Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Straight talk, integrity, what you see is what you get? We link, you decide

This is a post in progress; links and wording may continue to change.

Updated Feb. 21 to remove disputed statements involving John Gillander

To quote Michael Kinsley -
One way to show your respect for democracy is to state your beliefs when running for office and then apply those same beliefs when you're elected. Democracy becomes pointless if there is no connection between the policies that citizens think they are voting for and the policies they get.
From this article on growth problems in Davis -
Further compounding the problem is the fact that most council candidates espouse slow growth and pro-environment platforms during their campaigns, and too often ignore these promises after they are elected. It can be very difficult for the voter to discern which candidates are "for real".

The Union's extensive coverage of candidates is here; the Q&A's are the most interesting.

In their interviews and statements, the candidates for Nevada County's District 1 Supervisor sound surprisingly alike; a much clearer picture of their differences emerges when you look at what they wrote about local issues before they decided to run for office.

The candidates are Josh Ramey, Olivia Diaz, and Nate Beason.

On Josh Ramey - I didn't find any pre-candidacy columns or letters from him in The Union.

Olivia Diaz has a couple -

Nate Beason was more prolific, and his writings more revealing.

From this article on his campaign -
[candidate says that:]
his ability to build consensus that makes him the best candidate...
he was disappointed by the polarization and divisiveness among the board [in fall 2002]. "It was so hateful"...
he doesn't represent any special interests or have a personal agenda...
From a letter to editor supporting this candidate - "reasonable, knows the issues and has strong convictions about integrity and honesty..."

Beason's pre-candidacy newspaper columns:
  • July 4 2002, Attacks on Bedwell say much about his critics
    Help me, Rhonda! Just as I was beginning to think that local political rhetoric had reached its nadir, things got worse. Hank Starr and Larry Shumaker took us to a new low of mean-spiritedness in these pages with their recent fairy tales attacking the character of Drew Bedwell. Their effluvium-laden columns, utterly barren of responsible commentary*, brought new definition to the term "meaningless braying of asses in the wilderness" and thereby debased the reputations of self-respecting donkeys everywhere...
    *emphasis mine

    Here are links to the "effluvium-laden" columns in question - if you have the time, please read them yourself, otherwise here are excerpts:

    • From Larry Shumaker, Bedwell may be a great dad but conducts mean politics (June 1 2002)- column starts as follows:
      Overheard while browsing through the plant offerings outside a Grass Valley store - one petitioner to a fellow signature gatherer working opposite sides of the entrance:

      "One guy came by and refused to sign this (property-compensation petition) because he said it was just a big land grab, so I told him that if that's the way he sees it, then, he must be a Communist if he didn't want to sign. That really gets 'em mad - when you call 'em Communists!"

      Loads of chuckles from both...
    • June 15 2002, from Hank Starr, In Nevada County there are no 'others,' only all of us (effluvium or prescience? you decide)
      Many young people are quite smart and a few may even be brilliant, but to attain wisdom you have to live a long time and gather together thousands of diverse bits of information and experiences from a myriad of different sources. Don't believe it when they try to tell you that experience is the best teacher. In the school of hard knocks, where experience is your teacher, you are given the test first and then, afterward, learn the lesson. That can be an extremely painful way to learn.
      ...[W]e environmentalists - we who are deeply concerned with preserving as much of our environment as is possible in this rapidly overpopulating world - are not "others," to be scorned and ostracized. We are your neighbors. If Bedwell persists in inciting war against us environmentalists, let it be known that our only enemies are overdevelopment, pollution, traffic jams, endless strip malls and demagogues who seek to set neighbor against neighbor.(link added by me)
      Aside: Both Starr and Shumaker have the distinction of being named lying liberal hitmen (same link as "prescience" above) by the now-incarcerated William Weismann. Watch how someone habitually refers to those he disagrees with...

