DDR Thrashes – Last Gasps – Death Throes – Celebratory Cheesecake Anyone?

More campaign disputes on Measure A as election nears

The Daily Journal, October 25, 2009

More battling about campaign advertising is afoot this week over statements by an economics professor, statements by DDR’s CEO and statements by a former Greenpeace activist.

Mendocino County Tomorrow (the proponents of Measure A to rezone the old Masonite property and build a shopping mall) Thursday accused the No on A campaign known as SOLE (Save Our Local Economy) of misleading voters on a mailer which includes a quote from Robert Eyler, chairman of the economics department at Sonoma State University.

The quote comes from a story in the Ukiah Daily Journal about a November, 2008 meeting sponsored by MCT which paid Eyler to give a talk about the future of the economy of this area. The quote – excerpted accurately from the Daily Journal story – reads: “You could make the same mistakes Sonoma County made. That creates congestion and that drives good businesses away.” MCT executive director Robin Collier issued a press release Thursday outraged that SOLE would “misquote and misrepresent” Eyler’s comments. “No on A clearly misrepresents Professor Eyler’s position on Measure A,” Collier wrote. “His name and the quote attributed to him are displayed on the mail piece in a clear attempt to fool and confuse Mendocino County voters. The quote used by No on A is nearly a year old and does not concern Measure A at all, nor the Mendocino Crossings project. Professor Eyler’s quote instead was addressing ‘untempered growth.’ Further, Professor Eyler does not believe Measure A or the Mendocino Crossings project are examples of ‘untempered growth,’ and believes No on A representatives have misrepresented his position on Measure A.” [Yeah, right. You’ll be even more outraged with the No On A Landslide – 60 – 40 No On A. -DS]

In fact, Eyler has no position on Measure A. In an interview Friday, Eyler said he knows nothing about Measure A or Mendocino Crossings and has made no evaluation of either one pro or con. He said he was surprised when MCT contacted him to let him know he was being used in some way and was disturbed by it, although he hadn’t seen it and MCT hadn’t told him what the nature of the context of his quote was. Cliff Paulin, from SOLE, said that while the bulk of Eyler’s speech that day was about general economic topics connected to Mendocino County, the quote used in the ad was in answer to a specific question addressed to Eyler by local Physician Marvin Trotter about DDR’s mall project during the question and answer period after Eyler’s talk.

Eyler said he didn’t know anything about Mendocino Crossings (Measure A didn’t exist at the time) at that meeting. He acknowledged, however, that he could well have given that answer had someone asked him about building a large new mall in Ukiah. His full comments from which the SOLE ad was excerpted as reported by the Daily Journal that day were: “If Mendocino County wants to grow, look at Sonoma County and take what you do like and leave out what you don’t. It’s possible that you could make the same mistakes Sonoma County made … Choosing a peer municipality means you should at least not replicate their mistakes. (Sonoma County) allowed too much growth to happen too fast and in a strange way. What they found out is that instead of working on a common vision they decided to steam roll and they got stopped … They grew infrastructure five or six years after they should have. That creates congestion, and that drives away good businesses.”

Meanwhile both the pro and anti-A sides are debating the meaning of comments in a three Minute video of DDR CEO Scott Wolstein talking this week about the company’s current financial status in which he answers a reporter’s question about future investments: “Development is a problem,” he replied. “Access to capital to finance development is very problematic. But even if the capital were available, the yields today are not sufficient to justify investment. So we’re finishing up what we are committed to and everything else we’ve mothballed for now. It isn’t worth it to us to devote new capital to build a project that might return 7 or 8 percent…”

SOLE says it believes that means DDR won’t build a mall in Ukiah even if Measure A passes. “Look at their recent history of canceling projects and selling back the land. Their actions of late reflect the comments he made there,” Paulin said.

Jeff Adams, DDR’s project leader of Mendocino Crossings says not so. Adams says the Ukiah project is one of the projects DDR would be “finishing up.” That assumes the project is approved by voters. “This is a project that is already started and we’re going to finish it,” Adams said. [BULLSHIT!]

Finally, SOLE pointed Friday to a new DDR ad promoting Mendocino Crossings as a green project and using former Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore as a spokesman. Paulin said Friday that it is very misleading for the Yes on A camp to use Moore to imply that Greenpeace would support Measure A since Moore’s switch to corporate paid spokesman over the years has led Greenpeace to disavow him. [“You’ll know them by the company they keep.” Way to go, Green Warrior sell-outs! Check this: Greenpeace co-founder praises Global Warming]

According to Greenpeace in a statement on its Web site: “Patrick Moore often misrepresents himself in the media as an environmental ‘expert’ or even an ‘environmentalist,’ while offering anti-environmental opinions on a wide range of issues and taking a distinctly antienvironmental stance. He also exploits longgone ties with Greenpeace to sell himself as a speaker and procorporate spokesperson, usually taking positions that Greenpeace opposes.

“While it is true that Patrick Moore was a member of Greenpeace in the 1970s, in 1986 he abruptly turned his back on the very issues he once passionately defended. He claims he ‘saw the light’ but what Moore really saw was an opportunity for financial gain. Since then he has gone from defender of the planet to a paid representative of corporate polluters.”

SOLE has repeatedly appealed to voters to vote No on A because Measure A would allow DDR to build its mall without a CEQA – environmental – review. DDR says its corporate policies now reflect green construction on many of its projects.

Moore, in an email exchange, agrees he has no official relationship with Greenpeace right now but he doesn’t think using the Greenpeace name is misleading. “No. I make it clear that the association was in the past. It is part of my history, a large part. Some Greenpeace members have accused me of ‘trading on my history with Greenpeace.’ Seeing that I was a leader during the creation of Greenpeace I replied, ‘Actually, you are the ones who are trading on my history with Greenpeace.’”

[“Gimme your money” quote…] Moore said he has been in contact with DDR for some time and believes that the mall project being proposed for the Masonite site will do three positive things: clean up the Masonite site, build buildings that are green, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the number of times Mendocino County residents drive to Santa Rosa to shop. He says there will be environmental studies required. Asked if he knew if Greenpeace has any stand on Measure A, Moore replied, “No, but knowing them they would be against any development that was not their idea.”