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It’s A Gray Area:

Are we having a discussion?

January 27, 2008|By JAMES P. GRAY

I am not a fan of politics.

But I am a fan of addressing the issues of our day. So twice in the last 11 years I took an unpaid leave of absence from my duties as a trial judge and ran for partisan offices. The first time was as a Republican running for Congress against Bob Dornan and Loretta Sanchez, and the second was as a Libertarian running for U.S. Senate against Bill Jones and Barbara Boxer. The first time, I ran to win; the second, I was so concerned about the direction our country was headed, I ran just to be a part of the discussion about the issues.

In neither election was I successful. So now I tell my friends “I am not a politician, and I have the votes to prove it.”

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But I still have a desire to discuss issues. So I approached the editors of this newspaper and volunteered to write a weekly column for a year to discuss problems and propose resolutions. They agreed, and now we are halfway through the year — this is the 26th edition of our weekly column.

So far, the response and feedback to the columns have been OK, but not overwhelming.

The two columns that generated the most responses were my recommendation that we convert to the metric system, and that the 11-99 Foundation that supports dependents for fallen CHP officers eliminate the practice of providing license plate frames and wallet ID cards to its donors, with the implication that the donors will be given favorable treatment from the CHP on traffic citations.

Most people were in favor of the metric system, except one who saw it as a conspiracy to take away our individuality. Representative comments were that “Are Americans too ignorant or lazy to embrace new ideas? I say let’s get on with it,” and “The success of the U.S. is often to be found in its willingness to upgrade existing conditions.” One person even recommended we go “hard metric” right away, to forgo a transitional period because it would be less expensive.

The 11-99 Foundation column received expected responses, such as “Shame on this judge for writing such an editorial without a shred of evidence proving any kind of favoritism,” and telling me to “get your facts straight before insulting all CHP officers.” Some CHP officers wrote in support: “I wrote tickets to several drivers racing one time together with their Lambo’s with 11-99 license plate frames and badges, and the corrupt leadership at my office had all of them voided.”

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