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….”

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….”

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.”

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.”

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.


At 4:21 PM, Anonymous jessica1 said...

Good post - I do feel like a lot of bloggers/writers when discussing NORCAL seem to just assume certain things (both sides do this, really).


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