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Disguising issues: trick or treat?

Original post made by Catherine McMillan, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park, on Oct 24, 2006

The backers of the Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler and John Boyle slate are cooking up a cynical brew this Halloween: lump together city employees, union endorsements, the local swim program, and the opposing candidates. Toss in large doses of hysteria and a measure of vitriol. Whip it all up to confuse voters and there you have it: an indigestible mess.
After misusing the sports leagues for political pandering, the slate's PR operation is now urging people to rally to the rescue of Burgess Pool, creating the misleading impression that it is in grave peril.
The pool is yet another example of a non-issue manufactured into a wedge issue by disingenuous people. The only relevant issue is that of sound governance: Menlo Park's interests are best served when competitive bidding occurs.
Candidates Vince Bressler, Heyward Robinson, and Rich Cline have repeatedly expressed admiration for the pool program. They do, however, reject the no-bid process the City Council majority engaged in which awarded operation of a new $7 million taxpayer-funded facility without the benefit of open bidding.
In a press release, Ms. Duboc attacks labor unions (which opposed the private pool deal) and says: "The real issue is who the voters are going to trust to stand up to these powerful special interests ..." Who are those evil-doer "special interests?" They represent our city employees, people we trust with the care of our public assets and even our children. Why the slate candidates are vilifying a city employees' union is mystifying. Ms. Duboc was herself endorsed by the very union she now reviles, along with candidate Mickie Winkler, when they first ran for council four years ago.
Notably, neither Mr. Robinson or Mr. Cline, whom the SEIU endorsed this time around, has received any money from the union.
Conversely, the Winkler-Duboc-Boyle slate is gleefully amassing enormous donations from property developers and the real estate community. At a time when Menlo Park is re-zoning land feverishly, the objectivity of candidates now accepting thousands of dollars from those who will most benefit from future council decisions about development is a legitimate concern. One must echo Ms. Duboc's prescient words: Who are the voters "going to trust to stand up to these powerful special interests?"
Catherine McMillan


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