Saturday, September 30, 2006

Money, Money, Money...

Today's Merc article covered the City Council's last minute attempt at regulating soft money. After COMPAC - the political arm of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce - successfully overturned the previous ordinance regulating electioneering activity in aid of or opposition to a candidate, SJC is left with zero regulations regarding this type of campaigning.

The Council's new attempt at an ordinance is vastly similar to its previous law except with higher thresholds for individual contributions.

Some sort of cap on soft money is absolutely imperative in terms of preserving core democratic values. It is undeniable how powerful on an impact advertising has on the electorate. Cindy Chavez was the frontrunner prior to being knocked by COMPAC's $160,000 hit pieces. Money is what amplifies our speech; without it, our expressive rights are considerably undermined. However, anti-corruption policies dictate that there be some limits to the amount of "bling-bling" given to a candidate per individual. The fear is that too large of donations create too large of influence. Uncapped donations also allow the rich too large of a say in an electoral outcome. Take for example... Dennis Fong. Fong is a property owner/manager at the Tropicana Shopping Center who was adversely affected some years back by the City's attempt at using eminent domain over the center. Fong is also famous for his Terry Gregory bribery a year or two ago that somehow tarnished Gregory's name but didn't do much to knock Fong's cred. Anyway, Fong has had more than his fair share of influence this election. He has donated his $500 to Chuck Reed's campaign. Jennie Fong - the property manager at Tropicana - donated her $500. Gloria Walker - the office manager at Fong Enterprises - donated her $500 as well. And Dennis Fong donated $26,000 to COMPAC in order to help get out these hit pieces against Cindy. The point is if you give people an opening to purchase influence, they will take every avenue they can to do so. Allowing unregulated soft money donations is going to continue to slant politicians in the direction of big dollar donors at the expense of the little guy. We, as a city, should stand up for coherent and constitutional regulations that prevent the purchase and sale of political leverage...

That being said, today is also the final day to make individual contributions to the candidates. Make sure you make your voice heard by getting whatever donation you can to your candidate BY DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY:

http://www.cindychavez4mayor.com/contribute.asp

http://donate.chuckreed.com

Friday, September 29, 2006

Why Won't Chuck Release ALL Of His Tax Information?

Chuck has revealed most of his tax information. But the question that is on most people's minds is why has he not revealed everything?

Almost a week and a half ago, after Chuck Reed faced scrutiny for allegedly voting for an ordinance that financially benefitted a client, Cindy Chavez asked Chuck to make public his financial information. Chuck primarily refused to do so based on "larger policy considerations". This past week, Chuck's financial history was hurled into the public spotlight for the $38,000 he was reimbursed by the city for attending political and charitable events. To his credit, Chuck has divulged much of his financial records.

However, what many are still wondering, why won't he divulge his deductions? The concern is that Chuck donated quite a large chunk of city money to charity in his own name. If Chuck was later reimbursed for these donations and wrote them off as tax deductions, then his conduct is not only ethically reprehensible - it's illegal. Chuck has not answered these questions and we believe he should.

Nobody wants to drag non-profit organizations through the mud. Nobody wants to deter people from donating to these groups. But people do want accountability.

So, Chuck... why won't you release the rest of your tax information?

*Debate Highlights*

Richard Robinson has a nice article summarizing the debate last night.

The Merc also provided this coverage of the debate as well.

The best coverage of the debates has to go to NBC11 which includes actual clips from the debate.#

The coverage focuses quite a bit on the "Chuck E. Cheapskate" scandal. Chuck Reed opened the night by stating that he refused to drag non-profit organizations through the mud and therefore he wanted to repay the city with his own personal funds because some of his reimbursements were "too personal, possibly too political and too religious." Reed made the point that some of the expenditures were legitimate but that if he picked and chose which he felt obligated to repay that that would do a disservice to the NPOs in question. I have looked through his reimbursements. Besides the $4 spent on parking at an airport press conference, I am not sure any of the expenditures "served a public purpose." His attempt at quasi-financial martyrdom was insincere as he continued to stress legal ambiguity. One email we received summarized the controversy in the following words:

"Reed still doesn't "get" the issue: it has nothing to do with hurting non
profits, or giving city money to non profits. The problem is Reed
spreading money around (personal checks, his name and his wifes name),making it
APPEAR that he is the donor, when in fact it is the city that is the
donor. The problem is Reed, not the non profits."
The focus shifted away from the Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal but not before Cindy attempted to bring it up one more time. In the words of another of our emailers:

This seems a little shady and Cindy noticed that during the debate when she caught Chuck off guard. Cindy asked how Chuck could reimburse the city and still not admit that he did anythign wrong. Chuck froze after the question and only replied with"I stand on my opening statement."
Chuk Reed did a great job at sticking with his message. There were two slogans that he repeated over and over: "more of the Chavez-Gonzales administration" and (when discussing the Grand Prix) "cars or kids?".

Click on the "Reed: Grand Prix" link on the NBC11 page to hear some of the sloganeering. Reed attacked the Grand Prix on business grounds. He said the Grand Prix was a "great event", "a wonderful time", and "great for the city" but that if he had to do it over again, he would vote against it.

Chavez responded to his cars vs. kids dichotomy calling it disingenuous.

One thing that many felt was inappropriate was when Reed continued to say the "Gonzales-Chavez" administration over and over again. While effective for getting his soundbite (which he did, see the Merc article), many claim that this is a mischaracterization of the facts. Though Chavez was one of Gonzales's Vice Mayors, she was not his VM during 2 Norcal rate increases nor when the $11 million dollar amendment was passed. Pat Dando was the Vice Mayor when that occurred. Many continue to see the lumping together of Gonzales and Chavez as being racist. ("Of course he puts the two latino names together" we've heard in comments and in emails.) Reed called the culture a "cancer". Some called this extreme and inappropriate.

Reed simultaneously attacked some of Cindy's endorsers and the local Dems in the area. Richard Robinson covers this diatribe well on his site. Reed said that local Democratic leaders want the SJ Mayor to be a part of the "Democratic fundraising machine" which he refused to do. He went so far as to trash the honorable Susan Hammer's name by claiming that her endorsement was based on the fact that she was a part of this machine. I don't think I am going on much of a limb but Susan Hammer's name should not be mentioned in the same breath as Ron's.

Robinson says that Cindy's personality stole the show:

She proved once and for all, nice people can win. They can also be
tough, decisive, inclusive and funny...

But the night belonged to Cindy. Obviously giving her “handlers”
the night off, Cindy became a Mayor last night. Freed from
scripts and talking points, she was inspiring, inclusive, humorous, spontanious,
knowledgable and most of all, she showed all of us why she is the
leader to take San Jose forward into the future.

But don't take our word for it - take a look at some of the video clips on NBC11's site! Keep sending emails to sj_rookie AT yahoo.com and/or misterfouroheight AT yahoo.com with your reactions and insights!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mr. Reed you have some explaining to do

Today, buried in this Mercury story, we find that:

Among the questionable spending practices Reed has engaged in was his request to the city last February for $80 in $1 dollar cash increments so he could put them in red envelopes and hand them to children at the Vietnamese Tet Festival.

Reed said such use of public money was appropriate because it was part of a ``cultural activity. I'm there as a representative of the city.'"


So, Reed gave out dollar bills at a Tet Festival and somehow those who received the money were supposed to "know" that the taxpayers and NOT Reed have provided the funds? I highly doubt that anyone who received the money from Reed felt obligated to thank the taxpayers of San Jose.

Giving out dollar bills wasn't the only questionable expense Reed billed taxpayers for, memberships were high on his list as well, including lifetime memberships. Yes, those of us who are in the private sector do get reimbursed for some work related memberships in professional groups. For example, if you are a Public Relations professional one could expect their employer to pay for membership to Public Relations Society of America. However, one might also be a member of Rotary, maybe Toastmasters, and a number of other organizations that would provide for personal as well as business contacts. Would employers cover all of these memberships? No, they would not. And as Reed's employer, we the taxpayers, have the right to determine what is and is not related to his job, and Reed, as our employee, has the responsibility to not abuse how he spends our money.

And one has to wonder how honest Reed is when he tells us that he only became a member of the Berryessa Advisory Council when he was elected council member, especially given that he has been involved with them for 30 years. Additionally, maybe someone can explain to me how as taxpayers we are supposed to pay for Reed's KTEH membership.

In looking at the pdf's of Reed's reimbursements we can see that many of the invitations and requests for donations were sent to Reed's home address, and then Reed wrote personal checks out, checks that had both his name and his wife's name, yet Reed sought reimbursements from the taxpayers of San Jose. Did Reed ever note to the organziations that it the funds were being provided by the taxpayers of San Jose?

Further, a number of the events he attended were purely political, and if you view the pdf's of his reimbursements there is no question that the money raised from the event was going to political fundraising.

