Friday, October 27, 2006

Bias Against Chavez

Wednesday’s article on San Jose Inside begins by declaring, “Well, it looks like a clean sweep for Chuck Reed in his quest to become mayor of San Jose.”San Jose Inside is clearly inside the Reed camp. The article goes on to clarify its boastful lead by explaining that Reed has swept the newspaper endorsements. Big surprise. The Metro, The Mercury, and all of David Cohen’s Community Papers have been biased against Cindy Chavez from the get-go. These papers would just look hypocritical if they endorsed Chavez after months of bashing her. Tom McEnery musters up all his civility to admit that Chavez is a “decent” person, not a good person, just a decent person.

While our site has a healthy debate after most posts, the comments on the San Jose Inside article are overwhelmingly pro-Reed. Where’s the discourse?

And the comments really sadden me when they get into issues of race. John Michael O’Connor asks, “Can someone explain to me in what respect Cindy Chavez is a Latina… except for her surname?” He goes on to assert, “To call Ron Gonzales a person of color is a MAJOR stretch. Does he know more than five Spanish words? Gonzo is no more a person “of color” than I am.” O’Connor needs to understand that Cindy’s lighter skin tone and Gonzales lack of Spanish fluency don’t make them any less Latino. Cindy Chavez is Mexican-American and faced the same deeply embedded social barriers to people of color that all Latinos face in this nation. O’Connor’s use of such superficial measures of one’s level of minority-ness typifies the Reed camp’s ignorance. In a city where more than half the citizens are people of color, we need leaders who have a better understanding of race relations and the covert institutional racisms that exist all around us.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Kudos To Herhold For Admitting Bias

Yesterday's article by Scott Herhold deserves a second look. In it, he did a fair job of assessing a number of the key issues that face voters when determining which candidate will best lead San Jose.

But what is also worth recognizing is Herhold's admission of his bias in Reed's favor.

"Full disclosure: I lean toward Reed."

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to those of us who have followed the election closely. We discussed his baseless attacks against Cindy about a month ago. Our only question is why wasn't this admitted in previous articles? Why wasn't it disclosed last week, for example, when Herhold "covered" Chuck Reed's attack mailer against Chavez? That mailer, of course, happened to be one of the most unfounded attacks on Chavez yet. It featured Cindy and Ron rolling a giant die from downtown's giant monopoly board. The insinuation was that Chavez is pro-gambling --- even though Reed has admitted that he is not aware of any differences between him and his opponent with respect to casinos. What was Herhold's response? Would he provide the same level of scrutiny to Reed's attacks that he applied to Chavez's attacks in September?

Nope. Instead, Herhold merely summarized how the Reed team found the picture of Ron and Cindy. So instead of applying some much-needed questioning of Reed's newest smear campaign, he instead gave it free airplay. He even provided a link to the "incriminating" picture of Ron and Cindy!

Everyone has their biases. We've admitted ours. We give kudos to Herhold for finally disclosing his. Biases and partiality are inexorable consequences of intelligence coupled with observations. The danger comes when journalists wield their enormous amounts of influence and access without disclosing their "angle". Our only question is --- who else at the Merc has some disclosing to do?

Meanwhile, we continue to wait for Phil Yost to step up to the plate and attack line-by-line this mailer like he did to Chavez's well-known letter providing her explanation for her role in Norcal. Maybe we'll get a similar admission from Yost three weeks after the election passes.

Mr. Yost and Mr. Herhold: You cannot in one instance criticize and scrutinize the message of one candidate and then pretend to be laissez-faire when the other returns fire. You can't have it both ways.

Kudos To Herhold For Admitting Bias

Yesterday's article by Scott Herhold deserves a second look. In it, he did a fair job of assessing a number of the key issues that face voters when determining which candidate will best lead San Jose.

But what is also worth recognizing is Herhold's admission of his bias in Reed's favor.

"Full disclosure: I lean toward Reed."

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to those of us who have followed the election closely. We discussed his baseless attacks against Cindy about a month ago. Our only question is why wasn't this admitted in previous articles? Why wasn't it disclosed last week, for example, when Herhold "covered" Chuck Reed's attack mailer against Chavez? That mailer, of course, happened to be one of the most unfounded attacks on Chavez yet. It featured Cindy and Ron rolling a giant die from downtown's giant monopoly board. The insinuation was that Chavez is pro-gambling --- even though Reed has admitted that he is not aware of any differences between him and his opponent with respect to casinos. What was Herhold's response? Would he provide the same level of scrutiny to Reed's attacks that he applied to Chavez's attacks in September?

Nope. Instead, Herhold merely summarized how the Reed team found the picture of Ron and Cindy. So instead of applying some much-needed questioning of Reed's newest smear campaign, he instead gave it free airplay. He even provided a link to the "incriminating" picture of Ron and Cindy!

Everyone has their biases. We've admitted ours. We give kudos to Herhold for finally disclosing his. Biases and partiality are inexorable consequences of intelligence coupled with observations. The danger comes when journalists wield their enormous amounts of influence and access without disclosing their "angle". Our only question is --- who else at the Merc has some disclosing to do?

