Monday, October 15, 2012

Election 2012 in Lake Tahoe: Information and endorsements

Lake Tahoe Voter Guide

He who has the most signs wins?

I know I promised that the Fabulous Lake Tahoe YouTube channel would be a political ad-free zone this year, but I can't help giving a little advice to my blog readers about how I'd advise them to vote given that it's election season again. Though I'm sure you've made up your mind about the offices at the top of the ticket, you probably havn't thought all that much about the local offices.

Most of my voting life I've walked into the polling place, voted my party in the partisan offices and then been confronted with a long list of people I've never heard of in the minor offices. So, in the hopes of giving you something better than "He who has the most signs wins" or "Vote for the one with the funny name" I've taken the trouble to research our local candidates and tell you how I think they measure up.

To win my endorsement a candidate must:

  1. support preserving Lake Tahoe's environment
  2. stand up for travel, tourisim, and events in Lake Tahoe
  3. have a sensible plan for what to do about redevelopment
  4. not be an obstructionist who blocks everything he dosn't like

General Information

According to Lake Tahoe News Early voting in El Corado county is open 8AM to 5PM October 9 through November 5 at the Recorder-Clerks Office, 3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd., No. 108, in South Lake Tahoe; Truckee’s early voting is in the Town Clerk’s Department at Town Hall, 10183 Truckee Airport Road on weekdays from 8am-noon and 1-5pm from Oct. 9-Nov. 5. Californians can register to vote in person until October 22.

According to the Nevada Secretary of State's early voting page On the Nevada Side Early voting has been badly restricted to just THREE days in Tahoe: October 20th 10AM-4PM and October 27th and 30th 8AM-6PM at the Khale community center at 236 Kingsbury Grade. If you miss an early vote day in Tahoe you can also early vote in Douglas county at the county courthouse in Gardnerville just about any day from Oct 20-November 3. Nevadans can register to vote in person until October 16.

Voter resources

Local Media

California Offices:

US SENATE CALIFORNIA: Dianne Feinstein vs. Elisabeth Emkin

Click to see Dianne Feinstein at the Tahoe Summit
Watch Dianne Feinstein discuss Tahoe issues at the 2011 Tahoe Summit

Dianne Feinstein has been one ot Tahoe's most vocal advocates in the US Senate for most of her Senate career. She was instrumental in over a billion dollars of environmental restoration money over the last two decades and has attended almost every Tahoe Summit since the original vice-presidential summit in 1997. Endorsement: Dianne Feinstein She has a long record of standing for Lake Tahoe and a lot of seniority and power in the Senate.

US CONGRESS CA-4: Tom McClintock vs. John Uppal

Tom McClintock is an obstructionist Republican who has no real adjenda other than voting the Republican party line. He has no real interest in Lake Tahoe: never goes to the Tahoe Summit, opposed the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, supported Nevada's terrible SB-271. Endorsement: John Uppal If you want a candidate who cares about protecting the Environment and actually representing Tahoe in congress DON'T vote for Tom McClintock.


Voting for city council is heavily dependent on your personal feelings about what's important for the direction of the city. Each of the candidates has local issues that may be important to you based on where you live or work. Tahoe Daily Tribune has a good candidate guide and the Lake Tahoe News endorsement page that I will be linking to throughout this section to help you have enough information to make up your mind.
Councilman and former Mayor Hal Cole is the instutitional memory of the City of South Lake Tahoe. He's been on the city council on and off since the late 1990s and was instrumental in the redevelopment of Ski Run, the building of Embassy Suites and Heavenly Village, and the recent re-building of Lakeview Commons. (On the minus side, he was also a big backer of the failed convention center at Stateline.) If you think that redevelopment is a good thing, you should probably vote to re-elect Hal Cole. If you don't like the constant road construction or disagree with the direction of redevelopment there are a lot of other candidates worth voting for.

Councilman Bruce Grego has never been a friend to Tahoe's environment. He was the instrumental California voice pushing SB-271, Nevada's terrible bill to pull out of the TRPA; and has used every obstructionist trick in the book to sabotage effective handling of environmental issues in Lake Tahoe. He was instrumental in the persecution of the town's medical marijuana industry and has been a total obstructionist who has been responsible for the recent acrimony on the city council. Vote for anyone but Bruce Grego.

Austin Sass is the strongest of the challengers in the field: he's an executive who's spent a lifetime in the local tourisim industry with major local employers like Heavenly Mountain Resort and Aramark (owner of Zephyr Cove resort). He has a background in city planning and actually has a clue about how complicated it is to get things done around here. If you want a pro-business, pro-tourisim councilman who actually understands what it takes to generate jobs in South Lake Tahoe, Sass would be a pretty good choice.

  JoAnne Conner is another good choice if you're looking for a candidate who's strongly in favor of protecting the local environment and will be a strong advocate for small business, more sidewalks, bike paths, and big tourist events. If you're strongly against the loop road but don't want to vote for Bruce Grego, she's a good substitute.

Clinton Schue is a home builder who has barely been running for office. He hasn't collected a lot of money or talked to the press as much as the other candidates, but if you think that the environmental regulations should be tough on businesses and big projects but gentle on homeowners, he's your man.

Nevada Offices

US SENATE NEVADA: Dean Heller vs. Shelley Berkeley

Watch Dean Heller discuss Tahoe issues at the 2011 Tahoe Summit

From a Tahoe perspective I couldn't be more pleased with our choices for US senator this year. The Republican, Dean Heller, has served well as both a congressman and Senator for Tahoe and has a strong background in Tahoe issues having attended every Tahoe Summit since he was in congress, served on the board of the TRPA, and been a strong advocate in the Senate for Tahoe issues even when his party was against him.

 The Democrat, Shelly Berkeley, has a long history of standing up for Nevada tourisim in congress, is endorsed by the league of conservation voters because she has one of the most pro-environment overall records in congress. Reccomendation: Both of these candidates would make excelent advocates for Lake Tahoe in the US Senate; vote your party.

US CONGRESS NV-2: Mark Amodei vs. Samuel Koepnick

I'll admit it: I have a deep personal grudge against Mark Amodei because in his viscious campaign for his seat in congress he stole my YouTube video of Kate Marshall and made terrible lying attack ads against her out of it and then hypocritically went on to co-sponsor the Stop Online Piracy Act despite being a copyright infringer himself. He's a slimy poilitician who will use any dirty trick in the book - Endorsement: Vote for anybody but Mark Amodei.

US CONGRESS NV-4: Steven Horsford vs. Danny Tarkanian

Though this isn't a Tahoe area race I can't help but note that Steven Horsford has been a long-time advocate for Tahoe issues in the Nevada state legislature, and as majority leader in the state Senate was instrumental in the toning down of SB-271 into a reform bill instead of an immediate withdrawl from the TRPA. His opponent is a bankrupt son of a famous basketball coach who's been embroiled in very expensive lawsuits having his stuff reposessed by the bank in the middle of a campaign as he pledges to "balance the budget"...

Other Nevada Offices

I can't detail each and every Nevada state legislator here; but a quick way of knowing if I'd endorse your local candidate is to check the Nevada Legislature SB-271 Vote and the Nevada conservation league endorsement list. If your local official sponsored or voted for SB-271, I reccomend you vote for the challenger; otherwise vote your conscience.