Home » Columns, Decision 2010, Featured

Decision 2010: Flier follies

Submitted by on 1, September 15, 2010 – 5:00 am22 Comments

City Council candidate Adam Gillitt took this photo of a voter registration table where his fliers weren't.

City Council candidate Adam Gillitt’s simmering beef with the Alameda Democratic Club came to a head at this weekend’s Webster Street Jam, with a confrontation between Gillitt and one of the club’s elderly volunteers that led to police being contacted. No charges are being filed; police said the volunteer told them she plans to complain to the Democratic Party.

Last week, Gillitt sent out a press release accusing the club of excluding him from their endorsement process because he didn’t get a copy of the club’s candidate questionnaire and candidate forum invite until shortly before the deadline to submit it had passed. The club’s reps said they made a mistake and that they offered to correct it by giving Gillitt more time to complete the questionnaire, and that they told him they would take steps to ensure their members received his responses. (They added that mayoral candidate Marie Gilmore also didn’t get the questionnaire.) But Gillitt – who said he will attend tonight’s candidate forum “under protest” because he thinks the club’s endorsements have already been decided – said he thinks the omission was deliberate.

“This is another of the ‘mistakes’ made in civic leadership and it was designed to keep the voice of the citizen out of Alameda city government,” Gillitt said.

Fast forward to Webster Street on Sunday afternoon, where Florence Hofmann was manning the club’s voter registration table. When Gillitt saw that fliers he said had previously won permission to place on the table were gone, he demanded to know why they had been removed, he and others said. What followed was a confrontation between Gillitt and Hofmann, who is 78 and wheelchair-bound, that was heated enough to draw bystanders who sought to break it up and eventually, police and paramedics, according to police, bystanders and a written statement from Hoffman that the club sent to reporters (she could not be reached for further comment).

In the statement, Hofmann said that Gillitt accused her of moving his campaign fliers and that when she went to give them back to him, he “started to scream” and grabbed her wrist. (Gillitt said he “inadvertently touched her hand” and accused Hofmann of becoming hysterical when she couldn’t explain why his fliers had been moved; bystanders said that both were shouting.) From Hofmann’s statement:

Florence said she “didn’t move his literature” and she told him to “take his literature and leave.” Florence tried to give his literature back to him. The literature was in her hand and she tried to give it back to him when Gillitt started to scream and grab Florence’s left wrist – and held on to it for several seconds before he let go. Florence said Gillitt told her she “moved his material.” He was screaming at Florence over several minutes. Then he called her a “liar” and Florence said she was “not lying.” He wanted to know “who could have moved it.” Florence said she “didn’t know.”

John Piziali, a former Planning Board member who was working the event, said he was asked by a bystander to come to Hofmann’s aid, and that Jam volunteers worked to calm everyone down until police arrived. Paramedics were also called to attend to Hofmann because she was so shaken by the incident, the local Democratic Club’s reps said.

Gillitt said he intended no malice toward the woman and that he was only advocating for what he believed was his right to have his candidacy promoted alongside others whose materials were on Hofmann’s table.

“If she is fit to deny me my First Amendment rights, and she is fit to serve in public and serve the needs of the City of Alameda Democratic Club, then she is as fit as any other member of the public,” Gillitt said. “I am sorry things got out of hand. I am sorry she got hysterical. I am sorry she tried to deny my First Amendment rights. And I am sorry she got upset.”

The club’s reps, though, said Gillitt – who described himself as a lifelong Democrat but is not a member of the club – didn’t have the right to leave his materials on their table.

“Even if Mr. Gillitt’s complaints were not misguided, there is absolutely no excuse for screaming at, grabbing and terrorizing a person, especially an 80-year old, wheelchair-bound senior who has spent much of the last year in a convalescent home, to the point that outside observers need to call the police,” the club’s co-vice president of programs, John Knox White, said.

Incidentally, the club’s candidate forum – which will include hopefuls in the races for mayor, City Council, Alameda’s Board of Education and Health Care District Board, AC Transit and BART boards – will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at Alameda Hospital, 2070 Clinton Avenue.

Fora, fawning: Speaking of candidate forums, a whole slew of groups are offering you opportunities to hear candidates for City Council, the mayor’s race, school board and more in the weeks heading up to the November election. In addition to tonight’s Democratic Club drive-by, the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society is hosting a forum (focused on preservation questions) on September 23; the Alameda Education Foundation and PTA Council are slated to hold others in October, as is the Alameda Chamber of Commerce. And the local League of Women Voters is hosting a series of four forums that will include candidates for mayor, City Council, school board and the city’s Health Care District board, in addition to talking about state ballot measures.