Meanwhile, we continue to wait for Phil Yost to step up to the plate and attack line-by-line this mailer like he did to Chavez's well-known letter providing her explanation for her role in Norcal. Maybe we'll get a similar admission from Yost three weeks after the election passes.

Mr. Yost and Mr. Herhold: You cannot in one instance criticize and scrutinize the message of one candidate and then pretend to be laissez-faire when the other returns fire. You can't have it both ways.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

SV411 Continues To Lose Credibility

Today awoke from it's two week slumber to continue it's quixotic quest to bring down Cindy Chavez. Say what you will about our site - but at least we're up-to-date!

SV411 - an anonymous blog that attacked us for being anonymous - revealed that the Metro has endorsed Chuck Reed. (Surprise!) Then, later in the day, the blog picked up the story about Chavez receiving donations from developers who bid for contracts. The article parroted Reed's accusations without any examination or scrutiny thereof. One portion of such allegations was that a developer from Connecticut "got" seven individuals to contribute to Chavez. These are very serious allegations. But as we mentioned in our earlier article, Reed's campaign is filled with parallel arrangements that also smell like big interested donors (like Dennis Fong) "got" office managers and relatives to max out in their donations to Reed.

This is the blog that:

1) Went after Nancy Pyle, Ken Yeager, etc. for freeloading at the Grand Prix but never outlined any of the luxurious events Reed attended on the public's dime;

2) Found that the only thing that was relevant from the Norcal Grand Jury transcripts was that Cindy referred to representatives from Norcal by common names, but found nothing improper about Reed's undisclosed conversations with CWS prior to the Norcal vote;

3) Announced the endorsements of Chuck by a handful of local leaders while not once blogging about the pantheon of prestigious endorsers of Cindy;

4) Referred to Chuck's ripoff of $38K from the public's money as "creative juggling of 'job-related' expenses" and a "minor misstep".

At least our site is honest about the fact that we editorialize. At least our site doesn't pretend to be anything but the rants of a couple of young students.

New Levels Of Hypocrisy From The Chuck Reed Campaign

Chuck Reed has gone on rampant campaign of hypocrisy sinking to new lows over the past week showing the public how truly desperate he has become. Reed is claiming that Chavez accepted donations from parties who "sought or won contracts" from the Santa Clara Valley Tansportation Authority.

Reed asserts that these companies donated money in excess of contribution limits. He supports this claim by pointing to the fact that the officers or spouses of officers from these companies made donations to Chavez. The insinuation is that these were artificial donors.

Besides being blatantly circumstantial and baseless, does Chuck not know that his campaign has been built on the same practices? Remember Dennis Fong? Fong:

"donated $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."

I think it's time to get sleuthing into Chuck's disclosures to count up how many husband and wife combinations from companies donated to him as well. (Remember the case of mistaken identity that occured with John Salah?

"He donated $100 to Reed's campaign. (12/31/2005)

Dan Salah donated $500
to Reed's campaign. (1/10/2006)

Janet Salah donated $150 to Reed's
campaign. (3/17/2006)"

Point is that trying to insinuate that Cindy broke campaign finance restrictions by receiving money from officers of companies and/or their spouses is reediculous... and hypocritical.

The crux of Reed's position is that it was unethical for Cindy to accept money from groups that she had voted on the past. Well, what did Karen Getman, an attorney and a former chair of the FPPC say:

"I'm not at all sure that there's any problem,'' Getman said.

Another interesting sleight of hand by the Reed camp comes in the form of the "sought or won" distinction. So Chuck is upset that Cindy received donations from companies that "sought" contracts from the VTA but that she voted against? Somehow... that shows... bias?

Wasn't Reed the one only weeks ago complaining about whisper campaigns and baseless accusations? Well, why didn't he sit back, check with an attorney, check with Chavez, etc. before going on a crusade against Cindy?

Chavez countered that Reed - in all his moral outrage about gambling money being contributed to the Democratic Party (not to Cindy, for the record) - accepted donations from "two investors in a limited partnership called Game Too, which was pursuing a possible Indian casino south of Gilroy in 2004. " Reed's response? He says he had no idea of their intentions "he had never been approached by anyone identifying himself as a representative of Game Too." [But don't forget about his quote only a week ago that "(H)e said he once got a phone call from a representative inquiring whether he'd be supportive" - and we're all confident that Chuck - who has already demonstrating questionable integrity when it comes to political contributions - wasn't referring to Game Too???]

Take a step back: Reed's allegation is that Cindy helped companies receive contracts and then later received contributions from these companies. His implication is that she scratched their back and now they're scratching hers. But the fact that some companies who LOST these contracts donated to her as well suggests that maybe these bidders were just confident in the process that she conducted in the first place. Why would winners and losers donate to her?

Chuck adroitly plays on people's repulsion to a political/ethical norm opposing receiving money and then supporting such donors' interests. But recall that here, the sequence of events was the reverse: she happened to support some people's interests and later received financial support from these groups. Chuck's claim is that this is circumstantial evidence that Cindy will be bought in the future.

It is ironic that this contention comes from Reed. Reed is the one who followed the reverse (and more reprehensible) chain of events:

1) Reed received money from Los Esteros - a client represented by Reed.
2) Reed then voted on proposals that financially benefited Los Esteros.

