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How could I forget to follow the money?


161ccd73a48f7d274937e3f79228a2a6Gramps also told me to always check campaign contributions when writing about political issues but, doggone it, I forgot to do that before writing the piece about the smackdown attached to the leases at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey.

Sure enough, there were some contributions that may help explain why Councilman Ed Smith thinks the existing policies are just fine and why he hasn’t joined with  Alan Haffa, Libby Downey and Timothy Barrett in trying to put some business sense into the process.

I haven’t been able to find Ed’s campaign reports from his first attempt at a council seat, but when he ran last year he got the following contributions from folks who’d like to preserve the sweetheart arrangements at the wharf:

Chris’ Fishing Trips, $250.
Mercurio Brothers, $250.
Monterey Bay Boat Charters, $100.
Cafe Fina, $250.
Ben DiGirolamo, $100
Sam Balesteri, $1,000
Monterey Bay Silver, $250.
Coniglio Family Trust, $250.
Benji Shake, $200
Mary Alice Cerrito Fettis, $100.

The names of some people with wharf interests were conspicuously absent from Smith’s reports. I’m guessing, and it is only a guess, that some of them might have been behind a $2,000 contribution from something called the Monterey Bay Action Committee, with a Carmel address. The thing is, I don’t know what the Monterey Bay Action Committee is but something tells me it’s the Peninsula’s answer to contractor Don Chapin’s Salinas Valley Leadership Group. If you know, please chime in. If I’ve got it wrong, please chime in very loudly.

The fifth member of the City Council, Mayor Clyde Roberson, is also opposed to changing the wharf leasing policies. He ran unopposed for his seat and didn’t receive campaign contributions. So that’s not it. It would be great if he would give us his take on the topic.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Luana Conley June 4, 2015, 9:36 am

    I would like to know on what grounds these shills can be recalled or at the very least recused from voting when their personal interest is so obviously attached to voting this way or that on issues which require impartial and informed analysis and action. They are clearly not serving the community at large, and should be carried out to the sidewalk and the locks changed. If decent society can’t set an example and mind the store at the local level it’s no wonder that state and federal gov’t representation is so utterly corrupt.

    • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 9:56 am

      Luana, please read my post of 9:49 and I will ask, who are you trying to BS? This is politics and you and your cohorts are just as guilty. If you would have been around a couple of thousand years ago not only would that woman have been stoned to death but that poor Carpenter who saved her also. Have a great day.

      • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 10:11 am

        BTW – I want you to know that I am in support of the Council majority which is finally taking action on this issue. This is in spite of my friendship with some of the business people on the Wharf. Under-market rents and the ability to sub-lease out and keep the profits is not good business. The Council members have a fiduciary responsibility to make the City whole regarding the leases and financially sound overall. I will also let you know that it probably doesn’t or shouldn’t matter what I think regarding this issue since I live in the County @ 125 feet out of the city limits of Monterey and can’t vote for council members. Where do you live?

  • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 9:49 am

    The Monterey Bay Action Comm. is sponsored by the Monterey County Hospitality Assoc. with Gary Cursio as Pres. and Sam Teel as Treas.. But, what is so telling about people or groups supporting candidates of like views? Would you have expected the Jewish Anti Defamation League to support George Lincoln Rockwell for office, the Service Employees International Union to support Scott Walker in Wisconsin. or Don Chapin to support me for anything? Even though the Monterey Business PAC supported me for Water Board but don’t know if Don was a member. Come on, this is politics and it works both ways. Who are we trying to kid here?

    • Dan Turner June 4, 2015, 10:20 am

      Ron : No one is trying to “kid” or bullshit anyone. What Royal is trying to do is to show who gave politicians money and how that seems to effect their positions on issues. The point (and I find that you often miss the point – I don’t know if that is intentional or not) is that the reasons that these politicians give for the positions they take is often bullshit and the real reason for their positions on issues can be more accurately discerned by learning who gave them money.

      • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 11:55 am

        Dan, I am not arguing with Royal. I understand way more than you think I do. I get the point. I’m sorry I’m not the repository for all worldly knowledge as you. I gave him the info re: MBAC. I also noted that in politics supporters support candidates they can trust, have like views, or both. Ed Smith is both to those listed. Long time resident, former local police officer, businessman, and candidate. He has known and associated with those people for years. I’m sure they have discussed the issue amongst themselves. Are you so dense to believe elected officials can’t come up with an opinion without looking at their FPPC 460 to see who gave them money and why before formulating that opinion? Are you so naive to believe people or groups don’t support those who they believe have like views? Aren’t candidates screened for their views prior to election? We all know to follow the money but that doesn’t mean every issue every time. That’s why I said it works both ways. I could easily go to the 460’s of candidates who I suspect are doing the very thing that is being insinuated. And, many of you wouldn’t like it.

