Constitutionality and Profit

Mark Twain once said that when people start talking about religion, he always grabbed a firm hold on his wallet. So, too, it is with some discussions of “constitutionality.” I was very sorry to see that a federal judge threw out San Jose’s law concerning limits on independent expenditures. It can only mean more money and more sleaze in local campaigns. The Chamber of Commerce should feel more than a hint of shame at its disingenuous primary assault on Cindy Chavez and the subsequent censure by the Ethics Board, San Jose Mercury, just about every other politician running for office, and many of the Democratic establishment lemmings who are so fearful of Chuck Reed and any other independent voice that might crack their hold on power. Why didn’t the chamber just fall back on the truth and call it what it was? For the time being, the chamber avoided being indicted by the Hague War Crimes Tribunal. Of such small victories, are our municipal values formed.

To call these considered “limits” an infringement on free speech is a joke and a disaster—quite a frightful confluence. Now the city has no ordinance and the spending—and hypocrisy—will thicken like an overcooked turkey stew.

For over twenty years—going back to the front committees of Claude Fletcher, the fearful Concerned Christians of the late seventies, and the Bay 101/Democratic Party collusion in the nineties—reformers have tried to keep big money out of local elections while unscrupulous, “the end justifies the means” consultants and candidates looked for ways to evade any restraints.  The hypocrisy has congealed enough to need a chain saw to cut through it when our local labor bosses, the fat-cat developers and the “populist” Democratic Party (as said about the Holy Roman Empire, it was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire!) condemn the Chamber of Commerce as they, themselves, closely coordinated a much larger expenditure in support of Cindy Chavez in the recent primary.  These local wannabe Mayor Daleys and Jimmy Hoffas are bastardizing our system—selling our citizens out for some small advantages to a few billionaires and the ceding of more power to a few pols and a feckless city council that has taken our city into a sad and distressing place.

As they say in frustration all over the country: “Someone should do something about it!” Well, maybe on November 7th, we will do just that.

42 Comments

  1. I think Pogo said that “the farther ahead he goes, the behinder he gets.” I thought I knew which mayoral candidate would lead us down the right path, but with the revelations of the last couple of days, I still think I know, but I’m not sure.  As has been said, “there is no cure for stupidity.”

    Legal or not, Chuck Reed is guilty of terminal stupidity.

  2. Stupid is not the right word. Clueless may be better, a descriptor that doesn’t apply to Cindy. Prof Terry, Zoe, the labor “sharpies” have spent hours digging for shit on Chuck, and overlooking the fact that their shill Yeager, and other buddies on the Council have also charged the taxpayers for expenses better paid personally. Chuck will, unfortunately, not spend time digging through records for dirt on Cindy. Couldn’t be hard. (I recall that when Zoe was “swiftboating” Tom in the campaign for Congress, he felt no ob-
    ligation to answer her crap, ‘twas beneath him, and for that alone he lost. Could have had a congressperson representing the people rather than themselves.) Despite the “big hit” on Chuck, $40K is peanuts com-
    pared to the hundreds of millions spent on that Dumb Dome, and the hundreds of millions required to pay it off. Not to mention
    the UnGrand Prix fiasco, the shopping center fiasco, the Useless, expensive, stoop-ridden downtown that Cindy has carefully “constructed” over the last 8 yrs., bragging all the time about her “accomplish-ments” in urban unplanning. Compared to all that, Chuck is frugality itself, though unaware
    that his devious, desperate opponent would suddenly find a problem with something he, and others, have been doing for years. I do not recall that she weighed in on the recent flap wherein the cops and others were stealing taxpayer money for terrific dinners.
    Finally, Tom, you’re wrong about COMPAC’s
    piece on Cindy. They did not lie when they reviewed Cindy’s voting record. It’s nasty, but it’s the truth, not mud, which you mistak-enly call it. George Green

  3. #1, and do we want a terminally stupid person running this town for the next four years?

    Do we want someone who can’t shake off her bad decisions to align herself with Gonzo and labor and give away $15 million of OUR money?