While Chuck's claim is that her acceptance of such contributions suggests Cindy may act in their interest in the future, Reed's track record shows that he has been bought and sold in the past.

And what ever happened to Los Esteros? One thing we do know is that the shopping center that the gas stations that Chuck represented are inside of or adjacent to later donated $500 to Reed's campaign. That's right: McCarthy Ranch has donated $500 to Reed's campaign.

Explain that one away, Reed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Ball Is In Yost's Court...

Mr. Yost, weeks ago, you went line-by-line through a mailer sent out from the Chavez campaign explaining her involvement in Norcal.

Now Chuck Reed has sent out one of the silliest and idiotic hit pieces featuring Ron Gonzalez and Cindy Chavez holding a large die in front of the oversized Monopoly board near the Children's Discovery Museum.

We have covered time and time again why this is one of the most baseless smear tactics that we've seen to date. We've covered how Indian gaming cannot come to San Jose. We've covered how local card clubs would likely OPPOSE introducing Indian casinos to our area. We've even reprinted Chuck Reed's quote saying that he doesn't think he and Cindy have ANY discernible differences between their attitudes on introducing gambling to the city.

Today the Reed droids are already on the spin and somehow are willing to label Reed's hit pieces as "a classic" and "humorous". But the droids still think that Chuck has taken the high-road: "I am almost fearful for Chuck Reed because I am waiting to see the onslaught of dirt and slime that is thrown his way by the Chavez campaign."

Chuck Reed has DEFINED the new low-road by sending out mailers with implications that he knows are irrelevant but that he knows are inciteful. We knew that Chuck would sink to new lows in his desperation.

The only question is: Will the Mercury News step up to the plate and scrutinize these idiotic mailers the same way it criticized Cindy's letter?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Who Reads This "Waste Of Internet Space"?

After recently being called a "waste of Internet space" on Phil Yost's blog, we got to wondering, who actually reads this site?!

Does the Mercury News? After getting the ball rolling about who the Merc would endorse, our local paper has delayed its endorsement announcement already by 2 days. At this point, we are wondering that the editors are wondering the same question we are: which way of NOT endorsing Chavez will they go?

Our pool has the possibilities as: 1) Chuck, 2) No Endorsement, or 3) Write-in Pandori.

In the meantime, to be fair, the Merc has provided a couple solid columns to review over the past 2 days.

Read about the candidates on "growth" here from today's paper.

Yesterday, the paper had a section with 5 questions asked of Chuck and 5 questions asked of Cindy. The answers reveal what we already know about the candidates' orientations. No biggie. However, we here at MW like this type of reporting from the SJMN. We challenge you to allocate space for more information that comes from the candidates themselves.

We'll keep you posted as things develop!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Makin' Somethin' Outta Nothin'

Much has been blogged recently about Chuck Reed's new smear tactic - going after tribal donations to the Democratic Party. Today the Mercury News wrote an article about the bru-ha-ha. Chuck has attacked the Dems for accepting $55K from tribal interests claiming that some of that money would be used by the party to go after him.

We've routinely discussed how this should be a non-issue given that as Chavez and local Dem leader Steve Preminger pointed out that "there's no local support for expanding gambling, city law already forbids gambling money in local campaigns, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed he won't allow tribal casinos in urban areas."

Nonetheless, Chuck has claimed that gambling interests "have been keenly eye the San Jose area for years." His support for this claim? "(H)e said he once got a phone call from a representative inquiring whether he'd be supportive."

Additionally, Chuck implied that gambling money is relevant because "city officials have for years been battling in court over efforts to regulate two local card clubs." Last I checked, Bay 101 was not run by an Indian tribe. In fact, if Indian gambling institutions did want to come to the SJ area, wouldn't they oppose card clubs like Bay 101?

So 1) Indian gaming cannot come to San Jose because it's against the law and 2) Indian gaming money has no relevance to the preexisting gambling institutions in the city. Wait a second... why is this smearing relevant? Reed even admits that he "couldn't cite any specific gambling issues on which they differ."

Nonetheless, Chavez has asked the local Democratic party to not use any of the gambling money on her campaign. Preminger said that the money would be passed to other counties in their efforts to support. Yet rumors are that Reed still plans on taking this issue to the bank during the stretch-run of the campain. MW has heard that Reed plans on sending out more hit pieces in an attempt to bring the Indian gaming money - which has now been refused - into the spotlight.

My guess is that the voters won't be swayed by these smear tactics. My guess is that the voters will be informed and educated and will know that this is baseless vice-baiting. The REAL question is WHAT WILL THE MERCURY NEWS DO? Remember only a few weeks ago when Cindy Chavez sent out a letter addressing her real role in the Norcal scandal? Phil Yost dedicated an entire column to picking apart this mailer. Will Phil provide Chuck's literature similar scrutiny or will the Merc continue to reaffirm what many of its readers already believe: that the Merc's commitment to its agenda overrides its commitment to objective journalism?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What Will The Merc Do?