        • Dan Turner June 4, 2015, 12:48 pm

          Goodness! You certainly seem testy today, Ron. You don’t have to apologize for not being the repository of all the world’s knowledge, as I am, but (and this is embarrassing for me to admit, being the repository of all the world’s knowledge) would you tell me what the FPPC 460 is? My guess would be that it is some kind of political donation reporting form.
          And, your protests to the contrary, you don’t seem to get the point that this is a well orchestrated PR campaign to raid the public treasury for the benefit of the wealthy business donor class. It may just be politics as usual and it may be perfectly legal but that doesn’t make it right, moral, ethical or, most important of all, trivial – and that’s what you don’t seem to “get”.

          • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 4:11 pm

            Imagine the money you could make on “The Judge Turner Show”? You obviously didn’t read my 10:11am post? I understand that business people who have been in contract with the City of Monterey are not happy with what is going on. They are lobbying to keep things the way they are or for little change to take place. And, they supported Ed Smith in the last election. I will tell you again, I get it. This is not a trivial issue. I believe it is not good business on the City of Monterey’s part to let the status quo continue. I also believe it is not right, ethical, or moral for any of the parties concerned (elected or business holders) to engage in illegal activities to benefit themselves. It seems you have determined that such activity is taking place and are prepared to convict the culprits? I for one am not. Royal put some interesting info out and no sooner than he did the stuff started flying with accusations of wrongdoing and corruption. Where are the facts? Where’s the evidence? There are way too many prepared to convict in absentia. Who are the culprits? I tend to agree with Jerry Duncan’s 1:28pm post, read it. If you are hell bent on “getting” these people, go out and get an attorney and go for it. Stop bashing people and the system without real facts and evidence, Judge.

  • Eric Petersen June 4, 2015, 12:52 pm

    This touches on what is likely to get really interesting on the Salinas side of the Lettuce Curtain. Don Chapin called a recent decision by the Salinas High School Board a “Sad day in Salinas” (according to The Californian). Should we now expect candidates supported by him and the Salinas Valley Leadership Group to support their candidates with $10,000 contributions against incumbent Board members running for re-election?

    • Dan Turner June 4, 2015, 3:07 pm

      It turns out that the political mega-donor class (the Kock bros., Sheldon Adelson, etc.) are discussing funding candidates they support down to the school board level and funding attack campaigns (by groups that don’t have to report where their funding is coming from) against candidates they don’t like. So, yes, thanks to Chief Justice Roberts, Citizens United money may be coming to a local election near you.

    • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 4:33 pm

      Eric, I will answer Royal’s question regarding the SVLG and the Monterey Bay Action Comm.. They are similar. As to your concern and what course they take, only time will tell. But, it is time in Monterey County and its numerous public entities to consider limiting direct campaign contributions to candidates in political campaigns. $150,000 for a Supervisor or Sheriff by one donor is not right. I would like to use other words but they will get deleted. It is all in the hands of the individual entities to implement such a regulation. State and Federal law limit direct contributions. State law does not use its authority to impose limits on State public entities (counties, cities, agencies, etc.). As long as things remain as they are more money in the form of these organized groups will proliferate campaigns. Some day the people will have had enough.

  • Bill Johns June 4, 2015, 12:56 pm

    Political contributions to buy influence? I’m shocked! Why does the Clinton Foundation spring to mind?

  • bill leone June 4, 2015, 1:07 pm

    I believe the issues are: 1. Transparency as opposed to secrecy in government & business.
    2. Communicating honestly & authentically as opposed to being evasive & manipulative.
    3. Using verifiable facts rather than sophistry, propaganda & untruths.
    4. Behaving morally & ethically, rather than selfishly & greedily.
    5. Elected officials looking after the Public Interest rather than enriching the privileged few.
    Moreover, it is “…(not) cool to play the fool by making the world a little colder;” name-
    calling, sarcasm & verbal abuse usually defeat the speaker’s (or writer’s) purpose.
    Check out what The Poor Carpenter was reported to have said in Mathew 25.

    • Dan Turner June 4, 2015, 3:09 pm

      My current copy of the bible only goes up to about 300BC. What does Mathew 25 say?

      • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 5:11 pm

        Repent Dan.

    • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 4:43 pm

      You do not know the day or the hour (when I come). Wasn’t there something in the 10 Commandments about, Don’t bear false witness? There’s the few out there that are ready to condemn without the facts and evidence. Better remind them.

