• NEW COLUMN: Beginning next month, REASON will introduce a new column, to be known as "Spotlight." This column will introduce our readers to individuals who are having a significant, positive impact upon the world. We are looking for innovators, entrepreneurs, movers-and-shakers: individualists who exemplify the values we and our readers hold dear—rationality, creativity, courage, independence, etc. Our initial Spotlight will be focused on Louis A. Witzeman, founder and president of Rural/Metro Fire Department, Inc. of Scottsdale, AZ—America's largest and most successful private enterprise fire protection company. We invite our readers to suggest candidates for inclusion in this column. (Send suggestions, including the address of the person suggested, to Spotlight, c/o Reason, Box 6151, Santa Barbara, CA 93111.) Reason Profile, which focused on leading personalities of the libertarian movement, will no longer be carried in REASON.
• FEDERAL OFFICE BUILDINGS: Senator Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) is moving his field offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco from federal buildings into private office buildings—in order to save rent. Cranston told the Los Angeles Times (July 16) that moving his two field offices will reduce his rent in excess of $10,000 a year. Despite the fact that the federal buildings are not subject to the substantial property taxes which must be paid on private real estate, the federal government's rentals for comparable space significantly exceed nearby private buildings. A Cranston aide complained about the frustrations of dealing with the General Services Administration, which sets and collects rent for federal buildings, saying, "their [rent] bills are literally different every month. We go crazy just trying to deal with these people."
The Los Angeles Times editorialized (July 17) that Cranston's experience should set in motion a thorough investigation of the GSA's real estate operations. The Times noted that taxpayers must continue to pay for the two federal office buildings which Cranston is abandoning, but "if this is par for the course, who needs federal office buildings?" Instead of forcing taxpayers to subsidize bureaucratic inefficiency, we'd like to see the federal government sell off all of its office buildings, so they can be operated by private enterprise. And while Senator Cranston's in the mood for reform, we urge him to take further steps towards reducing the present cost to taxpayers of supporting members of Congress—which, as computed by the Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 29), currently runs at an average annual cost of $610,000 per member of Congress.
• MAIL STRIKE?: As we go to press, four postal workers unions are scheduled to strike if no settlement is reached. If the postal unions go on strike, delivery of this issue may be delayed. The U.S. Postal Service recently disclosed that the CIA has—contrary to prior denials—been involved in a 20-year mail surveillance program which included intercepting mail between the Soviet Union and the U.S. and retaining it indefinitely. If the postal unions go on strike, it looks like the only government employees who will be handling the mail will be the CIA.
• OFFICIAL LIES: Senator Edward Kennedy has introduced a bill that would make it a crime for government officials to knowingly mislead or lie to the public. Recognizing that it's already a crime for a private citizen to lie to government officials (such as the SEC or IRS), it's nice to see a politician making this proposal. We're not sure whether Teddy really intends to outlaw lying by politicians (after all, the JFK administration asserted that the government had a right to lie, and we certainly don't expect Teddy to tell the whole Chappaquiddick story if his bill passes).
We don't think Teddy's bill has anything to do with it, but we're quite impressed by some of California Governor Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown's frank statements since he's been elected to office (see REASON, July issue, p. 17). In 1972, Brown told REASON editor Manuel Klausner that he was a libertarian. Although we then thought of him more as a civil-libertarian type who advocated big government, based on much of his performance to date, maybe he knew more about libertarianism in 1972 than we gave him credit for. In any event, we were amused to see Brown's response to a reporter who recently asked him whether he might run for President. As reported by the Los Angeles Times (July 3), Brown replied: "Are you kidding? I think even the governorship is a pain in the ass."