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Letter: City should protect citizen's rights

Original post made on Jan 18, 2008

Dear Editor,

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 18, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 18, 2008 at 8:26 am

Possible breakage of California Election Code law is not the same thing as pure intimidation and harassment. And then Ayala stands up at the same City Council meeting and urges the Council to deny Hosterman's hawk permit due to it being a City Code violation. How ironic.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Jan 18, 2008 at 10:40 am

I have read the lawsuit by the Lin family and it looks like pure rubbish. It shows you that anybody can file a lawsuit for any reason, no matter how wrong it might be (these laywers are guns for hire and will do anything for a buck).

I hope the Lin family lawyers delay this long enough so the referendum goes on the November ballot so those running for re-election can explain to the public during the campaign of why they support the harassment of these developers. This referendum certainly has more pages of supporting material than the Ponderosa referendum or the previous Lin family referendum.

It is also obvious from this lawsuit that the Lin family is convinced that if this development goes to a vote of the people that it will be turned down. So their only chance to get this approved is with the courts as the people of Pleasanton do not want it.

I have always wondered why our elected officials were out there with signs saying "do not sign petition". So the elected officials must feel that if this goes to a vote of the people, it will be turned down. There must also be some committments of money for their campaigns by the developer for passing this development. James Tong, the developer for the project, has already been severely fined for not disclosing previous campaign contribution, even for contributions made in Pleasanton. To get around his bad name, he recently started a new Political Action Committee (PAC) with some friends called the Green Caucus so he can hide his identity and make it look like it is a "green" organization giving money. You can look up this PAC on the Secretary of State website. The only green there is the color of money. I wonder why the Weekly does not cover this part of it?


Posted by Caren, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jan 18, 2008 at 11:04 am

Jim, how do you know this stuff? I would like to know the 'inside'
story to many issues myself. How did you discover this information on James Tong?

I also thought it was strange to see our elected officials with signs saying 'don't sign the petitions'. Very fishy.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2008 at 12:01 am

Agreed. I won't be voting for any of those concil members again--EVER! I don't appreciate having elected officials tell me that I should not exercise my right to speak out or to vote. Can't wait to see how they handle the referendum when it actually comes to them for certification. Glad it is an election year.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 19, 2008 at 7:54 am

Caren,

You can read about the Lin lawsuit "insides" on the other related threads: Web Link

Unfortunately, Jim didn't provide any verifiable sources to his claims regarding Tong. I doubt Tong provided campaign funding to all the current Council members who voted for passing the ordinances. Besides, didn't Brozosky raise more money than Hosterman in the last election? Money is money but it doesn't necessarily win elections!

Bob,
I'm surprised. I've never heard nor seen a Council member tell anyone they should not speak out or vote. In fact I've seen quite the opposite. If you've not noticed, Hosterman for example always encourages public participation at Council meetings. I think your comments are being emotionally driven and do not derive from any factual basis.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Jan 19, 2008 at 11:56 am

Stacey, sorry but I do not spend as much time as you on this blog so I was not able to respond to Caren's questions. Although you seem to have opinions and data for every other topic on this blog so I assume you are an "insider" yourself.

Here is the link to the 8 counts against James Tong from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC): Web Link . The interesting thing about these charges against him of not filing is it does not even include contributions he made to Jennifer Hosterman in 2002 or Tom Pico when he ran for Assembly. So it sounds like he did not even come clean in this case against him so I would not be surprised if the FPPC is still investigating him.

Here is another link to charges against James Tong for laundering contributions in Fremont (go down to case 91/376) Web Link

To find out about Tong's Green Caucus PAC, you can go to the California Secretary of State Website (Web Link) and click on Campaign Finance, click on Advanced Find, click on Whos Giving, and enter James Tong in the Contributor Name and click Search. When the list of his contributions come back you can click on Show All to get all the information for him. If you want to find out more about the Green Caucus you can type in "Green Caucus" on Cal-Access Search and find out who contributes (e.g., James Tong), who they contribute to (nobody yet as they are collecting the money, probably for the referendum or candidates who oppose the referendum).

As for money in the local elections, yes Brozosky did outraise Hosterman in the 2006 election but Hosterman did outraise Ayala in the 2004 election by 2:1. Interesting that many of her contributions in 2004 were from James Tong and other's who happened to have businesses at the same street of Tong in Fremont. In fact about 1/2 of Hostermans contributions in 2004 were of $1,000 and from developers. You can get her past filings at the City Clerk's office in Pleasanton. It makes for interesting reading material and I was glad that somebody gave me this info to look at. While I agree that money is importand to a campaign, being an incumbant does give you a big advantage as you can see in almost every office in the United States. Even in Pleasanton with the Pombo raise, over $5,000,000 was spent to defeat Pombo. That is a lot of mula.