    If influential people in this town would get a backbone (scarce commodity in the SJ political scene past & present save for our disgraced mayor) and state that NEITHER candidate is satisfactory and launch a write in campaign for Pandori, there might be some hope for a positive outcome in November.  Otherwise, while someone is destined to win in November, it’s nothing but a losing proposition for San Jose and the people who live here.

    When are people going to start getting angry over this ridiculous choice the uneducated masses have handed us and take action to effect change?  Call my write-in vote for Pandori a waste, but I’ll let it serve as “none of the above” if necessary since I can’t stomach voting for the likes of Chuck or Cindy.  My God this town is pathetic and deserving of all the ridicule aimed in its direction.

  4. You may be on to something, Mark. Writing in Pandori is looking better and better. At least my vote would mean something. Maybe sending a statement is important since neither of the 2 candidates is offering anything but mediocrity. Maybe more and more of us should think about a Pandori write-in. It certainly sounds preferable to holding my nose when I vote.

  5. If I wasn’t putting in such long hours at work I would seriously consider getting involved in a write-in effort.  Timing couldn’t be worse for me and I feel very strongly about thwarting both Chuck and Cindy.

    I hope a grass-roots movement can get some traction quick.  All we need is 34% of the vote, right?  I think this IS do-able.

  6. Sure, a write in vote is “doable” – yea right.

    A vote for Pandori is a vote for Cindy and don’t mistake that. The “statement” that you will be making is that the people of San Jose are stupid too. Should have gotten involved in the primary if you cared so much.

    Don’t be swayed by the mudslinging. Yes, Chuck showed a lapse in judgement with all of those reimbursements but I will take him anyday over the conniving of Cindy’s camp. I liked her okay as our councilwoman before her campaign started but the more I see her tactics, the more afraid I am to have her as mayor.

  7. #7 it’s attitudes like yours that make San Jose the excitement capital of the universe—if you enjoy watching paint dry. 

    All it takes is the right people driving it and enough money to get the message out, and Pandori could be our next mayor.  We have both of those in decent supply in this rich valley so all that’s needed now is motivation.

    The two alternatives are equally unacceptable to me and it’s a disgrace that a city this size can’t muster up some acceptable leaders from its nearly 1,000,000 inhabitants.  Which leads us back to my opening statement . . .  which now is causing me to think maybe this town will get what it deserves should Chuck win in November.  Just don’t ask me to hop on the dork bandwagon.  I’m feeling carsick just thinking about it.

  8. It’s easy to say “the two choices are equally unacceptable”.  But it’s a cop-out.  They aren’t exactly equal- there is a ton of difference between the two.

    The last time people did “none of the above”, they elected Bush over Gore.  You may or may not believe that was a good idea, but it’s a fair bet that most Nader voters aren’t Bush fans.  And they threw away their votes.

    You could get the same result by voting for Pandori when he isn’t on the ballot.  Vote for Chuck.  Then recall him if you have to.  But don’t vote for Cindy.

  9. As troublings as Cindy’s lips being permananently attached to Ron’s butt is, as troubling as Chuck’s major ethical lapse by charging everything he does to the taxpayers is, I’d bet the farm that if you took a poll today, over 50% of the registered voters would not know what we’re ranting about here, and over 75% of the total population would be equally ignorant.  That’s why a write-in candidacy cannot work.

    So, yet again, we’re stuck with the lesser of two evils.  Who that is depends upon your point of view.

    The problem with true believers, many of whom rant herein, is that they ignore the timber in their favorite’s eye, while railing about the mote in their opponent’s eye.

    Are Cindy’s votes that cost the taxpayers millions unnecessarily a big problem for me?  You bet!  Are Chuck’s charges of everything down to a $10.00 association fee [I LOVE Herhold’s new name for Chuck—Chuck E. Cheapskate] to the taxpayers a big problem for me?  You bet!  Is the fact that I have no VIABLE choice for mayor than these two troubling to me?  You bet!  The chance of a write-in candidate winning is just slightly better than the chance of orchestrating a complete boycott of the mayor’s race; i.e. NOBODY votes for mayor. 

    The fact that neither candidate nor their rabid supporters see that these are two HUGE problems is even more troubling.

    On election day, I am backed into a corner from which there is no practical escape.  So, for now, I’m stumped.  What to do?