As many of you know, this Sunday the Mercury News will announce its much-anticipated endorsement in the San Jo mayoral election. The Merc has conducted interviews over the past week of the candidates to help inform their decision.

The paper best known for not being able to tell the difference between Gonzalez and Chavez (you know not all Latinos are related) and being about as pro-"downtown business" as you can get (sitting on COMPAC's board) will almost undoubtedly pass on endorsing Cindy. The only real question is if they will pass on Chuck as well.

The coverage since day 1 has been slanted in Chuck's favor. But since recent revelations of Chuck's ripoff of over 38K dollars of city money, the Merc has chastised Reed quite a bit. The paper - sometimes referred to as McEnery's News - is now facing an interesting dilemma. Many Merc-loyalists want a write-in endorsement of Pandori. But would the Merc be willing to take an ideological stand at the risk of jeopardizing its political currency? I guess we'll all have to wait till Sunday to find out. The one thing that is for sure: Cindy's got about the same chance of being endorsed as Hillary Clinton does of getting Rev. Jerry Falwell on her literature.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Around the blogosphere...

RR had a nice article today appreciating Chuck Reed's disclosures to the Mercury News. The article reiterates some of the same points made on this blog earlier in the day. Many critics of the request for Chuck to disclose his deductions to run contrary to the American legal tradition of being innocent "until proven guilty". Why should Chuck need to prove that he did not commit a crime? If a real legal scholar analyzed this dispute, however, s/he may end up criticizing that analysis. In the legal world, there is a concept often used called burden shifting. When certain facts are present, the burden may shift to an opposing party in ways that would seem counter to the aforementioned legal slogan. When a patient goes under the knife, for example, and wakes up with a sponge left inside his/her body, the doctor bears the burden of proving that it was not his/her fault. I bring this up not to analogize but instead to illustrate the concept of burden shifting. Mr. Reed made $38,000+ donations to personal, political, and charitable causes. He was then reimbursed with public funds. Charitable contributions are often used as tax deductions. He has entered the world of ethical turpitude. He bears the burden of demonstrating that his hands are clean. This was no Salem-like witch hunt. This was a breach of the public's trust that the public was justified in demanding further inquiry.

Meanwhile, our buddy Tom McE continued the vice-baiting at SJI by going after the Democratic party for accepting Indian gaming donations. Mr. McEnery makes a couple of interesting statements. He lines up the $55K of Indian contributions next to the $128K of party money spent on Chavez mailers in an attempt to lure readers into believing that gambling interests are buying off Chavez. How much money does the local party have in its entire pot, Tommy? I don't know --- but I'm not the one making the allegations. The Dems have more races than just the Mayoral election. Local Dem leaders like Preminger are arguing that the money is being spent diffusely. It is unlikely that a large chunk of the Indian gambling contributions are going to a Mayoral campaign. Their interests reside primarily at the state not the municipal level.

The most notable part of Tommy McE's column comes from his final condemnation:

The questions that must be asked are:
Who solicited this money?
What
promises were asked or given?

The local Democratic leaders should
answer—now.

The citizens of San Jose have the right to know—in this most
scandal ridden of times in the history of San Jose—just who is buying what. The
Democratic Party, in its mad quest to gain an election win, is in danger of
losing its soul.


Is that how it worked when you were in office, Mayor McEnery? When you received contributions, you were asked to make promises and/or gave them to your donors? Last I checked, that was bribery. And even if they were sneaky enough to make promises re: these contributions, what capacity does the mayor of SJ have to override state law forbidding Indian casinos in our municipality? I may have a viscerally indignant reaction if Kevin Federline made contributions to Cindy or Chuck, but really, what are they gonna do for him? In fact, I'd be more concerned with the fact that one of the largest donors to COMPAC's smearing of Cindy is Dennis Fong - someone who has had business before the Council, will likely have business before the Council in the future, and has admittedly (been pressured into?) brib(ing) a Councilmember in the past. This is vice-baiting at its finest. This is Chuck's recognition that he is losing ground amongst the voters most concerned with "ethics" and trying to deflect attention from his Cheapskate scandal. Just as the national Repubs are trying to scare undecided voters into thinking a vote for a Dem is a vote for Al-Qaeda, Reed makes a desperation ploy to make voters think that a vote for Cindy is a vote for a new red-light district.

Chuck's Ethics Train Derailed, Not Wrecked

Recently, this website has called for Chuck Reed to release information regarding his charitable donations. The fear that many had was that after Chuck E. Cheapskate was reimbursed with public funds for over $39,000 worth of political, religious, and personal donations, that some of these were later written off as tax deducations. Apparently, Cindy Chavez volunteers had been asking voters to keep this concern in mind while phonebanking.

We were wrong.

According to today's Merc article, the receipts were reviewed by the Mercury News one week and a half ago. Apparently, they were legitimate.

Chuck proceeds to call the previous questions raised about his deductions "a lie".

As my grandma likes to say, hold your horses there. Chavez volunteers asked voters to inquire of Reed why his full tax information was not disclosed. That sounds more like a request to clear up ambiguity than a lie. Chuck - you created this whirlwind of controversy by your ethical miscues. You cannot play the privacy card when you have abused the public's trust and later are asked to clear things up. You owed it to the public to make this information public. Now you've politicized it by calling your opponent a liar.

