All You Ever Needed To Know About The Incumbents Menlo Park Elections, posted by ElectionWatcher, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2006 at 12:55 am
From The Almanac's update at 12:37 p.m.:
The incumbent slate had a party a few doors down on San Mateo Drive, but it was off limits to the press.
At a gathering at around 10 p.m. at the Menlo Park City Council chambers, all the candidates -- except the two incumbents -- showed up to be interviewed for an election night broadcast by Cable Channel 27.
Posted by AgreewithGern, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2006 at 12:47 pm
Vince Bressler was the most impressive candidate in many ways as well as the only truly independent person running for council. But if you look at the results, it appears that the biggest influence on the vote was the Almanac endorsement--how else to explain that Boyle got so many votes when the centerpiece of his campaign, Measure J (which the Almanac opposed) went down to defeat?
Anyone who watched the cable broadcast last night in which Boyle called residents stupid ("they didn't know what they were doing when they signed the referendum petition") and said that developers who've invested millions in a project should have the right to go ahead and build it can see that we may have a very difficult four years ahead of us. At least he's only one vote. For now.
Posted by HorseTrader, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2006 at 3:21 pm
Richard Cline was also legitimately independent, having declared his candidacy long, long ago.
Just to rebut the other myths, its convenient for those on the "pro-business" side to suggest that no growth happens during so-called residentialist councils. In fact more commercial development took place in Menlo Park between 1996 and 2002, during pro-neighborhood majorities, both in dollars invested and applications submitted, than at any time before or since, under any majority. During those six years only two (2) commercial projects were denied. That hardly smacks of any kind of excess.
Only the most dedicated revisionist could forget the boom.
What is truer, is not that pro-neighborhood councils prevent all growth, but that pro-business councils prevent no growth. Rubberstamp councils have a long, documented history of voting "yes" to staff recommendations for project approvals without driving harder bargains for the community. Staff usually does a pretty good job, but they are not paid to horse trade, they are paid to expedite approvals and write staff reports.
Typically rubberstampers position themselves as residentialists ("we're the real residentialists,' Winkler declared in 2000), and position residentialists as obstructionists.
Posted by AgreewithHorse, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2006 at 4:06 pm
Horse, by "independent" I meant not promoted by the unions on the one side or the developers on the other. All three challengers ran independent campaigns.
I'm sure I am not the only person who is tired of hearing "residentialist!" hissed as if it were an evil epithet. Are we residents really such awful people for wanting to live in safe, reasonably peaceful neighborhooods with minimal traffic,parks, and good schools? Under the current council, some of us have felt constantly beleaguered by constant incursions on our homes and neighborhoods, but if we object to development--especially development that violates the general plan and makes little financial or structural sense for Menlo Park--we're labeled as NIMBYs.
On the other hand, I am taking an immediately liking to "rubberstamp council" and much prefer that to "pro-business" as a description of what we've seen since 2002. Add "lazy" to "rubberstampers" and you have a succinct explanation for the reason El Camino is a wasteland, our industrial park is underperforming, and our residents voted out the incumbents.
Posted by HorseTrader, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2006 at 5:43 pm
I'll be the first one to admit that $22,000 of union money spent in the campaign is loud.
On other hand just because the union spent that much money on the campaign and endorsed candidates, doesn't mean anything about the candidates and their relationship to the unions.
The union's hit pieces are bona fide "independent expenditures", and to my knowledge none of the endorsed candidates accepted money from them. The "independent" part of "independent expenditure" has a real, legal meaning, as opposed to "coordinated" where the unions and campaigns would be talking to each other and cooperative.
ON the other hand, I strongly suspect that the other PACS such as Menlo Park Matters, and Menlo Park on Track, are coordindated with the respective campaigns, even if they don't admit it, and even if they file their reports incorrectly. The one Palo Alto Daily article about the fake democratic mailers made basically proved that Menlo Park Matters was in direct contact with Boyle, Winkler, and Duboc. ON its face that contact is sufficient to call them "coordinated."
The unions really did manage a much higher level of compartmentalization between their activities and the campaigns they supported by having no contact outside of the endorsement interviews.
The union is a legitimate 3rd party, that can spend as much money as it wants, support whoever it wants, for whatever reasons, and endorse whoever it wants, just like you and I can. That doesn't mean the candidates have a relationship with them.
