with accounting concepts. Any accounting changes we approve must ensure the creation of jobs in this state. I support repealing this boondoggle.

An oil severance tax and closing the elective sales factor loophole will generate about $4 billion dollars annually. We must focus on developing policies that attract venture capital and business with targeted tax cuts, like those connected with clean technology start ups. But, when doing this, we must never lose our moral compass.


I'm not going up to Sacramento with an agenda other than to serve the interests of all Californians. My plan is to look at the budget with an eye towards cutting fat, eliminating special interest loopholes, and stimulating economic growth.

Diana,

The district you are in has many registered Republicans. I know the primary has just ended but in your efforts to reach out to them do you have any endorsements from Republicans that are dissatisfied with the incumbents performance?

Have you met your opponent? What has been your experience with him?

Diana,

The Los Angeles Times recently had a series of articles called Failure Gets a Pass. Can you read through it later and let us know what you think?

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teachers3-2009may03,0,679507.story

A more basic question is about tenure and the process for firing a teacher. Do you think it has become to rare or too difficult to fire a poor performing public school teacher?

I have a question for Diana,

According to the Secretary of State you have just over $9000 cash on hand and Cameron Smyth, a well liked incumbent in a Republican district has $163,000 cash on hand.

How can you ever possibly win?

And Dennert, why are you even wasting your time?

Yes. I met Cameron Smyth some years ago when he was Mayor of Santa Clarita. He is a charming person, but he and I couldn't be farther apart with regard to our understanding of basic American rights and what it means to be a representative.

My interaction with my opponent occurred while I was doing a favor for a friend who was interested in protecting our First Amendment rights. A business group was sponsoring a Santa Clarita Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. This particular group espouses the opinion that this country was intended by
its Framers to be Christian. My friend's group was unhappy with this perspective and asked if I would come down to City Hall to speak before the Council for a minute or two on this issue, which is close to my heart. Actually, I spoke for about 10 seconds. I politely pointed out that, in
light of the fact that Santa Clarita's taxpayers are of all denominations, having one group sponsor a Prayer Breakfast could be interpreted as biased and a violation of Separation of Church and State. I anticipated that he would dismiss my comments. However, he looked right at me and said "I have a
copy of the Constitution hanging on my wall. You show me where it guarantees Separation of Church and State." Frankly, I was blown away by that response, and I knew at that moment that Cameron Smyth could not possibly
understand what it means to represent all of his constituents.

As an attorney, I felt it was my duty to write a letter to Mayor Smyth via our local newspaper, The Signal, about the basis of our treasured Separation of Church and State. The relevant part of the First Amendment in our Bill of
Rights says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The Supreme Court, the body of our government that interprets the law, looked at the correspondence
between Founding Father James Madison, who wrote the First Amendment, and our second President, Thomas Jefferson who designed the overall Constitution, in order to interpret this language. These two wrote extensively about the historical meddling by English churches and the many wars that resulted. Remember all those heads chopped off by Henry the 8th? Insisting that one religion was better than another was at the root of his rage. The kings and queens kept switching favorites, and the ordinary citizens who couldn't keep up, simply lost their heads. The colonists fleeing to our shores wanted no part of that past, and determined that there should be a wall between Church and State in order to best preserve our freedoms.

This was my introduction to Mr. Smyth, and I have not spoken to him since. However, I am always open to a constructive dialogue in any venue.

With regard to your question about the many Republicans in the District, the once large gap between Republicans and Democrats in the 38th has narrowed to 2.74%. I have traveled extensively all over the 38th meeting many people
from diverse communities, and I have always been warmly welcomed by Republicans, Democrats and voters who decline to state their preference at the ballot box. Each community is unique, and all have enthusiastically shared their concerns with me. All politics is local, they say, and my
campaign has really been about responding to local concerns, whether it is septic tank issues in Sunland-Tujunga, Santa Clarita's salty water issue, or monopoles sprouting up all over our cities without enough input from the
residents affected by them.

Mr. Smyth indeed has a lot of money in his coffers. In fact, according to a peek at the Secretary of State's site in May, he had spent over $65,000 since January. Do you have any idea how he spent that money? Do you want a representative who lets money slip through his fingers like that? It
seems to me that you are confusing representation with pay-offs by large donors. The fact that I am doing so well on so little really begs the question: What kind of representative do the voters of the 38th want and
deserve? Someone who works for every penny, respects where every penny comes from, and is an ace at making every penny count, or someone who is drowning in bucks and can drop $65,000, with nothing to show for it?