    It’s time for another Boston Tea Party.

  10. The problem is that all of you have failed to note that ALL of the idiots on the council load their expenses onto whomever they can get to pay… it is just the game!

    Do you want the Labor Council and or the Democrat Party running the City? What ever happened to non-partisan?

    It is too bad that Cindy is not her husband. He is reasonable and talented.

    Ex-downtown merchant

  11. If the “right people driving it and enough money to get the message out” would do it – don’t you think that it would have been done in the primary? Who is are these “right people” and where are they?

    You are saying that it can be done but what are you are your friends or anyone else doing about it? Pandori has gotten on with his life in his DA’s job – what about his thoughts are about getting thrown back into this?

    We have the candidates that we have because the people have spoken – like it or not. Reed and Chavez are our candidates. If people hate them so much then maybe they should have gotten off their asses and got a better candidate.

    Not to pick on you Mark T, but it is the lack of action of people like you that got us to the mayoral candidates that we have.

  12. No matter who is elected Mayor we will continue to have ethical and public accountability problems with our ethically challenged Mayor and City Council until we

    1) fix our structural city government problems
    2) demand clear public accountability and more not less reporting by city government and those who receive city funds to the taxpaying public
    3) insist on ethical not just legal behavior by Mayor and City Council as we currently lack as demonstrated dozens of times

    We have a professional politician City Council for benefit of themselves, their political careers, their political interest groups/s, and their campaign supporters not the public

    San Jose needs the Mayor and entire City Council to act in an ethical manner not just current lower minimum standard used by City Council

    Legal behavior does not make it ethical or right for elected officials to do the many questionable ethical behaviors, special interest public policy and spending decisions many of which are against the public and taxpayers interest

  13. Chuck is obviously doing something everybody else on the Council does, but it’s only a big moral issue for him? Enough to tar him with the same brush appropriately used on Ms. Cindy? They’re both corrupt? Please!
    Ben Franklin said, way back when the Constitution was being drafted, that no one in public office should be paid because it combined two energies, power and profit. Each separately was a powerful incentive, but combined in public office would produce great evil. They would organize cabals (parties) and denigrate any honest person of real accomplishment who would make them look bad. He was laughed at and ignored, but he was 100% correct. The result of ignoring Ben F. is the creation of that foul category, the “professional politician”, scumbags of the ages. Having never ever had a real job, dreaming of the power and wealth of office, they have no abilities, can solve no problems, steal fortunes from their constituencies (that they despise)—and live like princesses and princes in the finest houses in their neighborhoods—while their cities, states and countries drift. Who in the mayor’s race has never had a job? Not Chuck Reed, who actually had to work for a living, get through the Air Force Academy, pass the bar exam, build a law practice, raise an accompished family, alone oppose Norcal, the Dumb Dome, Tropicana, Grand Prix, etc. Then there’s his opponent: took a poli sci class, worked as an aid to a politician, worked in a make-work job for a union, who in gratitude, and because she is pliable, got her elected to office, where she has done REALLY well for them. Still no job, with age advancing. The voters in San Jose are lucky to have Chuck to vote for, but why he would want to put up with a majority of labor morons on the Council to attempt to fix this silly city I have no idea. George Green

  14. No matter who is elected Mayor we will continue to have ethical and public accountability problems with our ethically challenged Mayor, City Council and city government until we
    1)fix our structural city government problems
    2)demand clear public accountability and more not less reporting by city government and those who receive city funds to the taxpaying public
    3)insist on ethical not just legal behavior by Mayor and City Council which we currently lack as we have seen demonstrated dozens of times

    The entire Council is now responsible and no one has an excuse after the numerous scandals and continuous demonstrations of legal but questionable ethical behavior and actions

    We have a city government run by professional politicians for the benefit of themselves, their political careers, their political interest groups/s, and their campaign supporters not the public

    San Jose needs the Mayor and entire City Council to act in an ethical manner not just the current lower minimum standard used by City Council – Legal behavior does not make it ethical or right for elected officials to do the many questionable ethical behaviors, special interest public policy and spending decisions many of which are against the public and taxpayers interest

  15. Mark T,

    That was me you saw pulled over to the side of The Alameda upchucking (pun intended) at the thought of the mayoral choices (my stomach condition no doubt aggravated by the rough ride over the pot holes).