Of course, in this case, the unions did have endorsement meetings with candidates that candidates volunteered to attend, and I'm sure that if the candidates did not seek union endorsements and did not want union endorsements, that it would be unlikely that the unions would have endorsed them. But I'm not sure the relationship is much deeper than that.
In the "old" days, it was typical for the "rubberstamp" councils to get union endorsements, and actually take union money, about $750 from some union like the steamfitters and pipefitters. They got those endorsements and that money, because the building trades council of the union has a lot of clout, and rubberstampers, who support essentially unreviewed development were thought to be good for building trades.
Up until Kelly Fergusson's election in 2004, it was rare to the point of being unheard of that the pro-neighborhood candidates were even able to get union endorsements.
In 2002, it was Duboc, Winkler, and Jellins that got the union endorsements. I suspect union animosity in this election more reflected its disappointement with the slate and the slates' own animosity toward the union than it reflected a true love of either Cline or Robinson. And I suspect that unions would have been as financially involved this election even if none of the pro-neighborhood candidates sought their endorsement. The union would simply have printed negative literature without the positive endorsementes of candidates.
The devil that they knew was much worse than the devil that they didnt know.
Posted by Political Animal, a resident of another community, on Nov 8, 2006 at 6:22 pm
I think The Alamanac endorsement helped, but I don't think it was the biggest influence in the election. The union sent three mailers received by most voters supporting Cline and Robinson and opposing Duboc and Winkler. The candidates supported by the union came in first and second, and the candidates opposed by the union finished last. It seems to me the big winner in the election was the union. I happen to agree with most of what the union was saying, so I won't think too unkindly of them for their role. Besides, it was obscene to see how much money developers were pouring into the race for the other side, so the union at least made it a fair fight.
Has anyone tallied how much was spent on this little race? Between the union, developers, candidates, and Menlo Park Matters, I'm figuring around $10 per voter. Just give me the $10 and you can have my vote!
Posted by Political Animal, a resident of another community, on Nov 8, 2006 at 6:49 pm
I think the incumbents made several mistakes, but perhaps the biggest one was picking so many fights right before the election -- Bayfront Park, the Menlo Children's Center, etc. I would have thought they would tone it down during an election year and try to seem a little more statesmanlike, but they just went nuts. It was amazing to watch them implode like that. I winced every time I read one of Winkler's e-mails. Ouch, Mickie, are you really sure you want to say these things? It was fascinating to read, the way looking at an accident on the freeway is fascinating.
Posted by Menlo Park Matters, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2006 at 11:52 am
As of today for 2006:
$11079.00 monetary contributions
$6000.00 non monetary contribution
$6570.00 voter guides and slate mailers
We are NOT a "candidate controlled committee", we are a city "general
purpose committee". We have openly reported all of our actions to date. We sent our mailers after telling the DWB campaigns that we were going to do so. We will continue to work for candidates and measures that we believe to be in the best interest of Menlo Park. We have nothing to hide and invite you to go through our disclosures with the FPPC. We would hope the same can be said by all entities involved in this election and look forward to seeing what was actually spent by both sides.
Posted by ElectionWatcher, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2006 at 12:58 pm
Perhaps you'd like to be a little more forthcoming about that $6000 non-monetary contribution that you received - namely from a firm billing itself as a "national Republican political consulting firm"? Pretty over-the-top for a local election, wouldn't you say?
Posted by Menlo Park Matters, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2006 at 1:12 pm
The $6000.00 non-monetary contribution was from a Mr. Bob Wickers of Portola Valley. He personally, without affiliation to anyone that I am aware of did a citywide survey that consisted of polling 300 likely voters of Menlo Park. Again, this is clearly reported by us in our FPPC filings. How is this over the top? I am going to bet that all the union people dropping off literature at everyone's doorsteps for the other side are not even going to report their services as "in-kind" non monetary contributions as required by law.
The largest non-monetary contribution was provided to Menlo Park Matters, a residents' group that supports the "majority" candidates of Boyle, Duboc and Winkler. The group has received $10,330 in contributions — $6,000 of which represents the value of polling services donated by the San Francisco-based firm, Dresner, Wickers and Associates LLC. The firm polled Menlo Park voters by telephone in September.
And here's Dresner, Wickers and Associates website where it bills itself as "a national Republican political consulting firm."