  • Jerry Duncan June 4, 2015, 1:28 pm

    You’ve got to be kidding? Do you really think political contributions of $100 or even $250 is influence money? Your ignorance of how the real world works is embarrassing. Maybe the Council members who are against these new policies are actually pro-business and believe that the Wharf is worth keeping as a healthy, vibrant community asset.

    • Royal Calkins June 4, 2015, 4:57 pm

      Glad you weighed in, Jerry. I wanted to ask what professional role, if any, you are playing in this debate over the leases and whether Carter & Co. has a role. Thanks. You can get me more directly at calkinsroyal@gmail.com Cheers

      • Jerry Duncan June 4, 2015, 6:32 pm

        Sorry to disappoint you but my interest and involvement in this issue is only driven by my love and enjoyment of the Wharf and my genuine concern the impact of these new policies, especially the length of lease policy, will have on its future.
        My 8 years on the Fresno City Council taught me to see a disaster in the making and this is where this is headed if some of the policies are not changed.
        Carter & Co. Communications has no role or involvement in this whatsoever.
        Also, no one is getting paid.

  • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 5:09 pm

    Thank you Jerry. I believe Ed & Clyde, especially Ed in this blog, have their reasons and shouldn’t be subject to accusations, insinuations, and innuendo. As for keeping the Wharf a healthy and vibrant community asset? The City should be more than able to do that by charging fair market rents. It is a prime attraction.

  • bill leone June 4, 2015, 5:22 pm

    Brother Turner, Although my favorite ancient text by far is the Ilyad (800 BC),
    An example; “Do thou restrain the haughty spirit, for far better is gentle courtesy.”
    (Homer, The Ilyad). Moving on…..to 32AD…..
    Here is Matthew 25:
    31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    • Helga Fellay June 4, 2015, 7:41 pm

      Thank you bill, you lifted my spirits. If Matthew 25, 31-46, really should come to pass, I don’t see much hope for the neocons in our government nor for the 1%. Hell, if it does exist, is bound to be dangerously overcrowded. I find it good so.

  • Jean Getchell June 4, 2015, 5:30 pm

    Perhaps the Council should revise its policies to allow the assignment of leases (with Council approval) but not sub-letting. That would provide total disclosure and improve the City landlord – wharf tenant relationship.

  • Gerald Wilmot June 4, 2015, 8:04 pm

    I always find it interesting when people think politicians at the local level are bought. Most candidates are surprised at the donations they get. Most donations are giving not to curry favor from the candidate, but because of the candidates point of view. For a example; Lamd Watch would never support me, but would support anyone opposed to growth. The same is true for the development community. So when someone is complaining about to much money in elections, the are really saying, my side does not have enough money to compete.

    • Ron Chesshire June 4, 2015, 10:53 pm

      Wilmot, good commentary but the last sentence is off base. Should money become the determining factor in who wins a race for office? I say no. We in Monterey County have had two races where candidates received in excess of $150,000 from single sources. Money is needed to run races but money can corrupt the process. Where is the average citizen in a race where donations of this type are received? Their role is greatly diminished (dwarfed) as they cannot participate on the same level. So, in a society where we preach equality in the political process equality wouldn’t exist and doesn’t. Most people believe in playing by the rules. In Monterey County and its numerous Local State Entities, for elections, there are no rules. This does not bode well for the process or the people. I am not complaining of too much money in elections but am concerned about too much coming from single sources. That is why the State and Feds have set limits on their elections. It doesn’t keep a candidate from collecting a large sum but it inhibits sole sources from trying to “over influence” a candidate. There is a difference. It is not a perfect system and won’t be until a reasonable limit is set on the total amount any candidate can spend on an election and a reasonable limit per contributor (anyone have a better idea?). Let’s say Mayor of Marina – $10,000 campaign limit with no more than $250 coming from any single source, as an example. I am part of an organization which has the money and the resources to participate in the political process, fights for a fair process, and chooses to compete fairly. Money is not the object, the candidate, their beliefs, and ideas are. Money can’t be everything and in those two races mentioned earlier big money was spent. In the end the excessive contributions from single sources only made a difference in one of the races. But that’s not to say it wasn’t noticed by the winning candidate’s side in the other race. It probably put some extra incentive in their fundraising effort.

  • Liz love June 4, 2015, 8:52 pm

    The commentary here should be recorded and written into Monterey History.

    • Liz love June 4, 2015, 8:59 pm

      Geez Royal. You sure no how to stir it up!