You can view all of Reed's reimbursements in an excel sheet here (reeditforyourself.com, a site that the Chavez for Mayor campaign has put up).

In his "job" as council member no citizen would expect Reed to go broke attending community functions and events, at the same time all of the city council members are allowed to raise private funds to pay for items such as admission to events and ads in programs. Reed, at the very least, should have shown some restraint in how he sought reimbursement from taxpayers. Instead of restraint Reed choose to use our money for his own political gain, never once noting that it was taxpayer money, not his, that was funding his memberships, donations and advertising.

As I have previously posted, Reed's actions are nothing short of deceptive, a far cry from his "honest" campaign spin.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Letter to the Editor: "A Whole New Ballgame"

With this new information about Reed, it would seem that the playing field has been repaved. Reed no longer has the moral high ground and the stalemate has returned. There are some who now advocate a write-in for David Pandori, but let's be realistic. A write-in victory is about as likely as catching Michael Moore in bed with George W. For this reason, it is time that we accept that there are two candidates running in this election, Chuck Reed and Cindy Chavez. And for as much criticism as these candidates are receiving, it's becoming increasingly unpopular to say that you're a supporter. However, as a San Jose resident, I am proud to be a supporter of Cindy Chavez.

As you guys pointed out earlier, Cindy Chavez most definitely is down...but not out. News sources are finally reporting the facts, which can only help Cindy. Chuck Reed can play up ethics all he wants but when we look at the track records of both candidates, Cindy Chavez is the only candidate with a vision for San Jose. The ethical conflict of Norcal regarded Cindy's supposed knowledge of the contract prior to the Council vote. However, Grand Jury testimony evinced that Reed knew about the arrangement before Chavez did. Once this news came out, the media hid. No one wanted to admit that they were wrong and crucified Cindy for no reason. Consequently Reed was let off of the hook and was able to maintain his reputation as Mr. Ethics.

Lately people have tried to draw a parallel between Cindy's vote for Norcal and Reed's city reimbursements. Reed supporters justify the reimbursements by saying that they are less than the money spent on Norcal. But there is a difference, and I am furious that Chuck Reed and his underhanded campaign team would have such little respect for me and my ability to discern between right and wrong. So let me explain something to you, Chuck Reed, because I know you and your campaign read this. Cindy Chavez voted with the Council to approve of the Norcal contract. Who voted with you to reimburse your political donations? Cindy fulfilled her duties on the Council, you broke the law. The amount of money spent is irrelevant, the use of the money is what is of significance. The entire city benefits from Cindy's spending, Chuck benefits from his expenditures. Chuck's warped impression of Robin Hood is stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. And he is the frontrunner to be Mayor of the tenth largest city in the nation.

So then what is the answer? How do we prevent this unethical and deceptive coward from taking office? The answer isn't simple, but it is worthy. Chavez is down, but not out. It's never too late for Cindy to win this election. People are ignoring the facts and being spoon fed lies from Chuck Reed. There are those who will keep an open mind and will be willing to change their vote, but the old political generation stands firm in their opinions. It may be too late to change people's minds, but it's not too late to rock the vote. Pick up your Cindy signs and stand out on street corners. Don't let Chuck Reed get away with this injustice, make your voice heard. Don't just sit back and watch this election destroy San Jose, every vote counts. Now is the time for civic activism, every action counts for something. It's time for the youth of San Jose to stand up against political corruption. It's time that we show City Hall that we are not an obsolete group of constituents. It's time that we make a difference for ourselves and future generations of San Jose. If the election is a losing battle, then it is a battle worth losing. I'm picking up my sign...I'll be out there on the street corners this weekend...I hope to see you there.

-Ben Watson

Follow the bouncing ball known as "Chuck E. Cheapskate"

Today we are going to attempt to follow the bouncing ball now known as "Chuck E. Cheapskate's" campaign for mayor. Yesterday, as you may have read, Reed was exposed as having billed San Jose taxpayers over $38,000 for memberships, advertisements, donations and political organizations.

First Reed states he did nothing wrong, yet he is going to pay the money back:
Facing the most difficult moment to date in his campaign for mayor, Reed offered no apologies for spending city money on``community organizations and festivals and events,'' but said he would pay the city back from personal funds because he didn't want to ``drag community groups into a political fight.''

And he also claimed that:
In deciding how to pay for such expenses, Reed said he evaluates whether the money is going to ``community organizations that I participate in as a council member, as opposed to those that I participate in personally, like my Air Force Academy'' alumni association. If the money is being spent as part of his council duties, he said it is appropriate for taxpayers to foot the bill.

And after he told us that he sought reimbursement for items that were related to his city council position, he now states:
Reed has a supporter-funded account. He said Tuesday that he uses most of it for an annual newsletter he sends to homes in his district. But he also said he has been reimbursed from that account for memberships and small donations. When asked how he decided which memberships and donations should be charged to taxpayers and which to his supporter-funded account, Reed said this: ``Sometimes it's just a question of timing, otherwise I don't know that there's real distinction (between the two types of reimbursements).''

The Mecury’s editorial today disagrees with Reed’s claim of no “real distinction (between the two types of reimbursements)” and had this to say:
Well, there is and it should be obvious to anyone concerned about fiscal responsibility at City Hall.

The editorial by the Merc nails the issue:
But Reed has made fiscal responsibility a focus of his campaign, and his explanation falls flat. The memberships, including some lifetime memberships, promote Councilman Chuck Reed, not the city of San Jose. Some of the donations went to advertisements in non-profit groups' fundraiser programs that featured Reed's picture, implying he was the donor. Contributing $100 to a Rotary Club tsunami relief fund was fine, but the money should come from his wallet, not taxpayers'. Should taxpayers pay his annual $500 pledge to Greenbelt Alliance? No.

There were also a number of other council members who were reimbursed for questionable expenses, and they aren’t justifying their actions, they owed up to their mistake and are doing the right thing:
Records on Tuesday also showed other council members used city money for a variety of uses. Councilman Ken Yeager was reimbursed by the city in April for a $150 ticket to a political dinner hosted by the Santa Clara San Benito County Building and Construction Trades Council. The dinner invitation stated, ``Money raised from the event will be used for political purposes.'' Yeager also was reimbursed this year for his $100 membership to the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and $100 to the Friends of Guadalupe River Park and Gardens. And the city covered his $225 half-page ad in the Congregation Sinai tribute book honoring developer Eli Reinhard.

Yeager, who will become a county supervisor in January, said he was unaware the money for the trades council dinner was going to a political account and said he would review the matter and possibly reimburse the city. He said he also was unaware the city had covered the cost of his memberships and possibly would reimburse those funds, too. He acknowledged that politicians have a personal interest in buying advertising with their pictures.

``There is a political benefit to having ads in those programs,'' Yeager said.


Williams, who appeared at Chavez's news conference, has been reimbursed in recent months for $200 he paid to South Bay Christian Ministers, $115 to Rita Ledesma Home & School Club, and $160 for the American GI Forum East Valley Chapter.

Other council members who used office accounts to pay for advertising in programs and publications have included Campos and Councilman Dave Cortese
.
And Reed continues to state:
`I don't think I did anything wrong,'' Reed said.

That alone should be cause for concern from a candidate that is claiming to be “honest and fiscally responsible.” Scott Herhold is calling Reed "Chuck E. Cheapskate" and has this to say:

Before his sad retreat, Reed had a big idea, a bill of goods, the notion of stiffing the public for his expenses while proclaiming himself the 34-point Grand Reformer.

From a charisma-challenged guy from Kansas, it was a revolutionary concept that we should embrace: Justify your expenses on the grounds they're essential to your work. Bill yourself as a philanthropist. Thump your chest. And make someone else pay.

Now we can disagree about many things, but is there really any disagreement on this issue? Do you like that Reed used your taxpayer money to donate to political parties? Do you think that it was appropriate for Reed to place ads featuring his face in programs at your expense?

Responding with things such as but Chavez did this, and Chavez did that, in no way deflects the issue, it only makes Reed supporters look like they are trying to run and hide from Reed’s actions.

This is an issue about judgment, honesty, and a candidate who wants us to trust him when his actions are anything but trustworthy. Further, Reed continues to dig a hole for himself by insisting that because there was no “rule” on the books to follow, he did nothing wrong. Common sense should not have to be a “written rule,” and Reed not only showed a lack of judgment and common sense, he still doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Consequences of Chuck Reed and "Reimbursement-gate"

By this point in the day everyone is familiar with the story that Chuck Reed has reimbursed himself for numerous exquisite expenditures - some that have led to political gain, many that have prioritized "himself" above the city of SJ. It is unclear what the consequences will be of today's revelations, but it is clear they are not good for Mr. Chuck Reed.