    With this latest revelation of his cheesy, faux generosity, Chuck Reed has, at least in my mind, put himself permanently back into that ridiculous gown he donned earlier this year when he was pretending to care about Vietnamese culture. He looked the fool then and, I guess, he liked the look, because he’s set himself up once again. Who could’ve guessed that besides playing dress up for the Asian community he’d also been playing pretend big spender, and pretend charitable supporter, and pretend icon of integrity.

    I can only wonder how much we taxpayer’s were billed for his signature flag tie.

    Maybe my only option will be to just pretend to vote.

  16. Most of you are too young to remember the REAL men who tried to clean up the City in the days just after WWII. The men like Ernie Renzel and George Starbird and others who   PAID THEIR OWN EXPENSES and worked long and hard on City business on their own nickel.

    Those men with ran the city without the great pay that the pols get today. Maybe we are paying the elected politicians too much! Giving them fancy offices. Paying them for meetings of the boards to which they appoint themselves. Giving them car allowances (didn’t they have cars before they were elected), I guess that they get car allowances, the state elected people do…

    Where are men like Joe Colla today? Are there no people who love San Jose enough to take office and forego the power trip that makes them beholden to the likes of the politically powerful labor organization?

    In my day, city politics were non-partisan. No one running for public office in the city or county would DARE take money tainted by stench of political parties or organizations such as the labor group or any PAC. They used their own money or got help from individuals! I guess there were people who acted as the lobbyists do today, but we didn’t think that they were doing wrong. At least they weren’t working full time at that job! mostly they were public relations and advertising folks working most of the time writing copy and placing ads and buying radio and TV time…

    Didn’t this council try to eliminate outside jobs so that they would be able to cry poor and probably raise their pay again? Was there one (other than Reed) who objected to this thought! Lucky for us, it died!

    No wonder staff has no respect for the elected officials!

    Jerry Rosenthal

  17. Jerry – Great question

    What are the Mayor and City Council paid or receive ?

    What we know about:
    –  Salary,
    –  car allowance,
    –  medical / dental etc benefits,
    –  use of office accounts to pay expenses – How much is that some say $100,000 +
    – hundreds of free tickets to SJ Arena evets / food,  Grand Prix / meals ( $60,000 for City )
    and other city events
    – tickets / meals community events ,
    – free meals at City Hall for meetings,

    –  political friends accounts
    –  campaign funds
    –  do they have retirement plan?
    –  vacations at resorts while attending city business / Mayor Conferences . League of Cities etc

    – is there a list of gifts

    – what other paid meetings – VTA, CalTrain, etc

    – Board of Directors – companies, community organizations , non profits ?

    What else do they get and from whom? 

    No wonder they feel they are entitled, do you think they are entitled?

  18. Nice post Tommy, the way your so able to weave such a temperate and yet clever indictment against everyone but yourself and your strong arm fundraising tactics on behalf of Mr. Reimbursement is amazing.

    How is it ok for you to phone all sorts of people this past week and tell them their donations are lopsided for Cindy and that they had better make it right or Mr. Reimbursement will remember come December? 

    Reed the paper this morning?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/elections/15618847.htm

  19. I expected the “wasted vote” comments.  So maybe finfan has the right idea then?

    The Nader effect isn’t lost on me but I’m so disgusted it really doesn’t matter what the outcome is.  Either way the people of SJ lose.

    It burns me up that Pandori hocks his house to make a run for the job that only HE deserves while these other two are manipulating money that’s not theirs. 

    The “write” thing to do is so obvious but sadly, JMO has made a spot-on assessment of the situation in #12.

  20. #25 What the hell does is matter if he did or didn’t “hock” his house? He said that he took out another mortgage to finance his campaign because he couldn’t count on the blind democratic or labor money like other candidates. It is a non issue now – he isn’t in the race anymore.

  21. 25 – Just when you were starting to show some progress—you drop a silly, pointless comment like this. You can do better—I know it’s tough, but you’ve shown you can do it. Please try.