To keep on top of available forum dates and times, campaign events and more, keep checking our brand-new campaign event calendar, which is on our Decision 2010 election page.

Endorsement update (mayoral edition): Marie Gilmore picked up two more big endorsements in her bid for mayor this week, earning the nod from the Alameda County Democratic Party and the Alameda County Central Labor Council, which includes a host of local unions. The endorsements follow nods from the local firefighters union, former state senator (and fellow mayoral candidate) Don Perata, and outgoing and incoming Alameda County supervisors Alice Lai-Bitker and Wilma Chan.

Frank Matarrese has earned nods from State Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, Alameda County supervisors Keith Carson and Nate Miley, Oakland Vice Mayor Ignacio de la Fuente and AC Transit board members Elsa Ortiz and Joel Young.

Vice Mayor Doug deHaan said he’s not yet releasing his endorsement list, and Tony Daysog could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.


  • Hi Michele, one quick point of clarification. Because there are 7 races and 28 possible candidates, tonight’s Democratic Club meeting will likely go until 10 or 11, not our normal 9pm ending.

  • Irene says:

    I was there at the beginning of the exchange.

    Adam Gillitt asked the two women at the table why his flier, but not the others, was removed. (It was in a box behind the table.) Both women avoided eye contact and did not answer him. He asked again a little more forcefully. One of the women said she had just arrived and didn’t know why it had been removed. Adam then asked the older woman (apparently Florence) why. She again did not answer. After the fourth time, Florence angrily said she didn’t know who had removed it. Adam told her that she SHOULD know because she had been there the whole time. Rather than offer to place Adam’s fliers back on the table, Florence told Adam she would give him his fliers back. Adam got upset, raised his voice at her over the injustice of it all, and Florence started to yell back at him. The two started to go back and forth and I walked away.

    As a side note, that voter registration table is at every street festival. To my recollection, it has never been marked as a Democratic Party table, leaving the impression it is run by a nonpartisan group.

  • Alameda Citizen says:


    We won’t be voting for Lena Tam because while her email spree wasn’t illegal, it demonstrated very poor judgement and looks unethical.

    And we won’t be voting for Adam Gillitt because we think our city leaders should not easily devolve into screaming fits.

    Two down.

  • elliott.gorelick says:

    Based on John Knox White’s first comment, I may be able to speak in person at the Club’s endorsement meeting, but it currently conflicts with Lincoln Middle School’s Back to School Nigh. In case I don’t get the chance at the meeting, here is my statement:


    Dear fellow Democrats,

    I am seeking this endorsement because obviously to be endorsed by the Alameda Democratic Club is preferable to NOT being endorsed by the Club. On the other hand, I have no expectations.

    First, I am not a politician. I am not spending any money on this campaign, not even the funds necessary to place my statement in the voter’s guide. I have not cultivated the political or social connections that would smooth the way to obtaining this endorsement. I have other priorities, hence, my absence in favor of my son’s Back to School Night program. Finally, as you’ll see, I lack the ability or patience to couch my facts so that they will be more palatable to the electorate.

    Second, my position is one in opposition to the establishment. Perhaps, in a too unfortunate reminder of Mr. Gillitt, I contend that my endorsement is endangered by the fact that Rob Bonta, James Oddie, Lena Tam, and Mary Ezzy-Ashcraft are all opposed to the position I take. These are people you know and respect who have actively been involved in Alameda politics and the Hospital. Stewart Chen and Leah Williams have already received the County’s endorsement so what chance do I have in this forum?

    Third and last, I am going to say something that you don’t want to hear. In short, Alameda Healthcare District should radically reorganize the services it provides. This will likely mean closing Alameda Hospital; at a minimum, the Alameda Hospital emergency room must be closed for the good of the community. Perhaps you can afford to ignore what I say because $300 is a trivial amount to you and you never expect to use Alameda Hospital. Maybe you see $300 as worthwhile payment so that when you face a non-emergency healthcare situation, the clean and quick Alameda emergency room is available. (Maybe you wonder where the Club would meet if changes came to the Hospital.) The truth is that if you face a true emergency and you do not have the capacity or knowledge to insist on being taken to a better choice only 15-20 minutes farther away, chances are that you will receive poorer care. I’m not talking about the broken arm or minor gash; I’m referring to the true emergencies that we expect expensive, resource rich emergency rooms to deal with. Whether it is trauma, heart attack, stroke, or uncontrolled infection, Alameda Hospital is less able to deal with the situation than larger, more skilled facilities close enough to overcome any advantage of closeness that Alameda Hospital has. This is reality. It is true even if you are unwilling to believe the results of years of research involving hundreds of thousands of patients. That is a message that is politically incorrect. It is a message that means that some of the Club’s brightest lights are simply wrong when it comes to this issue.