  • Royal Calkins June 4, 2015, 10:33 pm

    My post isn’t intended to say Ed Smith sold his vote or that wharf interests, who contributed about 20 percent of his total campaign fund, were trying to buy it. Maybe they just knew somehow that he would be willing to tell people the city wouldn’t agree to leases beyond 10 years even though the city has put in writing that it is very much willing to agree to leases beyond 10 years. They played a hunch and, sure enough, Mr. Smith apparently is in agreement that the greater good would be served by misdirection.

    • Willard McCrone June 6, 2015, 3:17 pm

      I don’t know why you had trouble getting the campaign disclosure documents on Smith’s campaign. The City used to have them available online within a day of the filing deadlines. He received $2,000 in 2012 from Sam Balestreri, whose 50-year lease expired in 2014. He got another $3 – 4000 from the County Republican Party (some in kind). Shakes and other wharf merchants contributed significant funds. In both elections (2012 and 2014), Smith was far and away the biggest fundraiser. In both elections, the sweetheart deals on the Wharf were very much a pending issue.

  • Dan Turner June 4, 2015, 11:29 pm

    Ron : I’m sorry these comments have gotten your knickers in such a twist, especially since – if I understand you correctly – we’re on the same side of this issue.
    You say “judgemental” as if its a bad thing. For goodness sake, we’re talking politics here and politics is all about making judgements. And they are judgements of the worst kind – value judgements! It is my judgement that on issues of business profits versus the best interests of the whole community, the Taxpayers Association & Smith always come down on the wrong side. What’s wrong with an opinion (judgement, if you will) like that?
    I’ve often had difficulty following your train of thought or understanding references you’ve made in your comments on the Partisan site. But – who knows – maybe that’s just me, not you.
    And, speaking about not understanding your references, I don’t get your reference to lying in the Ten Commandments. I’ll admit that I’ve told some whoppers in my time but not on the Partisan site. I may have differences with some of the other commenters but I never thought anyone was lying. So, again, I don’t understand what you’re talking about when you start in about lying.

    • Ron Chesshire June 5, 2015, 10:07 am

      We’re on the same side of the issue but in different camps. Lying? No. Accusing? Yes. No sooner than this issue hit the net the accusations and allegations flew. Some became Judge, Jury, and would have liked to be Executioner. This is not right without facts, evidence, and due process. If one is going to accuse be prepared to make your case not fly off the handle. Also, take a look in the mirror and be sure you have not been engaged in what you are being critical of.
      Royal provides food for thought and leaves us to our own devices. Liz Love was right, Royal can stir the pot but that is what the Partisan is about. Royal supplies the wood, we supply the fire, and it is his hope that we can discuss this in a rational, intellectual, and somewhat civil manner. Oh Boy!
      In my role as CEO of the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council I can say we supported Ed Smith in his first election attempt at Council and did not support him in the election he won. Regardless, I believe Ed did not deserve what transpired after the article. The first comments made were not based on facts, evidence was meager, and the writer had made up their mind as to guilt and wanted the SHILL thrown out or to recuse himself. WOW! If every elected official had to recuse themselves over an issue in which a person involved had contributed to their campaign, government would come to a halt.
      I have lots of opinions as you may tell? But, I try to stop short of making judgments without going through the process of investigation, which was not the instance by some, in my opinion, of “Follow the Money”. I am as human as anyone and this doesn’t always happen but I try.
      So, I have been judgmental of you and others and will confess my sins to a local bartender today at happy hour and beg forgiveness. I would have preferred to discuss the issue on the merits or lack thereof of the leases with the City. What is standard procedure for other public entities with similar situations(Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Francisco and others). The role money can play in politics and whether this needs to be addressed locally since the State and Feds do have limits on direct contributions. And we could even have got into the Citizens United mess passed down to us by our own Federal Supreme Court. Lastly, we could have discussed Ed Smith but I wouldn’t have wanted to do that without him being involved. I am not aware of his position on this issue except I know he is not in favor of change. I don’t know the specifics. And, the same with the Taxpayer’s Assoc. but will ask.
      For a few years now there has been a buzz word liberally uttered but seldom exercised, Transparency (in government). I hear it but almost every I go I don’t see it happening. Maybe a future topic?
      This has been stimulating and I wish everyone well. BTW Dan, I don’t wear knickers.

  • bill leone June 5, 2015, 8:29 am

    Is there anyone who disagrees with the idea of greater transparency in government, or
    limiting the amount of money spent on elections? If not, we should be discussing how we
    can put those ideas into practice at the local or state level. Otherwise, we will have more proposition 37s (labeling GMO foods) voted down, because the Food Industry can afford to spend tens of
    millions of dollars for negative, deceptive advertising…other examples abound.