  • Beason's Oct 26 2002 column scorning the Sacramento News and Review article on dirty politics in Nevada County (Yubanet background piece here), which covered the apparent unmasking of the sender of the anonymous anti-Martin hit pieces sent to benefit candidate Robin Sutherland; the sender [fixed misleading wording, sorry] apparently tried to make it look like they were coming from Rene Antonson's campaign (from SacN&R:
    "The mailers did not have a name or return address on them, except one. It listed a non-existent group, Nevada County Citizens for Ethical Government, along with an e-mail address that belonged to someone named Bob Finch. Pezzaglia e-mailed the address and got a reply that came through an Internet provider in Chico. The response urged contributions to Rene Antonson...Pezzaglia was sure that Finch was someone named John Gillander, a Chico political operative who is a friend of Sutherland’s former campaign consultant, David Reade. Gillander, according to Chico’s assistant city attorney, has a past conviction in Chico for distributing pamphlets illegally
    Antonson also was angry about the mailers that used his name. He was convinced it was Gillander, working on Sutherland’s behalf.
    Gillander couldn’t be reached. A man who answered the phone at his house said, "Never call this number again," and then hung up.

    But, a few days later, the subpoenaed records arrived from the Chico Internet provider.

    In a court filing, the Internet company’s response to the subpoena seeking the name of the e-mail sender, lists John Gillander of Chico.
    [briefer article here])

    From Beason column:
    ...there recently was a story in a not-so-local paper that gave not-so-accurate coverage of one of the local politicians in an apparent attempt to conjure up some sort of image of her as a victim of nasty politics. According to that paper, all manner of low conduct is being waged in attempts to embarrass this politician.

    As it turns out, the newspaper featuring the story has a personal connection to the alleged "victim," and one might conclude that the story was more than coincidental and less than objective in content. The whole affair gives the appearance of media manipulation. In the first place, it looks like the "victim" story was contrived to gain sympathy for the subject politician. Secondly, it appears that there was a deliberate, calculated complaint to The Union about its lack of reporting of the story in an effort to gain more local coverage sympathetic to the politician involved. Fortunately, to the chagrin of the complainants, The Union followed up and stuck with the story long enough to get the entire fable out in the open.

Questions on this second column: what part of the coverage was inaccurate? what was the "fable"?

[Section removed; in which I laid out what I believed to be the undisputed facts. I was wrong; they are disputed. See Feb. 21 post for explanation.]

As for "getting the entire fable out in the open", here are (I think, more or less) all The Union's writings on the anti-Martin anonymous mailer story:
  • October 11, 2002, Possibly unethical mailings traced to Chico conservative
  • October 12, 2002, Consultant denies sending mailers attacking Martin -
    "Supervisor Martin is out of her mind," said Reade [not Gillander]. "I've never been involved in anything like what she's accused me of, nor have I been involved in what I've been described of here in terms of mailers."

  • October 8, 2002, The Union publisher expresses irritation at the partisan tone of the SN&R article; same general timeframe,The Union editor expresses irritation at what he says is an organized letter-to-the-editor-writing effort asking that The Union match SN&R's hard-hitting reporting. (Note: no "she says" for balance; she doesn't know.)
  • October 12, 2002, the Sac News and Review is owned by the sister of a friend of Martin's - this was not disclosed in SN&R articles, although the reporter says he was not aware of the connection and not pressured to write the article.

for context -
  • Google on Gillander including an arrest for assault (Update: he reports he was acquitted)
  • Google on Reade including this March 2002 article on tactics in a Chico election-
    On March 4 a recorded message was phoned to a number of local registered Democrats urging them to "stop the illegal gerrymandering" by voting yes on Measure B. The call was being made on "behalf of Chico Democrats," says the recording in a voice that is undeniably that of David Reade, the political consultant often credited with being the behind-the-scenes creator of Measure B.

    "We must protect our Chico neighborhoods from the extreme right-wing supervisors," he says.

    Incredibly, he then goes on to say, "Stop the illegal David Reade redistricting plan. Vote yes on Measure B."

    It was an obvious attempt to confuse voters as to what a yes or no vote meant on the measure, because a yes vote in fact favors Reade's plan. Calls to Reade's office were not returned.
    ...The day of the election, the News & Review received a fax from the group Butte County Citizens for Fair Elections, which is operated by Reade and supported Measure B. Accompanying the fax was a copy of an e-mail message purportedly sent by Dolan "indicating her change of heart regarding support for fair election districts for Butte County Supervisors." ...The legitimacy of the attached e-mail is suspect at best..
    ...[Reade's group] tries to defend the use of the phrase "on behalf of Chico Democrats" by including the definition of the word "behalf": "for the benefit of."

Reade advised current District 2 supervisor (and current candidate) Sue Horne on her first run for supervisor.

Several past and present Nevada County Board of Supervisors candidates share a campaign advisor.

The other Beason columns:

Links to more coverage of county issues here

Any more articles I should link to here, please let me know.