    If you favor good policy over good politics then you will endorse me, but I have no illusions.

    Yours truly,

    Elliott Gorelick

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    Irene- Look at the photo again. The table has signage marking it as a City of Alameda Democratic Club table.

    It is regrettable that Ms Hoffman became upset when asked to explain how and why my rights were violated, but far more regrettable that my rights were violated in the first place. Since she is confined to a wheelchair and unable to move under her own power, I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how she could not know who removed my fliers from under her direct and watchful gaze.

    John Knox White is part of a systematic campaign to silence and exclude my campaign from the Democratic process, while promoting his pro-SunCal candidates and flouting the rules of his own City of Alameda “Democratic” club.

    When I moved to Alameda, I first looked to the CADC for guidance as to how to interpret the political lay of the land in Alameda in the best interest of Democratic voters.

    Now I and everyone else sees the CADC only serves SunCal’s interests and those who contribute the highest amounts to their coffers.

  • Tony Daysog says:

    Hi Michele,

    I’m still working on my endorsement list. I made a stab at the County Democratic Central Committee and the Sierra Club but, alas, fell short. Will update you as I go along. Thanks.

    /s/ Tony Daysog

  • Jon Spangler says:

    It would be nice to know what the actual policy of the CADC is regarding the display of fliers on its table(s). What policies, if any, were in effect?

    It does not make much sense to me that Adam Gillitt refuses to join the local arm of the organization to which he claims life-long loyalty and does not participate in its affairs.

    His incorrect political analysis also fails to make sense. How can it be that Suncal is still somehow manipulating an entire community after 85% of us voted against its flawed initiative? (They never controlled me, either, even though I voted for Measure B, reservations and all.)

  • Adam Gillitt says:


    As always, what you say makes absolutely no sense and bears no connection to what I said.

    What is this us you speak of? You just said were part of the 15% that voted for Measure B.

    What I said was:

    The CADC only serves SunCal’s interests and those who contribute the highest amounts to their coffers.

    How that conflates to the entire community of Alameda is a process that occurs only within your own mind.

    Joining a corrupt organization like the CADC that has nothing to do with actual Democracy is a waste of good money I instead put to use to support causes I believe in.

  • Alamama says:

    Mr. Gillitt — What right of yours was violated? You do not have a right to demand that any private person or organization display your literature. Just as no other candidate or organization has a right to demand that you distribute their literature.

  • ct says:

    Mr Gillitt’s attempt to garner voter support by portraying himself as the victim here is pathetic. There are far more effective ways to assert one’s constitutional rights than to engage an elderly volunteer in a public screaming match.

  • Pete says:

    There was another flier folly down the street from here.

    The Democratic Party’s headquarters had on display only the two Alameda candidates that its county organization endorsed. The woman working there said that she had received numerous complaints from passers-by about excluding other candidate’s materials before the city’s club makes its decision.

  • phasphill says:

    I wasn’t at the exchange, but Florence did give my 3-year old son a “Frank for Mayor” balloon, and he didn’t have to scream at her to get it (though he would have! :)

  • Michael says:

    One really can’t beat the election season for pure entertainment value.

    Much like if mud wrestling was a seasonal sport.

    Michele, the new site is great! I’m buying a subscription and urge the frequent posters here and everyone else to do likewise.

  • Brian says:

    Oh the trials and tribulations of small town politics. He shouldn’t worry about his flyers, after this no one will vote for him anyway. Imagine hassling a woman in a wheelchair!

  • Michael says:

    I think one of the funnier elements of the silly season is the fiction that groups control votes.

    For instance, it’s pathetic fiction to think that union endorsements are a net gain vote-wise. Or that Alameda democrats, or anybody else in significant numbers, really care who the CADC endorses.

    Really… nobody cares about endorsements, except politicians and endorsers. Voters aren’t quite so brain dead yet.

    Endorsements are mostly an exercise in self-aggrandizement, serving only to make endorsers and politicians feel important. It also helps to give politicians aid in determining who to sell out to.

