REALITY CHECK: Painting their opponents black: Are All The Other Candidates REALLY Heartless Bums Who Want To Take Away Our Playing Fields (And Pools, Too)???
Of all the political campaign tricks out there, the worst (without a doubt) has to be the "smear" campaign (who can forget the "Swift Boaters" that dogged John Kerry in 2004?). Unfortunately, "smear" can be very effective, influencing fringe voters who typically end up basing their decisions on relatively precious little information. But if such voters take the time to do a simple common-sense-based "reality check," they can readily see right through most smear campaigns.
Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), here in Menlo Park, the Winkler/Duboc/Boyle slate has resorted to a common version of the smear campaign: "If you're not with us, then you must be against us," where things are painted in stark black and white, with absolutely no shades of gray allowed, leading to incorrect apples-to-oranges conclusions being drawn by voters. Let's set the record straight on two such attempted smears:
Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's first attempt at a smear campaign has involved the hot-button issue of playing fields. Using Measure J, which specifically looks just at playing fields at Bayfront Park (an advisory-only measure that, as council members, Winkler and Duboc saw to it was put up specifically that way for what is really a wholly unnecessary vote and a measure that candidates Winkler/Duboc/Boyle now champion), they have sought to effectively frame the debate as: You either support Measure J (their measure) OR you are against adding playing fields, period. Unfair, but unfortunately potentially quite effective with fringe voters.
They then took the next step forward (or should we say "down" instead) and have questionably used the heads of various youth and adult leagues to send out mass emails to their participants effectively framing the debate in a similar fashion and calling for support of Winkler/Duboc/Boyle on election day.
Well, don't be fooled - while Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's opponents have ALL publicly come out against Measure J, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose that particular measure that doesn't make one "anti-playing fields" - take the time to read our webpage (at www.TakeBackMenloPark.com) “Playing Fields: Beware of "Phantom Promises" which details why:
-- You're not "anti-playing fields" if you vote "NO" on Measure J.
-- A vote for Winkler/Duboc/Boyle may well mean NO playing fields at Bayfront in the end.
Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's second (and most recent) attempt at a smear campaign has involved the hot-button issue of privatizing operation of the new Burgess pool complex (something that Ms. Winkler championed). In this case, they have sought to effectively frame the debate as: If you like using the new pool complex (and who doesn't - it's a brand new pool complex, after all!), you need to vote for us because our opponents (with the help of the "nasty, old union") will kick out the current operator (the likeable and good-looking Tim Sheeper) and replace him with (lazy and budget-busting) city employees.
Under this strategy, Winkler/Duboc/Boyle can expect strong support from members of Tim Sheeper's so-called "Menlo Masters" program (a "hard-core" swim team led by Mr. Sheeper). However, given that Menlo Master's is a relatively small and isolated group, Winkler/Duboc/Boyle sought to use this smearing strategy to also garner votes from the much larger population of general pool users - resulting in the shamelessly political (and deceptive) "save-our-pool" rally orchestrated by Winkler/Doboc/Boyle on October 19 - a rally which, according to The Almanac, "quickly transformed into a scene more common among bickering third-graders than grown adults" ("Pool Rally Turns Into Shouting Match") when the other three council candidates came forward to defend themselves as criticism of them mounted. This ugly incident even made the San Jose Mercury News, which noted within its October 22 "Internal Affairs" political column: "Things degenerated after a member of the public who opposes the Duboc-Winkler-Boyle slate tried to speak and was shouted down by some of the incumbents and their supporters. The unidentified woman was ordered to shut up and leave before she asserted herself and said, "I am a citizen of Menlo Park. You can't tell me where to be.'' Suffice to say, the rally backfired."
Now, the holding of a political rally at a community pool where innocent swimmers, including families with children, were just trying to enjoy their day, has to be seriously questioned at the very least as an atrociously bad PR stunt, particularly given that sitting council members Winkler and Duboc - who certainly should know better - were actively involved, with Ms. Duboc reportedly going as far as trying to shout down an opposing candidate's comments herself. But unfortunately, this seems to be just "par for the course" from Winkler/Duboc/Boyle, who have thus far made absolutely no apologies for either the rally or their (or their supporters) extremely poor behavior at it.
And as far as operation of Burgess Pool goes, none of Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's opponents have to the best of our knowledge even suggested looking at removing the current operator, Mr. Tim Sheeper, and they have all likewise not even questioned his operation of the facility (although, given the scary near-miss chlorine gas incident that occurred last June and Mr. Sheeper's reaction to it, one could legitimately have some questions about those operations).
Instead, what we have witnessed is Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's opponents all having (rightfully) questioned the process that led to awarding of the contract to Mr. Sheeper - namely a no-bid, long-term (5-year) contract awarded in just four scant weeks after Mr. Sheeper first came publicly forward offering to take over operations (conveniently on the very night that the city council was supposed to authorize hiring employees to run the pool) with ABSOLUTELY NO RENT being required of Mr. Sheeper to run the new $6.8-million taxpayer-paid-for pool complex. Oh, and by the way:
-- In 2003, Mr. Sheeper offered to pay annual rent of up to $150,000 AND raise $500,000 to cover additional construction costs if the city would just enlarge its old main pool and let his group use it!
-- The city had no local model to base the pool agreement on, since according to the city's Director of Community Services, no other Bay Area city has privatized its pools!
What we are demanding (and, again, we are not associated with Winkler/Duboc/Boyle's opponents) is that the next city council reopen the pool operations contract with Mr. Sheeper with a goal of either collecting rent from him for the privilege of using the brand new, taxpayer-paid for pool complex and/or his reducing the excessive “country club”-type users fees currently being charged city residents (including charging people who simply want to watch over their kids swimming the regular entrance fee!).
THE "BOTTOM LINE":
The other candidates running are hardly "anti-playing fields" or "anti-pool" but instead "pro-good governance" - something sadly not seen under Winkler/Duboc's reign!