Cindy Chavez held a press conference earlier in the day in which she blew up checks illustrating that her tickets to prominent SJ events were paid for using her own personal funds while Chuck's were reimbursed with city funds.

Chuck Reed followed Chavez's press conference by announcing that he will repay the $15K to $38K with his own personal money. Opponents have to be asking 'does that make everything right again?' Supporters have to be wondering 'is he using our donations to repay the city?'

The blogosphere has been abuzz all morning and afternoon with comments about the recent scandal. We received an email covering a NEW blog/website (?) on the scene called "ReedItForYourself". (http://www.reeditforyourself.com/) The site features pdf's of Chuck Reed's reimbursements from 2001 through today. At this point, it is unclear who is behind the website. It would appear that Cindy's campaign might be connected. For the record, the email we received with the tip was sent from a computer using a personal IP address without a name on the network.

ReedItForYourself is not the only blog/site that has covered the story. Below are reactions from all around the rest of the blogosphere:

- Richard Robinson's rant (http://www.rant.sv411.com/) went on the heavy offensive. RR says supporters of Reed must be telling themselves "Say it ain't so Chuck, say it ain't so". Robinson identifies the contradiction Reed has created with Reed reform #3 which states among other things "No stealing" as well as pledging to put "service above self". Robinson explains:


It is clear that in paying for political and charitable dinners with
his own check and then reimbusing himself with taxpayer money, Chuck Reed
has
put self above service. It will come as a major shock to these
community groups that the donation they recieved from “Chuck Reed” is
actually a
donation from the taxpayers of San Jose.

Second,
is giving taxpayer money to political organizations
considered stealing?
Chuck is a lawyer, so I will assume he can parse a
legal answer to that
question. But it will be tortured logic and it
certainly won’t pass the
smell test. If it is not illegal, it ought
to be.
- The Mercury News political blog also saw the recent revelations as a potential hit against Reed's integrity. According to Yost, this "turnabout" will put Reed on the defensive in the debate regarding ethics.

- San Jose Inside - a blog run by an open endorser of Chuck Reed - tried to focus the debate today on Cindy Chavez's letter sent out attempting to distinguish herself from Mayor Gonzalez. But SJI readerswere much more concerned about 'reimbursement-gate'. Comments from conservative and liberal posters alike expressed disappointment in Reed's lack of judgment. Some of the more interesting observations include:

* If Chuck Reed wrote any of these donations off on his tax forms and then sought reimbursement by the city, than he has not just been unethical - he has committed a crime.

* Some suggested the grand jury should investigate Reed's reimbursements. Those alone might rise to the level of illegal conduct. Donations to political campaigns are illegal when reimbursed by the city.

* Quite a number of comments called for a write-in campaign for David Pandori.

Reed pays for memberships with taypayer money

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that:

Since joining the San Jose City Council six years ago, Chuck Reed has charged city taxpayers for such things as his life membership in veterans organizations, donations to tsunami relief and cancer walks, and even his contributions to two political committees.


Examples of these expenses can be found here, and include:

Dec. 15, 2005: Wildlife Center Silicon Valley membership, $100

Nov. 3, 2005: Italian American Heritage Foundation membership, $100

Nov. 3, 2005: Outnow for AIDS benefit, $250

Aug. 17, 2005: Ad in El Observador newspaper for Mariachi Festival, $75

June 15, 2005: KTEH membership, $75

May 25, 2005: Juneteenth Sponsorship ad in program, $350

Jan. 23, 2005: Donation to Friends of Lan Nguyen for school board inaugural, $50

Jan. 14, 2005: Donation to Rotary Club Endowment for Tsunami Relief, $100

Nov. 23, 2004: Donation to Greenbelt Alliance, $500

Oct. 25, 2004: Councilwoman Pat Dando retirement dinner, $55

June 3, 2004: Gay Pride Parade program ad, $160

March 30, 2004: Donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, $100

Feb. 26, 2004: Ad in program for San Jose Fire Department 150th anniversary celebration, $500

Jan. 21, 2004: Donation to Tet Festival organizing committee, $500

Jan. 6, 2004: Donation to Equal Rights Advocates, $100


So, Reed is charging taxpayers for his KTEH membership? Making political donations on taxpayer money? How "honest" is it to do use taxpayer money for political donations and memberships to PBS?

Oh, and remember that Reed claimed that Chavez was a "freeloader?" Seems he missed the mark on that one too:

Reed last week accused Chavez of ``freeloading'' by attending such events without paying for them, but Schall said Chavez has checkbook records showing more than $13,000 in personal payments for such events and donations since she joined the council in 1999, a figure that doesn't include two years for which her checkbook register was stolen.


How do other councilmembers handle these expenses? They pay for them out of their personal accounts:

Council members have wide discretion over how they spend money from their office accounts. They must provide documentation for any expenses to the city clerk, who processes the payments. City Clerk Lee Price said the standard for expenses is that the funds must be used ``for official city business and/or in support of city business.'' But deciding what falls under that category generally is left to council members.

Based on interviews with some of Reed's council colleagues and their aides Monday night, it appears that his practice is unusual.

At least four council members say they only use their personal funds or officeholder accounts, which are funded by private donations.

``I'm real concerned that he has done that,'' said councilwoman Nora Campos, a Chavez supporter. ``I think it sets a bad tone and example.''

Councilwoman Judy Chirco said, ``My practice is I pay for it personally.''

Councilman Ken Yeager said he would ``never use city funds'' to pay for such items.

Councilman Forrest Williams said he uses personal funds for all memberships. But he only uses his city expense account for such purposes as a business trip or dinner that is related to his council duties.


It seems that Reed, when left to his own discretion, finds a justification to charge taxpayers for his personal memberships to organizations and donations to political campaigns. How "honest" are these actions? (especially given that he seems to be the only councilmember charging taxpayers for these items)

Just pointing out, once again, that "honesty" is more about actions then words.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sen. Barbara Boxer Endorses Cindy Chavez…and only Cindy Chavez

This weekend, Chavez announced the endorsement of Sen. Barbara Boxer. To many, this might seem a little extraordinary. Why would a United States Senator weigh in on a local city council election?

Says Boxer, “Cindy Chavez possesses a unique combination of bold vision and pragmatic leadership. She is fighting to protect our open space while encouraging new clean-energy businesses in San Jose . Cindy will always stand up for our values and our environment.”

In an election that has made ethics and trustworthiness at the center of the debate, this is another coup for the Chavez campaign. Cindy currently boasts of endorsements from all across Santa Clara County. She already was endorsed by a handful of Congressmembers. This is her first U.S. Senator.

On a related note (and one that now becomes important in this day and age), Boxer did not also endorse Reed. (See the below post for clarification.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Is Reed as honest as he says he is?

Well, imagine my surprise today when I read this in the Merc's "Internal Affairs" column:

Mayoral endorsement

IA must return to the scene of its own fumble in reporting the endorsement of the Santa Clara County Democratic Club in the San Jose mayor's race.

As IA reported recently, the club, which is not the same organization as the official Democratic Party, endorsed Chuck Reed. It also endorsed Cindy Chavez.

The club offered a dual endorsement -- both candidates are registered Democrats -- a fact not mentioned by Reed in the news release that was sent out.

Reed defends the news release. ``They endorsed me,'' he said. ``I didn't say it was a sole endorsement.''


IA exaggerated the extent to which the club had disregarded the official party line. Chavez enjoys the sole endorsement of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.


Now, I have a question for all of you. How "honest" is it to send out this email:

Santa Clara County Democratic Club Endorses Chuck Reed

After a vote of their membership, the Santa Clara County Democratic Club endorsed Chuck Reed for Mayor of San Jose. They cited his "outstanding service" and "commitment to Democratic values" when they officially endorsed Reed.

Chuck Reed stated, “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Santa Clara County Democratic Club.” Reed continued, “As a lifelong democrat and long time member of the organization, I am pleased to be their choice for next mayor of San Jose."


Honest, as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary is:

2. Not deceptive or fraudulent; genuine: honest weight.


Deceptive is defined as tending to deceive, and the definition of deceive is:

To give a false impression


You decide for yourself, my thought is that at best the email is misleading, and more likely it is deceptive, as the club endorsed both candidates. Reed's claim of being the club's "choice" for mayor gives a "false impression."

Just pointing out that honesty is more then words, it is about actions, and if you are running a campaign based on "honesty" you should make sure your actions are not deceptive.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Upcoming Forums/Debates for Mayoral Race

Here is a list of the upcoming forums and debates for the San Jose Mayor's race. This list may or may not be complete, as more forums/debates may be added. If you hear of a debate or forum that is not on this list, please make sure to post it in the comments and I will update this list.

