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LARRY PARSONS: Give me a T. Give me a RUMP.

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180395Just in case hell freezes over, the Cubs win the World Series and Donald J. Trump wins the U.S. presidency, I believe I must hedge my bet that Trump will lose bigly in November. Just in case.

In keeping with the dictate of the Trump campaign to make America great again, I reach back to a time when football was so great that players didn’t wear unmanly protective helmets, the forward-looking pass hadn’t been invented, and swarthy progenitors of soccer-style place kickers were excluded from the country under tough immigration laws.

In the late 19th century when football was young, games were played between amateur squads representing the finest universities in stadiums with students who filled the crisp autumn air with chorus after chorus of newly penned school fight songs. They knew all the verses of these paeans of pride, loyalty and martial spirit. Every school had at least one fight song, from the most famous universities (“Ten Thousand Men of Harvard”) to tiny colleges in small towns (“Hooray for Hiram”.)

But one of today’s most notorious citadels of learning, Trump University, apparently has gone from gloried offensiveness to dogged defense against multiple civil fraud prosecutions with nary a fight song to lift the voices and spirits of the TU community.

I’m here to rectify the situation. I offer the following TU fight song — tentatively titled “Roll On Mighty Orange” — free of charge for use at future road contests in San Diego and New York courthouses.

We’re the winners, the mighty, mighty masters,
Who flip sunken real estate to raise piles of green
From stupid, stupid losers in personal disasters,
We stick it to them and pick their pockets clean.

Roll on, mighty Orange One in the sky,
Someday we’ll meet you — as promised in the syllabi.

Our head coach is the world’s smartest master,
Coach calls all the tricks, cons and plays to drain a purse
With three days of worthless patter, or even faster,
Before maxed-out, sad marks can even raise a curse.

Roll on, mighty Orange One, across the sky azure,
Someday we’ll see you — as promised by the brochure.

Our vanquished foes seem desperate, old and weak
Because they are. We make making a killing so easy
And slick, our foes are pummeled up the creek
Without paddle, hope or a stray cent so measly.

Roll on, mighty Orange One, to your rich redoubt,
At your side we’ll be — with a cardboard cutout.

We raise our seminar-touting cries, “Sell, sell, sell,”
Our victory chants of “Money, money, money,”
The path to “riches, riches, riches,” if truth we tell,
Is simply splitting little bees from all their honey.

Roll on, mighty Orange one, like the god Apollo
We increase your riches, as we pay to follow.

With word breaking this week about another center of advanced thinking — the Trump Institute —  I’ll be working on a “Trump Institute Drinking Song” for future addition to the songbook.

And I have plenty of ideas for Trump U merchandise to rekindle fire in the hearts of grads whose spirits may have faltered when their alma mater went belly up in 2010. T-shirts, coffee mugs, classy class rings, framed diplomas, hip flasks for Trump Vodka, barbecue grills for tailgating Trump steaks, yearbooks, wine glasses for Trump Wine, and baseball caps. Lots of frigging baseball caps emblazoned with the school motto: “Make Trump U Larcenous Again.”

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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for briberyCAST OF CHARACTERS HERE PERFECTED ‘PAY TO PLAY’ SCHEME IN FRESNO

FRESNO BLOGGER UNCOVERS INCRIMINATING EMAILS

CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE ABOUT HOW MPUSD GOT AROUND CAMPAIGN PROMISE

For more than a year, the FBI and federal prosecutors have been conducting a criminal investigation of the construction contracting process used by the Fresno Unified School District – and it turns out several of the key players in the Fresno scandal have been involved in a remarkably similar series of transactions at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

In both districts, the construction contracts were financed by huge bond measures approved by district voters in November 2010. In both districts, much of the construction work was awarded to Harris Construction of Fresno, much of the architecture work went to the Teter Partnerships of Fresno and the financial adviser overseeing both bond measures was Keygent Advisors.

Each set of bonds was underwritten by a team of bond firms. In Monterey, they were Piper Jaffray and Stone & Youngberg. In Fresno, it was Piper Jaffray and Stifel, which acquired Stone & Youngberg the next year.

And in both cities, the various entities were linked through one man, Terry Bradley, the former superintendent of the Clovis Unified School District, who agreed last month to pay a Securities & Exchange Commission fine of $50,000 for providing Keygent Advisors with confidential information that enabled the company to obtain bond work with five school districts while he was a paid consultant to Keygent.

Though the Monterey and Fresno bond issues — for $110 million and $280 million respectively — were among the largest that involved Bradley and Keygent, they were not among the districts involved in the conflict-of-interest scheme uncovered by the SEC. Those districts were in the San Joaquin Valley communities of Clovis, Caruthers, Dinuba, Reedley and Sanger, each of which was using Bradley as a financial adviser. (See the previous Partisan article on SEC case.)

Newly surfaced emails subpoenaed by the FBI suggest that while Bradley was helping administer the proceeds of Monterey’s Measure P by helping the coastal district select architects and contractors, he also was the mastermind behind a creative contracting process in Fresno designed to guarantee large construction contracts with Fresno firms that agreed to help finance successful bond measures. The biggest beneficiary of that scheme, focus of the FBI inquiry, was Harris Construction, where Bradley maintains his office.

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Terry Bradley, wearer of many hats

Critics of school bonding practices in California have long complained that it has become a “pay-to-play” system: Companies that cough up money for bond campaigns have a distinct advantage when it comes time to divvy up the bond consulting and contracting work. But according to numerous news reports in Fresno, it appears that Bradley took the system a step forward and created a way to guarantee that big campaign spenders would get their reward in the form of construction contracts. Apparently as reward for contributing to the Fresno bond campaign, Harris was given a contract to build a middle school without having to go through a competitive bidding process. Instead, the district used a “lease-leaseback” method, involving secret negotiations with Harris, in a process that an appellate court later ruled to be illegal.

At the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, or MPUSD, the 2010 bond measure financed considerable renovation work, not new schools, but the district used the same non-competitive, “lease-leaseback” structure to award several renovation contracts to Harris, some of which were worth more than $1 million.

On its Facebook page in 2011, Harris Construction congratulated MPUSD for its facilities upgrade project and said it was “proud to be part of the Lease-Lease Back team implementing the plan ….”

Based on the number of commonalities, including the timing, it seems likely that the Monterey school district’s Measure P of 2010 and Fresno Unified’s Measure Q may have been sold to bonding and construction companies as a package deal. Harris and the Piper Jaffray bond firm contributed to both bond campaigns, for instance. Keygent contributed to both the Monterey and Fresno bond measures.

Although they sound complicated, school bond measures really aren’t that difficult to understand. In most cases, districts wanting to build or renovate schools ask voters to allow the district to borrow money. Rather than simply go to a bank to borrow cash, the districts hire various bond specialists who invite investors to buy the bonds or, in other words, to lend money to the districts at a pre-determined interest rate.

With California schools borrowing billions of dollars annually, a cottage industry has grown up around the state’s education system – a self-perpetuating, self-dealing cottage industry. Bonds can’t be issued without the approval of district voters, so the districts set up quasi-independent committees to run campaigns to persuade the voters to say yes. Those campaigns are largely financed by the various bond specialists who hope to obtain contracts to handle the technical aspects after the successful elections.

