God help us

This week, when Dr. Neal Neuenburg of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church delivered the invocation at the Chico City Council meeting, he did not violate a California appellate court ruling because he did not call on Jesus to influence the actions of the council or those speaking before it. Neuenburg instead called on the “God of love” to “fill us with your presence.” As of Oct. 9, based on an appellate court ruling in a case filed against the City of Burbank City Council, calling on Jesus or any other entity specific to a particular religion during an invocation before a governmental meeting is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled that God, however, is a generic reference common to many religions and can be mentioned.

On Sept. 9 the Second District California Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by the Superior Court of Los Angeles that an invocation given before the Burbank City Council and ending “in the name of Jesus Christ” violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. It did so because of the reference to Jesus, which in the court’s interpretation endorsed a certain religion—Christianity—over all others that do not recognize Jesus. Such an endorsement, the court ruled, “sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” Burbank has appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, but until that court either takes or rejects the case, the appellate court ruling is law. The Supreme Court has 90 days to grant a review. And, if it takes the case, the appeals court ruling becomes “depublished,” or unenforceable. But if the Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, it remains the law.

City Council candidate Ross Bradford has certainly raised the standard for campaign fundraising with his hefty $43,773. That of course includes a $25,000 loan to himself. There was a time when $20,000 seemed like overkill to get elected to a position that pays $15 per meeting. So far Bradford’s spent $24,229.08 on his campaign to grab one of those $15-per-meeting seats. Of that, $17,772.70 went to the MC2 Design Group for campaign literature and mailing. He’s also paid KHSL TV $3,880, KNVN TV $3,565 and The Adworks $3,840 for television ads. He’s forked over $2,987.70 to the Enterprise-Record for print ads. This guy wants the job real bad.

We’d like to clear up some confusion over whether John Gillander works for 3rd District Assembly candidate Rick Keene. Gillander, who’s come under criticism lately for his work in the Nevada County supervisors’ race, says he does not work for Keene. (In fact, he called a letter writer to the E-R “a liar” for suggesting that he does.) I recently e-mailed Gillander and pointed out that he is funded, in part, by Keene. Gillander’s name is listed on Keene’s campaign filings with the Secretary of State’s Office. Gillander, somewhat less than diplomatically, answered: “Oh Tom, you know that is bullshit. I stopped working for Keene after the [March] primary. The last installment payment for my opposition report was on April 1, 2002.” Gillander, who was acting under the name of Bob Finch while doing his political work in Nevada County, said he believes there is some kind of conspiracy at work here because both this paper and the Sacramento News & Review wrote stories about his efforts there. The Grass Valley Union newspaper reported recently that Supervisor Izzy Martin, one of two incumbents targeted by Gillander, is friends with News & Review owners Jeff von Kaenel and Deborah Redmond. I didn’t know about the relationship, and it doesn’t matter. No one has questioned the veracity of the articles. Both stories noted that former local political operative and Gillander pal David Reade was also involved in the Nevada County race, consulting for candidate Robin Sutherland. When I asked Gillander who Bob Finch was, he replied: “Your owners owe David Reade and that candidate in the mountains a full public apology. Until then, I see no reason to answer any question from you lying shit eaters.” You’d think a good Christian like Keene wouldn’t want to associate with, let alone fund, a ruffian like Gillander.

One last thing on campaign disclosures. Even though it is listed as a general-purpose committee, meaning it raises money independently of the candidates and is not bound by the $1,000 city-imposed limit on contributions to individual candidates, the Clear Course committee lists its address as 2732 Cohasset Road, the same address that Mayor Dan Herbert lists on his campaign statement. They even share the same phone number, which when called is answered by Knight & Associates, a longtime political consultant for local conservatives. Small world.