With the November 4th, 2014 election approaching, my low-key campaign for Boulder County Sheriff continues. As a write-in candidate registered as Toby Fernsler, my name does not appear on the ballot and has been omitted from local news candidate lists. The Boulder Weekly went so far as to say incumbant Joe Pelle is the only candidate running, but did run my letter the next week pointing out that to be a write-in candidate requires registering a year in advance, filing regular timely paperwork, and submitting fingerprints for an FBI background check.
When the final vote is tallied one thing that may not be reflected is the quality of the votes. I have been gladdened by those people who not only went out of their way to discover my name, but then took the time to call me and let me know they wrote it in. As a mathematician practicing non-violence, I am offering a sharp contrast to traditional law-enforcement. It is somewhat experimental, one that we would all participate in. As sheriff I expect I would quickly discover the limits of treating all with dignity and compassion, and yet I will still choose to try. This is true for county residents as well, which is why I say voting for me is voting for yourself too, claiming the confidence to renounce government violence and extend trust to your neighbors. Extending trust and respect has served me well on a personal level, but not always. I do not know what would occur if it were applied as government and social policy. My many thanks to those who, like me, wish to find out.
My name is Toby Fernsler, and my message is Love.
Here are instructions for those wishing to collect ballot signatures to place myself, Toby Fernsler, on the November 2014 ballot for Sheriff of Boulder County.
Requirements for You, the Circulators:
You must be an American Citizen, a Colorado resident, and 18+ years old.
Step 1: Petition Preparation
- Download the petition.
- Print all pages of the petition single-sided on regular white letter-sized (8.5″x11″) paper.
- Staple together all pages of the “Toby for sheriff” ballot pdf. It is recommended that this is done with four staples across the top so it stays together and is clearly not tampered with. This packet constitutes one ballot petition “section”. The pages must remain stapled together until they get to the County Clerk and Recorder’s office, and they may reject it if it looks like the staples were removed and reattached. They may also reject a section if it is too crumpled or damaged, please use a clipboard or firm writing surface.
Step 2: Collect Signatures
Collect signatures of registered Boulder County voters.
- As the ballot petition Circulator, you must witness every signature.
- Signers must complete all six boxes of a signature line.
- Ballot sections have 54 signature lines, but you don’t have to collect 54 signatures.
- Corrections: If a small correction is made, the signer should initial the change. If a larger correction is required, the signer should completely cross out the incorrect information and proceed to use the next two blank lines.
Step 3: Notarize the Petition
Once you are done collecting signatures, the section must be notarized. i.e. signed and validated in front of a notary. You as the Circulator may do this yourself, or attend a “signing party” where I get a notary to be available for some time and everyone shows up and gets their ballot petitions signed. Perhaps there will be pizza and beer, or age-appropriate food for those over thirty. This will happen beginning of June.
Note that no further signatures may be collected on a section after it has been notarized.
Step 4: Deliver the Petition
Deliver the ballot petitions to me at 525 South 44th Street, Boulder CO 80305 prior to July 10, 2014, the last day I can turn in ballot signatures.
Cahill apparently had barged into a modest home where he knew no one, with cocaine and alcohol in his system. And although the shooting has been ruled “justified” by police, to his loved ones, that finding doesn’t equate to an adequate explanation.
If an intoxicated and belligerent stranger broke into my home, I too would be inclined to forcefully evict them. If I was intoxicated and had head trauma from being beaten in the street, I might seek shelter where I could find it and be in poor condition to explain myself. If my brother died suddenly, I would be sad and want to know what happened. This is the Methodology of Universal Love; considering each point of view without prejudice and seeing the validity and truth in them. My favorite description comes through Charles Eisenstein, “Love is seeing through the illusions which separate us”.
New Orleans police have never revealed his identity because they consider the shooter in a justified homicide to be a victim.