  22. #26
    I was thinking of Mark T burning up as he describes in his post #24 because Pandori hocked his house.  I’m for honest governemtn and Pandori didn’t hock his house then Mark won’t burn up.

    I don’t want Mark T to have grief over something that may or may not have happened.

    Do you know when Reedimbursment will detail his charitable contributions that he claimed on his income taxes or is he speed dialing a defense lawyer as we speak?

  23. 28 – Your glee over Reed’s stupidty is a bit mystifying. Now the citizens of San Jose are left with choice between two candidates trying to out do each other with acts of stupidity. This is a reason for glee??
    Chavez approves the gift of public money in the millions of dollars and sees nothing wrong with that. Reed gets reimbursed for thousands of dollars of public money and sees nothing wrong with that. Reality Check can’t contain his happiness over Reed’s screw-ups but he says nothing about Chavez. It’s hard to find any credibility in what you say when your bias is so strong that you nothing wrong in the misdeeds of your candidate.
    Maybe some day I will blindly back a candidate and refuse to see their shortcomings and wrongdoings, but I doubt it.

  24. 30 – Yet you continue to be silent about the wrongdoings of Chavez. You are not interested in “even handed.” You are only interested in anti-Reed. Your colors are showing.

  25. #31
    She ran an ad congratulating the teacher of the year, no photo of Cindy, no quote from Cindy.  She ran the ad by the city attorney who signed off on the content of the ad and validated that it was ok to do.  She had the city pay for the ad directly.  Again, tell me where she did what Reedimbursement did.

    How about Even Steven as opposed to even handed?

  26. Sunday’s Mercury showed how elected officials have local government pay for their ads

    1) All in article who used public funds for ads are or former San Jose City Council members
    2) Ads with Politician pictures and their names in large type look like professional politician promotion not event or cause promotion
    3) Rick Doyle who ok’d use of our taxes continues to represent politician’s interests not public and taxpayers

    Taxpayer paid politician ads shows again San Jose’s low political ethics culture where questionable behavior is routine, widely practiced by politicians, hidden from public, and supported by City Attorney who faciliates low ethics, marginal or illegal behavior that is unacceptable to public

  27. Once again the anti-Reed forces want only he to be held accountable for wrong-doing. If they really believed in good and open government, they would be calling for all councilmembers, including Chavez to release all records of their expenses.  We already know most of them have done what Reed has done (as has been said, this does not excuse what Reed has done.)
    If only the anti-Reeders were truly concerned about good and open government and not just in expressing their hate for Reed, then we might actually have a chance to clean-up the mess that is San Jose. But, they prefer to ignore the misdeeds of Chavez and her supporters on the council and focus solely on Reed. The end result is that if Chavez is elected we will have no chance of reform. If Reed is elected at there would a chance.
    Which way is it Reed haters? If it’s Reed you want reform, but if it is Chavez your view is “…who needs reform.” Too bad. We coulda been somebody here in SJ, instead we’re not even a contender.

  28. Reality Check,

    Hurry up and get over to today’s history post; Leonard McKay wrote a great piece about how Andrew Hill saved the giant redwoods. Certainly a great opportunity for you to get the message out about your candidate’s own conservation efforts—how Cindy Chavez is single-handedly trying to save big labor.

  29. San Jose ($35 million) and Santa Clara County ($200 million) are short millions to pay for needed public services or San Jose’s #1 worst streets in US – 66% are substandard with 400 miles of streets needing repairs – $240 million+  while we continue to waste our taxes on

    Majority of wasted tax millions are political paybacks to groups or individuals ( Rep, GI Forum, Mexican Heritage, Grand Prix/Canary Fund, Northside Community Center etc ) that helped elect them – “elect me and you will get tax money for your project” or tens of millions wasted for lawsuit settlements for political paybacks that courts found illegal ( Tropicanna, Fairgrounds Music, North San Jose expansion)

    Most are political paybacks / conflicts of interest only possible because of San Jose backroom deal culture and low politician ethics

  30. Don’t forget the millions for NorCal. And don’t forget the millions because the city refused to submit adquate EIRs even though they were warned.
    As Dirksen said, “…a million here, a million there…”

  31. You must be a citizen to vote, and you must know English to become a citizen.  That’s U.S. law.  Yet in Santa Clara County, there are 177 iterations of the sample ballot, most to comply with court decisions that they must be printed in every conceivable dialect for the “citizens” who don’t read English well.  Well, Bubba in Arkansas doesn’t read English well either, but he doesn’t get a phonetic ballot, or an oral ballot.