Brian Dennert is a journalist with a growing reputation for providing a classic American service. The public needs to know who is on the ballot and what choices are before them. I certainly take my candidacy seriously, and I'm proud to be doing this interview. I hope that even those who think money should buy an office will respect Brian's work and this exercise in American democracy.

Diana,

Most people agree that education, public safety, and healthcare for the working poor are going to be cut. How do you think this is going to impact California? Do you really think the budget can be balanced without impacting these programs?

Have you seen the Twilight movies? Are you on team Edward or team Jacob?

First of all, the state must cut fat. But, my understanding is that the programs you are addressing are already way too lean. We must have the will to find solutions, otherwise all Californians will suffer irreparable damage. Here's why: When you fire first responders and teachers, and social workers, psychiatrists and home health care workers are let go, and aid to disabled children and the elderly is cut, you're not only facing a moral crisis, and you're not only cutting vital services. You're losing valuable federal matching funds, and just as importantly, taking money out of circulation, and that has a cascading effect on local small business and local treasuries.

Brian, you know its not politically correct for me to play favorites. Besides, I'm still on the fence between Team Clooney and Team Pitt.

Diana,

It is getting late so go to bed! But when you get a chance in the near future post a reply to my earlier question on education and this last question from me:

How will you be voting on the marijuana legalization proposition in the fall?

Feel free to answer any interesting questions my readers post too. Ignore the trolls.

A slight historical correction to Ms. Shaw.

Pennsylvania Governor Morris was in charge of the committee writing the Constitution, and James Madison is generally considered it's primary author.

Thomas Jefferson is considered the main author of the Declaration of Independence. In fact he had nothing to do with the with the writing of the Constitution, and, in fact, was not even in the country when it was authored.

Voter's comments sent me back to review some constitutional history. Here's what I found: First we have to clarify that we're talking about the Bill of Rights, not the Constitution. It is true that Jefferson was in France when the Bill of Rights was drafted, but the roots of the First Amendment go back to Jefferson's drafting of a bill guaranteeing freedom of and from religion before the Virginia legislature in 1777. Jefferson pushed for similar national legislation that would guarantee freedom of and from religion in a Bill of Rights after the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had been drafted. Madison promised to promote such a bill, in order to gain support for the ratification of the Constitution by the State of Virginia. Madison wrote the First Amendment, and, in 1789, the first of ten amendments to the Constitution were ratified.

So we're in agreement that your statement:

"Thomas Jefferson who designed the overall Constitution,"

is in error.

I think it is not too strict an interpretation to say that there is no constitutional difference that somehow separates the Bill of Rights from the rest of the Constitution. All the amendments are part of the whole Constitution. When we're talking about the Bill of Rights, we are talking about the Constitution. Now, if you describe the Bill of Rights as not being a part of the "original" Constitution, then you are more accurate.

Thomas Jefferson was out of the country, in France, from 1785 to 1789. He did not participate at all in the Constitutional Convention. His contact with the convention was in the form of letters he received from Madison, arriving in France a month after the event. Although Jefferson was not shy about taking credit where it was due, he never suggested that he had any direct influence on the drafting of the Constitution. Although the original Constitution was clearly the result of the work of a committee, James Madison is rightly regarded as the principal author of the original Constitution.

James Madison is also correctly regarded as the author of the Bill of Rights. Madison was a congressman in the first congress. In his campaign he had pledged to bring a bill proposing several amendments. He personally drafted and introduced the bill proposing the amendments. Jefferson was in the US when the Bill of Rights was drafted and presented, but he was the Secretary of State at the time. The historical record does not suggest that Jefferson participated in the congressional debates or in any of the state ratification elections, and in fact Jefferson's own writings from 1789-1791 do not mention the Bill of Rights except in passing.

I suppose these may seem like fine points, especially when the events are over 200 years ago. But they are well enough documented. Jefferson is a great enough man that he does not need to have unearned honors credited to him.

In response to your question about medical marijuana: I lost a very special friend to a brain cancer earlier this year. After her diagnosis, which was less than a year before her death, a group of her friends, me included, rallied to help her. We took her to her radiation treatments, brought her food, sent flowers and generally tried to brighten
her spirits for the short time we knew she had left. Towards the end of her life, she was in a lot of distress. Despite the taboo, as a last ditch effort to try to relieve her pain, she acquired her legal medical marijuana card. It turned out that medical marijuana was the only thing that eased some of the symptoms from the cancer that was ravaging her body.