In the case of MPUSD’s Measure P, the committee was headed by Sharon Albert, wife of Dan Albert Jr., who retires this week as MPUSD’s associate superintendent for business and finance. Only three bond firms contributed to the campaign and each received a piece of the action. Those were Stone & Youngberg and Piper Jaffray, which each gave $20,000, and Keygent, which gave $10,000. In other words, the decision on who would handle the bonds was essentially made when the bond companies wrote their checks out to the Measure P campaign. Presumably Keygent didn’t need to contribute as much because it had already been hired as the district’s bond overseer.

The San Francisco law firm of Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth contributed $3,000 and was later hired as bond counsel for Measure P.

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Measure P-financed construction work at Seaside High School

Fresno’s Harris Construction contributed $2,500 to the Measure P effort. The Teter architecture partnership in Fresno, closely affiliated with Harris, contributed $10,000 to the Measure P campaign before the November vote and $5,000 more two months after voters enthusiastically approved the measure. Like Harris, Teter received several significant contracts for projects financed from the Measure P proceeds.

Which bond firms get the work matters because lack of competition enables them to charge higher fees and could take away incentives to shop for the lowest interest rate for the district. With such a large amount of money being financed over a long period, even tiny variations in interest rates can cost or save a school district considerable sums. In the case of Measure P, MPUSD officials have said it is costing the owner of a $500,000 property about $150 annually.

The best reporting on the Fresno investigation has been by author Mark Arax, a former Los Angeles Times reporter who now produces a blog, the Arax File. In a post this week, he wrote of a series of emails dating to 2010 in which Bradley apparently hatched his plan to attract bond campaign money by promising construction contracts for contributors.

Arax referred to Bradley as “the man in the middle,” a role he played in Monterey as well as Fresno.

In Fresno, Arax wrote, “it was Bradley, also acting as a paid consultant to Fresno Unified, who helped persuade the district to convert to a lease-leaseback method of school building. In doing so, the district’s long practice of competitive bidding gave way to a controversial—and ultimately abused— method in which a single favored contractor controlled the construction process from design to turnkey.”

Key to making it all work was getting the Fresno bond measure passed. To do so, the district turned to Bradley, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Harris Construction, headed by Richard Spencer, one of Fresno’s most active builders and most generous campaign contributors.

“Persuading taxpayers to pass the bond was no easy challenge,” Arax wrote. “The economy was mired in a deep recession, for one. The school district and its public and private partners—the so-called Citizens for Quality Neighborhood Schools— were trying to raise tens of thousands of dollars for yard signs and radio, TV and newspaper ads.

“As the campaign kicked off, Richard Spencer and his subcontractors were playing hard to get, emails show. Early on, Spencer had committed $5,000 to the Measure Q effort, but weeks passed without a cash contribution from him or his family members ….

“On Aug. 11, 2010, emails show, Terry Bradley stepped forward to assume the role of a broker. For the first time, he informed a member of the Measure Q committee that the Spencers were holding back on campaign cash because they were unhappy with the way Fresno Unified awarded its construction contracts.

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Marshall Elementary School receiving part of its Measure P facelift

“Whether (district officials) knew it at the time, Bradley was a man with divided loyalties. He was wearing—or was about to wear—three different hats: a paid consultant to Fresno Unified on Measure Q, an adviser to an education bond firm based in El Segundo called Keygent and a promoter of lease-leaseback contracts on behalf of Harris Construction.

“This juggling feat, as it turned out, was not only impressive and highly lucrative but a flagrant conflict of interest that would land Bradley, six years later, in the crosshairs of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Arax wrote that Bradley suggested that Harris would hand over more money for the bond campaign if the district would agree to a more Harris-friendly method of awarding construction contracts.

“’If FUSD would use construction delivery methods that Harris has emphasized for the past several years (construction manager with multiple primes and/or lease-leaseback), the contribution would have been much higher,’” Bradley wrote in one email. “’Contractors are reluctant to give large contributions to bond campaigns when projects are awarded on a design-bid-built delivery method with the project always going to the lowest bidder.’”

Additional discussions transpired and, with the bond measure election rapidly approaching, “the Spencers and their subcontractors would pony up tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for Measure Q; Fresno Unified would soon begin to tout the lease-leaseback method in its public presentations,” Arax wrote.

Over the next two weeks, campaign records show, Richard Spencer gave $25,000 to the Measure Q effort. Over the next four years, without competitive bidding, Harris Construction would receive $117 million of the more than $280 spent by Fresno Unified.

SEE RELATED ARTICLE BELOW

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Dishonest businessman telling lies, lying businessperson holding fingers crossed behind his backINSTEAD OF PAYING ADMINISTRATOR, DISTRICT PAYS A CONSULTANT

When Monterey Peninsula school officials were pitching Measure P in 2010, they knew taxpayers were leery of providing perks for school administrators. So they made an important promise.

The entire $110 million being borrowed by the district would be used to improve district facilities but “no money” would go toward administrator salaries. An auditor reviewing the bond documents wrote that it was clear that the bond money would go for physical improvements “and not for any other purpose, including teacher and school administrator salaries and other operating expenses.”

Was the promise kept?

Sort of, in a way. But not really.

Soon after voters in Monterey, Seaside, Marina and Del Rey Oaks approved Measure P in 2010, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District officials realized they were short on the expertise needed to administer an ambitious effort to maintain and modernize most of the district’s campuses. So Superintendent Marilyn Shepherd returned to her San Joaquin Valley roots and hired Dr. Terrance Bradley, newly retired superintendent of the Clovis Unified School District.

The Clovis district was long known for its old-fashioned approach to education – no long hair for boys, no short skirts for girls – and its sparkling facilities with middle schools that look like high schools and high schools that look like colleges.

Bradley had helped the district set a state record for bond financing, borrowing and spending more than much larger districts, and in retirement he was poised to continue mining his contacts in the school finance industry and various education-related organizations.

Shepherd hired him as a financial adviser shortly after passage of Measure P. Dan Albert Jr., who retires this week as the district’s associate superintendent for facilities and business, said Bradley was brought on board largely to help select architects and contractors to carry out the bond work.

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MPUSD Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh and Associate Superintendent Dan Albert Jr., who leaves the district this week and plans a run for Monterey City Council in the fall

So rather than using bond proceeds to pay for “administrator salaries or other operating expenses,” the district had hired a consultant to do the same thing.

The Measure P bond team was largely in place when Bradley officially arrived in 2011. Coincidentally or not, it was made up largely by entities that had created and contributed to the $200 million Fresno school bond measure of 2010, a bond measure in which Bradley was heavily involved (see companion article.) Common participants included the Keygent Advisors and Piper Jaffray bond firms, the Teter Partnership and Harris Construction of Fresno.

Bradley remained on board as financial adviser until January of this year when Keygent advised Monterey school officials that he and the firm were under investigation by the SEC. The investigation concluded earlier this month with Bradley agreeing to pay a $50,000 fine for leaking confidential information to Keygent from five school districts.

Bradley’s consulting contract with MPUSD was rather modest, paying him $24,000 per year for two days work each month. But the contract didn’t limit the income potential created by his work for the district. In 2012, while working as a “strategic partner” for TerraVerde Renewable Partners, he helped the Marin County firm win a series of consulting contracts to help MPUSD install solar systems at various properties. He earlier had helped the company receive a $2 million contract in Clovis.

A year later, MPUSD officials paid a headhunting firm some $30,000 to have Bradley recruit candidates to replace the outgoing superintendent, Marilyn Shepherd.

