Brian Gottstein is a libertarian who believes in very limited government and a great deal of individual freedom coupled with personal responsibility. He runs a political consulting, public relations and marketing firm in Roanoke. He has worked closely with Roanoke Mayor Ralph Smith on his election team and throughout his mayoral tenure. Gottstein managed for Alice Hincker's 2004 Republican mayoral bid in Roanoke, as well as Wendy Jones' council candidacy.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

News tidbits

By Brian Gottstein

Ralph Nader is on the Virginia ballot thanks to Republican Kilgore

Last week, the Virginia news media reported that Ralph Nader would not be on Virginia’s November ballot for President because the 13,000 petition signatures that were turned in weren’t sorted properly by Congressional district.

On Friday the 20th, Virginia’s Attorney General’s office backed up the state board of elections when the board rejected the petitions. This past Monday, the Attorney General’s office reversed its decision, stating that their research showed the requirement for the sorting of the petitions was never officially voted in as policy by the board, and therefore could not be enforced. The petitions will now be accepted.

It’s funny that the Attorney General’s office would spend the weekend researching the meeting minutes of the electoral board for the last five years to find that the rule was never formally voted into policy.

It is commonly felt that Nader’s name on the Virginia ballot will take away votes from John Kerry, handing President Bush an easier win in what some are predicting will be a tight Virginia race.

Some have said that Republican Attorney General Jerry Kilgore — also chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Virginia — went the "extra mile" over the weekend to get the Nader petitions accepted to get him on the ballot.

I say whatever can be done to make it easier to get more candidates on the ballot (including the Libertarians, the Constitution Party, etc.), and the more choices Virginians have, the better.

Federal employees owe the IRS

According to a report by WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., IRS records show that:

  • 419 workers in the House of Representatives owe the government $5.8 million in back taxes.

  • 228 employees of the Senate have a debt of nearly $2 million. The IRS won't reveal whether any of the violators are actually members of Congress.

  • 46 White House workers owe nearly $600,000 in back taxes.

Among the worst offenders:

  • 9,709 employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs owe $71 million.

  • 5,982 employees of the Department of Homeland Security owe more than $40 million.

  • The U.S. Postal Service is the agency with the highest number of tax delinquencies: 32,000 of its employees owe more than $200 million.

  • IRS workers are included in the Treasury Department, whose employees owe nearly $8 million.

Judge oversteps his bounds in jailing woman for seeking medical treatment for her addiction

The Roanoke Times recently reported that Kimberly Bucklin of Tazewell County was sentenced last month to three years in prison for getting medically prescribed methadone treatment for her OxyContin addiction.

A year ago, she was charged with child abuse and possession of OxyContin, for which she received six months of house arrest and a six-year suspended prison sentence. As a condition of her probation, the judge ordered her to discontinue her methadone treatment after six months. Medically supervised methadone treatment is the preferred way to treat people for OxyContin addiction.

According to expert testimony in the case, studies show that methadone treatments allow addicts to live normal lives, and they have a positive impact on communities, reducing crime, drug use and HIV rates.

During the six months she was allowed to be treated, Bucklin was successfully combating her addiction, but she tried to wean herself off the methadone to follow the judge’s orders (against the advice of her doctor). When her body started to have violent reactions to the withdrawal, her doctor resumed her methadone dosage, even after the six-month window. When her probation officer found out, Bucklin was immediately jailed. The judge sentenced her to three years in prison for violating her parole because she listened to her doctor.

The law states that prison inmates have the right to necessary medical care. Even foreign prisoners of war are not supposed to be denied medical treatment. What a dangerous path we are going down when judges can overrule doctors on legal treatments for serious health issues.

By ordering addicts off their treatments before they are completed, judges can actually increase crime rates, as addicts who are denied treatment generally go back to the illegal drugs they were trying to quit.

Home schooling creates a more informed citizenry?

Home schooling was once considered the realm of "right-wing whackos," but with escalating school violence and the decline of many public schools in America, it has now become a real option for parents who don’t want to send their kids to public school.

An interesting survey from Harper's Index (Harper's Magazine) shows that:

  • The number of American adults who believe that "politics and government are too complicated to understand": 1 in 3.

  • The number of Americans who were home schooled who feel this way: 1 in 25.

Boy, those high school civics classes are really having a big impact.

I think I know who I would rather have voting in the next election.

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