Home Your Issue Questions


> Email To Westmiller
> Date:05/04/98
> From: Bob.Rector@latimes.com
> Subj: 24 CD Candidate Questions

> Please respond to the following questons in 50 words or less:

>Education has emerged as one of the top local and national political topics. Do you believe parents should be given vouchers to help them afford private schools for their children?
Vouchers or tax credits for school tuition are a first step toward giving parents full control over their children's education. Universal charter schools could stimulate full competition among institutions striving for educational excellence. We need more innovation, more parental choices and more teacher accountability in our public schools.

>And do you favor the establishment of state and national education standards to assess student and school performance?
Objective standards for student, teacher, and school testing can and should be developed at state and local levels. Federally mandated testing will only reenforce the value systems of government bureaucrats and special interests.
Our educational problems can only be resolved through higher teaching skills, higher parental expectations and better student motivation.

> Given recent highly publicized incidents involving firearms, ranging from the bank shootout in North Hollywood to the deaths of students in Jonesboro, Arkansas, do you think more rigid gun control measures are called for?

Disarming the innocent is a dangerous advantage for the guilty. If criminals believed that everyone might be carrying a concealed weapon, the crime rate would plummet. Evil deeds flow from evil intentions, not the objects used. There should be no federal laws restricting the right to self defense.

> Do you support a woman's right to an abortion?

Every woman has an absolute right to her life and control over her own body. Abortion is a terrible option that should always be avoided, but should never be encouraged by federal government policy.
No tax dollars should ever be spent to encourage, condone, support or finance abortions.

> Do you support the Bipartisan Campaign Integrity Act, which, among other things, would prohibit national parties from receiving unregulated "soft money" contributions that were at the core of the fund-raising abuses of the 1996 cycle?

Federal election laws are a maze of nonsense regulations that mask the real abuses of political power: special access, interests, and rights that violate the principle of "equal protection under the law". The Constitution forbids restrictions on political speech, but also forbids the granting of special benefits, subsidies, and grants.

> Much of the district is located in the San Fernando Valley, which is involved in a debate over seceding from the city of Los Angeles. How do you stand on this issue?

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people must be as close as possible to the people. Federal power must be returned to the states, counties and municipalities closest to the people. A Valley City would enhance the voice of citizens concerned about their own community.

> Do you support Prop. 227, the state ballot measure that would virtually end bilingual education?

Parents should have the final word on the kind of education they want for their children. Proposition 227 empowers parents, allowing them to decide how their children will be taught English. We should grasp every opportunity to reduce the power of government bureaucrats over the education of our children.

> Do you support either a flat tax or a nationwide sales tax as a means to achieve income tax reform?

A flat tax is the only fair way to distribute the proper costs of a limited government. After a deduction for basic living expenses, a flat tax of 10% would be simple, progressive and equitable. The only difference between a flat tax and a sales tax is about 30 days.

> Do you think Congress should intervene to bring the investigation into the President/Monica Lewinsky affair to a conclusion?

Every government official, including the President, should receive equal treatment under the law; subject to any civil or criminal complaint. A separate branch of government with unlimited resources and authority, like the Special Prosecutor, is a violation of the Constitution, as well as local and state jurisdiction over criminal law.

> Do you support a bill in Congress that would raise the price of cigarettes by $1.10 a pack and authorize federal regulation of tobacco as a drug?

Every individual and business should be liable for the injuries they cause without clear warning. Every smoker has had those warnings for decades. More taxes and more regulation will not cure bad habits. Federal drug control, like alcohol prohibition, requires a Constitutional amendment and would, again, be a total failure.

> What special qualities would you bring as a member of Congress from the 24th District?

A life-long devotion to individual rights; comprehensive knowledge of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and parliamentary procedure; political activism at the local, state and national levels; public speaking and debate experience; small business ownership; and fifteen years of residence in the San Fernando and Conejo Valleys.


> Email To Westmiller
> Date:04/09/98
> Re: Abortion
> As a person who is pro ripping babies...
Of course, I'm not. I'm opposed to abortion except under the most severe circumstances (life of the mother, incest, rape). I'm also opposed to any government funding of any abortion or any "family planning".
What you will accomplish if you insist on exact compliance with your interpretation of the bible is that those who do favor abortions - and want the government to take your tax dollars to pay for it - will get elected.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/18/98
> Re: Regulatory definition of "Person"

> Can we agree that a "person" is a man, woman or child?
Absolutely. The main reason legislators use fake "persons" is to make sure they can grab every tax dollar, control every enterprise and apply their laws to every "entity" under the sun.

