I commend President Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence to time served. In my opinion the Espionage Act should not be used to prosecute individuals who are disseminating information that they believe to be evidence of violations of international law, war crimes, and/or the rules of engagement. I am NOT saying that whistleblowers leaking confidential information should go unpunished: I believe there should be a separate and less aggressive policy towards American whistleblowers compared to foreign spies infiltrating and stealing information without the intent to expose potential wrong-doings. Furthermore, while I think the President made the correct decision, Ms. Manning should have NEVER been allowed to be a member of the military. There are multiple reports from soldiers who trained with her stating that she was clearly mentally unfit for military service and should never have passed boot camp. We need to listen to our doctors and our fellow soldiers when they warn about an individual who is mentally unstable. That individual should be discharged and given treatment to improve his or her life, he or she should NOT be sent into active duty or be given access to classified materials.
I think the motivations behind the Oceanside City Council’s handling of the City Treasurer need to be examined. While it is entirely possible that they simply acted in good faith, the facts are that at least one member, Councilman Jerry Kern, encouraged voters to elect a treasurer who was already deceased knowing the council would then have two options: (1) appoint a new treasurer in session as a council or (2) hold a special election to allow the voters to decide who should manage the finances for the city in which they reside. The council has stated that they have decided to make the decision on behalf of the residents of Oceanside instead of allowing us to vote on our new treasurer because they don’t want to charge taxpayers for holding an election. While this is an entirely fair argument, it is my opinion that in a democracy elections MUST be held in order to fill a voter-elected position that is vacant. I am not opposed to the new treasurer in anyway and I believe he will serve the city well; I am concerned, however, about the intent of some council members as I fear it may signify an objective of changing the City Treasurer from an elected to an appointed position permanently. In short, I think it is unethical for Councilman Jerry Kern to have publicly campaigned for a deceased individual while knowing that he (Mr. Kern) would be able to vote to appoint a replacement should the deceased candidate win. There is a clear conflict of interest when someone who has the power to make appointments if a deceased person is elected decides to actively continue their support of a deceased candidate’s campaign.