|East Bay Express On Bates Hit
October 18, 2001
The East Bay Express column “7 Days”
in the October 17, 2001, issue has some interesting observations on
Richmond election mud slinging. See
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues/2001-10-17/sevendays.html , or
No Ifs, Ands, or Butts: The first hit piece of the 2001 campaign season arrived in Richmond mailboxes last week courtesy of mayoral candidate Nat Bates. In the piece, Bates criticizes his opponent and City Council colleague, Tom Butt, for backing what he artfully describes as the "sidewalk liability ordinance" that puts homeowners at legal risk for crummy sidewalks. Bates, meanwhile, portrays himself as the true champion of the homeowner. "The mailer is completely inaccurate," Butt sniffs, "and Nat Bates should be embarrassed for either being so misinformed as to not understand the issue or for simply lying about the facts."
According to Butt, the sidewalk-maintenance ordinance "simply clarified the fact that the property owner, by California law, has both the maintenance responsibility and the liability for damaged sidewalks. The ordinance has actually saved the city's taxpayers money." Before the council passed the law, Butt says, "The city was spending taxpayers' dollars defending [legal] claims that resulted from damaged sidewalks that were not the city's responsibility to maintain." Butt adds that Bates himself initially voted for the ordinance on its first reading, but changed his mind on the second reading.
Bates, however, is sticking by the claims in the mailer. "All you got to do is read the ordinance and read the votes," Bates sneers. "I'm not going to get into a pissing match with Tom."
By the by, 7 Days learned of the imbroglio via Butt's favorite campaign tool: e-mail. Every day, recipients of the "Tom Butt E-Forum" can read about the candidate's prolific musings on any number of topics, from pit bulls to wastewater. Kevin Reikes, political consultant to mayoral wannabe John Marquez, signed up not too long ago to be on the mailing list for Butt's forum -- something he's starting to regret. "Every morning I get thirty e-mails from Tom Butt," he grouses, "saying somebody farted at the City Council meeting."