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Monday, December 11, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Taking the Initiative

I've discovered the solution to the initiative problem!

A couple of weeks ago, you may recall, I ranted about how voter initiatives were ruining civilization and getting in the way of legislators' duty to ruin civilization.

I never sign petitions but enough people still do that initiatives still get on ballots.

Now there may be a way to stop the madness: more and sillier initiatives.

If initiatives get ridiculous enough, maybe we'll come to our senses and put a stop to them.

Call me a cockeyed optimist - go ahead, do it - but I think the movement is afoot.

I know this because of a petition filed last week by the City of Beverly Hills (a hotbed of social change) against the local City Clerk to stop an initiative from getting on the next ballot.

And not on some technicality either. The initiative petition, as far I can tell, was legally submitted and had enough signatures. The city, however, thought it was too silly.

OK, they didn't say that. But they were thinking it.

What the proposal says it that people should get free parking for two hours in city lots.

Sound good? Sound like something that will almost surely pass?

That's what the city is afraid of. According to the petition, this would cost the city $1,183,527 annually "and, by the year 2021, would result in a long-term structural deficit to the Parking Enterprise Fund of at least $38.5 million."

You might be thinking that the city council should just tell people this and get the initiative voted down. But how realistic is that? Would you vote against free parking?

So, instead, the visionary Beverly Hills City Council is asking a judge to yank the proposal because "the Initiative is an impermissible interference with the fiscal management of the City."

I love that. It could apply to any initiative.

But it gets better: "The initiative directs the City Council to perform a legislative act, rather than enacting legislation, which is impermissible. The initiative power is reserved to the people to enact law, not to direct the City Council to do so."

And we all know that governments shouldn't do anything.

I can't wait for the precedents this thing sets.

In the meantime, start drafting more silly initiatives. We need to keep motivating the anti-initiative movement.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE. The following is from a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last week. See if you can guess what the suit is about.

"In 1982 after leaving the healthcare industry, James May tasted a Stevia leaf for the very first time. At first he thought he was being offered an illicit drug when a man who had just returned from a stint with the Peace Corps in Paraguay showed him a cellophane bag containing Stevia leaves. Reluctantly James May put one of the leaves in his mouth...."

I interrupt this quote here to say ... reluctantly!

Back to the lawsuit:

"... put one of the leaves in his mouth and was impressed with its natural sweetness that is said to be at least 30 times as sweet as sugar.... James May was so impressed with the Stevia herb that he invested his life savings to order more leaves."

Nothing drug-like about that.

According the suit, the plaintiff then went on to become a Stevia dealer, I mean entrepreneur, for years without making a whole lot of money. In fact, "he endured the criticisms of friends and family who saw him invest nearly everything he owned into his garage-based business venture."

They were probably hoping he'd go into selling drugs.

So have you figured out what the lawsuit is about?

It's against an accounting firm for selling him a bad tax shelter.

This is what happens when you're distracted by a sweet tooth.

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