When this political campaign started, we were all younger and many of us were more tolerant. It has been a tough couple of years for those who pay close attention to such things, and it has seemed interminable unless you’re the type who enjoys train wrecks and other manmade disasters.
It is hard to believe it is almost over. Remember being 4 years old and waiting for Christmas? It’s been like that, only much longer. And scarier.
It’s like we have scheduled a national nervous breakdown for tomorrow with both camps freaking out. For those on my side of the political fence, it is like preparing for the election of Richard Nixon multiplied by the election of Ronald Reagan. We consoled ourselves by hoping back then that the sad results would speed up the revolution, that the ascension of the Republican ruling class would bring the masses to their senses. It didn’t work out that way.
Much has been written about how the Trump troops might react to a Clinton victory. The part of my brain that worries too much wonders how the Clinton troops might react to a Trump victory. Either way, one of the best jobs in journalism starting Wednesday could be the political protest beat.
If you haven’t voted yet, you need to start looking for your voting shoes now because, believe it or not, the campaign is coming to end and anytime after 8 p.m. tomorrow is too late.
And what of the local elections? Let us not forget that there are some pretty important things on the California and Monterey County ballots.
For the state propositions, I refer you once again to water guru and activist George Riley’s guide, which is as good as it gets if you associate yourself more with peace and love than with commerce and self interest.
On the local front, Measure Z is the most captivating issue. It would ban fracking, which the oil companies say doesn’t happen here even though it did and will again if Measure Z fails.
The Partisan recommends a yes vote on Measure Z.
To the Partisan, one of the most important local elections is the three-way race for two seats on the Monterey City Council. Two of our favorite elected officials, Libby Downey and Alan Haffa, should be re-elected but they are in for a rough ride against Dan Albert Jr., a nice-enough fellow who brings relatively little to the task except that he is the son of Dan Albert Sr. Albert Sr. is another nice fellow who was mayor of Monterey for like a hundred years and who became, in the process, the best friend the rich and powerful could imagine. He’s not a crook or anything. The rich and powerful are his friends and he likes to help his friends.
At stake here is the balance of power on the five-member council. At one point, Mayor Clyde Roberson was quietly progressive. Now, not so much. He is focused on neighborhood improvement issues but beyond that he’s become a go-with-the-flow guy and in Monterey that means going with the money and influence. Think Cannery Row Co.
Councilman Ed Smith is a retired Monterey cop who is friends with the same people Dan Albert Sr. is friends with.
Councilman Timothy Barrett campaigned as a serious progressive and for quite a while he was with Downey and Haffa in their effort to stop undo the sweetheart deals that previous administrations had given to the rich and powerful at Fishermans Wharf. Then something happened. Campaign contributions from the wharf tenants and some sort of personal falling out with Haffa have resulted in a big change in Barrett. What happens next with him is hard to tell.
Which brings us back to Albert. He retired recently after a long career in the Monterey Peninsula school system. He taught and was principal at Monterey High School and he ended his working life as associate superintendent for business affairs.
You wouldn’t know it if you got all your information from the regular news outlets, but a significant financial scandal developed under Albert’s watch in the district, one that closely parallels events that have led to a hardcore FBI investigation in the Fresno school system.
In Fresno, the feds are investigating which laws were broken when district officials used a now-illegal contracting system to build a school. Shortly after Fresno school officials did what they did, Monterey school officials led by Albert used the same now-illegal contracting system to renovate several schools, sometimes using the same Fresno-based contractor that built the Fresno school, using some of the same school bonding firms, the same architect and the same financial adviser, who later was prosecuted by the SEC for violating conflict of interest rules.
I’m not suggesting here that Albert did anything illegal. He did what many other school officials elsewhere have done, which was to follow the advice of a band of slick operators who are getting rich by snookering school districts managed by people who don’t really have the expertise to make multimillion-dollar financing and construction decisions.
But an even better reason to vote for Downey and Haffa is that the election of Albert would essentially turn back the clock to an era when the council’s job was to get along and go along and make sure no one rocked the boat. Or the wharf.
The Albert camp is urging people to vote for Albert and Albert only, hoping that will make sure either Haffa or Downey don’t make it. It is a cynical tactic but an effective one. If you’re a Monterey voter, get out and vote for both Haffa and Downey.
Another intriguing race is in Seaside, where three candidates are trying to knock off Mayor Ralph Rubio. We’ve always liked Rubio on a personal level, but he is a longtime Carpenters Union official and a longtime sure vote for anything that smacks of development, especially if carpentry might be involved.
Our choice is Kay Cline, a political novice who is on the correct side of the Monterey Downs issue (she says no to the ridiculous venture) and who has impressed most observers by having a long list of good ideas on every other issue as well.
For Seaside City Council, we say good guy Dave Pacheco and up and comer Kayla Jones.
In Pacific Grove, we recommend the re-election of Mayor Bill Kampe over challenger Dan Miller. We explained early that we were concerned about Miller’s temperament, and he has responded just like you might expect.
Previously we didn’t make any endorsements in the PG City Council race but Robert Huitt and Jenny McAdams are looking better and better.
In Marina, we’re hoping for a near-unanimous vote for Bruce Delgado, one of the nicest and most conscientious elected officials we’re ever known. Campaigning against him is an erratic fellow who makes Dan Miller seem like a career diplomat.
We couldn’t make a recommendation in the Salinas mayoral race. For the City Council, we’re saying Brian Contreras in District 1, Virginia Mendoza in District 4 and Jyl Lutes in District 6.
We’re not bothering to mention some of the foregone conclusion races. Kamala Harris will be our next senator, Anna Caballero will return to the Assembly along with Mark Stone. Bill Monning stays in the state Senate. Jimmy Panetta is going to Congress. Voters are making some great choices in all these legislative races.
Here’s the deal on the local ballot measures:
Yes on Measure A, taxing cannabis in Del Rey Oaks
Yes on Measure E, continuing an existing parcel tax for the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District
Yes on Measure G, H and I, ministerial changes to the Monterey city code.
Yes on Measure J, taxing cannabis in King City
Yes on Measure L, taxing cannabis in Salinas
Yes on Measure O, taxing cannabis in Greenfield
No on Measure P, taxing special events and admissions to venues in Pacific Grove. Aquarium admission prices are already too high.
No on Measure T, a $167 million Hartnell College bond. For the Salinas Californian, Robert Robledo wrote a great piece earlier this year about how the cost of school bonds are hammering taxpayers in Salinas. We love our schools but we have to eat and pay the rent, too.
Yes on Measure W, taxing cannabis in Gonzales
No on Measure X, a countywide three-eighths-cent sales tax for transportation projects. They’ve sweetened this with a good measure of alternative transportation projects but more of the burden needs to go to the industries that benefit from road building.
Yes on Measure Y, taxing cannabis in unincorporated Monterey County
Yes on Measure Z, banning fracking and wastewater injection by the Monterey County oil industry.