Here the New Orleans police are acting to protect the shooter, out of fear that he may be the target of retaliatory actions. There is no love in this action for those who grieve Cahill’s death as their perspective and needs go unaddressed. And in fact there is no love for the shooter, who has only his gun collection and a poorly guarded secret as defense against the unknown. It is hard to know his mind, but I know when I hide from my fears I give them strength. Even the police who were involved before and after may hold trauma from this event.
“No matter how much we wish we could turn back the clock and stop this senseless tragedy, our sense of helplessness lingers, and nothing we can do will bring him back,” said Ken Cahill
This helplessness and fear need not linger, because there is an ancient practice interpreted as modern programs with an excellent track record of addressing the needs of all parties to traumatic events such as this. The essence of it is to gather these parties together with public witness and a moderator, and tell the many-sided story. Sometimes agreements come of this which ease fears and sooth wounds, sometimes there is no need, and I have never heard of a case where it was less effective than fear and punishment alone. In South Africa it was called the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission“. Here in Boulder County the sheriff’s office hosts the small but potent Restorative Justice program, run by the tireless volunteer Jennifer Quilling.
I believe the Cahills, friends of Joe, the New Orleans police, the shooter and his family would all benefit greatly from participating in such a process. So too would those of us who read this newspaper article, and wondered “Is that it? Is that how the story ends?”. Let us tell some stories, and write a new ending to this one.
“Boulder City Councilwoman Mary Young wants to know how feasible it would be to require DNA samples from dogs with city-issued green tags that could be saved for later comparison to waste found on open space.”
The prevailing wisdom of dog-ownership is that when you are out on a walk and your dog poops, the moral and legally correct thing to do is place it in a plastic bag, carry it home, and place it in another plastic bag to be sent to the landfill with all the other individually wrapped dog poops. This has always struck me as environmentally unsustainable, and humiliating for both the owner and dog.
From a law-enforcement perspective, making dog waste illegal is applying the methodology of punishment to force people to perform this humiliating and environmentally harmful act at the point of a gun. The fact that the City of Boulder is seeking to escalate the War Against Poop is a sure indicator that this approach has already failed.
From a genetic standpoint, DNA testing is not nearly as accurate as is popularly believed. Genetic drift, epigenetic materials, sample contamination and the small number of target genes used in DNA testing leads to a surprisingly high number of false negatives and false positives, which increase with the size of the database. I experienced this firsthand while assisting with the development of Ibis Bioscience’s PlexID system; those who ran themselves against the partial FBI database available would often get 5 to 10 positive matches, despite not being in the database. There were cases of individual’s hair sample not matching their blood, due to genetic drift. Prosecution of dog owners under this system might turn out to be expensive and inefficient.
It is also worth noting that the database would only contain samples from “green tagged” dogs. In other words, only the most responsible dogs and dog owners would be considered in the pool of poop suspects.
I would like to propose the possibility that dog-owners are in fact responsible individuals who care for their animals and environment. That it is unnecessary and ineffective to punish them into acceptable behavior, and that there are gentler ways to achieve better results. Here are a few suggestions:
- Provide biodegradable bags at trailheads and even along the trail.
- Expand the number of trash cans on and near trails.
- Ignore it; animals have been pooping in the woods for a long time, and it seems to work out ok.
- Have the rangers pick up unattended poop; it’s probably less hastle and paperwork than writing tickets and hiring extra prosecutors and poop investigation services. Also, the poop gets picked up.
- Put a bounty on poop; say 25¢/pound. This being Boulder people could register as official poop-pickers, pick up serialized buckets, drop them off at conveniently located deposit points (then sent to compost), and receive a check at the end of each time-period. There may be some unintended consequences, but again, the poop would actually get picked up. And it would be handled in an environmentally responsible manner, unlike the escalating punishment plan.
There will be a public hearing about this on Tuesday, April 1 at 6PM. On the off-chance that this is not a well-constructed April Fool’s Day prank by the generally sober Boulder City Council, I plan to attend and present some of these ideas.