While the executive search firm has removed Bradley’s information from its website, Bradley remains active with the Coalition for Adequate School Housing, which advocates for school districts, bonding firms and contractors. The group’s legislative director, Tom Duffy, defends Bradley, who has declined to respond to the Partisan’s inquiries.

“We support Terry,” Duffy recently told the Fresno Bee. “He has a great deal of credibility because of his honesty and what he’s done in California for a long, long time. I’m sure that he’ll work through this and so will the SEC. The work that school districts do is some of the most complex work in California because of laws and regulations, and also because of federal oversight when it comes to anything involving bonds. It’s complex and it’s ever-changing, and is a world that requires a great deal of expertise.”

Shepherd’s replacement, Daniel PK Diffenbaugh, said last week that the district has no plans to review Bradley’s work for the district.

Shepherd - Women LeaderThrough a district spokeswoman, Diffenbaugh said, “The projects and related contracts related to Mr. Bradley have been completed. Expenditures related to these projects were part of the MPUSD bond program and as such, were audited by an independent auditing firm annually per the law. The auditors did not identify any findings. These audits were provided to both the bond program’s Citizens Oversight Committee and our Board of Trustees. MPUSD is satisfied with the results and, to our knowledge, the contracts were executed appropriately. We do not, as of now, have any plans to conduct a review, nor do we anticipate utilizing Mr. Bradley’s services or that of Harris Construction in the foreseeable future.”

School districts pitching bond measures often reassure taxpayers by saying that expenditures will be monitored by citizen oversight committees, but Rick Heuer, who has chaired the Measure P oversight committee, said such groups never get into the hiring or compensation of the various firms providing guidance on bonding details. In Monterey, Heuer said, board policy and the actual bond measure language restrict the committee’s jurisdiction to nuts-and-bolts expenditures.

“All bond oversight committees are toothless entities that only review things after the fact,” Heuer said.

When Bradley was hired in 2011, the district did not require consultants or other contractors to formally pledge to avoid conflicts of interest, but language addressing that issue was added to contracts in late 2012. The standard text read: “Contractor does not have, or anticipate having, any interest in real property, investments, business interests in or income from sources which would provide Contractor, his/her spouse or minor child(ren) with personal financial gain as a result of any recommendation, advice or any other action taken by Contractor during the rendition of services under this Agreement.”

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Have you ever wondered about the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, how they got there, and what difference they make?  Well, you may see me during the television coverage of July 25-28 because I am one of them this year.  Over the last several months I have had a unique opportunity to learn how our electoral system works first-hand and I must confess that the process is byzantine and less than democratic.  I am documenting here how I became a delegate and what my experience at the California Democratic delegate convention was like. Later I intend to share with you about my experiences in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.

At the age of 51, and as someone who has been actively involved in politics most of my life, it is surprising that I had no idea how delegates were selected. Now that I understand better I can see why I and most citizens have no clue: the process is nearly secret.

For me, the first step to Philadelphia was going to the California Democratic Party website and filling out a form and submitting it by fax by April 13.  Delegates are chosen by congressional district and in Congressional District 20, which includes Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties, there were about 60 applications to be Bernie Sanders-pledged delegates and about 20 to be Hillary Clinton-pledged delegates. More on this in a moment, but what does “pledged” mean?

Haffa is a professor at Monterey Peninsula College and a member of the Monterey City Council. The Partisan will be following him on the road to the DNC in Philadelphia. Stay tuned for future installments.

As it turns out, there are four types of delegates: Pledged and elected delegates like myself, PLEOS (Party Leader Elected Officials who are pledged), at-large delegates who are pledged, and super delegates who are unpledged.  Each congressional district is assigned a number of delegates based on the population and how many people voted in the last election.  In CD20, which is Sam Farr’s district, we were allocated three male pledged, three female and one alternate.  At large, PLEO and super delegates are not allocated by district and I’ll talk about them in a subsequent post. Back to the pledged delegates.

So, you submit your paperwork: now what?  What I did was join a slate.  My slate included three nurses—you want some women and some men to balance your slate because the delegates are divided equally between men and women.  Each of us on our slate was supposed to turn out as many of our friends and supporters as possible to the Sanders’ caucus and there were other slates doing the same both at for Sanders and for Clinton.

Our slate looked like this:

Sanders slate card

I emailed friends and also contacted folks on Facebook. Honestly, I didn’t work as hard at it as I should have and didn’t expect to win, but I was looking forward to the caucus because I would see other people who shared my values and those of Sen. Sanders.  We didn’t know where the caucus would be and it could have been anywhere in the three-county area.  Ultimately the two campaigns decided on Salinas, and the Sanders’ caucus was at Hartnell College and the Clinton caucus was at the Laborer’s Local 270 Union headquarters.

Nurses Bernie DelegatesAs it happened, there were almost 300 people at the Sanders’ caucus and around 100 at the Clinton caucus.  Electioneering at these caucuses is not only permitted, it seems to be encouraged.  All the candidates and various slates moved up and down the line of people waiting to get inside, handing out printed materials and talking to voters.  Now, raise your hand if you knew about this vote?  Right. Most of us never hear about this and it is not usually advertised much in the media, if at all.  Almost everyone there was there because some candidate had asked them to be there along with party insiders who know about these caucuses from past elections.  Normally, party insiders are a large enough bloc that they can potentially sway these elections.  At the Sanders’ caucus, however, there were almost no insiders present.  It was a diverse group of people, younger more than older, wearing their Sanders T-shirts and buttons.  With other candidates, I walked the line and asked for people’s votes, greeted and hugged friends, and handed out my slate’s flyer.

Finally the door opened and people could enter and vote. They had to be registered Democrats and were asked if they would pledge to vote for Sanders although this pledge was not binding.  It was heart-warming to see so many friends there; maybe I had a chance. There were also many people there wearing red “National United Nurses” scrubs.

But would these people who didn’t know me vote for me because I am on the same slate as the nurses?  People could vote for four men and three women, and I think this was my advantage because I was on a slate with three women and no other men.  Some people voted and left but many stayed to hear the candidates.  Of the nearly 60 certified candidates, maybe 20 were there to speak and we each had exactly 30 seconds.  It is hard to be persuasive in 30 seconds but as we stood in line I tried my best to arrange three key ideas. Who am I and why am I worthy of representing hundreds of thousands of voters on the Central Coast at the convention. Why I support Bernie?  What kind of delegate I will be.  After everyone spoke, I felt like we would be well represented no matter what because there were so many well spoken and passionate people.

Then we waited around for about two more hours as volunteers counted the ballots. It is an understatement to say I was surprised when it was announced that I was the highest vote-getter. I never expected to win.  So, there were four men and three women, but how many would actually go to Philadelphia and the convention? That would depend on the percentage of the vote that Sen. Sanders got on June 7 in Congressional District 20, during the state primary.  At this moment, we still don’t know the final count. Election night it appeared Secretary Clinton won CD20 with 54% to 46%.  That meant there would be three Clinton delegates plus one Clinton alternate and three Sanders’ delegates.  A week later, the vote flipped as Sanders moved ahead in our district, so then three Sanders delegates plus one Sanders alternate and three Clinton delegates would represent our district.  The votes are still coming in and Sanders’ lead is growing somewhat; if he were to get more than 57% the delegate distribution would be four Sanders and two Clinton and I don’t know what would happen to the alternate!  If this sounds confusing, it is.

