Editorial: Claude Parrish for state treasurer

California has moved steadily away from the economic perils it faced just a few years ago. That progress should be sustained by a state treasurer who’s on board, not jeopardized by a political partisan, which is why The Examiner endorses Claude Parrish over Bill Lockyer.

True, Parrish’s wallflower-like campaign has yielded the Southern California businessman little name recognition even this late in the campaign. The race is Lockyer’s to lose. But we’d like to speak up for the fresh thinking the Republican would bring to this vital office.

As well, we believe frontrunner Lockyer, a Democrat from this part of the state, has in office given himself over to political antics that should not be acceptable to clear-sighted and responsible voters. It’s time this politician took a holiday from public office, perhaps to come back when seasoned by more judicious thinking.

Judicious thinking, alas, was not what the former assemblyman brought to the important office of the attorney general. In his early days in office, when his ill-chosen words against the late Enron founder, Ken Lay, seemed to condone prison rape, serious legal minds wondered if he came with the appropriate training and balanced temperament necessary to perform such vital duties.

Now, it’s hard to find a more loathsome figure in recent business history than Lay, but even a first-year law student knows the state’s top prosecutor must not prejudice a case in such a foul manner. Lockyer apologized, but then went out on more political jags, most recently by suing the top automakers of the U.S. and Japan for their alleged contributions to global warming.

Clearly motivated by Lockyer’s campaign for treasurer, the wasteful lawsuit does not recognize the manifold improvements those manufacturers have made toward cleaner air. And it abuses the discovery process by subpoenaing communications between the companies and global warming’s scientific dissenters — not a place political liberalism should stand in relation to free inquiry.

Claude Parrish shows no such troubling ambition. With growing numbers of economists, he worries about the state’s bonded indebtedness, a looming crisis. Whereas we do need bonds toprotect the Delta from Katrina-scale flooding and to relieve traffic congestion, it’s imperative to have a state treasurer who resists the debt temptation.

The candidate believes he can save taxpayers’ money by having bonds underwritten by tax-paying brokerage firms here in California, thereby sparing the expense of going regularly to Wall Street. It’s a novel idea, promising to build up the state’s own financial markets.

Parrish also wants to advance innovative ideas on opening state bonds to small California investors. Enlarging the investor class is a populist idea, not a plutocratic scheme, and we think Claude Parrish should be given a chance to pursue it.

Part of The San Francisco Examiner's 2006 election coverage. editorialsOpinion

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