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October 28, 2004

Following are recent excerpts from local media. Also, “Richmond Politics Forum” Yahoo Group has opened up that is accessible to all at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/richmond_politics/. It claims to have 29 registered members but is probably monitored by more.


East bay express

Bottom Feeder


A True Civic Watchdog
A crucial part of being an elected official, a responsible one at least, is having the ability to say no. This is especially true in a broke city like Richmond that can't afford to make every special-interest group happy. That's why Feeder was initially so impressed with Bill Idzerda, an outsider candidate for Richmond City Council. During a candidate forum early in the campaign season, one lefty community group asked the candidates if they supported the measure reducing the size of the city council. Nearly everyone did. The catch was that nearly everyone said they were also for adding an advisory youth seat to the council. Idzerda rightly pointed out to the organizers that it would be counterproductive to add a seat when you're also trying to reduce the size of the council. An energy wonk for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Idzerda also refused to support a policy encouraging cops to live in Richmond. "It's nonsense ... to tell people where to live," he lectured.

But there's a dark cloud in every silver lining. A couple of weeks ago, Feeder bumped into Idzerda outside another candidate event and noticed his plastic green children's watch: a Shrek 2 watch, actually. Idzerda confessed that he and his kids had gone out and bought more than ten boxes of Trix and another cereal just for the promotional timekeepers. And, well, Trix watches apparently aren't just for kids. Idzerda said he ended up keeping most of them for himself. "They work great," he insisted. Well, at least we know he'd be a frugal public servant.

Bates campaign mailer misleads
Posted on Thu, Oct. 28, 2004


In a campaign mailer sent to Richmond homes this week, Councilman Nat Bates misstated his vote on a development matter and wrongly implied that Contra Costa Newspapers endorsed him.

The newspaper's attorney sent Bates a letter Wednesday requesting that he stop referring to the Times in campaign literature and immediately destroy any materials with such references.

"Your campaign flier makes it seem that the Times has endorsed you when in fact the newspaper recommended that all four incumbents be rejected and did not endorse any of them," wrote attorney Karl Olson.

Bates said campaign consultants prepared the mailer and did not mean to imply an endorsement from the Times.

"They go through and do certain things, and I assume they do it in a legal manner," he said.

The longtime councilman is one of 15 people locked in an aggressive contest for five seats on the City Council.

The mailer displays a large photo of Bates next to the words: "The City of Richmond, I've been fighting for."

It states: "Bates (city council) forces developers to set aside units for affordable housing or pay an 'in-lieu' fee."

The mailer attributes this quote to an Oct. 18, 2001 Contra Costa Times article.

But the article reveals that while a City Council majority did indeed approve the affordable housing measure, Bates abstained. When it came back for a final vote a few weeks later, he voted against it.

Bates said Wednesday he does not remember the affordable housing vote, but relies on campaign consultants to do the research.

"I've been on the council 25 years. I cannot recall 95 percent of the votes I've made, I've made so many of them."

The mailer also states: "Bates helps people resolve their problems" and attributes this quote to a 2001 West County Weekly article, thus implying the newspaper praised him.

But the quote, included in a profile of Bates, actually came from the Rev. Andre Shumake, not the newspaper.

Two photos in the mailer have raised questions as well.

In one, Bates stands smiling next to the Rev. Nick Reina after Bates received an award for his service to the West Contra Costa Salesian Boys & Girls Club.

Reina said he was surprised to see the photo, which was used without his permission.

"It's a sad situation for me because if anybody had taken the time to call me, I would have said no. I belong to a religious order, and we are precluded from making political endorsements."

Bates said the photo was meant to show him receiving an award and "had nothing to do with an endorsement."

Another photo shows Bates posing next to a uniformed Richmond firefighter and police officer. A different section of the brochure notes that Richmond police officers and firefighters have endorsed him.

The mailer does not describe the circumstances surrounding the photo. But state law bans local officials from doing political work on public time.

State government code section 3206 states: "No officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform."

Bates referred questions about the mailer to Sacramento-based consultant Phil Giarrizzo.