Big Five Mayoral Forum
September 28th - 5 - 8 pm
San Jose Repertory Theatre
101 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose, CA 95113

San Jose Neighborhoods Forum
October 4th - 7:30 - 9 pm
Location to be determined

Art & Education Debate
October 9th - 7:30 - 9 pm
Location to be determined

VEP Almaden Neighborhood Association Forum
October 11th - 7:30 - 9 pm
Gunderson HS Auditorium
622 Gaundabert Lane, San Jose, CA 95136

Strong Neighborhoods Forum
October 13th
Time and Location to be determined

Berryessa Citizens Advisory Council, Asia Law Alliance
October 23rd - 7:30 - 9 pm
Berryessa Community Center
3050 Berryessa Rd, San Jose, CA 95132

Community Round Table Forum
October 27th - 7:30 to 9 pm
Location to be determined

Billy DeFrank LGBT Candidate Forum
October 30th - 7:30 - 9 pm
Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center
938 The Alameda, San Jose, CA 95126

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tonight's Mayoral Forum

Just got back home from the candidate forum at San Jose High School. In addition to the mayor's race, the two candidates for district 3 council seat were also present at this forum, Sam Liccardo and Manny Diaz. Liccardo and Diaz went first, with the two mayoral candidates following.

This debate was sponsored and organized by district 3 neighborhood groups and was moderated by the LWV. I would guess that there were about 200 chairs set up, and almost all of them were filled, and the walls were lined with people standing up. The format for the evening was that each candidate was allowed a two minute introduction, and then each of the neighborhood groups asked the candidates a question and the candidates had two minutes to answer the question. After the neighborhood groups asked their questions, written questions from the audience were read, and the candidates had a minute to answer.

Overall I would have to say that both Reed and Chavez did well, each has their strong points, and they both had weaknesses as well. Chavez concentrated on the downtown area too much, yes I know this was a downtown forum and she is the councilperson from that area, but I think she could have broadened her answers to include other parts of San Jose. Reed continued to push his talking points, to the degree that he might want to reconsider how he can work them in a few less times. Not every question relates back to talking points.

Both candidates came up short on a few of the questions, espeically a question that asked them to specify how they would come up with funding for gang prevention and intervention. Reed's answer was that he wouldn't waste what we already have, which doesn't really answer how you find the funding for these other needed programs (granted, wise fiscal management will save money, but it certainly will not make up funding shortfalls). Chavez stated that she would work to make sure that the city would fund those programs that were proven to be effective.

The main issues raised at the forum were crime prevention, traffic, historic preservation, affordable housing, education and coyote valley development. Both candidates wanted to make sure that coyote valley would not see development without either the existing triggers being met or making sure that the community has the opportunity to participate in any general plan changes.

Overall, with the exception of one small barb by Reed, the forum was civil and stayed on topic and flowed smoothly. If you were looking for fireworks, they didn't happen tonight. Both Reed and Chavez are good public speakers and they are well versed in the workings of government.

Was there a winner tonight? You bet, the voters! All those who took the time to participate by attending this forum won the ability to make an informed decision in November.

Financial Accountability

Wednesday night, Cindy Chavez sent the following letter to Chuck Reed:

Dear Councilmember Reed,
In light of the need to give San Jose citizens complete confidence in our openness, I am releasing my tax returns for the past six years along with receipts for all items for which I have received reimbursement from the City's taxpayers.
I will make these documents available to the press for review on Thursday afternoon, September 21st from noon to 4 pm at my San Jose headquarters office.
As you have made accountability a centerpiece of your campaign also, I ask that you join me in sharing your own tax returns and items for which taxpayers have reimbursed you.
Transparency is critical to healthy government operations. Respect for taxpayer dollars can be demonstarted in many ways. One way is to let them see exactly how their dollars are spent.
Sincerely,
Cindy Chavez


The press conference was held yesterday and covered here in today's Mercury News article. The purpose of the request is somewhat ambiguous at this point. Reed claims repeatedly that he tries not to mooch off the city. He is not a freeloader, in his words. However, Reed was reimbursed $15,300 from 2001 to 2004 for admissions to events and parking. On its face, these contentions sound contradictory. However, it is unclear where this amount ranks with other officials' reimbursement. Reed is correct in pointing out that participation and attendance at events is important. What remains to be seen is when reimbursements become too much.

Reed does not want to turn over his financial records because of the "larger policy considerations". Reed is worried that such a precedent would deter particularly rich or particularly poor candidates from entering local elections. I'm not entirely sure if there are many voters who are going to prejudice candidates just because they're rich or poor. Besides, I don't doubt that most voters are able to draw their own conclusions based upon what the candidates include in their stump speeches: we all can make general estimations at the relative wealth of a managing partner of a law firm and someone who has spent her professional career in politics.

I think Reed has a pretty good point in resisting the request. It makes me think that Cindy has something else on her mind in asking for his financial records. Perhaps she is aiming at a much larger fish to fry. One possible theory? Maybe she's trying to get the public more information on Chuck's clients. With the negative press Chuck received from the FPPC filings made by Mohinder Mann, Cindy may be trying to find some dirt on her own. Only time will tell!

A word from the editor...

Since Mr.408 put up his email address, the feedback has been awesome. We appreciate your recommendations and we hope to incorporate that advice into our site over the coming weeks. The message that you all have sent is that you want more. We are dedicated to bringing you more. We are bringing on more columnists and plan to provide around the clock coverage. In the meantime, please keep emailing misterfouroheight@yahoo.com with news, feedback, tips, and scoops.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What a difference a website makes

What does a website say about a candidate? What makes a candidate's website good or bad? And given that San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley, shouldn't our candidates have websites that show the world that they understand what Silicon Valley is about? Also, please remember that this post is about the candidate's websites, not about the specific campaign issues.

In San Jose we have two candidates for mayor: Cindy Chavez and Chuck Reed, both of whom have websites. While both sites have links to the candidates stand on issues, press releases and of course contributions, a quick look by a voter shows that there are many differences in these websites as well.

So, below for your review, is a comparison of the two websites, complete with grades:

First of all one notices the color choices: Chavez's website has a bright color scheme, yellow and blue, with a rolling banner at the top and a star that glows. Reed's website is somewhat dark and has no dynamic graphics.

Grades for overall theme: Chavez: B Reed: D

Ok, so now that we have gotten past the first page, let's start clicking on a few of the menu options. On the Chavez website we can click through to a list of her endorsements here, on Reed's website, well, there is no list of endorsements.

Grades for endorsement list: Chavez: A Reed: F

Next, let's click on events. You can find Chavez's list here, and Reed's list here. Chavez has an extensive list of formal debates, neighborhood coffee's, and fundraisers. The only events listed on the Reed link are formal debates. Is Reed not holding small gathering of voters? Is he also not holding any fundraisers? Or is he just not posting them?

Grades for events listings: Chavez: A Reed: D

Now we go to the "Newsletter Section," Reed has a link to his weekly newsletters here, and Chavez does not have any newsletters posted on her website (unless I somehow missed the link). While Reed does have his weekly newsletters posted, the last edition was June 26, 2006. Both websites have a form for voters to fill out if they wish to receive weekly emails of the newsletter.

Grades for newsletter link: Chavez: F Reed: C

Now we get to overall use of technology on both websites. Reed has a link to two of his TV ads, and a photo album. Chavez has a podcast, video's of many of her neighborhood meetings, a photo album , an area for both her ads and tv coverage and a way for voters to email friends about Chavez. Neither candidate has a blog, which has been noted in the grading section.

Grades for use of overall use of technology: Chavez: B Reed: D
Both candidates have sections for "issues," Reed calls his the "Reed Reforms," and the links are here and here. Chavez has her issues listed at the top of her website.

Grades for overall issues links and apperence: Chavez: B Reed: C

Now, if we were to do one last grade on the overall look, ease of use, links to help voters, feel and timelyness of both websites, we can check these areas on Reeds website: Voting Record and Reality Check . On Chavez's website there is a link to help voters register, information in Spanish, information in Vietnamese, and a way to buy Cindy Chavez for Mayor Gear .