Posted by Political Animal, a resident of another community, on Nov 9, 2006 at 5:06 pm
I don't think Menlo Park Matters was a particularly effective influence on this election. I don't have much regard for those paid slate mailers, and the one MPM sent hurt Boyle, Duboc, and Winkler with the negative press it generated. The vendors who produce tbose slate mailers are mercenaries, selling space to the highest bidder. They have no idea who any of the candidates are and they don't care.
In any event, I'm hoping once the heat dies down from the election, the new council will give serious consideration to campaign contribution limits. Menlo Park is a small town. For $100,000 or awhatever was spent, why not make a downpayment on a house, buy two new cars, or send your kid to college for a few years. Candidates shouldn't be receiving such large contributions from anyone, developers or unions.
Posted by Political Animal, a resident of another community, on Nov 10, 2006 at 12:30 am
Interesting snippet from today's Merc:
In a stunning rebuke of the policies and style of two Menlo Park incumbents, voters kicked Lee Duboc and Mickie Winkler out of office in favor of newcomers Heyward Robinson, Rich Cline and John Boyle.
Duboc and Winkler finished in last and second-to-last place after enjoying -- and some would say abusing -- the advantages of power the last four years. Along with Nicholas Jellins, they made up a majority voting bloc that leaned pro-business and pro-development.
Top vote-getter Robinson said Duboc and Winkler made the decision to cast the race as union vs. non-union. The strategy seemingly backfired.
``Mickie and Lee decided to take them on and pick a fight,'' Robinson said.
Indeed, on Wednesday, Duboc blamed the unions that supported Robinson and Cline for the loss.
``We had about 14 hit pieces against Mickie and me,'' she said. ``I think negative campaigning works.''
Duboc added that she had learned a lesson: ``You don't mess with the unions.''
The Jellins-Winkler-Duboc group also saw one of its favored projects, playing fields at Bayfront Park, defeated in an advisory vote. Measure K, a utility users tax measure intended to boost the city's budget, failed as well.
Boyle ran on a slate with Duboc and Winkler. On Wednesday, he said he was ready to ``build a healthy new relationship'' on the council, where three of five members will be new to the dais.
Political campaigns focus on differences, Boyle said, ``but in government, you focus on common ground.''
Posted by Political Animal, a resident of another community, on Nov 10, 2006 at 12:43 am
Did anyone notice the GOP doorhanger included Mickie Winkler on its list of supported candidates? Mickie wasn't endorsed by the Republican Party (she can't be -- she's a Democrat), but her slate-mates were. Was that a typo or does the Republican Party know something we don't? If she's a Republican, I wish she'd just come out of the closet with it. It's not a disease, and it seems silly to pretend otherwise.
If she registered as a Democratic to gain some political advantage, I'd say that was yet another political miscalculation on her part. I was finding plenty of Republicans who supported Heyward and Rich, two Democrats! Partisan affiliation seemed to have little to do with how voters thought about this race.
Posted by ElectionWatcher, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2006 at 9:49 am
Ah, the final "spin" from Lee and Mickie: The union is solely to blame for their losing.
Given that you two managed to get a mere 6000 votes between you (as incumbents, no less, and spending some $100k on your re-election) while newcomers Robinson and Cline got about 9000 votes between them(or 50% MORE than you did) and that your "ticket-to-re-election" (Measure J) went similarly down in flames with 62% voting "no" (and I don't quite remember a "hit piece" coming from the union on Measure J), your defeat is due to MUCH MORE than the union - I suggest you re-read this earlier post from Political Animal:
"I think the incumbents made several mistakes, but perhaps the biggest one was picking so many fights right before the election -- Bayfront Park, the Menlo Children's Center, etc. I would have thought they would tone it down during an election year and try to seem a little more statesmanlike, but they just went nuts. It was amazing to watch them implode like that. I winced every time I read one of Winkler's e-mails. Ouch, Mickie, are you really sure you want to say these things? It was fascinating to read, the way looking at an accident on the freeway is fascinating."
Posted by Political Animal, a resident of another community, on Nov 10, 2006 at 11:15 am
Is the complaint from supporters of the incumbents that the union made this a fair fight? If the incumbents hadn't take big contributions from developers and realtors, they'd be in a position to cry foul when the big, bad union steps in on the other side. By my estimation, the incumbents and Menlo Park Matters spent around $100,000. The challengers and the union spent around $75,000. Even if the union failed to report $25,000 of in-kind activity, which they have absolutely no interest in doing from a legal or political point of view, it would only be a tie on spending.
