One of the hallmarks of fair and responsible campaigns in our city has always been the limits on the amount of dollars that could be contributed to a candidate for mayor. Many times, the special interests and mendacious politicians (not always a given) tried to get the limits raised above the five hundred dollars per person cap and were consistently rebuffed. Raising campaign money should be hard. There should be no bundling or bag men in the guise of lobbyists doing the dirty work. These forces tried it twenty years ago when I was mayor and more recently with little success; the limits held.
Now, these same forces that have placed San Jose in such a precarious position—so suspect in the eyes in our citizens, reviled in the media and bereft of the affection of those that matter—came up with an old and insidious plan: they would just spend whatever they wanted and call it “independent expenditure.” They did so in all the recent local elections, and the public safety unions and bosses at the central labor council led the way. The Chamber took a page out of their book and did the same. The recent outrage over the Chamber’s spending, led by the local Democratic Party leaders and the impregnable labor bosses, was a hypocritical act unparalleled even in the annals of political chicanery. At the very time they decried the Chamber’s expenditures against the candidacy of Cindy Chavez, they were circumventing the limits and coordinating a massive campaign in favor of Chavez.
Once, the support of the Police Officers Association was the most coveted of endorsements. Now, they have become the epitome of all that we hold disreputable in politics: insider dealing, cronyism, and circumvention of the law—quite a trifecta for our local cops. Their recently-retired leader, Don Demers, led the endorsement for the former frontrunner, Chavez, without even interviewing any of the other candidates. How’s that for fairness and equitability. Such is the state of our city and such is the doctrine of fairness in our police ranks. This can do nothing but erode the affection that people have for our police. This is a very sad, but predictable situation when you consider the fact that they have a former Gonzales staffer and current lobbyist, Dustin DeRolla, as their key advisor. Perhaps doing the right thing—adhering to the spirit as well as the letter of our ethics laws—means little to our cops nowadays. How far the city and police union have fallen! Is there anyone wearing the blue and carrying a badge that can feel shame anymore?