Bird strikes back

Kudos to activist Don Bird for his campaign to boot Sen. Jim Nielsen

Don Bird is at it again. As News Editor Tom Gascoyne reported last week in Newslines (see “Bird keeps his watch,” March 20), the tenacious political activist has once again set his sights on unseating Sen. Jim Nielsen for living outside the district he represents.

Bird’s mission was reignited recently, when another senator, Roderick Wright of Los Angeles, was busted for having lied about his residency. Wright claimed to live in Inglewood, while he actually lives outside his district in the more upper-class city of Baldwin Hills. He was convicted on eight counts of perjury and voter fraud in January.

This time around, Bird has changed his tactics in his crusade against the Republican senator. Instead of threatening him with a citizen’s arrest (that led to a temporary restraining order), Bird’s called on Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Marysville) to sponsor an Assembly bill requiring those running for office to prove one year’s residency in the district they seek to represent.

It’s a great idea, but Bird is barking up the wrong tree with Logue. And it’s doubtful any other Sacramento lawmaker would be willing to back his cause. He needs to instead lobby Tehama County District Attorney Greg Cohen, who, like other district attorneys, has discretion to prosecute in cases of voter fraud. A few years ago, Cohen referred the matter to the state Attorney General’s Office. But with Wright’s recent conviction, the DA has no excuse for sitting on his hands.

Charges against Wright, a Democrat, were brought forward in 2010 by the L.A. District Attorney’s Office, after an investigation going back to 2008. He was convicted by jury trial. And what he did by living in a swankier neighborhood outside his district is no different from what Nielsen is doing by living in Woodland.

If Nielsen indeed lives outside his district then he, too, is a perjurer, since he is registered to vote in Tehama County, where he claims to live in a double-wide mobile home. In a recent Sac Bee story, Nielsen told a reporter he spends nights in that trailer in Gerber, caring for his cats. Nielsen may have cats at that property, but we’re pretty sure they’re feral. We applaud Bird’s efforts and call on Cohen to do his job.