This issue was on a lot of people's minds. Look at the comments on our blog and your blog (San Jose Inside) for reference. The Merc wouldn't have printed an article about it today if it weren't something being buzzed about. True, you showed the Merc the controversial information. But you can't blame Chavez and Stone for the paper's failure to report that information.

Why didn't you send out a letter to the Chavez campaign explaining that the info had been disclosed to the Merc and there were no legal transgressions? She has written you letters. Yet you prefer to blast her campaign in the media after the fact.

Why didn't you at least explain this issue on your "Reality Check" section of your website?

The Reed drones seem to be claiming that this is a victory for his campaign. But in reality, this means that the Reed ethics train has not been wrecked... only derailed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pressed for Press

Everyone would have to agree that the big news of the week is the surprisingly close results of the Merc/KNTV11 poll. But fresh news is coming out moment by moment...

Yesterday, both candidates held press conferences to cover two very different issues.

Cindy Chavez held a press conference discussing her pro-environmental platform. The event featured U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer who announced her endorsement of Cindy Chavez and echoed her plans for helping San Jose "go green". Say what you will about Cindy, but you have to respect an endorsement coming from one of the most progressive voices in United States politics.

The center of Cindy's plans focuses on the following priorities:

"the city should create a special committee focused on environmental goals, buy
more clean-energy cars and plant 18,000 new trees"

"Chavez's priority list also includes converting 35 percent of city government energy use to energy derived from renewable sources by 2014; hosting an urban environmental summit and citywide town-hall meetings on the issue; and designating a deputy city manager as point person on conservation in city building procurement, contracting, operations and maintenance."

Reed responded to Chavez's platform by claiming that many of her ideas he had already endorsed - "such as buying clean-energy city cars, connecting the cities' trails and maintaining the city's 'green line' between San Jose and Morgan Hill."

However, Chavez added at her press conference that Reed hasn't even endorsed Measure A - the litmus test for many environmentalists. The Merc explains:

"Reed has not endorsed the measure because he's concerned about its complexity and its potential for unintended consequences."

The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Chavez but the Sierra Club has not endorsed either.

Meanwhile, Chuck Reed held a press conference attacking the local Democratic Party for accepting donations from Indian gambling interests. Since the local Dems have endorsed Cindy, they are now allowed to jointly conduct electioneering activities.

Cindy Chavez responded to Reed's offensive by calling it "disingenuous" because Governator Arnold has outlawed placing new casinos in certain areas, including near and around San Jose. It is unclear what the impact of Reed's attacks are. It's a little vice-baiting but it probably will end up being effective. The odd thing is that this money will be used to help Phil Angelides - someone Reed allegedly supports. Reed's claims that he truly is a Dem are becoming less and less believable by the day.

The debate less night was somewhat uncontentious. However, Reed brought up his gambling allegations in that forum once more.

Reed used his opening time to accuse his opponent of receiving money from gambling interests through her political party's United Democratic Campaign. 'Arts and education will suffer if gambling money takes over,' he said.

It really was an illogical attack. It makes very little sense and sounds like Reed is hoping to build a buzz about Indian gambling money. Even if (and that's a HUGE "if") casinos were brought to San Jose, it is ridiculous to think that that would somehow preclude improving and investing in arts and education.

But given the tightness of the election, you can't blame Chuck for pulling out all the aces of up his sleaves.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Merc/KNTV Poll: A Closer Look

We misprinted the results which were leaked our way as a 44-42 split. The actual results are:

42% - Reed
40% - Chavez
17% - Undecided

In other words, Chuck's lead is within the margin of error. These results starkly contrast the poll released by the Reed campaign in early August. That poll showed Reed earning 47% of the likely votes with Chavez only receiving 20%. This means one of two things: (1) Chuck's earlier poll was juiced as many commentors on this site and others have alleged or (2) Cindy is really building a lot of momentum. We here at MW suspect the truth is somewhere in between these two propositions.

Despite the statistical deadheat, Chuck has to be excited about the fact that he maintains a lead amongst more disciplined, likely voters. A large portion of Cindy's support comes from voters who did not vote in the first mayoral election (a demographic which she leads in 46-33). This demographic is generally less reliable. Cindy's gotta still be feeling the heat.

Though the majority of the electoral dialogue has centered around ethics, that issue still ranks only third in the minds of likely voters in terms of importance. But among voters who believe this is the most important issue Chuck Reed's strategy has paid dividends as he leads 58-30. Upon first glance, one might assume that Cindy's closing of the gap might be due to the affectionately called Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal. However, the fact that those who are voting based upon ethics are still favoring Chuck by an almost 2-1 lead suggests that either: (1) people aren't buying the Cheapskate scandal or (2) people haven't heard about it yet.

One of our favorite (and most talked about) themes here at MW is about Chuck Reed's possible closeted Republicanism. It is therefore worth noting that Chuck's largest block of support amongst demographic groups come from those who identify as "Republicans" and "Conservatives". 58% of Repubs are voting for Chuck and 59% of Conservatives are voting for Chuck.

