Back when the Monterey Downs development was the subject of dueling ballot measures, Jack Stewart was a key part of the disinformation campaign supporting the venture.
The Monterey Downs developers used every trick in the book to win that round. The worst was convincing gullible voters that those opposed to the racetrack project were also opposed to veterans and the veterans cemetery at Fort Ord. There was a slight connection between the project and the cemetery but it was a weak one created only to create a talking point for the project backers.
Stewart was one of the faces of the opposition and he was a good choice. He’s an older fellow and a veteran and people tend to give the benefit of the doubt to older veterans. Unfortunately, he abused that trust and he’s at it again.
His latest ploy is his letter to the editor in Friday’s Monterey Herald. He writes that two Seaside City Council members and a council member-elect, Kayla Jones, support a ballot measure that would overturn the council’s recent approval of the project. If he had stopped there, he would have been right. Council members Jason Campbell and Dave Pacheco are opposed to the venture, as is Jones.
But Stewart goes on to say that the ballot measure, which is being pursued by LandWatch Monterey County, would result in a special election that would cost the city $120,000.
“The majority is willing to expend city revenues because they don’t want to make a decision that may affect their future political ambitions,” Stewart writes. “They hope voters will forget about the expended city revenues and hope the veterans community won’t mind being thrown under the bus.”
But here’s the thing. If project opponents collect enough signature to force a ballot measure, which won’t be a problem, the measure doesn’t have to go to the ballot. The council has the option of accepting the will of the people and voting to kill the misbegotten project. There is no need for a ballot measure to stop the horse racing/housing/commercial project.
That’s what happened when the public collected signatures in opposition to cutting down a zillion trees in order to build a bus yard at a site near the proposed Monterey Downs property. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors had voted to proceed with the bus project but it reversed itself when presented with a referendum petition.
“Upon further reflection,” the supes said, demonstrating some belated political wisdom.
I probably should also mention that Stewart’s letter also accuses the budding council majority of throwing the “veterans community” under the bus. The referendum has nothing to do with the veterans cemetery, which is already being built. Stewart knows that but it worked once.
By the way, now they’re calling the project Monument Village and saying that it only kinda, sorta involves horse racing. I’m thinking maybe they should have stayed with the horse racing theme and called it Thumbs Downs.