's illegal fundraising event


Laws apparently don't mean much to leftist political fundraiser Danny Scher. Despite the objections of his neighbors, and previous fines for holding illegal large scale fundraisers, featuring amplified outdoor performances, Scher has persisted in holding the prohibited gatherings. Yesterday, he raised $300,000 for MoveOn.Org, unlawfully hosting 300 people, who listened to a concert by Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, comedians Don Novello and Will Durst, and a no doubt touching speech by 12 year old Ilana Wexler, who spoke at the Democratic Convention. Little Ilana, who complained about Dick Cheney using 'a really bad word,' has now learned that obedience of the law is for suckers.

Kensington, California, where Scher lives, is a wealthy enclave of just over one square mile, containing fewer than 5000 residents, who enjoy sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, and an average household income in the six figure range. Its residents tend to prize their peace and quiet, and are furious over Scher's lack of consideration. Because Kensington is right next door to my own North Berkeley Hills neighborhood, I know it well. The streets are winding and narrow, and could easily be effectively blocked to fire vehicles by excess traffic.

Scher couldn't care less. Scoffing at Contra Costa County's insistence that he needs a special land use permit, the San Francisco Chronicle quotes him as saying:

"No one in the history of Contra Costa County has ever had to do this before to host a charity fund—raiser or political fund—raiser at one's own house," he said. "This is what this country is based on —— political actions in a grassroots way."

If Scher hosted a small dinner at his house, I doubt anyone would care. But he has created his own amphitheatre in a natural bowl on the  hillside behind his house, hired security guards wearing black outfits with 'STAFF' printed on the back, and otherwise behaved like the rock impresario he once was. Zoning laws and the requirement of permits for large events are the stuff of an organized society, and not a violation of anyone's political rights.

Kensington is about as liberal as its neighbor Berkeley. Scher is not being persecuted for his beliefs.

So far, there has been no word from about the propriety of accepting a large donation from an illegal event.

Thomas  9 13 04