Today at the Board of Supervisors meeting, the supes debated something that should be fairly noncontroversial -- developing a policy so that sick people who use medical marijuana can be issued ID cards. Really, in a supposedly free society, is it that much to ask that people who can benefit from a little medical pot can use it without getting arrested? I stopped by the meeting for a short time, enough to hear the end of DA Tony Rackauckas' lame-brained argument for ignoring Prop. 215. I also heard members of the public argue forcefully for allowing tragically sick people to get a little relief. [...]
[The OC Board of Supervisors] voted 3-2 against Norby's [original] proposal (Moorlach and Norby were on the losing end), but that Bill Campbell offered a compromise and that measure passed 4-1. Only Janet Nguyen voted "no." [on both measures.] This is not a good sign if one has hopes of Nguyen being a supporter of limited and sensible government.
Steven Greenhut is pissed. The super hardcore libertarian-minded OC Register editorialist lambastes Supervisor Janet Nguyen on Orange Punch for voting against even considering issuing medical marijuana ID cards at yesterday's Board meeting.
So is Janet Nguyen not a "true conservative"? Is she not libertarian-minded? Does she hate sick, dying patients? Or does she just have something else in mind? Follow me down below for more on this sordid tale of political posturing, heated controversy, and gravely ill people in the balance...
So what's up with Janet? Well, we know what Greenhut thinks about it. However, Jubal/Matt Cunningham offers another view at Red County/OC Blog:
I'd give Janet's vote a much more political reading. Barring a court decision unseating, Janet Nguyen is up for re-election in little more than a year. She only got 24.1% of the vote in an incredibly close and divisive campaign. She needs to more than double her vote share in order to avoid a November run-off. The impact of the Vietnamese vote -- which was nuclear in the special election -- will be much diluted in the June 2008 primary. The registration is split between Republicans and Democrats -- and the latter have high hopes for re-capturing the seat. The more vulnerable she appears, the more challengers she may attract.
Consequently, Janet is going to view every vote through the prism of re-election and how it will affect her chances of securing it.
I think that's the case with this vote: Janet voted no so she won't get hit with "soft on drugs" mailers next year. Former Supervisor Cynthia Coad, got hit hard with such mail in the 1998 primary because when she was a community college trustee she had signed her name to some voluminous study that included (if I recall correctly) a recommendation to study decriminalizing marijuana. Coad made it into the November run-off, but it was close. That may have been on Janet Nguyen's mind when she cast her votes today.
So who's correct here? I say BOTH OF THEM!
Greenhut has a good point about Janet's ideology. She probably doesn't have much of one. She's a fairly pragmatic person who always tries to "do the right thing"... But did she do the right thing in denying medicine to sick patients? Well, perhaps she thinks she is doing the right thing... TO WIN REELECTION NEXT YEAR!
Yep, Matt's probably right that any possible opponents could have used a "Yes" vote to paint Janet as "pro-drug-abuse" and "soft on crime". She now has to maintain a tricky balance of being conservative enough to hold onto most Republicans, moderate enough to swing some Democrats her way, "Vietnamese enough" to build a strong base in the Vietnamese-American community, and "Latino-friendly enough" to undo the damage from this year's special election and begin wooing Latino voters to her side. I can see why she'd be wary of something that could bite back and hurt her among ANY of these voters.
But wait! Are we all just over analyzing Janet's vote? Maybe Janet voted that way just because Janet wanted to vote that way. Maybe she just voted that way because she thought that Norby's measure wasn't the right thing to do at this time. Or at least, this is how Orange Juice blogger Art Pedroza sees it:
Did you try asking Janet why she voted this way? I did. She said that, as well all know, the federal government has not been playing along with the will of the voters on this issue, to say the least. That would be your boy Bush and his inept AG Gonzalez.
She also told me that a court in San Diego is considering a case that will establish a precedent in this area. It is wise in this case to wait and see what that court decides.
I did advise her to vote for it by the way, but Janet is her own person and she does try very hard to be fair and prudent on every issue.
Well, I know that Janet is one of the few Republicans that Art still likes. And perhaps he is seeing something that the rest of us are not. Maybe Janet voted that way just because she thought it was the best thing to do in such a difficult situation. But still, I doubt that this was the only thing on her mind. She's certainly no saint. And she's not a doctrinaire conservative. And she's not a libertarian. And she's not ready to help some very sick patients in need of treatment...
But one thing's for certain. She's running for reelection next year.