The prejudice against medical marijuana doesn't make sense. It should be a regulated like any other substance that has a medical use. I want to ensure that people like my friend have access to the medicine they need.

However, I'm also a mother and a grandmother, and I will make it a priority to make sure this drug stays out of the hands of children. We need to do a better job making sure that all regulated substances,including liquor, are not accessible to children.

My primary concerns are to protect our children and patents' rights. As far as the initiative which will be on the November ballot, I am looking forward to a healthy debate to make sure my concerns are met before I make up my
mind and cast my vote.

I can never get enough American history, and I'm happy to have started this discussion. I admit that the First Amendment is my favorite part of the Constitution, so I've read works that laud Jefferson. He also has his detractors, and I'm not attached to defending historical perspectives on Jefferson, one way or the other. Speaking of Jefferson, for those who aren't aware, did you know that John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President)died on the same day: July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Now there's an American history factoid to ponder when you're watching tomorrow's fireworks! Anyway,I'm always ready to learn, and this fascinating discussion has been educational...but, now on to Brian's question on the L.A. Times article on teachers:

I read the Times article entitled Failure Gets a Pass. Believe me, I have no tolerance for someone who falls short of performing what he or she is paid to do. (If I did, would I be running for this job?). But, the article clearly has an editorial slant, and I refuse to be sucked into framing this issue as a one sided tome against the impossible hurdles that must be navigated to get rid of bad teachers. Not to say that bad teachers don't exist. I met a few during my own education and that of my two sons. But, this story is really about bad leadership and people who refuse to take responsibility.

In all the cases presented to support the writer's premise, the principal or the Commission either failed to act or came up with an opinion that the writer discounted as inadequate. It is hard to accept that after weighing the evidence, the appeals Commission members who found for the teacher were always wrong. But, let's assume that the writer is
correct. Because the article did not assert that Commission members were prevented from acting, one can only conclude that the Commission members are consistently weak and ineffectual. If that is really the case, it cannot be allowed to stand.

The article paints a picture of principals who find getting rid of bad teachers to be an overwhelming exercise. Being in charge can be a tough gig. Wouldn't life be easier if we could all be dictators and throw due process out the window - unless we're the accused. Taking charge means making tough decisions and assuming responsibility to carry them out.
Teachers should be given a trial period, and they are. The article confirms that they have two years to perform or they're out. Two years seems to be a reasonable time to determine if someone is performing up to snuff.
It is the administrator's responsibility to pay attention during those two years, and make the hard decision to get rid of that teacher if the teacher is not performing adequately. While I'm totally sympathetic to a principal stuck with a bad teacher, let's not gloss over the situation described in the article where the principal transferred the poorly performing teacher to another school. What's up with that? Should a principal have the option to do a stealth transfer onto the shoulders of another unsuspecting principal?

If the principals or the members of the appeals Commission are unable to carry out their obligations, including giving a due process hearing to a person who has been accused of an infraction that if true, could ruin his or her life, then the first order of the day must be to replace them with those who do not shrink from doing whatever is necessary to
protect our children.

This article describes severe problems. If principals are handicapped by this system, fixing the system starts with making sure every principal has the opportunity and the
tools to create clearly understood guidelines for his or her teachers, and is not afraid to enforce them. Further, we must not shrink from appointing appeals Commission members whose first obligation is to ensure that our children have a safe, nurturing and intellectually challenging atmosphere in which to learn.

I lost a very special friend to a brain cancer earlier this year. After her diagnosis, which was less than a year before her death, a group of her friends, me included, rallied to help her. We took her to her radiation treatments, brought her food, sent flowers and generally tried to brighten
her spirits for the short time we knew she had left. Towards the end of her life, she was in a lot of distress. Despite the taboo, as a last ditch effort to try to relieve her pain, she acquired her legal medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana was the only thing that eased some of the symptoms
from the cancer that was ravaging her body.

The prejudice against medical marijuana doesn't make sense. It should be regulated like any other substance that has a medical use. I want to ensure that people like my friend have access to the medicine they need.

However, I'm also a mother and a grandmother, and I will make it a priority to make sure this drug stays out of the hands of children. We need to do a better job making sure that all regulated substances, including liquor, are not accessible to children.