Grades for overall look, ease of use, links to help voters, feel and timelyness: Chavez: B Reed: D

And now, for the final grade in our candidate website exam:

Chavez: B Reed: D



Mayoral Campaign Gets Nasty

Yesterday afternoon, Cindy Chavez and Chuck Reed participated in a heated debate held by the Rotary Club. The headlines today say it all... The Merc declared “Candidates Battle” and “Sparks Fly”. NBC11 said “Candidates Get Testy”. And CBS explained “Race Becomes Harsh”. In reality, most of the debate was pretty chill. It really got feisty when Reed accused Chavez and Labor of campaign violations similar to those from the Chamber of Commerce. In response, Chavez said, “I think the idea that you can make accusations about an organization that did nothing illegal, and is not accused, except by you, and not bringing it to the elections commission is very inappropriate… I've done nothing, not one thing while I've been in office to do anything but bring honor to this city and your accusations are so inappropriate, so inappropriate.” Now it’s one thing when an allegedly separate organization attacks your opponent and you pretend to disapprove of the “negative campaigning” while secretly loving it; it’s another thing to have your opponent calling you out face to face. And let me tell you, Cindy and Chuck were using fighting words. At this point, both candidates must feel very attacked. Up until recently, Chuck didn’t know what it felt like to be personally attacked. In reference to the accusations of wrongdoing regarding Reed’s client’s liquor license, Reed pouts that he doesn’t like the “dirt attacks on me – I don’t like it at all.” In response, Chavez claims “I have only been responding to things that I hear.” Often times, she is simply defending herself. But with the accusation of the council vote that benefited Reed’s client, Chavez was just responding to a consultant that she heard saying “Do more oppositional research and hit him hard!” Regardless, Reed is getting a taste of his own medicine and is now attacking her in a less subtle or thoughtful way. Hopefully, both candidates will steer clear of more unfounded allegations and focus on their distinct visions for the future of the 10th biggest city in the nation.

COMPAC Victorious In Case Against SJ

The Merc has the story here: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/elections/15571274.htm.

Groups now may spend amounts of unrestricted money in support of or in opposition to specific candidates as the city's ordinance has been rejected outright.

Supporters of Chavez warn throughout the article that the new tone of SJ elections will be that s/he with the most money wins.

The article also mentions that Dennis Fong contributed $26K to COMPAC. Hmmm...

The last line of the Merc's article states: "The judge ruled that COMPAC is entitled to recover from the city the costs of pursuing the lawsuit." Come on. How ironic that the CHAMBER will likely now seek to cost the taxpayers of San Jose even more money. Isn't the whole essence of COMPAC fiscal conservativism?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

COMPAC and Its Consequences

As COMPAC's constitutional challenge to a San Jose campaign finance restriction continues, there is quite a bit of discussion regarding COMPAC and the ordinance in question around the blogosphere.

Our counterpart SJI gave some analysis here. The article parallels some of the arguments made by conservatives during their defense of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth ads brought out against John Kerry during the 2004 election. Essentially, McEnergy - just like Bush did - that "they started it". Specifically, he writes:

"The Chamber took a page out of their book and did the same. The recent outrage over the Chamber’s spending, led by the local Democratic Party leaders and the impregnable labor bosses, was a hypocritical act unparalleled even in the annals of political chicanery."

I am too young to be familiar with these times that McEnery discusses "twenty years ago when I was mayor". However, I am pretty familiar with the tone and pace of THIS election. I HAVE received "independent expenditures" from the Chamber; I have NOT received "independent expenditures" from Labor. McEnery's mistake is grouping labor/Cindy/the Local Democratic Party as an undifferentiated mass. If 20 years ago, labor sent out hit-pieces as "independent expenditures" against then-Mayor McEnery, it does not make Chavez a hypocrite for condemning mailers sent out bashing her today. If I'm mistaken...and if these type of mailers ARE being sent out by groups supporting Cindy bashing Chuck, then she should stand by his side in condemning them as well. But the focus is on COMPAC now. They broke the law. Their defense should not be that labor started it.

The part of McEnery's article that was distasteful, however, came from his bashing of the police. The particulars:

* "Now, they (the police) have become the epitome of all that we hold disreputable in politics: insider dealing, cronyism, and circumvention of the law"

* "Perhaps doing the right thing—adhering to the spirit as well as the letter of our ethics laws—means little to our cops nowadays."

* "Is there anyone wearing the blue and carrying a badge that can feel shame anymore?"

Rich Robinson's rant takes a decidedly different approach to the COMPAC controversy. Robinson contends that the law itself is unconstitutional. He declares that

"a Federal Judge who has been properly educated in a competent Law School on first amendment issues, should toss the entire arbitrary, unreasonable, over-reaching, vague and unenforcable San Jose Campaign Finance Ordinance into the trash heap–where it belongs."

I am curious how Robinson draws these conclusions. The Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC affirmed the use of SOME limitations on campaign spending. The decision itself carves out a number of rules and standards governing the topic - but certainly does not outlaw these type of restrictions altogether. I'm no lawyer. But I am pretty sure that the issue is not as open and shut as Robinson characterizes it. Regardless, we, here at MW, welcome further enlightenment. If Robinson or anybody else would like to discuss the legal landscape, we would be happy to post it as a separate column.

Robinson claims that these mailers were thoroughly discredited. I'm just not sure if they were. The furor they created along with the headlines they are still producing (like "Mailers Bashing Chavez") have certainly hurt the one-time frontrunner. COMPAC is acting fast and - as was pointed out in our article yesterday - wants to get back in this race to take a couple more knocks at Cindy before November.

In any case, the consequences of this controversy remain to be seen. This website has previously discussed efforts by some local leaders to boycott COMPAC's bbq. After the mailers, Congressmember Zoe Lofgren asked for her name NOT to be used on COMPAC's site. Read her letter to Nancy Williams here: http://www.lofgrenforcongress.com/docs/COMPAC-letter-8-5-06.pdf. A one-time nonpartisan organization will probably face more of this heat from Dems if (1) they win their suit and (2) they continue to go after Chavez. I don't think anybody thinks that COMPAC's hands should be tied on speaking out about politics and issues. I think Lofgren and many others object to what she calls the "unilateral 'trash(ing)' (of) one candidate for local office" in violation of local law.

When a verdict is rendered by Hon. Judge Ware, you'll find it here first...

SCC Democratic Club Update

We're still trying to piece together the goings-on of this previous Monday night's meeting of the Santa Clara County Democratic Club. We have received a number of emails and are still trying to get independent confirmation of the details. Email sj_rookie@yahoo.com or misterfouroheight@yahoo.com if you have any information. Your email address and name will be kept entirely confidential. One thing we are sure of is that the Club did NOT revoke it's co-endorsement of Chuck Reed and Cindy Chavez. We are not sure who ended up yelling at who but we do know that the meeting was very contentious. We are not sure if representatives of the club or of Chavez's campaign initially called the motion to re-vote, but our contacts have stated that some members of the Club were furious about the attempts to undo their endorsement. Word is that the interactions were vicious. We have heard from one source that Chuck Reed, himself, was in attendance at the meeting defending himself. We have not yet received 100% confirmation of that fact yet. We'll provide a fuller update when we receive details we can verify from independent sources.

MayorWatch Seeks More Contributors

As our site is now averaging over 250 visits per day, we have found the demand is far-exceeding the supply of posts :)

We are looking for more contributors to the site to help meet the demand for more content. Please email my colleague misterfouroheight@yahoo.com if you're interested! Your emails will remain anonymous so feel free to use your real address.

As we said when we opened shop almost two months ago, we are not looking for partisan hacks. We are looking for anybody who is YOUNG or YOUTHFUL who has an interesting take on this approaching election. We want creative minds who are interested in researching issues. A big plus is if you have any legal experience as that skill set may prove particularly important when the flood of post-election litigation (probably) emerges.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

COMPAC Case Continues

It is interesting how much the Dando camp complains about the city wasting money... but how willing they are to lockup taxpayer money through lawsuits.

For a brief historical reference, Dando's choice to replace her in District 10 Rich de la Rosa challenged the city's usage of eminent domain over the Tropicana shopping center. Regardless of the merits of the case (the lead plaintiff received $6.5M to drop the case), the lawsuit cost San Jose $1.4M in LEGAL FEES! (http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:ztOT-Z2D5TsJ:www.indybay.org/newsitems/2005/11/30/17868701.php+Tropicana+lawsuit+cost+San+Jose&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=4)
Now, Dando is behind another lawsuit as her organization COMPAC sues the city over its mailers bashing Cindy Chavez. For those who don't remember, COMPAC sent out literature singling out Cindy Chavez for a number of votes she cast while sitting on the City Council. The mailers just happened to be sent out just weeks before the election.

The city requires that independent expenditures "in aid of or opposition to" a candidate be financed by individual contributions not exceeding $250. COMPAC's mailers were financed by contributions that exceeded this limit. COMPAC's argument, therefore, is that this mailing was "issue-oriented" and not "in aid or opposition to" a candidate.

At stake in this case is the very essence of campaign finance restrictions. If this facially ludicrus argument succeeds, the entire structure of CFRs will be gutted. These mailers could potentially serve as the blueprint for flouting campaign finance restrictions: just leave out the words "vote" and "election" and you got yourself an "issue-oriented" mailer!

This case is not about free speech. This case is not about ideology. It is about this election. From the Merc: Sutton asked the judge to be aware of the approaching Nov. 7 election as he reaches a decision. This is about COMPAC wanting to get one more chance to take another low blow against Cindy Chavez.