But Giarrizzo, reached in Washington, D.C., where he is working on campaign literature for presidential candidate John Kerry, said he did an early mailer for Bates but not the one in question. It was prepared by consultant William Berry, he said. Berry did not return a phone call Wednesday.

Bates said that as far as he knows, his campaign has distributed all of its literature and has no plan to send out other mailers over the weekend.

Nineteen introduce themselves to students
Posted on Thu, Oct. 28, 2004


A Tuesday morning forum at Contra Costa College introduced students to candidates for federal, state and local office in the two cities whose border the campus straddles.

All five San Pablo City Council candidates and 10 of the 15 running for the Richmond City Council attended, as did Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and their respective Republican challengers, Lance Montauk and Charles Hargrave. Three City Council seats are contested in San Pablo, five in Richmond.

The sheer volume of candidates left little time for specifics; many touted their character and experience while confining their remarks on issues to generalities.

Miller accused the Bush administration of breaking promises to aid education and of an energy policy that calls for more drilling and increased consumption. He urged students to vote for Proposition 72, which would mandate that large and medium-sized employers provide health care benefits to employees, and singled out Wal-Mart for burdening the health care system.

"They school their people in the way to get on the public system," Miller said.

Wal-Mart officials have denied such characterizations, arguing the company provides meaningful jobs with opportunities for advancement and excellent benefits while hiring many minorities and seniors.

Hargrave said the Bush administration is being blamed unfairly for job losses.

"It's the private sector that creates jobs," said Hargrave, who works for a telephone company. "Public officials must learn to work with the private sector."

If elected, Hargrave promised to sit down with Fortune 500 executives and "let the corporations tell me what they need to come to Contra Costa County."

Miller and Hargrave agreed that Prop. 69, which would mandate collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony, is a threat to civil liberties. Both also expressed concern over the proliferation of urban gambling.

Hancock blasted Republican legislators for blocking revenue increases and characterized the state budget process as a "shell game" that still leaves an $8 billion deficit.

Montauk, an emergency doctor with a law degree, conceded Hancock would win the election but nevertheless pounded her and "her cohorts" as "the ones who dug this hole."

Montauk said he is a Republican who defies stereotypes, telling students he did time in federal prison for opposing the Vietnam War and once worked for Amnesty International.

Federal issues trickled down into the local elections with a question to San Pablo council candidates whether they support the Patriot Act.

Former Mayor Leonard McNeil said the act threatens the Constitution and civil rights.

Councilman Joe Gomes and first-time candidate Espo, who uses only one name, said they support it.

Councilwoman Sharon Brown said the Patriot Act is not an issue for the City Council to deal with.

Challenger Jerry Sattler said there is "a lot of good and a lot of bad" to the act.

Richmond candidates Gayle McLaughlin and Eddrick Osborne weighed in on the Patriot Act, too. McLaughlin said it is wrong to say the Patriot Act is not the business of a city council. Osborne said that as a Richmond Library commissioner he helped write the city's resolution to oppose the Patriot Act.

Other Richmond candidates stressed a variety of issues.

Herman Blackwell touted the virtues of the private sector as the engine that pays for the public sector.

Corky Booze, a frequent candidate, invoked the image of Abraham Lincoln's numerous runs for the presidency and vowed, "I will not quit."

Councilman Tom Butt said Richmond is run by the city staff instead of the City Council and that he will work to change that.

Bill Idzerda said he would "focus on the businesses already here, not new businesses."

Arnie Kasendorf said that as a veteran of numerous community organizations -- he cited about two dozen -- he wants to "take it to the next level."

McLaughlin said ChevronTexaco is not paying its "fair share" of taxes.

Osborne stressed education and urged students to study something they love, not just as a means toward a job.

Deborah Preston-Stewart said more needs to be done for the city's youths.

Andres Soto said the city must reorient its priorities away from helping large industrial corporations toward serving its people.

Tony Thurmond advocated smart growth and said officials' ignorance over how the city earlier this year got into a $35 million deficit -- since reduced to $7.7 million -- triggered his candidacy.