EBay Cuts Off Candidate’s Online Recall Bid

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Times Staff Writer

So many candidates, so little time. In this week’s recall roundup:

-- Among the myriad minor candidates is comedy writer Steve I. Young -- “I” for integrity, he says -- whose plan to raise money for the $3,500 filing fee has been thwarted. Young put his candidacy for sale on EBay, the winning bidder getting the next governor “at your service and in your pocket.” EBay didn’t see it quite that way, yanking his listing because, said EBay, it “contained gratuitous comments inappropriate for EBay listing descriptions.” So it’s on to Plan B: “working the freeway exit ramps (a bag of oranges for a donation and a signature).”

-- An Ireland-based Internet betting site called has calculated the odds of Gray Davis’ still being in office by the end of September -- a week before the recall election -- at about 35%.

-- The witticisms are coming thick and fast, including the one that if Austrian-born actor Arnold Schwarzenegger were to debate Greek-born political columnist Arianna Huffington, they’d need subtitles.


-- Recalls past: In 1915, L.A. Police Chief Charles Sebastian ran for mayor. Just before the election, someone fired two shots at him and just missed. On election day, Sebastian won -- and was promptly arrested and charged with framing a fake assassination to ensure his election.

-- The governor’s race may not be to Schwarzenegger’s liking, but with Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch proposing a constitutional amendment to allow nonnative citizens to run for president, the 1993 film “Demolition Man” becomes prescient. It’s set in a future Los Angeles, where actress Sandra Bullock explains the presence of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Presidential Library with, “Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment.”

No More Heading West With Recyclables

It’s really just dreary old SB 968, signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis.

But you could call it the “Kramer-Newman Prevention Act of 2003.” State Sen. Debra Bowen is a Marina del Rey Democrat and a Seinfeld fan who remembered an episode in which the aforementioned characters head west with a truckload of bottles and cans from New York, which has no bottle deposit, to redeem in Michigan, which has a 10-cent deposit per.

You can stop laughing now: Schlepping hot recyclables into California from deposit-free states cost the state recycling program something in the low millions. Bowen’s law allows the state to go after people for the money they made defrauding the recycling program. Among the 26 other items already on the forfeiture list: more than $100 worth of mollusks, kelp, algae, olives and avocados.

A Timely Study of Conservatism

Exquisitely timed to feed the auto-da-fe flames of recall, a study published by UC Berkeley and other professors scrutinizes the psychology of conservatism.

The analysis of half a century of research literature -- 22,818 participants, 12 countries and so on -- is in the American Psychological Assn.’s Psychological Bulletin. Some conclusions are predictable -- “at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change” and an inclination to “the avoidance of uncertainty.” But the news release on the study is already being panned for headline nuggets like:


“Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality.... Hitler, Mussolini and former President Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk [radio] host Rush Limbaugh can be described in the same way.”

Kevin Eckery, a spokesman in former Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration, cited this bit in an e-mail, pointing out, “Helluva way to make friends and influence friends during the budget debate, don’t you think?”

The study employs the scholarly methods of analysis and stresses that its findings are “not judgmental.” “In many cases, like mass politics, ‘liberal’ traits may be liabilities.”

Inconsistent on Bear Baiting

With about 180 co-sponsors -- something like two-fifths the membership of the House of Representatives -- it looked like a no-brainer: Simi Valley Republican Elton Gallegly’s effort to reconcile conflicting federal policies and ban the use of human food, from rotting meat to doughnuts, to lure bears into the path of hunters’ guns.

It’s a safety issue for Gallegly -- human food leads to human familiarity, and ultimately attacks on humans. But many co-sponsors began bailing, and the bill lost soundly.


Reports point to Gallegly’s fellow California Republican Richard Pombo, who has been known to characterize the Sierra Club as a radical environmental group. Gallegly’s law, Pombo reportedly believed, would be more federal gubmint intervention -- even though some federal agencies ban bear-baiting and others permit it, an inconsistency Gallegly wanted to rectify.


Gallegly, a lifelong NRA member, was so unhappy about the Pombo pressure that he sent a letter, quoted by Associated Press, to House Speaker Dennis Hastert complaining about the tactics.

(Gallegly still has a similar measure under consideration in a committee.)

And a little child shall lead them: A letter to the editor in the Ventura County Star sided with Gallegly.

The 13-year-old writer, a hunter from Moorpark, said bear-baiting is “cheating” because it “involves no skill and is wrong and cruel.... The skill of hunting is in the tracking.”

Points Taken

* Many news releases headed “Governor Davis Signs Legislation” have been coming from the First Desk lately, among them a bill by San Francisco Assembly Democrat Leland Yee to make fish sellers or distributors provide English-language receipts, a burden that now falls on small fish markets and restaurants whose employees may not be English-conversant enough to comply. Another is what might be called the “Double Indemnity” law, after Billy Wilder’s noir film of insurance scams and murder. The bill by Modesto Assembly Republican Dave Cogdill bars the issuing of a life insurance policy worth more than $50,000 without notifying the applicant’s spouse. Murder victim Laci Peterson’s husband, Scott, took out a quarter-million-dollar life insurance policy on her after she became pregnant.

* Activist Cliff Rothman points out that, with the budget of the California Arts Council whacked to a single million dollars, the state now spends 3 cents per capita on arts funding -- compared with a national per-state average of $1.10, New York’s $2.57 and $5 in Western Europe.

* Donald Bren, billionaire owner of Irvine Co. and big-time GOP contributor, will have another little voter in the house -- his seventh. The Orange County Business Journal reported that Bren, 71, and his wife, Brigitte, 37, are expecting a boy in September. In May, a former girlfriend sued Bren for support of two children -- a daughter, now 15, and a son, 11. Between his first two wives, Bren has three grown children, and he has an 11-year-old daughter by a New York artist.


You Can Quote Me

“Californians vote on everything. And it’s easy. They err and err on the side of ballot access. I’m not sure those stars line up elsewhere.”

-- GOP pollster Gene Ulm, on the prospect of the California recall fever getting caught by voters in other states.

Patt Morrison’s e-mail address is patt.morrison@ This week’s contributors include Jean O. Pasco.