Goals Outta The Reed Camp

As promised, when a candidate provides an articulation of his/her goals, MW will be there. Courtesy of one of our fav readers "sanjoselady" (http://siliconvalleylife.blogspot.com), we found the Merc's coverage of a hodge-podge of Reed's goals here. Reed advocates:

1) Solar panels on SJ's struggling arts facilities to cut utility costs;
2) Promoting parks in neighborhoods where the most people are able to walk to them;
3) Conservation of hillsides and open space;

Also, big news was presented that was partially scooped by SV411 last night: David Pandori, Michael Mulcahy, former Mayor Tom McEnery, former councilwomen Judy Stabile, Shirley Lewis, and Lu Ryden, and Lan Nguyen all endorsed Reed. Pandori, McEnery, and Mulcahy were no surprise but the other four represent some interesting endorsers.

It is interesting that Reed still is yet to list any of his endorsers on his website. It seems like there are a number of them out there... but he isn't putting them front and center. My personal opinion is that endorsements shouldn't be that important. However, when trust and credibility are the central issues to one's platform, a candidate needs to put forward the names of those who believe s/he is trustworthy and credible.

The Merc article wasn't all good news for Chuck. Toward the end of the article, his dedication to parks was challenged:

Helen Chapman, chair of the city's parks commission and a Chavez supporter, said she was surprised by Reed's parks proposal because in her experience he had shown less interest in parks than Chavez, even on parks in North San Jose, Reed's council district.

Also, the Merc pointed out that despite his interest in preserving open space, he still has problems with Measure A - the initiative dedicated to that purpose.

SCC Democratic Club

If anybody has any updates on what transpired last night/evening, please email me at misterfouroheight@yahoo.com No word in the Merc.

It appears that Reed probably didn't lose the endorsement judging by the fact that the website has not changed it's list of endorsed candidates.

We'll keep you posted if there are any developments...

Monday, September 18, 2006

McEnry + Pandori Endorse Reed

In what was probably not much more than a formality, Tom McEnry and David Pandori announced their endorsement today of Chuck Reed. The story isn't being scooped by the Merc, SJI, or Reed's website yet and thus far, I've only found it here.

SV411's article characterizes the endorsements in lukewarm terms. Neither endorser was probably thrilled with rubber stamping Reed but both recognized the political necessity of the move.

For reference, McEnry is the guy who serves as one of Arnold's county chairs alongside Pat Dando.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

More... More Blogs & More Vision

Between my very well-researched (read: NERDIER) co-editor Mr. 408 and our multiple Internet-scouring commenting readers, I figured that we'd have already mapped the entire San Jo politico blogosphere. Well, it turns out I was wrong...

Mercury News writer Phil Yost and a couple of his buddies maintain a political blog with updates roughly once a week. Take a look for yourself at: http://blogs.mercurynews.com/on_politics. The site bounces from local to state political news and from time to time covers news relevant to our focus. Our view at MW - as always - is the more voices in the marketplace of ideas, the better...

This past week, Yost outlined another prong of Cindy Chavez's vision for San Jose. Yost's article discussed Chavez's plan to take better care of our city's senior citizens. Cindy's plan as Yost points out would probably even make our boy Chuckie smile because "the proposals for seniors didn't contemplate any new expenditures that anyone besides the most vigilant auditors would notice." The plan is built around:

*better publicity for the district attorney's fraud unit;
*a check-on-them program for the housebound elderly;
*"match our seniors with classrooms where their wisdom and live experiences can be put to use''; etc.

While this plan probably doesn't directly relate to us editors (and probably not to most of our readers), it at least brings up something completely and utterly foreign to the majority of this mayoral election's coverage: an actual, genuine, real GOAL.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Santa Clara County Democratic Club To Reconsider Chuck Reed Endorsement

***BREAKING***

MayorWatch has learned that the Santa Clara County Democratic Club is planning to reconsider its endorsement of mayoral candidate Chuck Reed at its September meeting this upcoming Monday. MayorWatch has heard conflicting stories on the reason for this reconsideration:

(A) Some have claimed that members of the club identified some sort of procedural irregularity with the endorsement process initially which has justified the reconsideration motion.

(B) Alternatively, others have told MayorWatch that the basis for reconsideration is entirely substantive.

In any case, Mr. Reed is going to have to prove to members of the Club that he still deserves the co-endorsement. As many of our readers know, this is a story we have covered extensively:

*http://mayorwatch.blogspot.com/2006/09/picture-is-worth-1000-words.html

*http://mayorwatch.blogspot.com/2006/08/is-chuck-reed-closeted-republican.html

The charges against him will range from his votes refusing to recognize civil unions to the now widely circulated picture of him speaking at a Republican function with a Schwarzenegger campaign sign behind him. The battle certainly looks uphill for Mr. Reed. However, MW has learned that it takes a 2/3's vote to reverse prior endorsements.

Please email our co-editor misterfouroheight@yahoo.com if you have any information that could shed more light on the subject.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Debate Highlights

The Merc's coverage of the debate can be read here: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/elections/15516000.htm.

It seems like the primary focus of this election is ethics. Our city has been rocked by scandal. Our citizens are embarassed of the attention our current Mayor has ignonimously earned for this great city. In the back and forth surrounding Norcal and the recent Los Esteros allegations, it is important to ask how do we make this evidence relevant to our voting decisions. Are we looking to punish candidates for prior unethical conduct? Or do we look to past (un)ethical actions in order to make educated extrapolations about future conduct? However evidence of unethical conduct matters to you, there are some important questions we each need to answer in evaluating the candidates. Were Chuck's undisclosed conversations with CWS - an interested party in the Norcal amendment - proof positive of unethical conduct? Do Cindy's close ties with labor along with her vote in favor of the amendment mean that she was in the backroom abusing her power? And are we really buying Chuck's defense to conflict of interest charges that it is unnecessary to recuse onself from voting on policy that benefits a paying client so long as it does not only benefit that client? In any case, the issue is front and center this election. And it was front and center last night...

A brief syllabus covering some of the issues discussed last night...

I. ETHICS

1. Norcal
a. Chuck says Cindy made a "deceptive statement about what I knew about Norcal''
b. Cindy says she has been all but exculpated by Grand Jury transcripts; Chuck owes
her an apology
c. Reed admits that he had heard that Norcal expected to be reimbursed but did not
know that they expected the city to foot the bill
2. Los Esteros
a. Surprisingly, not much was said about the recent allegations

II. STRONG NEIGHBORHOODS INITIATIVE

1. Chuck describes SNI as "one of the great things that's been done in the city'' during
the Gonzales year
2. Cindy says that she was one of the leaders behind SNI and agrees that it is great for SJ
3. Cindy adds that Chuck did not support SNI when first adopted in 2002
4. Chuck countered saying he supported the concept but voted against the program
because of eminent domain concerns
5. Cindy responds that Chuck should hae put forward an alternative ("I don't just say I don't
like something, I try to improve it.'')

III. MEASURE A - HILLSIDE PRESERVATION INITIATIVE
1. Chavez supports it
2. Reed did not say one way or the other whether he supported the initiative ("there are
some problems in understanding that I have with the plan.'')

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Coverage of Allegations Against Reed; Reed Offers Defense

ABC-7 picked up the story on the recent allegations made against Chuck. The print story and the video coverage is available here: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=local&id=4559458.

The story is yet to be picked up by other major SJ blogs or by the Mercury News.

In the article, Chuck defends his contested votes with two positions:

(1) He charges that the attorney bringing the charges, Mann, is a supporter of Chavez; and

(2) The votes he made without recusing himself he claims dealt with policy issues rather than specific property.

I am guessing this second argument is that he needn't recuse himself when voting on general policy that benefits his clients but should when voting on specific ordinances that benefit them...

Noticeably absent from Reed's defense is his claim that he made in the original KTVU story that he did not know about the conflict of interest at the time he voted. My buddy SJ Rookie thoroughly discredited that defense two posts ago. Put simply, the timeline proves that he did know about the potential conflict of interest at the time of the vote in question...

Other than those defenses, ABC's story did not present too much else new about the story. However, what was different was Councilmember Cortese's response to the controversy:

"I want to withhold judgment until I hear what he has to say, but it's a troubling set of facts that have been presented."

Cortese - who has not endorsed either candidate - provided much more of a negative response in the KTVU story. It remains to be seen whether or not Cortese is going to make a splash in the final weeks before the election. A onetime front-runner, Cortese has a great deal of credibility and support in the community. Time will only tell...

The article adds that Reed received $10,000 dollars to represent Los Esteros. This leads us to a question we posed about a month ago: who else has Chuck's law firm represented?

Debate Open Thread...

