The Campaign Column: A Dem dispute
The Campaign Column: A Dem dispute
Some City of Alameda Democratic Club members say this mailer implies the club endorsed candidates members didn't endorse.
Members of the City of Alameda Democratic Club are fuming over a mailer the club’s leadership sent to local voters that they say appeared to extend the club’s imprimatur to candidates its members didn’t endorse, while others are upset that the club’s campaign office offers campaign materials from some of the same candidates. A few are so upset they said they’re quitting the club in protest.
Local Dem club members endorsed Rob Bonta for the state Assembly, Marie Gilmore for mayor and Jim Oddie for City Council, along with two candidates – Tracy Jensen and Jim Meyers – for seats on the Alameda Health Care District Board of Directors. The club also endorsed two ballot measures, the Measure I school bond and Measure BB, which would extend funds for transportation projects.
But in addition to candidates club members did endorse, a mailer bearing its logo featured Councilman Stewart Chen, school board candidates Solana Henneberry and Mike McMahon, BART Board candidate Lena Tam and Alameda County Office of Education superintendent candidate Karen Monroe, none of whom were endorsed by the local Democratic club.
“On this mailing, HALF of the individuals featured on the flyer were NOT endorsed by the club. Which means that whoever produced this flyer, using the club's funds and the club's good name, have made it seem as if the club endorsed these candidates along with the ones it actually did endorse,” Dan Wood wrote to friends and neighbors on an informal e-mail list. Wood said he quit the club in protest.
Member Karen Green said campaign literature and signs for Chen, Henneberry and Tam are at the club’s campaign headquarters alongside materials for candidates its members endorsed. A Facebook photo of the club’s Alameda South Shore Center-based campaign headquarters showed a campaign sign for Chen alongside others for Gilmore and Oddie; underneath the post containing the photo, a couple who belong to the club wrote that they, too, planned to quit.
“I just hate the deception,” Green said, saying she thinks the presence of the materials at the club’s HQ implies an endorsement.
Both said the club’s endorsement carries a lot of weight, particularly for registered Democrats who haven’t yet decided who to vote for.
Gray Harris, the former Alameda Education Association president and now co-chair of the local club, said the club is a charter of the county Democratic committee and that it routinely campaigns for candidates the county committee endorses (the county committee endorsed Monroe, Chen, McMahon and Henneberry). She said the local club’s executive committee held a public vote to release the mailer supporting all of the candidates and that it spent political action committee money to pay for it, and not club dues.
“We campaign for candidates that have been endorsed by the central committee as well as those endorsed by our local club. Nothing that happened this year is out of the ordinary from years past,” said Harris.
The club's most recent campaign filing shows it took in $3,000 between July 1 and September 30, $2,500 from Bonta's campaign and another $500 from the re-election campaign of State Senator Loni Hancock. McMahon, who is the local Dem club's treasurer, said the mailer expenditure will be on its next filing, due later this month. The eight-person executive board’s membership includes Harris, McMahon and Henneberry, along with co-chair Sarah Oddie.
Harris dismissed the complaints, saying the club members who raised them with her are upset that the club didn’t endorse mayoral candidate Trish Spencer or council candidate Frank Matarrese, and she said she's answered questions about the concerns that were expressed. Green called that charge "off the wall," saying she plans to vote for Gilmore and that she has installed a sign on her lawn promoting Oddie's campaign.
"No one I know is upset with the headquarters having Marie's literature because she was in fact endorsed by the club and there is no deception involving Marie. She does not seem to get that we are upset because of being deceived," Green said.
Harris said the local campaign office is a unified office that supports candidates endorsed by county club and the Democratic Party, though Green questioned whether that is the case. She said that may have been true in prior years when the local club got money from the county club, but she provided an e-mail showing that hasn’t happened this election season. The club's most recent filing did not show a contribution from the county Dem committee.
Wood, who said in his e-mail to friends that he personally supports some of the candidates featured on the mailer who the club didn’t endorse, told The Alamedan he thinks club leadership could have made it clearer on the mailer who was and wasn’t endorsed locally.
“There are infinite number of ways that the information about the endorsements *could* have been presented. Whoever designed the flyer chose to present it in such a way that made it appear that the (local club) endorsed those candidates,” Wood said. “If the (club’s) endorsements are going to be overridden like this, why bother going through the theater of having club endorsements at all?”
Finance filing follies: Late last week we got an e-mail from Measure I opponent David Howard accusing the school bond’s proponents of failing to file campaign finance forms. We checked in with the Yes on I campaign and found out that they had indeed filed their forms and that they were filed on time – just in the wrong place.
The forms were filed with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters instead of the City Clerk’s office, a snafu City Clerk Lara Weisiger attributed to bad advice from the ROV.
The campaign to pass the measure has so far pulled in more than $26,000, the filings show, with backers over the past few months including a trio of law firms that have done work for the school district, the bond counsel that worked on the bond proposal and the architect that drafted the district’s facilities master plan – a precursor to the bond proposal on the ballot.
Last week a pair of local trade unions – representing the carpenters and sheet metal workers – gave a combined $10,000 to the pro-I campaign, filings show. The filings reviewed by The Alamedan covered the most filing period, from July 1 to September 30, and later filings required for checks of $1,000 or more.
As to the whereabouts of his own campaign finance forms, Howard said he hasn’t filed any for the No on I campaign because his committee, Save Our City! Alameda, hasn’t raised the $1,000 that triggers the filing requirement. During our e-mail exchange with him regarding his press release, Howard questioned whether we had the mettle to tell readers about what the Yes on I campaign had raised, and from whom.
“The question is whether you will dare to write about it, and/or whether the powers that be will allow you to write about it,” he said.