Sorry to disappoint you. The incumbents only got to outspend the challengers by a 4 to 3 ratio, not 2 to one like you were hoping.
Posted by FPPC WatchDog, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2006 at 10:32 am
First some background: Information about California PAC, donors to (state offices) and other on-line data is here: Web Link
Source for filing information and rules is the Fair Political Practices Commisssion. They have a website.
There are different kinds of committees, two of which are "candidate controlled" and "general purpose." MPM is a general purpose committee. It was formed as the successor of a "candidate controlled committee" named "The Menlo Park Neighborhood Association", controlled by Duboc, Winkler, and Jellins in 2002. Web Link
Committees are either "independent" or "coordinated." Both statuses are legal; however, coordinated committees must report differently than independent committees. Independent really means, no contact whatsoever --none-- between committee principals, which seems unlikely for BD&W given their instructions to donate to MPM, and given an article in the Daily (the one about the Democratic slate mailers) in which Dick Poe of MPM openly admits talking to each of BD&W. In characteristic fashion, D&W couldnt remember talking to Dick Poe, to the best of their Nixonian recollections, but Boyle did admit it.
If A, a general purpose PAC, is "coordinated" with B, a candidate controlled PAC, then most donations to A must be reported as "in-kind" contributions to B. This was not done. Essentially, if these PACs are "coordinated" then a donation to one is a donation of sorts to the other, and the filing laws required that type of disclosure.
In particular, a $6000 political poll had been conducted for and was donated "in-kind" to MPM. It is simply unimagineable to me that MPM didnt share the results of that poll with BD&W. Also, MPM reported the poll as an "in-kind" contribution from a San Francisco entity, meaning that someone conducted the poll and donated it. Since its hard to imagine some SF entity loved BD&W enough to and was smart enough to conduct a poll all on their own, its likely that they were a front for the real donor, who actually paid for the poll, meaning someone was able to make a $6000 contribution to BD&W and remain anonymous. If so, *that* is illegal. One can give big, but one must report it in filings.
And a bit of history for MNPA:
Oddly, in 2002, MPNA did *not* introduce itself as a "candidate controlled" committee, but rather as a group of "disgruntled neighbors" headed up by Sharon Heights resident Reg Rice and Linfield resident Michael Meyers who was a candidate in 2002 but withdrew to support Duboc, Winkler, and Jellins. This group was responsible for the infamous "blockhead" mailings. The blockhead mailings criticized many acts and positions of the prior council , many of which Nicholas Jellins had himself supported. But because the MNPA abstracted the identity of both its authors and hid Jellins historical voting records, it was made to seem as if Jellins was an incumbent opposing many positions that he himself had taken as an incumbent.
Posted by FPPC Watchdog, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2006 at 11:12 am
"He personally, without affiliation to anyone that I am aware ..."
Hmmm, "to my awareness ..." is not the same as ".. it is not true that..." but nice try. I'll stop investigating on your word, yesiree.
Wickers polling firm is a political consultant, not a telemarketing company. I doubt Wicker made the calls himself, so the calling was sub'd to a telemarketing firm-- this is normal-- and I doubt the telemarketing company donated their caller's times. Someone probably paid money for this.
Wickers probably needed to include an amount for his own consulting services in additional to the telemarketing bill, and maybe should file a schedule G so we have an exploding detail record about his claimed expenditures, including any cash he may have paid to a telemarketing firm to conduct the calls.
After that there are two remaining issues.
MPM needs to confirm with Wickers that no third parties re-imbursed him or his subcontractors, and you need to affirm that no part of the poll was shared with any of the candidates, because if it was then they need to declare it as an in-kind donation as well.
BTW, Dick, since you already told the press that you talked to each of the candidates about the slate mailer, it becomes hard to believe you did not talk to them about the results of the poll.
And by the way, I for one, still appreciate that this year, "your side" did the best it could to actually report polling services received. In past elections, 1998 and then again in 2002, professional polling also took place without any financial disclosures. Perhaps its just a coincidence that now that Nicholas is no longer involved, the previously laundered campaing money is getting reported, and, oddly, Democratic consultants, McGovern (Godbe Research) are being replaced with Republican consultants.