If anybody attended the debate tonight, put up some reviews/comments/etc. The editors of MW unfortunately were not able to attend and are very curious as to how the discourse shaped up...

Chuck Reed Under Investigation For Vote Benefitting His Client

An anonymous poster provided us with this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dRTz7ukONM. The link provides KTVU's scoop on the recent allegations that Chuck Reed cast a vote to economically benefit one of his clients. The allegations have been made by local attorney Mohinder Mann (apologies if I misspelled his name). The complaint has been filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Los Esteros is a client of Chuck Reed's. Los Esteros wanted to build a gas station on its property near the San Jose-Milpitas city lines. Reed recused himself on a number of germane votes relating to Los Esteros's interests. However, when a crucial vote came to allow the sale of alcohol and groceries at gas stations - something that would directly financially benefit Reed's client - Reed provided what Mann is calling "the swing vote" leading to the ordinance's narrow passage.

What is Reed's defense?

"It is accurate that I knew - at one point - that my client was interested in leasing the property for a gas station but it was much later."

Reed, however, MUST have known about the conflict at the time of his questionable vote because the timeline provided by Mann in the video shows that he DID recuse himself on other votes:

"June 19, 2001: Los Esteros Partnership rezoned property with a 36 acre gas station, 8 fueling pumps, and car wash. REED RECUSED.

May 13, 2003: Voted to direct City Attorney to draft ordinance to remove prohibition against selling gasoline and food items (mini-marts). REED VOTES.

June 17, 2003: City of San Jose and Milpitas agree on sewage serivce for Los Esteros Partnership. REED RECUSED.

December 16, 2003: Voted to repeal the ban on selling food and alcohol at gas stations. REED VOTES.

June 14, 2005: Votes to direct City Attorney to draft ordinance repealing the ban on selling food and alcohol at gas stations. REED VOTES.

October 4, 2005: Council approves repeal and Reed says he has a conflict of interest arising out of a client that wants to build a gas station/grocery store combination. REED RECUSED.

December 6, 2005: Council approves repeal and Reed says he has a client that owns property that they want to put a gas station and sell groceries. REED RECUSED. "

More on the story as it develops...

Chuck Reed - Conflict Of Interest?

***BREAKING***

KTVU has reported recent allegations that Chuck Reed voted on matters before the City Council in which he had a conflict of interest. Specifically, it is being reported that Chuck made votes that favored the interests of clients of his law firm. I've tried to find the specifics on the story but I have not found it on Cindy's or KTVU's site. We'll keep you posted as soon as details surface...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words...

Click here to see Mr. Chuck Reed speaking at a REPUBLICAN event...


The Chuck Reed D.I.N.O. ("Democrat In Name Only") Watch continues!! The
above picture is hosted by the Silicon Valley Young Republican
Federation's
website: http://www.geocities.com/svyreps/photos.html.
The picture was taken at the Republican organization's Annual Social
BBQ.
Note the Schwarznegger sign above Reed as he speaks to the crowd.
(Click on
the image to enlarge it.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Mineta Endorses Cindy Chavez; Chavez Outlines Disaster Plan

Saturday the Merc wrote this article regarding a Cindy Chavez appearance this past Friday. The article highlighted two significant developments:

(1) Cindy's 19-point disaster preparation plan; and

(2) the recent endorsement by Norm Minetta of Chavez.

On the eve of the 5 year anniversary of 9/11 and during the one year anniversary of Katrina, the topic of disaster seems increasingly more and more relevant. Nonetheless, the skeptic in me wonders - is any of this actually important to our city? I mean, SJ isn't exactly a top terrorist target nor is it known for its vulnerability to storms. But I bet folks in Oklahoma City probably humbly thought that they weren't at the top of the list of potential terrorist targets 12 years ago either. Additionally, it is questionable how secure San Jo's infrastructure would be if it faced another large earthquake. In any case, read the specifics of her plan here on her website. What did Mr. Reed have to say about her plan? Well, among other things: "Cindy's got some good ideas".

In other news, ex-Mayor Norman Mineta announced his endorsement of Chavez. What does this mean practically to the outcome of the election? It is unclear. Chavez already boasts a long list of endorsements. Do people even care? Well, Mineta is most recently known for his former role in the Bush administration as Secretary of Transportation. This bipartisanship may add credibility to Chavez and impact moderates in their search for the next Mayor.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chavez Releases a Podcast

People my age statistically use their right to vote less than any other age group. So most politicians don’t waste their time reaching out to people age 18-25. Except for Cindy Chavez. She recently began broadcasting, excuse me, podcasting a podcast called Discussions With Cindy. Willow Glen resident Michele Bertolone is asking the questions in the discussion and Cindy Chavez is answering them. Bertolone acknowledges in her premiere podcast that she won’t exactly be conducting hardball interviews, but that she will focus on “real issues” as opposed to imaginary issues. Admittedly, the podcast is a campaign tool, but a respectable one – at least someone is trying to reach out to us young whipper-snappers.

You can subscribe to the podcasts for free using iTunes. I posted the first 15 seconds of an “episode” so you can get a taste of the discussion. Notice the introductory music that sounds vaguely like introductory music to a Skinemax Movie. Also notice the chumminess between the two women that evocates SNL’s famous Delicious Dish parody of NPR. Click here for a listen.

Chavez’s vocal quality oscillates between passionate and tired. In the first full-length episode, Chavez explains that she decided to run for City Council after someone shot a bullet into her bedroom. When a cop arrived at the scene, Chavez asked what they could do to prevent that kind of incident from happening again. In response, the cop told her to “think about moving”. I’m not entirely sure I buy that story. But if it is true, it’s pretty compelling. “Someone had shot my nest,” exclaimed Cindy. After listening to the podcast for just 10 minutes, I couldn’t reconcile the local media’s image of Chavez as Satan In A Powersuit with this nice lady talking about neighborhoods. To find out for yourself, download “Discussions With Cindy”.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

San Jose Inside Violates Its Own Policy

Of course, the right to free speech is as American as Apple Pie, Baseball, and Brittney Speares. But that right is not absolute. The blogosphere recognizes the limits of free speech. So far, we at Mayor Watch have posted every single comment we have received because none have presented a “clear and present danger” (a Supreme Court standard for when it’s appropriate to censor and a delightful Harrison Ford flick). Fortunately, there have been no offensive comments that would merit a deletion so far.

Another big blog in San Jose, San Jose Inside, has its own comment policy. It states, “Please Read Before Posting Comments” and explains that “comments are reviewed before they are posted”. San Jose Insides’s final rule is “4. We will not publish comments that deride a person or group of people for their physical characteristics.” That seems like a fair policy.

And yet, whoever is moderating comments over at San Jose Inside violated that policy a few days ago. I wrote an article titled “Who Would You Rather Eat With?” which compared and contrasted a lunch date with Cindy and Chuck (quite humorously if I do say so myself). In response, a commenter on San Jose Inside wrote, “It would have been more fair, had they have had Cindy ordering twenty meals for herself (to create more jobs) eating off everybody else’s plate while she waited for her’s, (no missed meals there, she wants to contrast herself from the skinny Reed).” That comment (#22) is here. Calling Chavez fat is clearly deriding a person for her physical characteristics. Fat jokes belong on Late Night TV where they are more appropriate and funnier. The fact of the matter is that San Jose Inside is violating its own policy just so that they can put up a comment that rebuts what we have to say. The good news for San Jose Inside and the commenter is that they have a good chance of winning 1,000 dollars cash money on MTV’s “Yo Momma”.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Letter to the Editor: Reed Quotes A Racist

Mayor Watch presents another letter to the editor...

If Robert E. Lee had his way, black Americans would still be enslaved. If Chuck Reed had his way, San Jose voters would have no qualms with electing a mayor who admires the notorious Confederate General. Chuck Reed released a campaign calendar to voters, featuring “inspirational” quotes for each month. Reed attributes his August 2006 monthly quote to “General Robert E. Lee.”

Simply put, we should not admire those who defend intolerance and inhumanity. Robert E. Lee, more than anyone else, represents the enslavement of over 4 million black Americans. Unforgivable.

San Jose is a majority-minority city, renowned for its diversity. San Jose’s NAACP chapter is the largest branch in the NAACP’s western region, featuring one of the most diverse chapters in the country. Just last year, San Jose State University unveiled “Salute in Bronze,” a sculpture commemorating the world famous black power salute from the 1968 Olympics. Cesar Chavez’s vision of the United Farm Workers was born in San Jose. In fact, Chavez has been forever memorialized by way of San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez. San Jose has more Vietnamese-Americans than any other city in the country. For the City of San Jose, August of 2006 will be remembered for the groundbreaking of the Viet Heritage Gardens, a place dedicated to the Vietnamese-American community and culture.