In any case, the election is hot and close. The final weeks will be intense. We're trying to get you news as fast as possible so please keep sending us emails.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mercury News Poll - 44 - 42

Rumors are that the results of the Mercury News poll are surprisingly close!

We have received emails indicating that Chuck Reed leads in the poll receiving 44% and Cindy Chavez is right behind at 42%.

We'll update as we learn more...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Reed's-Full-Tax-Disclosure-Watch: Day # 16

On September 20th, Cindy Chavez asked Chuck Reed to disclose his tax information. Chuck Reed responded by sharing bits and pieces. What inquiring minds want to know is whether or not Chuck wrote off any of his "charitable" donations and then proceeded to write them off for tax purposes.

Initially, most thought that Mr. Ethics would never do something so monumentally... illegal. But after the Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal, many of us are really starting to wonder. Chuck initially resisted disclosing this information based on "larger policy considerations". But now that only some of his info has been released, many are wondering if he has something to hide.

Nobody wants to create a Salem-like atmosphere. But when you've screwed up this bad, when you've used more than $38,000 of the public's fund, you've inherited the obligation of demonstrating that surrounding conduct was legal.

Step up to the plate, Mr. Reed and show us that you didn't do anything illegal... It's that simple.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Santa Clara County United Democratic Campaign Goes On Offensive

My mailbox was overflowing with mail today. One piece stuck out. The UDC sent me a hitpiece against Chuck. The theme (obviously) is the Reed Reimbursement scandals. The front page features a portion of a Mercury News editorial highlighting the phrase "The memberships, including some lifetime memberships, promote Councilman Chuck Reed, not the city of San Jose." Under an unflattering picture of Chuck is the large quote that says "I don't think I did anything wrong."

The back of the piece reads in large letter "Taxpayers Paid $38,000 to Support Chuck Reed's Political Ambitions". The backside has 16 of Reed's reimbursed checks.

This could mark the beginning of an intense spending war between the two camps backing Chavez and Reed. With the recent decision overruling the campaign spending restriction, we can only expect this piece to be the tip of the iceberg.

Also, word is that tonight the Mercury News is conducting a telephonic poll - not to be confused with COMPAC's push poll. I'm sure Reedites and Chavezites will be patiently waiting by their phones tonight hoping for a call.

More (on) Reed Reimbursements

The information about what exactly Chuck Reed was reimbursed for has been spotty at best. In fact, rumblings were that there was another story about non-check reimbursements that was to break soon. Rumors were that Reed also had a laundry list of expenditures made with his credit card that had not been included in the initial $38,000 tally.

Nobody has scooped such a story yet. Our friends at http://www.ReedItForYourself.com, however, now have a link to Reed's "City Credit Card Statements" and reimbursements. As was pointed out in our comments section when this website first broke, the ReedItForYourself site is run by the Chavez campaign. The site now includes a banner that reads "Paid for by the Cindy Chavez for Mayor Campaign". It is unclear if these credit card reimbursements are included in the initial $38K or if Chuck's debt to the city just increased. We'll keep you posted as the story breaks.

Now, the site also includes an excell sheet outlining each one of Chuck Reed's 450 reimbursements with financial details and characteristics regarding the expenditures.

Chuck Reed has since apologized about his usage of public resources for personal purposes. You can watch the clip of his apology at http://www.kron.com after clicking on the local news tab and selecting the appropriate clip inside the video box. In the clip, Chuck Reed calls the recent negative coverage of his reimbursements "Politics 101".

Meanwhile our friends at SV411 have returned from their 2.5 week hiatus with its first article regarding the Reed reimbusement scandal. SV411's brief story calls Reed's reimbursement of over $38,000 of city funds "creative juggling of 'job-related' expenses". Additionally, some minor flak is dished out to the Merc for "hyping up his minor misstep".

And what does Chuck's website say about the Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal in the "Reality Check" section usually reserved for disspelling negative stories? Under construction.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

COMPAC Goes After Chavez With Push Poll

In what some are considering a quixotic quest, Pat Dando and COMPAC are reportedly coming after Cindy Chavez again. Emboldened by a recent decision by a federal judge, COMPAC is allegedly pulling out another "push poll" against Chavez.

A push poll is defined as a political technique designed to influence or alter public opinion by emphasizing a particular issue under the guise of conducting a poll. The tactic received national attention when Karl Rove employed it to strip John McCain of his momentum in the 2000 Republican Primary. There, the poll asked people if their opinion regarding McCain would change if they knew that he had fathered an illegitimate child of color. Political scientists consider this push poll to be the critical tactic that cost McCain the South Carolina primary and ultimately the Republican nomination.

Phil Yost's political blog discusses the issue peripherally identifying the push poll that is going around. We have received emails covering the topic reporting that COMPAC and Dando are behind it once again. We are unaware of what is being discussed in the call.

Push polling might not be a unique move by COMPAC. A push poll last May went out criticizing Chavez for her support of using eminent domain over the Tropicana Shopping Center. Many believe COMPAC was behind that call as well --- a claim that Dando denies.

Push polling has been condemned by the National Associations of Political Consultants. Many regard it to be a dishonest tactic. Only time will tell how the voters of San Jose will react to it.