Here are my takeaways from this process.  A very small number of people select the actual delegates, basically a few hundred. Most of those people are there because someone who was running asked them to show up and vote. Is this the most democratic process? Do I even need to ask?  I won and I am grateful, but the process is so secret and so few people participate that it seems less than democratic. This year the Sanders’ campaign brought many people into the process who don’t normally participate, and our caucus was larger than most, but even so, 300 people picked the delegates for a district that includes some 700,000 voters.  People either voted for people they knew, voted because the person they knew was on a slate and voted for the other people running with their friend, or voted based on a 30-second elevator speech. This seems less than a thorough and in-depth way to choose delegates.  The whole process seems a bit elitist, to be honest.

I am honored that I won, but was it really me or the quality of my fellow slate-mates and perhaps the recognition I enjoy being an elected official?  I do think our district is well represented. In addition to myself, we have two nurses, Jennifer Holm and Sandra Martinez, plus the alternate is land-use activist Gary Patton, the attorney and former Santa Cruz County supervisor.  I can’t speak to what happened at the Clinton caucus but they also have fine delegates: Tony Russomanno, Carole English, and David Kong.

In a subsequent post, I will tell you what happened at the state delegate convention where the elected “delegates” and our super delegates picked the PLEOs and at-large delegates and also chose delegates from our state caucus to serve on committees.  If you think this will be a simple and transparent process, you may be surprised: I know I was.

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Path on the sand going to the ocean in Miami Beach Florida at sunrise or sunset, beautiful nature landscape, retro instagram filter for vintage looksSand City officials willing to sell the beach for no good reason

It was an impressive piece of journalism last week in Monterey County Weekly, David Schmalz’s long look at Sand City’s plan to provide the space for two beachfront hotels. The story provided great background on the little community that exists mainly to sustain itself.

The story explained how the city, population 381, came to be, and provided a detailed account of the hotel projects and the city’s long-running dispute with the Coastal Commission over the larger project, Ed Ghandour’s 386-unit insult to the California coastline.

As I read, I was afraid the piece wasn’t going to get around to telling us why Sand City Mayor David Pendergrass and friends are so intent on getting these hotels built. But there it was, near the end, the mayor’s explanation. He said all those hotel taxes would go a long way toward enabling the city to patch up its roads and build a suitable city hall.

Schmalz’s story didn’t explain, largely because there is no explanation, why the city’s already considerable tax income from its huge shopping complex – Costco, Orchard, Target, etc., etc. — couldn’t provide for more roadwork and a better place for Pendergrass and friends to count their tax dollars.

Forgive me but I don’t buy it. I don’t have a ready explanation of my own, but I don’t buy the explanation that Pendergrass and friends have worked this hard, for decades now, that they have gone to battle with the Coastal Commission and other agencies, simply because they want a better meeting space and some improved roads for the citizenry.

It the reason is what they say it is, Sand City is trading precious shoreline and irreplaceable habitat for a pittance. It is dooming Monterey Bay to more erosion problems and pollution issues for decades to come. It is adding development to a shoreline that the city of Monterey has been working to undevelop for decades.

The last hotel built on the sands of Monterey Bay, the Best Western across the freeway from Home Depot, is famous for being one of the very last straws that led to creation of the Coastal Commission. Now, Pendergrass and Ghandour rail against the commission as though it is the evil empire. It did make some mistakes along the way, but it is not the villain in this story. Ghandour has succeeded in winning some pivotal court rulings that suggest he may be allowed to inflict his damage on our waterfront but those legal opinions have centered on technicalities and procedure, not the rightness or wrongness of his venture.

What it comes down to is that this development could happen for no good reason, almost no reason at all, for the benefit of a handful at the expense of the many. I suspect there are other motives, darker than a little more tax money for a city that doesn’t need it, but I can’t back that up with anything more than a hunch.

If that’s really what it’s all about, a shiny city hall and smoother roads, maybe those of us who give a damn about the bay should simply take up a collection, hold a bake sale, and buy the development rights for the cost of a city hall and some asphalt. Or, maybe we can find some reasonable Sand City residents willing to step up and run Pendergrass and friends out of office.

If that’s really what it’s all about, or even if the real reasons make more sense, maybe the rest of us can do more than simply sit back and watch it happen.

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Figuring the cost of healthcare

Question:  Which of these infamous duos from the 20th century do you not know even though their work still wreaks havoc on you?

A:  Bonnie and Clyde
B:  Thema and Louise
C:  Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
D:  Whitaker and Baxter

Bonnie and Clyde were handsome outlaws who were deeply in love and died in a hail of bullets.  Their crime was a series of small-time robberies that included ruthless, needless killings.

Thelma and Louise didn’t really have a killing spree. They killed but one guy, blew up one truck and it was all pure and brilliant fiction.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg gave nuclear secrets to the Russians. They were real and they got caught, then tried, then executed.

The answer is D. Whitaker and Baxter.

We in the United States have, by design, the most expensive and least effective health care system in the world. But how is this possible? How did this come to be?

Whitaker and  Baxter.

Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter were a California husband-wife team who, in 1933, started a public relations company called Campaigns Inc. In doing so, they became the world’s first political consulting firm.

No single development has altered the workings of American democracy in the last century so much as political consulting…”1

Whitaker and Baxter’s greatest success? Their most enduring American legacy? They, in 1948, made wicked our American health care system and we have not recovered yet.

It all started in 1942 with Earl Warren, a Republican who ran for governor of California. Political aides insisted he hire Whitaker and Baxter. He did and he won. Then, while serving, Warren got hit by illness followed by an outrageous medical bill. So, in 1945, he announced plans to create a health insurance system for all of California. In response, the California Medical Association hired Whitaker and Baxter.

How’d that end? Earl Warren’s health care bill was killed and Warren was tattooed with the reputation of being the most hated liberal in American history.

Then came 1948 and Truman. He, too, saw the need for and wisdom of a national health insurance plan. But the American Medical Association, determined to keep public opinion hostile3 toward any health care fix, hired Whitaker and Baxter.  Whitaker and Baxter created a misinformation campaign built upon untrue cries of “socialism” and “government takeover of medicine.”

How’d all this end? It hasn’t.

Our health care system has created an opioid epidemic and tsunami of uncontrolled diabetes at a cost in lives and treasure that cannot be calculated. The cost of our health care keeps infrastructure repairs unaffordable, keep towns from thriving, veterans from care. The list of damages is endless. And the worst is yet to come because most Americans are underinsured, which is a trap set to spring when health care coverage is needed. Proof: Our health care system bankrupts more than 750,000 people per year — of which 80% had health insurance.

Meanwhile, the cost of health care in the United States, as a percent of all that we are worth, rises higher and higher. The next economic collapse coming at us will be brought to you by our health care system. And always running counter to any effort to avoid the crash or fix health care? The ghosts of Whitaker and Baxter.

Next time you see a well-produced commercial featuring an American hospital that speaks of their earnest and vital contribution to the health, and well-being, and good goodness, and sugary generosity and oh-so respect for community, listen closely and you’ll hear Whitaker and Baxter chuckling in their graves.

Again. And again and again the U.S. health care industry plays us, the entire American citizenry, for patsies, and they are so good at what they do and so are we at playing along.

There is nothing complex about fixing health care in the U.S.

“The U.S. government has very little power to coerce. And corporates and corporations [and industries, such as those that make up our health care industry]? They try to coerce, but they have no real mechanism to coerce.”2

Exceptional is our acceptance of our health care system.