But for Chuck Reed, August of 2006 should apparently be remembered for Robert E. Lee. By featuring Robert E. Lee on his literature, Chuck Reed demonstrated either ignorance or intolerance. Either way, an apology is in order. Those who attempted to preserve slavery in America should not be embraced or celebrated— especially in San Jose.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Underdog Bites Back

‘Down but not out’ seems to be the new slogan for the Cindy Chavez campaign team. Though the polls still have Chavez trailing Reed, things are starting to look up for Chavez and her supporters. The main ammunition of many Chavez critics has now fizzled into a finger-pointing contest. As many of you now know, Chuck Reed knew about the Norcal arrangement 2 years before Chavez did. But for some reason, every media outlet in San Jose is like a broken record forcing us to read “Chavez, Gonzales, Scandal” every time we open the paper. The Grand Jury testimony has been ignored and Cindy’s accusations against Reed have been referred to as desperate attempts to close the gap between the two candidates.

However, this strategy by the Mercury News, the Metro, San Jose Inside, SV411 and every other supposedly objective news source in San Jose is the real desperate attempt. I hate to sound like a second grade teacher here, but maybe it’s time that the Mercury admit that it was wrong and give Cindy Chavez the apology she deserves (otherwise I will have to put Scott Herhold on timeout). There is still plenty of time left for new information to surface and the public has a right to know if Chuck Reed was the treasurer of a Hilary Duff fan club or if Chavez was once a Disney Mouseketeer.

As citizens of San Jose, we have the right to know the developments of this election, and even more importantly, we have the right to know the truth. While it may be fun to see how much you can fool the public, at a certain point, you have to play “real journalist”. As members of the press, people over at the Mercury News have access to information that the general public is unaware of; therefore, it is their responsibility to report this information to us. But the media is a very powerful weapon and once Scott Herhold and his buddies decided that they wanted Chuck Reed, Cindy Chavez became the victim of libel.

The media has overstepped its boundaries. Every outlet has abused its power in an effort to deceive the public for personal gains. So now, we would like to be the one outlet that will vocalize Cindy’s new bombshell. So again, Chuck Reed knew about the Norcal arrangement for longer than Chavez did. However, during the course of the campaign, Reed and Reed supporters accused Cindy Chavez of being unethical for her knowledge of the contract. Once Mr. Ethics himself took the stand though, he had to come clean about his own involvement with CWS. The Mercury News has already eaten its own words, and now it is time for Chuck Reed to take a look at number 6 of his Reed Reforms “6. Require the Mayor and Councilmembers to disclose material facts before the Council takes action.” It’s never fun to get caught in a lie Chuck, ask Richard Nixon.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Attacks Against Chavez Become Racialized...

***UPDATE: Merc Takes Down Racist Comment***

Wow. Disgusting.

After reading today's article in the Merc, I was pleased to read a much-needed layout regarding the Mayoral election. I was pleased because after reading yesterday's article/column/rant by Herhold that the Merc got back to what it should be doing: discussing facts, not opinions. Cindy and Chuck both took hits - Cindy was characterized as closely tied to Ron and Chuck was criticized as being nothing but a "dissenter". Check out the article for yourself here.

I checked out the discussion thread that followed the article. There, I read the most recent post by someone who spit out more hate against the candidate. Check the post out for yourself: http://pod01.prospero.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?msg=449.8&nav=messages&webtag=kr-mercurytm. The poster "Joe Sixpack" wrote:

Of course Chavez must be poor. She has a Hispanic surname isn't that enough? Even if she isn't poor she is in a better position to relate to the poor. Right? As far as not helping with a complaint against a rogue cop she is a Police Force of One herself. Why didn't she single handledly demonstrate that she alone could control a near riotous crowd at Mardi Gras?
Posted by: Joe Sixpack

9/2/2006 10:35 PM
449.8 Report as Violation


I am unfamiliar with the Merc's discussion board's rules and regs. I hope that they erase this immediately. Whether you're a Chuck Reed or Cindy Chavez supporter (heck, even a Pandori supporter), please email the Merc and ask them to take this racial hatred down.

I'm just disgusted that people still think/talk in these terms...

Friday, September 01, 2006

To the Merc, facts just get in way of attack

The front page of the Valley section today featured a column written by Scott Herhold regarding the recent negative coverage Chuck Reed has received for his knowledge regarding the Norcal deal. (Read the article here.) Herhold's point is simple: Chavez pointing to Reed's role in the Norcal scandal is like "the pot calling the eating utensils black." On its face, the article seems to not bode well for the Chavez campaign.

Herholds writes:

"The evidence is that Chavez met early with the Teamsters' leader and a Norcal lobbyist in the fall of 2000. She signed on to a misleading memo from the mayor's office in September 2004. Batting away arguments from Reed and Councilwoman Linda LeZotte about how the secret deal was done, she voted for the $11.25 million bailout for Norcal. Reed opposed it. Those facts aren't going away."

And what evidence was out there that implicated Chuck? Two things, according to Herhold:

1) "veteran councilman said he had heard of ``some sort of deal'' in late 2002 or early 2003 in which recycler CWS expected to get money from Norcal, which in turn hoped to be reimbursed by the city."; and

2) Reed's admission that: ``I had no idea how they could do that, so I was quite curious as to how they were going to pull this off,'' Reed testified. ``And I was watching for opportunities for things to be done that were not right.''

Herhold then proceeds to minimize the importance of these two pieces of evidence by calling them "hogwash" and satiricially referring to them in Chavez's words as "extremely important material facts."

If that was all that was in the record regarding Chuck's link to the controversy, Herhold's conclusion re: the pot and utensils might be more justified. But that's simply not the case...

A couple weeks ago a commentor on this site emphasized the importance of getting to the PRIMARY source of information. So that's just what I did.

Volume 7 and
Volume 8 of the Grand Jury transcripts contain Chuck's testimony. In it are the following pieces of evidence that are probably what really serve as the foundation for the recent attacks by the Chavez campaign. When you go through the transcripts and read through Herhold's article, you kinda have to wonder if he actually even read the primary source himself.

1) The all-incriminating memo signed by the Mayor and Cindy that will link them forever as co-conspirators? That was also signed by the patron saint of transparency in government, Pat Dando.

2) Regarding Chuck directing the Mayor's staff to negotiate a contract with Norcal?

“Norcal was one that was approved. I don’t remember if it was unanimous or not, but I did vote in favor of the staff recommendation.”
(p.1290; 17-20)

3) Regarding what Chuck knew prior to his vote on the contract?

“Q. Okay. At this Council Meeting and prior to your vote, did either the Mayor or Norcal say anything about any promises or representations that may have been made to Norcal or CWS?

A. Not the Mayor or Norcal, but I have had conversations with others who talked about it.

Q. Who?

A. Uh – the people from CWS.

Q. Who in particular?

A. It would have been either Victor or David Duoung or perhaps their consultants….”
(1297:22-1298:4)

4) Did Chuck know what the purpose of the amendment was?

“Q. When did you first have conversations with either CWS or CWS lobbyists representatives about Norcal reimbursing CWS for the extra cost of using teamsters?

A. I think it was after 2002, because there was a time period where it was all focused on permitting the operation….”
(1299:27-1300:6)

5) Were these private discussions that Chuck entertained with CWS a one-time occurrence?

“A. Before you move on, I need to add a comment on the last question. You did ask me about how did I leave things with CWS. The topic came up more than once.

Q. They came back for more discussions?

A. Yes.”
(1302:24-28)

6) Did Chuck know about any alleged promises regarding compensating labor costs?

"Q. Prior to the vote (on the amendment), did you speak with any representatives of Norcal or CWS about the amendment?

A. I got written communications from both CWS and Norcal. It was a lot of documents that finally got flushed out during this time period. I do not remember ever talking to Norcal or CWS about the amendment itself.

Q. Okay. In any of the communications, whether written or verbal, did either Norcal or CWS ever put forward the argument that the city should vote in favor of this amendment, because promises or representations have been made to us that it, the city, would pay these extra costs?

A. Yes.”
(1310:5-16)

I won't even get started about how much Chuck "didn't know" or couldn't "find records one way or the other" regarding his knowledge and communications about Norcal. While others may find this type of evidence relevant, it doesn't lend much to an analysis of the Herhold editorial.

Another blog has talked a bit about "truthiness". We, too, at MayorWatch are concerned about the same very problem. It seems in this day and age if you repeat something enough it becomes true. I wish I had a quarter for everytime an anonymous commentor wrote about "Cindy costing the city 11.25 mil". That's why we've linked to the primary source and contextualized ACTUAL testimony rendered by Chuck under oath.

At the end of the day, Herhold was correct in introducing the ironic tale of the pot calling the utensils black. But he was accurate only in that he criticizes Chavez for introducing only favorable pieces of the puzzle... by only bringing forward his favorite pieces as well.