My primary concerns are to protect our children and patients' rights. As far as the initiative which will be on the November ballot, I am looking forward to a healthy debate to make sure my concerns are met before I make up my
mind and cast my vote.

Judge Hintz:

Bravo, for as Scripture sayeth, "..The truth shall set you free.."

As you correctly point-out, Jefferson was not present, in corporeal form during the Constitutional Convention, although he was a frequent correspondent with Madison throughout the proceedings.

It was, in fact, the terrific trio of Madison, Hamilton and Jay, who were pivotal in conceiving, drafting and ultimately securing the passage of the United States Constitution during the Philadelphia Convention on June 17, 1787.

Further, they subsequently worked hard for its ratification which occurred on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire’s State Legislature became the ninth state to do so. Successful passage of the Constitution was Madison, Hamilton and Jay’s show, not Jefferson’s.

Diana:

Metaphorically speaking, at the risk of violating the Constitutional Principle of the Separation of Church and State, indulge me as I make my point with the assistance of Matthew 22:21.

Diana, with all due respect, you should render then unto Madison, Hamilton and Jay that which was theirs and unto Jefferson that which was his.

While Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and later proposing the State Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and in 1778, introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates a “Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge,” he was not central to either the drafting or the passage of the United States Constitution.

Jefferson’s unique and timeless contribution was in amending the Lockean-trinity of “life, liberty and property,” by inserting the pursuit of happiness. And by so doing, insightfully acknowledging that property ownership was not an end in itself, but rather only a means to a larger end.

Jefferson further expressly stated in the Declaration that “governments are instituted among men,” in order to “secure these rights.” This powerful statement of existential political philosophy grounds the authority of any government in the protection of individual freedom and liberties.

Finally, Jefferson, by stipulating that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,” he forcefully asserts the rights to revolution, for all time.

In other words, if Jefferson were alive today, he would recognize, defend and strongly support the rights of all American citizens to fight passionately against government policies which they believe violate the fundamental human and political rights enshrined in these historical documents.

It wouldn’t matter to Jefferson whether they were Sarah Palin-lovin Tea-Baggers or card-carrying, fellow traveling members of the Democratic-Socialist Left. Cold, dead-handed, rifle-clutching Second Amendment-type NRA members, or Anti-War, Code-Pink demonstrators on the streets. Or, obscenely wealthy paragons from the Club for Growth versus hard-charging, hard-drinking and hard-working union folks.

Lincoln, above all the Presidents, faced the greatest difficulties in balancing the preservation of individual liberties and freedoms with the extraordinary steps he took to ensure the existential survival of the American union itself. Therefore it is highly significant, in my judgment, that Lincoln penned an encomium to Jefferson which was the best expression of Jefferson’s enduring legacy to the nation, and our posterity.

"All honor to Jefferson," Lincoln once proclaimed, "to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, and so to embalm it there, that today and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression." Amen

On the other hand, in political conception, form and substance, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, its first ten amendments, were first, last and always, the result of the felicitous combination of the intellect, passion and collegial collaboration amongst Madison, Hamilton and Jay.

And with respect to primary document authorship, Madison was the first amongst equals, with Hamilton not far behind as the Federalist Papers’ Propagandist in Chief, using the Nom-de-Plume, of Publius.

Jefferson truly admired, respected and stood in awe of Madison's intellect, temperament and perseverance in giving birth to the United States Constitution. American History and intellectual honesty commands us all to do so!

NostraDemus

P.S. Best of luck to you Diana in your endeavors as a candidate for the State Assembly in the 38th A.D.

P.P.S. Happy Fourth of July Dennert-Bloggers All

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  • NostraDemus: Judge Hintz: Bravo, for as Scripture sayeth, "..The truth shall read more
  • Diana Shaw: I lost a very special friend to a brain cancer read more
  • Diana Shaw: I can never get enough American history, and I'm happy read more
  • Diana Shaw: In response to your question about medical marijuana: I lost read more
  • Steven Hintz: I think it is not too strict an interpretation to read more
  • voter: So we're in agreement that your statement: "Thomas Jefferson who read more
  • Diana Shaw: Voter's comments sent me back to review some constitutional history. read more
  • voter: A slight historical correction to Ms. Shaw. Pennsylvania Governor Morris read more
  • Brian: Diana, It is getting late so go to bed! But read more
  • Diana Shaw: Brian, you know its not politically correct for me to read more