Please email us or put up in comments any additional information received.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Identity Mix-up

The other day we pursued a curiosity found in Chuck Reed's campaign finance disclosures: a contributor named John Salah was listed as an employee at the Mercury News. It turned out that was a clerical error at the hands of the Reed campaign. We received a post from someone claiming to be Sal Pizarro from the Mercury News. Da Rookie appreciated the research but incredulously dismissed the poster - assuming it couldn't be someone actually from the Merc.

Anyway, today we read this.

Needless to say, some apologies are in order from MW to John Salah and Sal Pizarro. Here is the text from Pizarro's account:

A strange and only mildly amusing drama played out on the Web yesterday that ended with me being accused of not actually being me.

On the MayorWatch blog, a discussion started over a letter published in Sunday's Mercury News about San Jose mayoral candidate Chuck Reed's reimbursement troubles. The letter writer was named John Salah, and as the blog pointed out, he was a contributor to Chuck Reed's campaign, with a $100 donation showing up on the Dec. 31, 2005 disclosure form. But, the blog continued, he was listed on the form as "Manager Mercury News," which raised all sorts of hackles on the blog and accusations that the paper had published a pro-Reed letter from one of its employees without identifying the person as such.

It got even weirder after that.

After I saw this on the blog, I was troubled, too. I've worked at the paper for 13 years and had never heard of a John Salah who worked there. But there are a lot of employees in different divisions that I never come into contact with, so it was possible that it was true and we just hadn't met. So I did a bit of research with my good friend, the Internet, and figured out that John Salah didn't work for the Mercury News -- he works for Mercury Interactive, a software testing company.

After a series of emails with our editorial page folks and our newsroom editors that spanned much of the day, I got the OK to post a reply on the MayorWatch blog (usually a no-no since as a newspaper we've got our own means of talking to the public). I explained the situation: We don't know how it happened, but somewhere down the line someone probably confused Mercury Interactive with Mercury News on the disclosure form, but the letter from Salah was legit and not part of a Mercury News conspiracy to elect Chuck Reed (a conspiracy I'm sure he would consider to be quite incompetent given our heavy coverage of the reimbursement news).

But the kicker was that after I posted this, one of the board moderators thanked me for clearing things up but insisted twice that I was "not Sal Pizarro." There have been a lot of days in my life when I wished that were true, but that was definitely me posting there Monday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Business Community Condemns Chuck Reed for Reimbursement Scandal

The San Jose Business Journal is no fan of Cindy Chavez. Time and time again we've seen the BizJourn take its hits on Chavez for her connections to labor. With the way that the Business Journal and COMPAC are organized and connected alongside Pat Dando's leadership role in the Chamber, Chuck's strategy to securing their endorsement should be as easy as A.B.C. (Anybody But Cindy.)

But as the Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal continues to break, Chuck stood in at the plate taking aim on this softball and striking out miserably.

The BizJourn wrote this editorial condemning Chuck's role in the Cheapskate scandal. (Note: the article requires a membership to read.) The editorial rejects Chuck's attempt at cleaning up his mess by writing a check to pay the city back for his expenditures.

No harm; no foul. Let’s get back to business as usual.
Really?
We think
not.
Over the past week, many have tried to deemphasize complaints regarding the Cheapskate scandal as being partisan hackery. This article shows how our communities are universally offended by Chuck's abuse of the public trust. Tip to the Reed camp: own up to the lapse in judgment - don't pretend like the reimbursements were not unethical. As the article insists, it insults our intelligence when you pretend like this wasn't a breach of your civic obligations. When you spoke at the last debate and stated that you did not want to drag any non profits through the mud, you created an "epic moment when years of well-molded public image crumbled in an instant."

The Biz Journal sums it up as follows:

Say you screwed up; say you learned from this mistake; say you’ll lead the fight
to close the loopholes and find a better way to pay for the civic involvement we
expect from public officials.
And then say you’re sorry to the people of San
Jose and especially those who voted for you in the primary. They all deserved
better.

Antonio Villaraigosa Press Event

Details are yet to emerge but we have received information that Cindy Chavez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a joint press event today in SJC. The press conference should be covered in the local papers tomorrow. We'll have details as they develop...

Fun With Numbers...

I appreciate the mathematical lesson from last night. (I wasn't aware of the fact that 38K is greater than 1.6K.)

I do not know who John Salah is, though I'd like to find out. (I also do not know who Keyser Soze is.)

What I do know is how to have some FUN WITH NUMBERS! Lost in the Mercury's telling of the sad story of a man punished for his charitable giving are some of Chuck's more... interesting/fun... reimbursements:

- $100.00 - Chris Martinon Karaoke Fundraiser - 7/30/02
Who is Chris Martinon? I forgot --- what public benefit did this outing serve? Which song do you think he sang that night:
a) "Can't Buy Me Love"
b) "Gold Digger"
c) "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems"
d) Any song written by CHEAP TRICK

- $4 - Airport Parking Fee (three times!)
Doesn't it cost more than $4 just to copy the receipt, print out the expenditure form, and process the checks?

