Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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.


At 8:27 AM, Anonymous measure A guy said...

Do I think my taxpayer money should be spent on things like pictures of Reed in advertisements?


At 9:30 AM, Anonymous journalism 101 said...

With the reimbursement-gate / Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal breaking, we confront an interesting time for journalism. I don't think there's a soul on the planet who thinks that what Chuck did was not wrong. Even Chuck's campaigners are acknowledging that what he did was at least partially bad.

What will be interesting to see is which media are willing to address this bad news and which media are going to continue to pretend like it doesn't exist.

For all the whining out of the Chavez camp about a Mercury News conspiracy, you have to give the paper credit for actually covering the story and condemning Chuck.

On the other hand, SJI and SV411 etc. etc. continue to show their biases.

However, SJ Inside continues to deflect, deflect, deflect. Yesterday it looked like its readers didn't even want to talk about the debate they tried to artificially jumpstart. Today, AGAIN, they pretend like the cheapskate scandal doesn't even exist!

SV411? Haven't had a word to say on the mayoral election in weeks. Remember: this is the blog that was so bored that it printed an article about Cindy referring to Micheal as "Mike" in the grand jury transcripts.

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous concerned dem said...

Chuck normally has a "Reality Check" section on his website. He uses this to disspell alleged controversies he has supposedly been a part of.

Today's headline in his Reality Check section?

"Under construction."

At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Richard Robinson said...

journalism 101

sv411 is still biased--but they give me full reign.

I too was happy with the response of journalists given the perceived bias in the campaign to date.

I'm sure it was not a pleasant story to write. Watching a candidate implode is like a train wreck--horrible to witness, but impossible not to watch.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Larry Hughes said...

Hey RR, we enjoy your site. Feel free to put up a link but make sure you use html tags so we can just click in the future.

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous l. fitzy said...

When Chuck goes after Cindy's ethics, it's "an examination of her integrity."

When the Merc goes after Chuck's, it's mudslinging.

The SJI comments are getting absurd! NOW they want to get back to the "real issues".

I don't know the guy's name, but the political commentator last night said "Chuck was a one plank candidate... and that plank has been destroyed"

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chavez just complains and complains. Dirty dirty campaign.

When is Justin going to learn?

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

City Reimbursement for Personal Contributions : Chuck Reed's Mayoral Bid


Drug Overdose : Terrell Owens' MVP Bid


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