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By Martin Lamarque

Measure M and City Council--An interesting conflict of interest

Uploaded: Nov 2, 2014

I find it highly ironic and disingenuous that those who complain when Union money plays a part in elections, see no problem when big developers use their vast resources to buy votes. They do so not by educating voters, but rather by confusing the issues to the point of making a reasonable debate impossible.
You might remember fellow residents, that during last year's Fire Board campaign, the Firemen's Union financial support of two of the candidates became a contentious point in the race, and maybe the defeating factor for the candidates backed by Union's funds.
Some could argue too, that the ability of two of the candidates on the winning slate to lend themselves significant amounts of money to run made that race a mockery of democracy.
Unfortunately, the fact that Measure's M opposition is being lavishly financed with money from the main beneficiary of its defeat reinforces the sad state of our political system, and shows how low our brand of democracy has fallen.
Much discussion has taken place around Greenheart's monetary support of the three incumbents running for City Council. As expected, those three incumbents have tried to minimize the meaning and effect of such support.
At the forum for those running for City council, all candidates were asked whether they saw a conflict of interest in accepting money from a developer whose business they would have to vote on.
Not surprisingly, the 3 incumbents said they didn't.
And in case you didn't attend the event, amazingly, there was no mention of Greenheart throughout the forum. Which I found almost surreal.
As if everyone there had agreed to use the more generic and polite term of "developer" to refer to the biggest spender of money in this election.
One council member declared that if anyone thinks his decisions as council member can be bought with a $500. donation from a developer, they would be wrong to think so.
(I looked at that incumbents' finance report and yes, there was a $500. donation from one developer. But that was not the only developer or rental property owner, there were several. This candidate must have forgotten to specify which developer he was referring too. And of course, there was the $900 donation by Greenheart to print his campaign materials.
Another claimed innocence saying that if someone wanted to drop leaflets on her behalf, she didn't have anything to do with it, and it could not be considered campaign contribution.
I beg you pardon? Someone prints and distributes propaganda to get me elected, and is not considered a contribution to my campaign?
I have a feeling none of the incumbents paused to carefully consider the repercussions of accepting tainted money. The amount is the least of my concerns. The lack of principles and vision in accepting it, is what got me writing about it.

In 2 days we will find out whether all that money confused enough voters into defeating Measure M.
But the tally results will only be the beginning of a series of battles in court and, as the opponents have been trying to scare us with, at the voting booth.
As write this, some are digging around to see to what extent the City might have worked behind the scenes to benefit the opposition to the Measure. If the allegations turn out to be true, a lot of explaining will have to take place, and we will be in for a lot more fighting.

It would have helped if all Councilmembers --currently running for re-election or not-- had kept a safe distance from the developer.