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Friday, December 9, 2016

Alameda council files FPPC complaint over mystery campaign mailers

Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog during
the Dec. 6 council meeting.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
Just weeks before Election Day, some Alameda voters received highly negative mailers against Councilmember Tony Daysog. However, the mailers equating Daysog to Donald Trump and accusing him of participating in a pay-to-play scheme for campaign contribution. Notably, each failed to identify who was behind their creation and dissemination. The mystery behind the makers of the mailers remains unknown.

However, at least two Alameda residents have filed written complaints with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and last week the Alameda City Council voted to add its own complaint.

No evidence alleging who or what group created the pair of mailers is believed to be included in the city’s complaint. One citizen complaint included unsubstantiated claims fingering the Alameda Firefighters political action committee.

Neither mailer against Daysog, above and
below, included "paid for" I.D.'s.
State election law requires political mailers to include a “paid for” description, typically placed at the bottom of each piece. Moreover, despite the lack of identification on the Daysog mailers, they could still be legal if less than 200 pieces were sent to Alameda voters. But how widespread the mailings were is unknown, but each featured an actual postage stamp, rather than a marker for bulk mail.

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer brought the issue to the City Council last Tuesday night in a belief the city’s complaint would add heft to the FPPC’s investigation, which is already underway, according to City Attorney Janet Kern.

Daysog, who received the brunt of the explosive mailers some believe seriously derailed his re-election last month, said the harsh tenor of the recent campaign season was unprecedented in Alameda. He supported filing the FPPC complaint, along with Councilmember Frank Matarrese and Spencer. Councilmember Jim Oddie abstained, and Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft was absent.

“I do think that it’s important for the city council to make a statement that says, ‘You know, that kind of politics might be fine for the bigger cities like the L.A.s. of the world and the San Franciscos of the world, but here in the city of Alameda, a mid-size city of 75,000, we have certain values when it comes to civic engagement and that we’re going to affirmatively support those values,'” said Daysog.

Matarrese, himself, is no stranger to a barrage of hit pieces. During his 2010 run for mayor, Matarrese’s campaign was bedeviled by a negative campaign blitz by a group seeking to develop Alameda Point. “Being on the receiving end of it, I know it’s no fun,” he said. Matarrese agrees that Alameda’s political campaigns are becoming more coarse every election cycle, but so is the level of discourse among supporters of each campaign. “We have to start chipping away at what has become an ugly environment,” said Matarrese

Several public speakers slammed the mysterious mailers for their corrosive impact on the city’s political discourse. “Not only is it an insult to Tony,” said Alameda resident Susan Sperry, “but an insult to all of us.”

In a statement reminiscent of the last presidential campaign--also one of the most negative in recent
memory--one Alameda resident Tuesday night alleged another City Council candidate was behind the offending mailers and declared, “I wish she does hard time,” said Noel Folsom.

“I understand there a lot of anger over the election,” said Oddie. He suggested, instead, issuing a resolution condemning the kind of negative campaigning exhibited in the mailers against Daysog. Oddie later called Spencer’s referral a “waste of time.”

“It’s really not going to matter what we do,” said Oddie, noting an FPPC investigation is already underway. Spencer countered, the issue is not negative campaigning, but the likely appearance of election violations.

HERE & THERE

  • Mayor Spencer’s nomination of Sherice Youngblood to the city’s Social Services Human Relations Board was met with resistance from opponents who say the last-minute appointment to replace Alameda school board member-elect Jennifer Williams is political cronyism. With Spencer ally Councilmember Daysog’s last council meeting slated for Dec. 20, most observers believe Youngblood’s appointment would not be met favorable with expected new council majority of Ashcraft, Oddie and newcomer Malia Vella. “I’m curious, why push to fill Jen Williams’s seat knowing that Malia Vella got elected, we didn’t do anything for the [Historical Advisory Board]?” Before winning election to the Alameda City Council last month, Vella was a HAB member. According to the City Charter, it’s the mayor’s prerogative when to schedule agenda items and make appointments. City Clerk Lara Weisinger noted there was more urgency to quickly fill the social services board seat. In addition, there was some confusion over whether the seat would actually be vacated by Williams, said Weisinger. The appointment was approved Tuesday night and will return for discussion on Dec. 20.
  • The Oakland warehouse fire disaster killing 36 people last week has got some Alamedans worried about its own stock of vacant warehouses, primarily at the former Alameda Naval Air Station. “Tragedies like this can happen in any community,” said Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach. But she assured the City Council and public last week that strong code enforcement exists at these properties. In addition, while many warehouses in Oakland are privately-owned, most of the buildings at the Point are city-owned, “so we have control over the uses of those buildings,” she said.
  • A $7.3 million state grant for the Central Avenue Complete Streets program was likely to be approved last Wednesday by the California Transportation Commission, said Keimach.

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