Yesterday I received an email from someone who was a bit offended that of all of the issues that affect our fair city, I would encourage people to make a decision based on their stances on dogs. Here's the short note:
Aside from my personal positions, it's a very sad day for our political processes when a candidate's validity for an office, such as Mayor, is influenced by how that candidate has voted on issues such as DSL. There ARE much larger issues to be considered.
Never mind that I don't know what internet speed has to do with mayoral elections either -- or maybe he's talking about Dog Specific Legislation, but that's another story.
Anyway, I think this is an important topic, and maybe a fair question and I wanted to address it here. The reality is there ARE other important issues. But I feel like BSL provides an excellent Litmus test for candidates that gives me an eye for how they'll view other topics. As such, here is my response to Dave:
Thanks for checking out our site and your comments.
In response to your criticism, I have to say that we absolutely agree that there are other issues to consider when voting. We state quite plainly on the website that this is only ONE issue that people should consider when going to the polls. That?s why we seldom endorse a specific candidate.
However, I do want to point out to you why we think Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is an excellent litmus test for candidates for office.
1) BSL is unconstitutional ? it singles out a certain segment of the population and puts restrictions on them and their rights to own certain breeds of dogs without sufficient reasoning or due process. Currently, 14 states in the U.S do not allow BSL, and four have ruled such ordinances as unconstitutional. The most recent court case, Toledo vs Tellings (www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/6/200 6/2006-ohio-975.pdf ), strikes down BSL as unconstitutional. It?s also important to note that the Missouri Statute uses the state of Ohio as a precedent?which means any new court appeal in Missouri would also likely find it unconstitutional. We think that upholding our national constitution and protecting people?s rights under it is a pretty big deal.
2) BSL is not effective policy in making municipalities safer. There is not one single documented study that shows that BSL lowers the number of dog bites, or fatalities. There are many case studies that actually show the opposite ? that BSL, because it is virtually impossible to enforce, and takes so much manpower for animal controls to enforce, many cities report MORE problems and bites after enacting this policy. In fact, the United Kingdom enacted BSL and has seen a 34% growth in major dog attacks since its enforcement. If a candidate is going to make a poor decision on BSL, in spite of the OVERWHELMING evidence against it, what other decisions are they going to make contrary to what evidence points out works? What other ways will they find to waste taxpayer dollars?
3) Over 50% of the people in the metro have dogs ? and candidate?s points of view on animal related issues regarding spay/neuter, tethering, dog parks, fencing, insurance, breed specific clauses etc affect a LOT of people in this city.
The reality is that pretty much every time we?ve met a politician that favors BSL, we usually find many other instances of them favoring bad policies in different areas. Pardon us for thinking that unconstitutional laws that take rights away from citizens, cost a lot of taxpayer dollars and simply don't work, are a bad idea.
Meanwhile, there are many other organizations that are endorsing and FUNDING candidates for less important issues. Freedoms Inc endorses candidates just based on their race, and another organization here in town promoted candidates just based on their gender. We?ve seen enough politics to know that people of all races and genders are equally able to either make good or bad laws. We?re at least providing information and recommendations based on POLICY. How many votes are cast based on name recognition alone?
What we?re promoting for people is making knowledgeable decisions on candidates?which we think everyone should do. In a day and age when only 30% of the population voted in a mayoral election, and a large percentage of those people knew very little about any of the candidates, we think that providing information and education to people about candidates is a very good thing.
Sorry that you disagree.