The answer is, and always has been, a single payer financing system for health care for our country.

For more on Whitaker and Baxter, the New Yorker’s “The Lie Factory”  is a must read for any American interested in health care and/or democracy.

References:

  1. Lepore, Jill. (September, 24, 2012)  The Lie Factory, How politics became a business.  The New Yorker.
  1. Chomsky, Noam. (April 18, 2015) Requiem for the American Dream, Documentary.  Producer/Directors: Nyks, K, Hutchinson, P. D., Scott J.P., Writer, Scott, J.P.  USA:  Gravitas Ventures

McAllin, originally from Salinas, is a physician assistant and director of communications for the Sacramento Valley Chapter of Health Care for All, California.

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A Partisan fan shares his view on this and other important topics of the day

The truth has finally caught up with the Monterey Bay Partisan. We saw it coming but we were not fully prepared when it arrived in the form of a posting from “Mary.”

She made her mark on a comment attached to a recent piece by Partisan regular Larry Parsons, who apparently failed to hide all traces of his liberalism when he wrote about the Orlando massacre. We had counseled him about this in the past.

Here is what Mary had to say:

“I will be quitting your left leaning ‘Partisan Postings’ for the same reason I dropped the Herald years ago. Report the facts; you are not a journalist, you are steeped in the foggy ideology of the left: denying Islamic Terrorism. You have failed all of your readers, whether they agree with you or not. You are serving no one, except your own ego.”

It was not clear whether Mary was upset with Mr. Parsons alone or with the entire Partisan, which has never explicitly endorsed any of his assertions. Except those pertaining to Donald Trump.

We were stung, of course, by the notion that we have not properly blamed “Islamic Terrorism” for everything that ails us. But we were stung as well by the reference to the Herald, the Monterey Herald, where I once toiled as a content producer and overseer of sorts. It left me wondering just how long ago Mary had dropped the daily. If it was more than five years ago, I would have not been responsible for whatever it was that caused her to cancel. I might have contributed an offending thought here or there but was in no position to encourage others to participate in my follies. Three or four years ago, yes, I could have been the cause of her departure by my personality, my management style, my naïve devotion to a logical approach to the Peninsula’s water troubles and my stubborn insistence on not linking them to pushback from the Middle East.

Now if Mary dropped her Herald subscription in the past couple of years, she must be imagining scraps of liberalism left hidden amid the newer constructs of libertarianism and laissez fairism. That is because it has been a couple of years since I turned the job of failing readers over to others with considerably more experience.

Mary is right, of course, when she accuses Mr. Parsons and the larger Partisan of “denying Islamic Terrorism,” if by that she means “seldom if ever having any reason at all to refer to Islamic terrorism or any other kind of terrorism.” Guilty. In our coverage of the campaigns for Monterey County supervisor, not once did we openly reflect on the possibility that “Islamic Terrorism” was responsible for the laundering of campaign funds by oil companies and sheriff’s deputies or for the false labeling of one incumbent as an unenthusiastic participant in the Pledge of Allegiance. Nor did we, during our coverage of the foibles of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, comment even once on the lack of Islamic Terrorism outbreaks in the unincorporated territory of Monterey County. We begrudgingly acknowledge now that Sheriff Opie Taylor has done at least as well on this matter as his predecessor.

We accept the criticism, but because the Partisan is simplemindedly focused on issues of local importance and entertainment value, we expect little easy opportunity to correct our failings vis-à-vis the damnation of a religion. So let us propose a solution that will not divert us from our parochial mission but enable us to “go along to get along.” It amounts to a code.

In the future, when you encounter “Board of Supervisors” in a Partisan posting having anything at all to do with issues of security foreign or domestic or land use, feel free to convert those three words into “radical Islamic extremists.” In other words, when you see “The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to grant a conservation easement that will protect much of the South County coast from continued development,” know that we actually mean that “radical Islamic extremists” are responsible.

And when you read that “the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department announced that it no longer has the money to patrol any neighborhoods with predominantly Democratic registration,” please realize that we are really talking about “Muslim whackos” and not deputies. You’ll get the hang of it. Please do not share this code with anyone except yourselves. If your sensibilities differ from Mary’s, please feel free to substitute a disfavored entity of your own choosing. For example, “people who don’t know the difference between an assault rifle and a regular large-capacity rifle” or “snarky bloggers.”

At times, this will not make total sense, of course, but the same can be said of much of what has appeared so far in the Partisan, no matter whether it was produced by Parsons or Royal Calkins, who is long overdue for a counseling session of his own concerning “foggy ideology” and his stubborn insistence on believing that character should matter in politics and that Cal Am Water can do better. In the meantime, expect to read considerably more about Cal Am Water but please know that when we say Cal Am we really mean ISIS.

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175359_600What were whispers are starting to sound like the chattering screeches of dozens of chipmunks fussing over a single acorn.

In the face of horrible polls, staggering unfavorability numbers and a personality devoid of anything remotely passable for presidential, the bloom is fast fading from the orange lily that is Donald Trump’s presumptive lock on the Republican nomination for president.

Pundits, those folks who have been mostly wrong about Trump for the past year, increasingly are raising conjecture the alleged billionaire businessman is deliberately tanking his campaign with the goal of finding a face-saving exit strategy from certain humiliation.

Judging from the past two weeks, during which Trump first attacked a Mexican-American judge hearing Trump University fraud cases to his most recent implication that President Obama is actually a secret terrorist-in-chief, Trump’s pivot toward the general election is a clumsy, slapstick routine with falling anvils and spilling cans of bronze paint.

Each day increases the steady drip of big GOP donors bowing out, Republican officeholders saying they won’t vote for Trump, party squishes pining for a Kasich-Martinez ticket, and, in the best Trump dig of the year, GOP media dude Rick Wilson dubbing him “Cheeto Jesus.”

To Wilson goes the laurel crown. The best I’d come up with along those lines was “Benito Il Cheeto.”

I have thought hard about the sinkhole opening up beneath the feet of my Republican friends who fear their party may be suffering irreversible damage. And I’ve come up with a crazy idea, but no crazier than handing over your party to a carnival barker who’s never held office and whose first splash in the news was in 1973 when he was sued by the Nixon administration for discriminating against blacks in his New York apartments. The Nixon administration!

The only viable candidate I see capable of giving Hillary Clinton a run for the money in November is the guy who has been doing it for the past six months — Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. So consider this: Republicans need to dump Trump and draft Sanders.

First, it would restore a strong sense of decency to the party after its wild ride through the sewage-strewn catacombs on the Trump Train. Sanders truly cares about his fellow human beings, perhaps even Trump.

Second, Sanders really opposes the loss of American jobs to the holy grail of free trade policies, which Trump used to talk about before falling full time into nativist conspiracy rabbit holes. Who knows, maybe Bernie even would take up Trump’s clarion call for a boycott of Oreo cookies until all the biscuits are back baking in American ovens.

Bernie is certainly earnest about taking on the Wall Street millionaires and billionaires, unlike the faux populist Trump, who recently cozied up to hedge funders to help finance his “self-funded” campaign.

Third, Sanders truly opposed the horrible decision to invade Iraq on ginned-up evidence and imperial hubris, while the shape-shifter Trump was for it before he was against it. Sanders has a refreshing habit of telling the truth, which would be relief after months of “pants-on-fire” judgments against Trump from stressed-out fact-checkers.