I think the electronic election filing that Pleasanton will be doing will be a good idea. The only thing I hope they also do is when money is contributed from a PAC that there is an easy way to determine who donates to the PAC. And if Independent Expenditures are made from a PAC that the candidate "knows nothing about" (wink, wink) that those will be reported electronically. I have not completely followed what the Council is doing but if they decided to limit campaign contributions you will see much more contributes from PAC and through Independent Expenditures. For those of you out there who do not know what an Independent Expenditure is, this is when a PAC does advertising or something for a candidate "without the candidates knowledge". This does not have to be reported on the candidates contribution list and is not subject to any campaign limits. I find it interesting that when an Independent Expenditure is made that the photos are the same ones used from the candidate and are high quality. Must just be a coincidence. Anyway, look for independent expenditures from the Chamber of Commerce if campaign contributions are limited. The Chamber of Commerce has been spending a lot of money on previous campaigns to get in "developer friendly" candidates. In fact, James Tong is a major contributor to the Chamber of Commerce PAC. You can find that at the City Clerk also.

So back to Stacey's remark, Tong did contribute to Jennifer in both the 2004 and the 2006 race. He contributed to Thorne. He also contributed a lot of money ($5,000 I believe) to the Chamber of Commerce PAC that went to Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne. As they say, follow the money.

I did not know about all of this stuff until a friend went to the city clerk to get all of this information and then shared it with me. It was a real eye opener. Pleasanton is no longer a small town. Sigh.

On council meeting participation, you will notice that if somebody is speaking about an item that the mayor supports that she does not cut them off but if it is not on something she supports, she asks them at 3 minutes if they are about done (which interrupts the speaker). She lets them speak for a couple more minutes as she told them at the beginning of the meeting she would allow but by asking them if they are about done, it interrupts them and is rude. If you are going to let people speak for 5 minutes but would like for them to finish in 3, you already told them that 5 minutes is ok so she should not interrupt them. She is pretty transparent and consistent.



Posted by Thanx, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Jim:

Thanks for your latest posting concerning the financial relationship between Tong, Hosterman,and Pico. Looks like Pleasanton's last two mayors (Pico and Hosterman) are the best that money can buy. They exemplify the leadership of the Community of Character? Just like Chicago under Mayor Dailey!!!!

Wake up, Pleasanton!! Your City government should not be foe sale!!!!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 19, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Jim,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm not familiar with the campaign finances stuff because it isn't something I pay that much attention to. I'm always a little skeptical regarding the link between who is financing who and the way a person votes, but believe quid pro quo can be at play (after all we're only human). Therefore I don't think it is entirely correct to say that a certain public official is "pro-development" all the time. If that were true, Home Depot would be digging up the corner of Stanley and Valley now or we'd see a ton of homes and shopping across Bernal from the fairgrounds. I'd also be surprised if the Chamber of Commerce was pushing for more "development friendly" candidates rather than "local business friendly", given the members that make up the Chamber.

I agree that if campaign contributions are limited, there will be an increase in Independent Expenditure. It seems inevitable because if you are a "faction", how else are you going to punt for your favorite candidate? I see that kind of activity as similar to a private citizen like you and I rooting for or criticizing candidates here. *shrug*

I'll try to pay more attention to Hosterman interrupting people. I only noticed in the past if the time given a speaker was 3 minutes and they went over that they would be interrupted, not when the time was 5 minutes. Hosterman does interrupt people to ask them to wrap up when the light at the podium turns red, but it is difficult to see if you are watching on the council meetings on TV because the camera doesn't always get the timer light in the picture.

Speaking of transparent and consistent, I'm laughing because I have similar comments regarding another current council member but will save those opinions for another time...


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Jan 19, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Stacy,

Now that's cruel to leave us hanging like that!!! Inquiring minds want to know!!!!!!


Posted by buddy, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 20, 2008 at 1:38 am

It's ironic that everyone here bashing developers includes the neighborhood where they live when they post. Weren't these neighborhoods all built by developers? I guess they're OK when you're buying YOUR home.

Also, I think I remember the Chamber of Commerce endorsing and supporting with $ Kay Ayala for mayor and Cindy McGovern and Jerry Thorne for council in 2004. They did not endorse or financially support either Brozosky (who received A LOT of developer $) or Hosterman for mayor in 2006. Jim, did you find that when you checked with the city clerk? Why didn't you mention it if you did?

The point is, developers are not all bad and people and PACs support candidates for many reasons. It seems some are quick to paint with a broad brush and conveniently omit some facts in order to justify their positions.


Posted by Angela, a resident of Heritage Valley
on Jan 24, 2008 at 1:26 pm

I think it is unfair to assume that because a candidate receives money from someone that they are tied to vote exactly how that person wants. What if they have conflicting contributions? Come on! Some of us are not so cynical about the political process, but believe that our representatives at all levels serve because they have the greater good in mind. We all know what money buys in our system and it is access, not votes!

If you read the rules regarding independent expenditures, it is not against the rules to provide photos. It is against the rules to coordinate.

The City Council did a few things regarding campaign finance:
1) they instituted a voluntary campaign expenditure limit for cnadidates which will be taken when one turns in their nomination papers. it is set at $1 per registered voter indexed to inflation, today would be roughly $36,912. So, looking at 2006 elections the only candidate who would have been in violation would have been Brozosky had he taken the pledge.
2) They made electronic filing mandatory. Please note that not all committees are required to file in Pleasanton so if a committee is a county or state filer you would not get that info.
3) instituted an ethics pledge, same as state's, also voluntary but info will be released as to who has taken it


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