- $20.57 - "Introduction to Conversatioanl Filipino for Non-Filipino's"
Critical to his role as a City Councilmember. Absolutely critical. Maybe he shoulda spent more time reading the Reed Reforms (maybe focus on putting service above oneself, for starters).

- $267.92 - Kinko service for making enlarged mock checks for "Missing Mayor" ceremony - 11/25/02
What the heck was the "Missing Mayor" ceremony? I don't remember Gonzo being missing in the first place.

- $70 and $150 - Entrance/attendance fee for SJ Chamber of Commerce's Legends and Leaders Dinner (one of which was honoring Arnold Schwarz-y) - 10/19/04 & 11/14/03
The Chamber is backing Reed for no reason but his credentials... not because of his networking/relationships.

- $55 - Pat Dando Dinner - 11/14/04
Pat is the boss of the Chamber. Again: the Chamber is backing Reed for no reason but his credentials... not because of his networking/relationships.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who is John Salah?

John Salah wrote this pro-Reed letter to the editor today.

He donated $100 to Reed's campaign. (12/31/2005)

Dan Salah donated $500 to Reed's campaign. (1/10/2006)

Janet Salah donated $150 to Reed's campaign. (3/17/2006)

That's all fine and dandy: My only question is...

Why on Chuck Reed's contribution disclosures does it list John Salah's job as "Manager - Mercury News"?

Click here, download the pdf and look at page 38, row 4 to check it out for yourself.

Why $38,000 is bigger than $1,600...

Flash back to a month ago: Reed supporters criticize the Chavez camp for complaining about unfair media coverage. The media doesn't have a bias, they say. The unflattering coverage, the negative editorials, the selective discussion of pertinent issues were nothing to complain about - they were Cindy's fault not the consequence of the Mercury News's slant.

Flash back to this past week: After being unambiguously condemned by all major media for the Chuck E. Cheapskate scandal, Reed supporters criticize the Mercury News for unfairly focusing on his reimbursement practices. Some choice quotes from Chuck Reed's internet headquarters, SJI are illustrative:

"how do these hypocrites answer charges of spending public money to promote
themself or their office. Are they going to reimburse the taxpayers
too?"

"I am waiting for all the good government Reed bashers to express their
outrage over Chavez and her supporters misuse of public funds. "

"if you want to condemn him, condemn Cindy and the rest of the council as
well. They all did it, doesn’t make it right, but it does mean that you can’t
single one person out for it."


It seems that the tables have turned for the Reedites who now believe that the Merc is out to get their candidate.

Today, their cries were answered, when the Merc printed this article making it sound as if Chuck's reimbursement practices were par for the course on the SJ City Council. Barry Whitt lays out the thesis of the article quite simply in the second paragraph:
"And in that way, they (other local SJ politicians) are no
different from San Jose councilman and mayoral candidate Chuck Reed, whose
public spending habits spurred heavy criticism last week."

Whitt proceeds to downplay Reed's errors in judgment by analogizing his conduct to other members of the Council, including Cindy Chavez. Specifically, Nora Campos, Madison Nguyen, and Dave Cortese were reimbursed $150 for Cinco de Mayo ads they purchased. Campos was reimbursed a whooping $1,200 for ads last year!

(By the way, does that mean that Campos was reimbursed $1,350 in total? No - look at how the article is written. It misleads the reader by listing her total reimbursed dollars and then listing a specific reimbursement suggesting the examples were cumulative and not duplicative.)

But wait a second - Cindy must be the grandmama of all ethical turpitude! According to the article, she was reimbursed for SIXTEEN HUNDREED DOLLARS! Wow. Again the way the story is told reveals Mr. Whitt's bias. Not once was there a specific reference to any dollar amounts of Chuck's reimbursements. So readers are meant to walk away thinking that both candidates have unclean hands.

Shame on you, Whitt.

Whether your slanted article was intentional or not, you fail miserably in addressing this controversy with integrity or accuracy. Yes, you are right that it would be unfair to address Reed's reimbursement scandal without examining whether other public officials have done the same thing. But parroting the Reed campaign's soundbites and pretending that that is objective or newsworthy is pathetic. You know that $38,000 worth of reimbursements is a different level of a scandal than $1,600. You know it and that's why you fail to mention how much Reed has reimbursed. Yet you pretend like they are comparable. Perhaps you think this is "fair". Perhaps you think that you're giving both perspectives an opportunity to be shared. But your job is to step above the soundbites and slogans and provide news. You ignore scale, you ignore proportionality, and in so doing, you reveal your biases.

Reimbursing expenses made in pursuit of promoting oneself above the city is ethically dubious. Shame on Cindy Chavez for including her name, title, and phone number in her ad congratulating Debbie Merrel as the San Jose Unified School District's educator of the year. But this misconduct is not in the same universe as what Mr. Reed has done over the last 4 years. He has usurped public money in order to gain favor with constituencies in anticipation of his run for Mayor. He has systematically abused the public's trust. He has paid for lifetime memberships to organizations that have little to no relation to his role on the City Council. He has handed out $1 bills to children to deliberately make it appear as if his donations were not made from city funds.

That, Mr. Whitt, is why $38,000 is bigger than $1,600...