Fourth, Sanders’ quixotic campaign fired up millions of young people, bringing them into the fold of politics with fervor and millennial energy. While Trump has been credited, largely by Trump himself, with bringing new voters to his cause, there’s no doubt the aging, overwhelmingly white base of the GOP would be invigorated by some Bernie-mania.

Fifth, Sanders has released his tax returns. He has leveled with the American people. Trump never will because his tax secrets — income, taxes paid, charitable contributions, business ties — would likely be the final nail.

Sixth, Sanders wild, wispy strands of silver hair give him the appearance of an avuncular sage who tells it straight with no chaser. The orange mass on Trump’s head resembles a tumbleweed stolen from a museum diorama on the Old West that a stylist spent hours combing out, dying and blow drying.

Seventh, I realize many Trump supporters would mistake Sanders’ honorable tradition of democratic socialism for the horrible excesses of Stalinism. But, at the same time, they appear to be drawn to authoritarians. This delusion could be worth a few crucial percentage points come November.

Finally, an ongoing debate between Sanders and Clinton would be tonic for the country because they have been talking throughout the primary about things that matter — health care, college costs, election finance, trade, foreign policy, civil rights, climate change, reproductive rights — rather than the dimensions of a Great Wall that never will be built. It’s been an adult conversation, which with the GOP having Trump at the helm would never happen.

So, Republicans, do something sensible for a change. Back a winner, or at least go down fighting with a true champion for a lot of Americans. Feel the Bern.

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Concept image of Business Acronym COI as CONFLICT OF INTEREST written over road marking yellow paint line.BRADLEY’S WORK BEGAN AROUND TIME OF GIANT MEASURE P BOND BUT DISTRICT SAYS HIS CONFLICT PLAYED NO PART

A school management consultant and a bond firm that have done considerable work for the Monterey Peninsula school system have been implicated in a conflict-of-interest scheme uncovered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but the head business official for the Peninsula district, Dan Albert Jr., says their work for the local system played no role in the federal investigation.

Terry Bradley agreed this week to pay a $50,000 fine for improperly steering work to Keygent Advisors, which was the financial adviser to the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District when it began issuing $110 million in school renovation bonds in 2010.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Bradley of School Business Consulting Inc., became a paid member of the Keygent advisory board in 2010, shortly before MPUSD hired Keygent as financial adviser on the bond known as Measure P. The SEC complaint against Bradley, formerly the superintendent of schools in Clovis, says he improperly leaked information to Keygent to help the company obtain bond consulting contracts with five school districts, but the complaint does not identify the districts.

Albert said Wednesday that MPUSD’s hiring of Keygent predated its hiring of Bradley. District records indicate that Keygent was first hired in 2008 to perform work related to health insurance and that Keygent was already serving as the Measure P financial adviser when Bradley was hired as general financial adviser in 2011. Albert said the district terminated Keygent’s services in January after the company notified the district of the investigation.

Bradley, 72, retired in 2009 from Clovis Unified School District, which is well known for its expansive and expensive campuses. Despite an annual pension of $198,000, he moved quickly into the private realm, capitalizing on a multitude of contacts throughout the educational establishment to become a consultant throughout California.

For MPUSD, Bradley principally consulted on bond matters, accounting methods, the hiring of architects and, two years ago, the hiring of a new superintendent. As a financial adviser, working closely with Albert and Keygent, he was paid $2,000 a month. At the same time, he was being paid $2,500 a month by Keygent, according to the SEC. He was paid $24,000 for the superintendent search.

In 2010, when voters overwhelmingly approved Measure P, the local district was thin in the area of financial and construction management. The superintendent at the time was Marilyn Shepherd, who knew Bradley from her days as a school administrator in Madera and Fresno counties, and the assistant superintendent for district operations was Albert, whose experience was mostly campus-based. He had previously been principal at Monterey High School.  (Albert is scheduled to retire at the end of this month.) The district’s business manager and fiscal affairs managers also were relatively new.

Keygent is a large bonding company with offices in El Segundo.  It works solely on bonds issued by California school districts and community colleges. One of two underwriters of the initial Measure P offerings, Piper Jaffray, was also based in El Segundo. The SEC documents released this week say Keygent was fined $100,000 and censured and its principals were fined  $50,000 because of the conflict involving Bradley.

Albert said it was Shepherd who brought Bradley on board in Monterey. In Clovis and elsewhere, Bradley also had worked closely with the law firm representing MPUSD, Lozano Smith.

In documents related to the case, the SEC says Bradley solicited many of his clients on behalf of Keygent after joining the bond firm’s board. He told school officials about his relationship with Keygent and did not participate in the formal interview process of bond advisers but “improperly provided Keygent with confidential information about the hiring process, including advance notice of the draft interview questions, the specifics of some competitors’ proposals, and other information. “According to the SEC:
Terry-Bradley

Bradley

  • Bradley gave Keygent officials advance copies of draft interview questions on several occasions, and Keygent also provided input in the initial drafting of the questions on one occasion so they were aware going into the interview what could be asked;
  • For one school district, Bradley gave Keygent a draft of the district’s RFQ document and then incorporated a change to the document suggested by Keygent which was designed to require a known competitor to disclose in its proposal potentially negative information concerning a past legal issue;
  • For two of these school districts, after they received the proposals from the municipal adviser candidates, including Keygent, Bradley shared information about competitors’ proposals with Keygent, including, in one instance, a chart with all of the other candidates’ fee proposals and, in another instance, a copy of the entire proposal submitted by one of the candidates;
  • Bradley discussed with Keygent how to answer certain interview questions and suggested topics they could discuss at the interview to preempt other candidates’ proposals.

Albert said his recollection was that Bradley was not involved in MPUSD’s hiring of Keygent because the district went through a formal request for qualifications process. The SEC said that in several cases, Bradley helped districts prepare the requests for qualifcations that led to contracts with Keygent.

In addition to being fined, Bradley is barred from any involvement with bond or securities dealer and from working for or with any financial underwriter or investment company. He told the Partisan via email that he could not have any contact with the media but would make his attorney available.

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The Bernals, father and son, from Facebook

Monterey County’s personnel policies are pretty clear on the subject of nepotism.

“A county elected officer shall not employ his/her father, mother, brother, sister, spouse, or child, or the spouse of such relative within the department of such officer.”

Sheriff Steve Bernal, however, thinks an exception should be made for his family, specifically his son, who has completed police academy training and wants to be a deputy. A Monterey County deputy.

According to others in county government, Bernal began the process to hire his son only to be told by county personnel officials that it couldn’t be done because of the policy. He pushed for an exception, noting that county personnel rules do allow for relatives to be hired within departments headed by appointed officials. In those departments, relatives can be hired with the expressed permission of the Board of Supervisors.

“I’m not sure why the rules are different in different departments,” said one longtime county official who asked not to be identified because Bernal’s requests could be construed as confidential personnel matters. “But I do know that the board would never let an elected official go around hiring his family. And that’s probably especially true in the Sheriff’s Department.”

So here’s the upshot. After discussing the issue last week in executive session, the supervisors have asked the County Counsel’s Office to work on language that would prohibit nepotism across the board.

“The consideration right now is a uniform ban,” County Counsel Charles McKee said by email Tuesday.

Bernal has not responded to a request for comment.