    Over 100 dialects are spoken in SJ Unified schools.  ILLEGAL immigrants’ kids get free meals, free MediCal, problem pregnancies cared for, special schools for teen and even pre-teen mnothers,  in-state tuition at colleges (not a really big deal, since most drop out of high school), seccurity guards at all public schools to keep the gangs separated.

    That’s not diversity, people, it’s chaos.  And it all costs money.

    But we can have the bumpiest roads in the bloody NATION.  Why? Because our dollars are spent on things like the above, the not-so-grand prix, covering the Norcal contract overrun with CWS, which even Norcal admits the city was not legally obligated to do, and last but not least, the TAJ GONZAL, which was supposed to save $$ by consolidating all city offices into one place, and we still have tons of leased space, ‘cuz it’s too small.

    Then we have a Director of public art, with a staff, and who knows what other no-work jobs out there.  And wait ‘til the unfunded health care for public employee retirees hits the proverbial fan.

    Schools have bloated district offices full of high-paid folks who push paper up-line and down-line but add ZERO value to education, but we can’t pay teachers enough to live on.

    Time for another Boston Tea Party!

  32. #34
    Chavez has released all of her reimbusements, all two or three hundred dollars worth.  And she has released all of her income tax returns, including her charitable contribution deductions.  She even released her personal checks showing she pays her own way to community events, pays her own way for memberships, and pays her own donations to non-profit groups.  I remember Reedimbursement saying that he did not want to be a mooch at these events like others, what a joke.

    When will Reed disclose his charitable dedcutions he took on his income tax returns?

    #35
    I like Leonard’s posts and don’t think you should try and politicize them.

    #36
    Part of the reason San Jose was sued by the County was because of the North San Jose Redevelopment plan.  Chuck Reed did not do a very good job as a regional leader working with adjacent cities and school districts so they sued.  The settlement with the county includes money to pay for his inability to work well with others.

    #37
    Disagree with public votes all you want, that is policy and you have your opinions and I have mine, but they were public votes.  Who approved Reedimbursement making gifts of public money when he wrote personal checks for lifetime memberships, political contributions, and donations and then got the money reedimbursed with taxpayer dollars?

    When will he release his charitable deductions he took on his income taxes?

  33. RC, you are always good for a chuckle. Because it was a public vote, and even though Chavez was on the side of givining a gift of millions and millions of dollars of public money, it’s OK in your book. What about leadership????
    When will Chavez release her records of all the events she and her staff have attended where she didn’t pay anything?? Or is that OK with you as well?
    While I don’t think the NSJ was a good one, didn’t Chavez support it?? It is typical of Reed haters to spin everything and pretend Chavez did everything she could to “lead” the council in the proper direction even when she did NOTHING!
    As has been said and the Reed haters continue to ignore, wrong is wrong. No argument that Reed has made some boneheaded moves lately. I will also suggest that Chavez has not exactly performed as a leader either but you won’t hear of that. Until the Reed haters and Chavez lovers face reality, if Chavez is elected we can expect 4 more years of the same backroom deals, last minute memos that abuse the public process, etc. I guess that is OK with the Reed haters because they are silent when it comes to fixing what is broken. I guess that is because they know Chavez was the assistant architect to all that is broken in SJ.
    When and if you face reality, RC and gang, then we can have a rational discussion and maybe we could even talk about the real issues facing SJ (the worst roads in the United States, deficient parklands, a downtown that is an embarrassment, etc. etc.) But discussing the issues would require you to have to stop the cute little Reedisms and actually acknowledge that Chavez has her own problems. Probably not much chance of that happening.

  34. Hey Reality Check,
    When is Cindy going to release the two years of “missing” checks? They have wonderful new technology now that allows the bank to pull up those records for you.

  35. The Santa Clara County United Democratic Campaign reports show that they raised over $257,000. This includes $25,000 from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association and $30,000 from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. All for Cindy.