> "Person" means a man, woman, or child, in law and code without exception."
I'll certainly try, but I suspect they'll simply modify the laws that refer to "persons" to add on all the "entities" it would otherwise affect.
Your point is well taken. Laws should be intelligable and mean what they say. Are there any examples that you think are particularly onerous?

> Email To Westmiller
> Date:05/18/98
> Re: Sybert Controversy

> I would like to know your thoughts on the sign controversay we have here in
> Thousand Oaks.
Rich Sybert's actions are unforgiveable... and Michael Bradbury's failure to act is inexcusable.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date:05/18/98
> Re: Political Labels

> Please tell me if you are conservative or liberal.
My rating from the American Conservative Union is 86%, my rating from the ACLU is 50%. I call myself a Constitutionalist. Visit my website and tell me what you think.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/18/98
> Re: Founding Fathers

> the degredation of our culture parallels change in the family and removal from a
> belief in the founding fathers concept that our liberty is based in a strong faith in
> God.
I call myself a Constitutionalist because I believe that every individual's rights are inalienable, granted by the Creator and essential to our human nature. They are the foundation of our nation and ought to be respected by every legislator.
Although every federal representative must take an oath of office to "uphold and defend the Constitution", I doubt that most have even read it and a large percentage think it's irrelevant. I don't.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/18/98
> Re: Prop 215

> Where do you stand on Calif. Prop 215.?
I supported 215 and believe the federal government should not override the wishes of California voters. I gave a presentation to the Thousand Oaks city council several months ago, outlining my position. The text is on my website at Westmiller On Medical Marijuana

> Email To Westmiller
> Date:05/18/98
> Re: Campaign Style

>Please take the HIGH road!!!
I've done that for the past year, even complimented my opponents. However, it's very difficult to refrain from pointing out misrepresentations and dishonesty. Nevertheless, I will keep any criticism limited to a contrast of positions on the issues.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date:05/18/98
> Re: Sherman Cartoons on Website

> I find the negative cartoons about Brad Sherman in poor taste.
I thought the one cartoon was rather cute, but I do intend to stick with the issues... there are over 60 pages on the website that deal at length with current legislative topics. Sorry you were offended.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date:05/18/98
> Re: Campaign Finance Reform

> What is your position on campaign finance reform?
If I had my druthers, I'd repeal them all and substitute full, prompt disclosure.
You'll find a lengthy commentary on my website. Just click here to get a lengthy discussion: Campaign Reform.

> Do you support unlimited donations to the party?
The most perverted element of the existing law is that parties have a special Cost of Living Adjustment. Originally, the limit was $10,000 per election, but now it's up to over $30,000, while individual contribution limits have stayed at $1,000, the same as in 1976.
If you check the FEC report on my website, you'll discover that I haven't received any contributions of over $250, no PAC contributions and no Party contributions. That's not my preference, but I'm willing to work with what people are willing to contribute.

> Would you like to see tighter restrictions put on donations
> from interest groups/ business?
As you'll see in my commentary, the problem isn't money coming in (to legislators/candidate), it's money going out (from our tax dollars to special interests). What we need in Congress is a simple respect for the 14th Amendment, which requires "equal treatment under the law". If we trashed all the grants, subsidies, loans, and favors handed out in billion-dollar chunks for business and selected interest groups, they wouldn't have the motivation to buy politicians.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/19/98
> Re: School Vouchers

> As I read through your various stances, I found many to be in line with mine.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
I never considered vouchers an ideal answer to educational problems, it simply offers parents more choice and introduces a more responsive and responsible attitude in public schools.

> (vouchers) supports and favors those who have the finances to choose...
Actually, vouchers were most broadly favored in the poor, inner-city areas that couldn't afford any alternative without them. They were generally opposed by wealthy, suburban families that didn't want minorities attending their exclusive educational institutions.

> I found the private school experience to be educationally stifling
I attended Catholic grade, high school and college, taught by nuns and monks for 13 years, but I couldn't claim to have received a better education than my peers who attended public school. I currently have three daughters in public grade, intermediate and high schools in the Conejo. Generally, I'm quite pleased with their educational achievements.