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LARRY PARSONS: A simple prayer for Orlando

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burning orange candles close upAfter the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history early Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida, at a popular LGBT nightclub, all mediums of the great American pipe organ are busy, busy, busy. There’s no shortage of chilling facts, heartbreaking losses, incredible sacrifices and non-stop political gamesmanship.

Part of the response, in what is only the second-most predictable occurrence besides the seeming inevitability of mass shootings in our firearm-soaked nation, is the hollow, rote offering of “thoughts and prayers” for those whose lives are shattered.

I offer a few thoughts of my own.

— All the thoughts and prayers don’t seem to be doing much, at least among the lawmakers who could take concrete steps to deter the easy availability of weaponry with no other practical purpose than killing many human beings. Even terrorist groups recognize how easy it is, and they encourage their followers to take advantage of our domestic arms bazaar to gear up.

— It is stomach-turning to hear messages of condolence for the innocents slaughtered in Orlando from the very same politicians who have railed for years against “the gay agenda “and “the homosexual lobby” and who’ve embraced so-called religious leaders who would condemn gay persons to death according to their own chapters and verse.

— The self-infatuated, preening demagoguery of Republican leader Donald Trump continues to rise and, simultaneously, fall to unprecedented levels. Within a few hours of the horrific news breaking, Trump was patting himself on the back for predicting just this sort of mayhem.

Anyone could have predicted such a nightmare after Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech and dozens of other mass shootings driven by madness and grievance.

Donald, there will be more. And bombing the shit out of oil fields in Libya, Iraq, or Syria, and chanting the mantra “radical Islamic terrorism” won’t stop the next lone wolf pledged to fealty in his own private death cult.

And I’ll only offer a single prayer.

I thank you for the grace of the first responders and medical workers in Orlando, the community that came out in force to restock precious supplies of blood, and the fellow citizens who earnestly remember the victims without exploiting their deaths to buttress their own sense of self-righteousness.

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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for bribery

WITH UPDATE BELOW

 

Yes, I know. We’re all tired of politics. But I couldn’t pass this up because it’s about how things work behind the slick campaign brochures.

Alert readers may recall that back in April, the Monterey County Deputy Sheriffs Association contributed $5,000 to Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter and another $5,000 to supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue. Nothing wrong with that. The association is the union that represents sheriff’s deputies and it’s only natural for it to cozy up to county supervisors who have the last word on wages and benefits. You may also remember that the head of the association, Dan Mitchell, filed a couple of specious election complaints against Potter’s opponent, Mary Adams, and Donohue’s opponent Jane Parker. The association even contributed $3,000 to one of Donohue’s campaign managers, Pivotal Campaign Services.

But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that campaign disclosure forms show that the week before the Deputy Sheriffs Association started making those contributions, it received a $20,000 contribution from Chevron, the big oil company.

In other words, the money that found its way into the Potter and Donohue campaign treasuries apparently didn’t come from hard-working sheriff’s deputies. It came from one of the world’s largest oil companies, which has drilled a few holes in Monterey County and has visions of drilling a few more. (Association officer Scott Davis also appears to have benefited from the Chevron money with $1,000 contributed to his upcoming campaign for a Salinas City Council seat.)

During the just-ended supervisorial campaigns, the various candidates were watching closely to see if they could connect the opposition to oil-industry money, especially fracking money. That’s partly because an anti-fracking initiative will be on the November ballot in Monterey County and few politicians are willing to admit that they are fracking friendly. Potter, who lost his seat to Adams, returned a $2,000 contribution from an important fracking fellow a couple days after the Partisan wrote about it but held on to a contribution from a fracking lawyer in Wyoming.

There weren’t any obvious signs of oil money in the campaign reports filed by Donohue, who fell short in his attempt to unseat incumbent Jane Parker. Turns out it was there, it just wasn’t obvious.

UPDATED INFO HERE: After this story was posted this morning, an alert Partisan reader pointed out another back channel Chevron used to route a little help to the fellows. On April 11, right around the time it was writing a check to the deputy sheriffs group, Chevron sent a $30,000 check to the Monterey County Business PAC, which is made up of hospitality and ag interests. Four days later, the PAC contributed $20,000 to the Donohue campaign. Three days after that, the PAC sent $30,000 to District 1 Supervisor Fernando Armenta and a week later it gave $25,000 to the Potter campaign.

What this boils down to is that a little bit of legalized money laundering apparently enabled Potter and Donohue to pick up some extra campaign cash and to make it look like it represented union and law enforcement support when it really represented oil company support. Though that’s how things work in politics these days, with contributors hiding behind PACs and Super PACS, this was as slippery as an oil slick, never mind how the Chevron website goes on and on about good government and transparency.

Mitchell didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday. If he gets back to us, we’ll share what he has to say.

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Runoff in Salinas still pivotal for Peninsula interests

Happy smiling beautiful young business woman showing two fingers or victory gesture, over gray backgroundOne of the Partisan’s defining traits is humility because we have so much to be humble about, but today we have developed a hint of a swagger because we didn’t come out on the wrong side of the election results.

I am kicking myself, gently, for not posting a prediction that Jane Parker and Mary Adams would prevail in Tuesday’s Monterey County supervisorial contests but if you work at it, you might be able to get one of the few people still talking to me to confirm that I had been making that prediction for weeks now.

There are votes left to be counted but not enough to change the order of finish. In District 5, where Dave Potter reigned for 20 years, long enough to be seduced by money and power many times over, Mary Adams won by what amounted to at least a minor landslide. See the results below for the actual numbers.

And in District 4, incumbent Jane Parker wiped the floor with Dennis Donohue, one of the most arrogant politicians I had ever encountered, a man who became so caught up in worst aspects of the campaign that he actually called exceedingly mild-mannered Parker a “bully.” No November runoff for Parker and Donohue because the vote for her was large enough to wipe out the potential impact of a minor third candidate.

As with most elections, there are things to be learned from Tuesday’s results. Let’s be optimistic about the first and say that the Parker victory tell us that deceptive advertising doesn’t work and that it might even backfire. The centerpiece of this contest was Donohue’s expensive attempt to persuade voters that Parker had disrespected our military veterans by opposing the Veterans Cemetery at Fort Ord and that she essentially doesn’t like veterans. The tactic exploded in Donohue’s face, however, when state Sen. Bill Monning pronounced Donohue’s assertions as flat-out wrong. She had supported the cemetery each step of the way and did not vote to move it somewhere as Donohue insisted. But Donohue’s big mistake was the advertising in which he said that Parker had actually blocked the project, causing great misery for our veterans, even though the project is well underway. Lesson two. If you’re going to lie, lie smart.

If the Partisan exists when other elections unfold, one message it is likely to harp on is that a key to understanding local elections is to expect the best-funded, best-connected candidate or measure to lie, cheat and steal if necessary to win. For evidence, look to how Cal Am was able to beat back a public-ownership measure and how the Monterey Downs people lied their way past a referendum to stop that silly project. Until not too many years ago, every statewide ballot measure in California was decided in favor of whichever side spent the most money. Scary when you think about it.

From the Adams-Potter race, the lessons are different. In this case, Adams was the underdog by virtue of Potter’s tenure and bank account, so she went after his record, hitting him hard for his promotion of the Monterey Downs horse-racing venture and his rotten record on the state Coastal Commission. Respected organizations like the Sierra Club and Surfrider ranked him close to last on their environmental scorecard, leading to his removal from the commission despite considerable effort by Potter and development interests to keep him on board.

