Today, my presidential primary ballot for the March 3, 2020, presidential primary arrived in the mail simultaneously with a letter from Nancy Pelosi saying, “Urgent, send money immediately,” and the first direct mail piece from Mike Bloomberg, until he opens his wallet. With the presidential primary race sucking all the oxygen out of the room, I was surprised to find there were a bunch of other races—congress, state senate, assembly, judges, district attorney—ballot propositions and, most of all, the Democratic presidential primary listing everyone, including a number who have already dropped out of the race. I’ll deal with those election races in next week’s column.

Being a political junkie and having watched political battles over the years, I’m astounded that you see people making the same mistakes election after election, so here are a few York rules of elections.

1. Your candidate’s program doesn’t really matter, unless your candidate wins. Don’t be overly pure. In most cases, you win by forming coalitions.

2.In politics, impression is reality.

An example: In Iowa, the Democrats decided to use an entirely new computer system to count the ballots. We all know that whenever you put in a new complicated system with loads of moving parts, dozens of things are going to go wrong. It always takes time to work out the kinks, so you certainly don’t want to try it out in the glare of the national spotlight, like the first presidential primary in the nation. They did and the Democratic Party looked ridiculous and the verdict is that we’re the party that can’t shoot straight.

3.  Party activists are a great strength but also a dangerous weakness. You need them for the election but, unless they can be controlled, they’ll show up on TV with a totally different message, so you have to control the message.

4. Is the impeachment trial still going on? The truth is that no one cares. The parade has moved on. It’s ending with a whimper, not a bang. When you go after the king (as Trump sees himself), you’ve got to get him or he gets stronger as Trump’s recent poll results seem to show.

5. A presidential primary is a marathon and not a sprint. For example, Biden is going to take a hit in Iowa and in New Hampshire but then the race moves on into better territory for him. He has to stay the course if he expects to take it.

6. There is always time for the other side to screw it up. Trump is coming off a very good political week. Tonight is the State of the Union address. I’m sure his advisers have all said the same thing. Don’t gloat. Don’t pick a fight. Be presidential. Can he do it? I guess we’ll see.

7. In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” and it’s a century until Nov. 5 and lots of things can happen before then. So, be patient. There are going to be lots of ups and downs before it’s over 

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Surprisingly, the LA Times actually had something nice to say about Malibu today in an editorial, which is a refreshing change from our typical press. The city council recently decided to set up some sort of a safe parking space for overnighters and RVs. If they do what they say it will be a significant step in doing something about homelessness. Clearly, every city and town has to handle part of the burden of the 60,000 homeless in LA County but what we’re doing is a start.

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Something is going on in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The new sheriff is making changes and putting in his own people; that is, people who are part of his team. You may recall that recently he transferred away the Malibu liaison from the Lost Hills Station, Lieutenant Jim Royal. People were upset because Royal was highly regarded in this community. Surprisingly, Royal filed a lawsuit against the department charging that he was being sent into purgatory because he talked about the killing of the young father in Malibu Creek State Park and insisted that he tried to warn the department of the dangers of a shooter in the area, and was ignored. Recently, the sheriff again transferred away the new Lieutenant assigned to Malibu, Lt. Jennifer Seetoo, who was also very highly regarded in our community, worked very hard and was seen everywhere, going to everything. She too has just filed a lawsuit against the department claiming discrimination and sexual harassment. It’s no secret that the current Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the LA County Board of Supervisors (BOS) are at loggerheads. The sheriff claims that he’s independently elected and has the right and power to run the department as he sees fit. There is actually a civilian oversight commission and also an inspector general whose job it is to oversee the sheriff’s department. Recently, the inspector general told the BOS that the sheriff and sheriff’s department have been stonewalling him on his requests for information. The BOS voted unanimously to give the inspector general subpoena powers, which means he now can demand records and information from the department. This battle is quickly heating up.

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As I mentioned before, we are going to be doing a series of stories on the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) and its satellite, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). Many people have contacted us with information and it’s going a little slower than we had hoped but we are targeting next week’s paper to open the series. Be patient.

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