> ...the school favored practicing for a Christmas
> pageant over the educationally sound practices...
In some cases, that reflects the desires of the parents to have schools focus on religious training, rather than academic achievement. I don't think government should deny them that choice, but it's not something I would chose for my children.

> Please think over your stance on vouchers.
My current inclination is toward expanding the Charter School options, but that is a state, rather than federal, government issue. As far as Congress is concerned, my focus will be exclusively on returning control of schools to states and local communities. No one, including myself, has enough knowledge to impose their favorite solutions on every school across the nation.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/19/98
> Re: Proposition 226

> I would like your position on prop 226.
I'm supporting Prop 226 on the simple premise that you, as an individual, should give consent to any political contributions. I'm sure the overwhelming majority of your members would freely - and happily - support most union political activities. But I agree with the Supreme Court decision that says it's their choice and shouldn't affect their union representation or standing.

> ... my vote goes in support of my Union June 2.
I assumed that would be your position on Prop 226, but I have a nasty habit of being honest about my positions on all the issues. I tell corporate CEOs to their face that I'll vote against every subsidy and privilege their business currently receives. Most people value an honest candidate.

> Prop 226 is not about giving workers rights, but to bury Unions in paperwork ...
A little piece of paper inserted once a year into a Union newsletter is hardly being buried in paperwork. Businesses will probably incur more expense tracking the proper withholding (very little)

> just imagine Phillip Morris sending out votes to all stockholders ...
Corporations must disclose all their political expenditures to stockholders, who can sell their shares, without consequence, if they disagree. If the Congress respected the 14th Amendment and refused to hand out special favors, businesses would have no interest in affecting elections. I suspect most would prefer it that way.

>... non-profit organizations (United Way, etc.) will fall into the realm of 226..
My understanding is that none of those contributions are made without an explicit employee request and authorization, which can be withdrawn at any time without consequence.

> Have you truly researched 226 or you just voting party on this one?
I never make assumptions on the basis of endorsements or sponsors. I read all the arguments and the full text of the proposal (as I've done with hundreds of congressional resolutions to review Sherman's record).

> Do you agree that the business PAC money chest truly outweighed the Union's
> by 5 to 1, or better?
It wouldn't surprise me, though unions tend to spend more money on "independent expenditures", whereas corporations tend to go through partys.

> You seem the type of person who will spend a lot of time and energy to do
> the right thing. Someone we all need in the loop.
Thank you. Proposition 226 is not a federal issue per se, so I hope you'll consider supporting me for Congress.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/20/98
> Re: Religious Background

> Are you sir, a Christian?
I was born and raised a Catholic, taught for 13 years by nuns and monks, and I've retained many of the ethical and moral ideas that I learned from them. However, I currently describe myself as a "pantheist", who believes that God is everywhere in the Universe and that the Universe is a reflection of God's laws.
Before I married Robin Cohen, I became very familiar with the Jewish faith and have encouraged my three daughters to participate at Temple and other Jewish activities. She likes to say that I'm "Jewish by osmosis", but I'm certainly pleased that my children have won many accolades from the Jewish organizations where they have been active.
I will admit that I'm not pleased with the left-wing bent of the American Catholic Bishop's Conference and I'm philosophically pro-choice. You can find a lengthy discussion of this issue on my website: Westmiller On Abortion , making it clear that I will vote against any government promotion, funding or support for abortions.
I call myself a Constitutionalist, so I do believe that individual rights are endowed by our Creator and not subject to the whims of government rules. I strongly favor a complete separation of church and state. Government should never show any preference for one religion over another, nor promote or encourage any particular religious beliefs.
That's a rather long answer to a very short question, but I hope I've been informative.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/21/98
> Re: Why Congress?

> You did a great job in the debate Saturday.
Thank you. It was a lot of fun! Also got lots of comments on the photo in the LA Times... couldn't have paid them to make me look that good. Just returned from another Forum/Debate sponsored by Century Cable that will be on TCI/GTE.. when you see it, you'll understand how I won the debate in four seconds without saying a word.

> You and Robin have a lot to feel proud about. You both have made great
> contributions to the betterment of our society.
Thank you again... and I'll pass the compliment on to Robin.