    I find that the real benefit of endorsements is that they are a handy guide to determining who not to vote for.

    I was already going to vote against anyone who was bought and paid for by Sun Cal. Now, I am blessed with help from the fireman’s union picks and the CADC All Sun Cal slate. Weeding out the sell-outs has never been easier!

    I have another rule of thumb for voting which is rarely wrong; barring strong evidence to the contrary, never vote for incumbents or attorneys.

  • elliott.gorelick says:

    Thank you Michelle for posting my statement and thank you Alice Fried of the City of Alameda Democratic Club for reading it at the endorsement meeting last night.

    There were people who didn’t want to hear the reality that Alameda Hospital is a poor choice in an emergency. One gentleman challenged me that the Hospital had been named one of the 100 best for cardiac care by US News and World Report. I think that he misunderstood that particular article, but nonetheless, I did check to make sure that there was solid evidence that interventional treatment (i.e. a cath lab) provided survival advantage over locations that could not provide those services. If anyone wants to contact the questioner to let him know or if he reads this site, I can provide him the citations or he can google the ACUITY and SHOCK trials. My email is myfirstnamedotmylastnameatgmaildotcom.

  • Kate Quick says:

    This “bought and paid for by SunCal” thing is a ridiculous sham and low-life politics. Please look at the candidate’s financial disclosure statements. Look closely for evidence of donations from developers – any developers. You will find that SunCal has not donated to Marie or to Lena. If candidates have run recently in other races and are rolling donations to their current race, it is well to look at those recent past disclosure documents, too. Do your homework.

    It is certainly appropriate to question why someone supported something you did not support, but a claim of “they must of done it because they were paid to do it.” is unfair and slanderous. Be civil and pose your questions on a policy level instead of slinging mud. Reasonable people may disagree for reasonable reasons.

  • tomcharron says:

    Mr Adam Gillitt:

    Some unsolicited advice from an older ‘war horse’.
    Take it or leave it.

    Unfortunately, your behavior and written comments keep reminding me of ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ repetitive cries.

    Mr Dangerfield’s comic line was, “I Don’t Get No Respect!”.

    He made a living on that line, but, seems your use of similar verbage is not serving you very well.

    First rule of politics: “Life Is Not Fair! So get over it!”

    Most of us learned this lesson in Kindergarden. But we are never too old to learn what our gradkids can teac us.

    Hopefully you can adjust to this fact and move on.

  • soij says:

    There seems to be very little “democracy” in these “Democratic” organizations. They’re insider clubs, plain and simple.

    Meanwhile, Adam Gillitt got setup and fell for it. Why do you think they put a 78 year old lady in a wheelchair at the desk where they dumped his fliers? They KNEW he’d be coming by and that he’d make scene. No way would John Knox White be sitting at that desk – he sat back and chuckled at the fireworks. They played Gillitt for the rookie he is. I hope he keeps fighting, if not this election, then the next.

    These small-town politics are disgusting but predictable.

    Anyone tainted with the SunCal brush gets no vote here. Union endorsement? Is that supposed to make me feel like the candidate is going to work to protect the City’s financial interests? Just the opposite. I wish the candidate field were larger and the pre-election vetting time longer. Too many snakes in the grass.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    Hanging next to the CADC’s endorsements in their headquarter windows on Webster street, there is a poster in the front window which has a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt on it, that sums up the entire attempt of John Knox White, the CADC, and their cronies to marginalize me and the issues pertaining to my campaign:

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

  • Adam_Gillitt says:

    Since there are people continuing to link to this article, and no accurate information circulating about what happened on this day, I will explain what happened: my campaign literature was removed from the table by, as it turned out later, CADC volunteer Karen Green as yet another of their acts to unfairly exclude me during the campaign. Mrs. Hofmann had not left the table and was unable to provide an account of why it was removed at the time. When I replaced my literature and asked her again and was ignored, as witness accounts bear out, she became hostile and attempted to remove my fliers again from the table. In the process of trying to keep my fliers on the table, my hand contacted hers inadvertently, and then I removed it from hers. Mrs. Hofmann demanded police and medical attention, who determined that no harm was done and no further action needed to be taken.

    However, I made several attempts via the CADC to personally apologize to Mrs. Hofmann, but was denied in each of my efforts. It makes for a better story to paint me as a demon who attacks little old ladies in wheelchairs, but what really happened was that we were both put into a situation where we lost our tempers and acted badly, and for that I am sorry.

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.