Paul Katzeff: I followed Wendy Roberts’ money


See Enlarged Chart Below

From PAUL KATZEFF
Thanksgiving Coffee
Fort Bragg

I feel compelled to enter my thoughts on the coming 5th District Supervisor Race this election season. I paid for this space [in the Mendocino Beacon] independently of the Hamburg Campaign. I was not asked to do this, nor was I helped in my research by the Hamburg Campaign.

I will begin by saying I am a long time “friend” of Dan Hamburg. I met him for the first time in 1982 when we both signed up for a 3 week adventure in China led by Mike Nolan of Comptche. Mr. Nolan had been a County Planning Director appointed by Supervisor deVall in 1978. Nolan was on the Planning Commission when the battle to legitimize owner built homes (Class K) was the major battle between conservative developers and the new population of young “Hippies who had moved to Mendocino County to live well and free”. So when Dan called and asked for my support back in March or April of this year, and before deVall had thrown his hat into the ring, I said I would lend my name to his effort.

But life has a way of intervening and I paid little attention to the campaigns of either candidate Hamburg or candidate Roberts. There didn’t seem to be much of a difference and if there was no difference, I had more pressing things to enjoy. Besides, I argued to myself, “you have spent the last 25 years reforming an international coffee industry and your local political savvy is at a minimum.” So I forgot about the campaign until about six weeks ago when I was asked by Steve Antler to donate and put up signs at my residence.

Not wanting to be a rubber stamp, I attended an organizing meeting here on the coast and listened to some disturbing assessments of Ms. Roberts’ campaign. I decided to reopen my curiosity and do some hard research. I went to the web and looked at the documents submitted to the County regarding campaign contributions. I went to Ms. Roberts’ campaign web site and poked around to learn the direction she wanted to take the county going forward.

Being an informed voter requires voters to not take anything at face value, and candidates to be transparent, which they usually are not in today’s tricky democracy. Here’s what I found.

Ms. Roberts has hundreds of endorsers and about 20 major financial contributors to her campaign as of the end of September. Her endorsers looked like a Who’s Who of the liberal left and presents quite an impressive group by any standards. Many are teachers, doctors, artists and educators, including Barbara Rice, the Coast Trustee to The College of the Redwoods, someone I voted for and respect. So I was intrigued. There were two sets of Roberts supporters.

Conservatives who are pumping major money into her campaign, and liberals who were putting their names on the line as “endorsers” but not putting their money into the campaign, at least not in big enough chunks to appear in the campaign financial records of the County Clerks Office.

Something struck me as unusual. Ninety percent of the money Ms. Roberts raised is from a small group of people who earn their livelihoods buying, selling, and developing land, and belonging to organizations with names like The North Coast Citizens for a Better Economy, headquartered in Petaluma, and The California Real Estate Political Action Committee, located in San Diego. Furthermore, the financial backing for this campaign was uncomfortably familiar to me. (I have been here since 1972).

It appears to me that Ms. Roberts is being financed by the very people who fought against legalizing owner built homes in the 70’s, were for off-shore oil development in the 80’s, were for developing the Ukiah Masonite property by outside developers, were for GMO’s and now, against a modest sales tax increase to help us save much needed county services to the unfortunate amongst us. The list of players in this financial backing is impressive and has the appearance of being orchestrated for a purpose. I made a chart to help me understand the conservative side of Ms. Roberts support a bit more clearly, and I am sharing it with you here in the interests of fair and honest disclosure.

It is important to know that the people who appear in this chart, along with the organizations and businesses they belong to, are all citizens of high regard in the communities within which they live and work. Many, if not most, have been recognized as community leaders, philanthropists and caring family men and women. The chart in no way attempts to impugn their integrity. There is nothing revealed in the chart that is not in the public record somewhere. This is a chart of their known public relationships. People in this country have the right to associate with people with whom they have an affinity or a commonality of interest. I just thought it was unusual to see all these people on the same page. What does Ms. Roberts have that they are so united in their financial support for her candidacy?

I have struggled with publishing this chart because I see a conflict between peoples right to privacy and the peoples need for transparent elections. I worry about emotional polarization of our community. I don’t want to make any enemies. I want to live here in peace and at peace. But in the end, because this is not just an election but a referendum on what kind of Mendocino County we want to live in for decad es to come, I feel compelled to publish what has become clear to me through my digging around the public records.

In a time of economic crisis, with foreclosures and unemployment at historic levels and working people feeling uncertain about their future, those with cash are king. When the people’s economy is fragile, the moneyed people see their opportunities expand dramatically.

Land use planning is a political event and with Ms Roberts showing support for down zoning on the Albion Headlands last year, perhaps this is a reason for the kind of conservative support she has gotten financially to fuel her campaign. This is just a guess because I have not asked her financial backers directly why they have poured so much cash into her campaign.

It is clear, however, that Ms. Roberts liberal political bent is known by both her liberal endorsers and her Real Estate financial backers. It is not known whether her liberal endorsers know who her conservative backers are because Ms. Roberts presents herself as a Stanford Woman Democrat with progressive rhetoric and an uncanny ability to solve financial problems.

Since we fought to save the whales (and won) 35 years ago, Mendocino County has led the nation in its march toward social and environmental justice.

We have created a place to live that is not only beautiful visually, but spiritually as well. Over one million travelers come to visit us because we fought all the battles needed to keep this beautiful place livable. People come because we are the art they seek. The magic of this place is the result of our efforts, not to stop all development, but to stop development that only benefits the few, development that segments our communities, destroys our local economy, and rapes the land, rivers and the sea. What we have as a result of our hard fought victories over the forces of development for profit is a slice of paradise where the vast majority of our residents are here by choice. What we have created is a place that all America knows about and comes to see and learn from. Our county and its progressive ideology has captured the imagination of this nation and is our greatest asset. Let us continue to be prudent in the face of fear and outside money interests.

Many of you will find these revelations to your liking and thus I will have helped you be more certain of your vote. However you vote, realize you are The Keeper of the Light and the magic that is Mendocino.


~~

3 Comments

In spite of living in Mendocino County for many years I do not recognize ANY of the names in Katzeff’s chart. Guess that defines which side of the class war I am on. Either that, or, more likely, neither side of the war accepts me as a partisan.

Interesting chart, many of the names are recognizable to me. But what really stands out is how little money seems to be involved, compared to the exposes constantly rolling out at the state and national level. Apparently it doesn’t take a whole lot to buy influence locally.

    Actually, what I think we’re seeing here is token pocket change from these funders. If they thought Wendy Roberts could actually beat Dan Hamburg, you would see a lot more cash coming to Roberts.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,530 other followers