In this campaign, Potter let the Carmel Pine Cone handle his counter-attack and it was a fail, largely because Adams was right about his removal and the weekly paper took up Potter’s cause in a shrill and repetitive fashion despite being armed with the flimsiest of arguments.

(Speaking of weekly newspapers, I stopped by Parker’s election night gathering at the Press Club, the lovely juice bar operated by Monterey County Weekly, and found myself in a spirited discussion with the newspaper’s owner, Bradley Zeve. Our focus was the Weekly’s endorsement of Potter over Adams and my published assertion that it had come over the objections of the newly departed editor, Mary Duan. Zeve insisted that I was wrong. I insisted that I was right, but I am forced to admit right here and now that he was there when it happened and I was not. I stand corrected. Reluctantly corrected and still hoping to find a way to prove myself right but with little hope.)

So where do we go from here?

To Salinas.

The other supervisorial race of the evening was one that barely captured the Peninsula’s attention and, unfortunately, a winner has not emerged. For the District 1 seat, it appears there will be a November runoff between state legislator Luis Alejo and Supervisor Fernando Armenta. I am not a fan of Alejo the way I am a fan of Adams or Parker, but I believe that Adams and Parker have the potential to reshape county policy only if Alejo wins in the fall.

Armenta is the ultimate old-school politician. Think Chicago alderman. He started as a passionate advocate for civil rights and other good causes but slowly turned into a ward politician who felt his job was to promote patronage and vote for anyone who contributed to his campaigns. He had proudly announced that he has never voted against a development project. Not a single leapfrog development with inadequate water supply has been bad enough to win a no vote from Armenta.

Being a county supervisor is about a lot more than land use but that is the key issue for most Peninsula voters, that and related matters such as desalination. If Armenta remains on board, big decisions on major land use policy questions will be decided by Armenta and supervisors John Phillips and Simon Salinas, all big fans of big development. Alejo is not as easy to categorize on land-use issues because he has seldom dealt with them in Sacramento, but what everyone says about him is that he is a politician, a professional politician who would apply a meaningful or at least intelligent balancing test before making a decision. With Armenta on the board, the future of our farmland and forests looks a lot like pavement. With Alejo on board, along with Parker and Adams, the future of our resources is up for debate.

In other words, voters and campaign contributors of the Peninsula, your work is not done.

County Supervisor, District 4
39/39 100.00%
Vote Count Percent
DENNIS DONOHUE 3,416 36.11%
ALEX MILLER 616 6.51%
JANE PARKER 5,428 57.38%
Total 9,460 100.00%

 


County Supervisor, District 5
51/51 100.00%
Vote Count Percent
MARY L. ADAMS 9,734 56.35%
DAVE POTTER 7,541 43.65%
Total 17,275 100.00%

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Mary_Adams_Headshot_cropped

Mary Adams

Reflections on today’s elections:

I hesitate to write about politics on election day because it robs me of my sense of humor. There is nothing about Dave Potter, Dennis Donohue, or Donald Trump that lends itself to anything but stinging satire. I can’t muster a smile.

I am hoping that, in our own backyard, Parker and Adams win because of all the reasons the Partisan has enumerated in admirable detail.  (No other publication I know of here comes close to its investigative talent.)  Their adversaries have behaved execrably even while Parker and Adams have kept their cool. There is no telling what special interests or lack of voter enthusiasm or any other wild card will do, but let’s hope for the best.  They are the best.

 

clintonpodium_600_1As for Hillary vs. Bernie, I hope Hillary wins. Yes, Bernie has inspired thousands of fervent idealists, mostly white and mostly young, and as a committed progressive I admire many of his ideas.  I don’t think there is much difference in what Hillary wants to accomplish and what he has articulated, but there is no practical way much of what he wants can actually be achieved.  Among other unlikely events, we would need Congress to transform itself into Robin Hood and rob the rich to help the poor. No nonpartisan organization that has reviewed his ideas has given them any semblance of fiscal reality. I realize that idealism does not permit practicality to intervene. Bernie’s intentions are grand but his ability to achieve them just about zero.

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Parker

And then there is the problem of his foreign policy creds.  Sanders has had a mostly undistinguished career in Congress. The international crises confronting the next president are daunting. They need to be handled by someone who has the chops to do it.  I don’t like Hillary’s past hawkish views and I hope she has been sobered by the horrible outcomes of our military exploits. Hillary has the experience on Day One to get in the game.  I have no idea what Bernie would do, and he hasn’t said.

Also, I wish Bernie had not crossed the line from evangelism to demagoguery. His followers look like they are about to burn down the barricades if he doesn’t get the nomination.  At this point, they have the affect of a cult. He has no chance of getting the nomination with the rules that he agreed to when he decided to run as a guest on the Democratic ticket, and he knows it.  His drive to the absolute finish line, with the crowds cheering him on, looks like someone who has finally tasted power and can’t give it up.

Yet, I am counting on him to beseech his followers to vote for Hillary, because we have to beat Trump. Bernie may leave the race a bitter man, but he cannot be so mad at Hillary that he would help Trump get in office.  If his supporters vote for a third party candidate as a protest, that is exactly what could happen. We cannot even contemplate handing over the future to one of the most racist ignoramuses ever to ascend to the head of a major political party. If Trump gets his hands on the Supreme Court, it will be far worse than not having Medicare for all, or not having free college for all.

This is why I have no sense of humor about these elections in particular. We have too many awful candidates running who need to be sent back to their lairs.  We have a lot riding on what happens today.

Here’s to Jane, Mary, and Hillary, who all happen to be women.  May they all win!

Meister is a writer who lives in Pebble Beach and who has contributed several pieces to the Partisan.

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I posted an item Tuesday morning criticizing the Dennis Donohue campaign for sending out the following email on Monday, accusing Jane Parker of playing dirty politics and acting like a bully. A couple of Donohue partisans, Steve Emerson and Nancy Amadeo, deny that it came from the Donohue campaign. That might be true. Then again, the implication of that would be that someone else, likely the Parker campaign, fabricated it. Seems unlikely. Regardless, I won’t be able to resolve it today, but I thought I’d just share the email that was forwarded to me from Marina voters and let those who understand these technical things weigh in.

In the email I received, clicking on the Donohue logo (the blue box) takes me to the legitimate Donohue website and clicking on the volunteer and donate buttons takes me there as well.

The format is different than I received it via email because I had to copy it and paste it onto this WordPress site and the design changed in the process, but if you click on the link “view this email in your browser,” you can see the original format.

Friend
Election Day is tomorrow, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon recent ugliness the campaign has endured. It’s unfortunate how normal it has become for campaigns to go negative. Negativity distracts and muddies situations so it’s difficult to distinguish between a horrible personal attack (like being compared to Donald Trump) and a legitimate concern over a candidate’s ethics and moral compass.

You and your neighbors I am sure have received countless attack mailers from Jane Parker. These personal and schoolyard antics are similar to how a bully behaves. And like any bully Jane is using her attacks to hide and distract us from who she is. According to a recent complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission, Parker has been misusing public funds for her own gain.


Something is wrong, but together we can fix it on election day.

We are living in times that call for true leadership. We need leaders who have morals, who know right from wrong. and that we can trust, . We can’t allow tricks and  feelings of distaste for current politics, choose for us.
Thanks for reading.

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