The Island comments: Enough is enough
Late Tuesday afternoon someone forwarded me an e-mail from a JHayes from Taxpayer Network, an anonymously funded nonprofit “education” group that has been filling local voters’ mailboxes with attacks on elected leaders who are running for local office.
“Dear fellow Alamedan,” the three-paragraph missive from a purported member of the group – which has been using the Rocklin address of a Republican political consultant on its mailers – began, “Economic times are tough in our city and we need the City Council to enact ordinances to create jobs; not their votes to shut jobs out.”
In the two paragraphs that followed, JHayes took Vice Mayor (and mayoral candidate) Doug deHaan to task for votes he cast on the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex and parking garage redevelopment project. And it urged voters to contact deHaan about his votes – at home.
The e-mail was the latest dirty trick in a campaign that could go down as the dirtiest in Alameda’s history. And that’s really saying a lot.
Alameda has had what one might generously call a colorful history when it comes to electoral politics in which attacks, some outright false and others deeply personal, are nothing new. But candidates and local political watchers say they’ve never seen anything like what we are experiencing now. And they say outside money – some of which, or perhaps all of which, is being spent by the developer city officials once hoped would revitalize Alameda Point – is to blame.
The unprecedented flood of robocalls, phony fliers, nasty mailers and television ads – and let’s not forget those fake-addressed contribution checks – have proved an epic distraction from our issues, which even SunCal’s spokesman, David Soyka, told The Island that voters should be focusing their attention on: Pension reform, a balanced city budget, attracting business, government transparency, enhancing our quality of life.
Instead of bringing you a report on what happened at Tuesday night’s school board meeting – where hundreds of Alamedans turned out to express their concerns about proposed school closures and the shuttering of Encinal and Emma Hood swim centers – I am talking to you about yet another dirty campaign trick, with little to offer about who is responsible. I called every Alameda number for a J Hayes I could find, and so far no one has claimed responsibility.
Taxpayer Network all but brags on its website that its donors and expenditures are secret, because they are not, by the letter of the law, advocating for or against candidates. But no one can deny their attacks are having an impact on our election. Even candidates I have talked to who some might assume are benefiting from the dirty tactics being employed have said they are disgusted by what’s going on. And they, too, want it to stop.
So I have a message for voters who may be disenchanted with the current state of Alameda politics and the flood of outside money being directed at our local elections, one that you are free to consider “educational” that won’t show up on any campaign disclosure form:
“Taxpayer Network and SunCal have spent unknown sums of money playing dirty politics with Alameda’s election. Call them at (916) 626-6804 or (949) 777-4000 and tell them to stop wasting our time with their mailers, tricks and TV ads.”
You can also let these folks know you want them to stop poisoning our local elections with their dirty campaign tactics by signing this editorial along with us, in the comments section below.