> I am curious, 'what made you choose the (federal) congressional level of
> government as your prefered avenue?'
I've always been interested in the "big" issues and solving the most complex problems from basic principles. I also suspected the Assembly seat would be swamped (Tagasuki's) and State Senate (Cathy Wright) wasn't up this year. Otherwise, it was mainly a matter of timing. The kids are old enough, the store is well established and it was MY TURN!

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/21/98
> Re: Unhappy with Country?

> If you are not happy with the condition of the country, please list
> your top three or so reasons why you think we are here.
1.) The federal government violates the Constitution incessantly, infringing individual rights and moving toward a socialist state.
2.) Federal taxes have reached the point of confiscation, destroying individual incentives and wasting billions of dollars daily.
3.) The pervasive sentiment of "there ought to be a law" is destroying our social institutions and basic ethical values of individual honesty, personal responsiblity and family bonds.

On my website, Westmiller For Congress , you'll find dozens of individual issues, with extended commentary on why there needs to be a change.

None of which is to suggest that I'm unhappy living in the greatest country in the world and I'm thankful for the opportunities and liberty I still enjoy.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date:05/22/98
> Re: Support for 2nd Amendment

> ... suggests u r breastfeeding at the tit of the NRA...
I am not a member of the NRA, do not own a gun and have not received any campaign contributions or endorsements from the NRA.

> ...making the bearing of arms necessary...
It's not a question of necessity, it's an individual right to self-defense. Whether you use a gun or club or fists to protect yourself against assault is irrelevant... you have a right to defend your life. Police would like to "protect and defend", but they can't... they can only apprehend criminals after the crime occurs.

> ... chosen the NRA over education, a choice u must now live with...
The federal government is not authorized to interfere in state and local control of education. That's also in the Constitution, but usually ignored.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/24/98
> Re: Stand on Israel

> What is your stand on aid to Israel?
My response is slightly complicated, because it's not a simple issue. In a nutshell, I oppose all foreign aid by the federal government, but believe that world peace is a legitimate issue of "national security". So, I would oppose non-military aid to any foreign country (including IMF and other commercial grants). However, I would support military agreements to the extent that they are required to maintain peaceful relations among nations. This was very important during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union fomented international confrontations. It was important when the Arab states threatened the destruction of Israel. It is less important today.
My criteria is the Constitution, whose only objective is to "provide for the common defense" of the United States. It also makes provision for the Senate to "advise and consent" to treaties with other countries. The founding fathers warned against "entangling alliances" and I share their disdain for foreign obligations.
I do not accept the concept of extended "national interests", because it would bring every country in the world under the umbrella of "national security", justifying every degree of international intervention. Our sole obligation in the world is to contribute to the establishment of peaceful relations among nations. To the extent that the United Nations or NATO contribute to that noble goal, I support them. However, both institutions have far exceeded this mandate and I would press for substantial revisions of the charters of these organizations.
The executive branch does have considerable latitude in facilitating peaceful international relations, but I believe it is irrational to use "carrots and sticks" to resolve basic issues of war and peace.
Realistically, I doubt that my vote will have much impact on the level of financial aid, either commercial or military. However, I will press whenever possible for a reduction of commercial aid and a level of military aid that is commenserate with legitimate threats to peace. At this point, I think our military aid to Israel can be safely reduced and at some future date, hopefully, eliminated.

> Email To Westmiller
> Date: 05/24/98
> Re: Local School Bonds

> How did you vote on the local school bond measures "Q" & "V"
As a candidate for Congress, I support local decisions and oppose any federal intervention on educational issues. These should be left to states and individual communities to decide.
You may be aware of my wife's opposition to both measures and I was proud of her contribution to the debate. She and I both believe that administrators have an obligation to manage school finances in a responsible and forthright manner. That has no been the case with the two (actually, the same) bonds. I think her public statements and letters have made that clear, in extensive detail.
I would support a bond for capital construction when the long-term need has been established and no other resources are available. Long-term bonds should not be used for common maintenance or minor improvements. Responsible management requires a reasonable set-aside for these purposes as an important element of normal budgeting. Deficit financing of any project (involving a commitment to compound interest) should receive the closest possible scrutiny.
With three daughters in Conejo Valley public schools, I have a personal stake in the outcome of any school issues. I want the best for them, but not at any price.

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