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Pleasanton council capping contribution amount for city election candidates

Original post made on Apr 22, 2021

Following extensive discussion about the role of money in local elections, the Pleasanton City Council unanimously agreed to set a voluntary $1,000 per individual contribution for city candidates but were torn on expenditure caps.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 3:29 PM

Comments (14)

Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 22, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

This is a subject I know something about. While the proponents for limiting campaign spending on the Council can’t come right out and say it (or won’t), the issue in Pleasanton is that some candidates get huge campaign contributions from developers, local business interests, the Chamber of Commerce PAC, and other special interests. During one election campaign several years ago PG&E made an independent expenditure contribution on behalf of a candidate of $50,000. When I ran for Council in 2004, I raised and spent $8,000 all from grassroots contributions. In 2008 I raised $11,000. It’s very difficult for grassroots candidates to compete when your rival gets $50,000 in one contribution.

The Chamber PAC was formed many years ago with the purpose of soliciting and bundling campaign contributions and supporting candidates who will pledge their undying allegiance to its 2025 Vision Web Link which is essentially a parallel city General Plan that is all about economic development and never ending growth. It’s a vison of a business utopia that is not hindered by citizens, democracy, or local government interference (in fact, many in local government are fully supportive of it). This has been a very successful strategy for the Chamber as they have controlled City Council majorities going back almost 20 years. This finally ended in 2020 with the election of Brown and Arkin, with Testa being elected in 2018. However, the Chamber Machine will be after them in 2022 to “correct” the mistake made by the public.

to be continued ...


Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 22, 2021 at 12:51 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Hopefully, 2020 wasn’t an anomaly. But it has been very difficult for grassroots candidates to compete over the years against organized, big-money interests. I was on the Council when the first attempt at campaign finance reforms was adopted. It was far from perfect but at least it was an attempt to stop the egregious campaign spending that reigned at the time. The new proposal isn’t perfect either, and there are legal restrictions on what cities can do, but anything we can do to level the playing field and have Council people that support the common good versus the corporate good is a step in the right direction.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 22, 2021 at 1:57 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

I actually 100% agree with Matt S on this topic.

This should also go for Union contributions / endorsements of any particular candidate.


Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 23, 2021 at 10:01 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Parent – that’s great! We agree on something!

I have a little different view on union participation. Unions serve the purpose of representing working people who would have little or no power in society without them and provide a semblance of democracy in the workplace. Only a small percentage of non-government employees are represented by unions these days. The rest of us are subject to a capitalist dictatorship on the job with little recourse to abuse other than to just quit. Unions have played a very small role in Pleasanton politics over the years. The firefighter’s union usually endorses someone, but their campaign contributions are minimal. The police and city employee unions are much less active. They in no way offset the impact of developers and the Chamber PAC as described in my last post. Of course, unions do have tremendous influence over state government.

What’s worse in Pleasanton politics is the participation of national political parties in election campaigns. The Alameda County Democratic Party is the most notorious example. The Mayor and City Council are non-partisan offices. However, the Democrat’s will generally endorse at least one candidate, usually already a party insider, which comes with immense benefits – armies of people walking precincts dropping flyers, get out the vote (GOTV) phone banks, and the candidate endorsement included in slate mailers sent to every house of registered democrats in town. This all comes free to the candidate. This is usually a double-whammy because many of these Democrats have also sold out to the Chamber PAC and are reaping thousands of dollars campaign contributions from developers and business as well. And the Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of the people (it was, until Bill Clinton came along).


Posted by Bryan Gillette
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 24, 2021 at 7:33 am

Bryan Gillette is a registered user.

Matt - Just to clarify something in your above note and provide some context. The Livermore-Pleasanton Firefighters Local 1974 Political Action Fund did contribute $1,000 to Karla Brown's campaign so I am not sure I would call this a 'minimal' contribution. Of all the contributions provided to either of the two major mayor contenders, very few were $1,000 or above.

In the most recent Council Meeting, Ms. Brown said, “…when I ran last time I said I’m not taking PAC money, I talked to PACs and I said “I will not take your money.” I was surprised to hear her say this as she did directly take PAC money.

The Police Officers Association does NOT have a PAC. so they don't make these types of contributions.


Posted by Karla Brown
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 30, 2021 at 11:24 am

Karla Brown is a registered user.

Brian, normally I do not comment on the Pleasanton Weekly's Town Forum, but your statements about me above, are not accurate and not true, which is the reason I am making an exception. While I agree the article is not clear, I am happy to offer the public some background information.

A Candidate has the option to accept funds directly from a Political Action Committee (PAC) like the BayEast Association of Realtors PAC, or the Lincoln Club PAC, which I have stated I will NOT do.

The other alternative is for a PAC to spend their OWN funds DIRECTLY in support of the candidate through an "Independent Expenditure" such as a postcard. Independent Expenditures are made without the involvement of the candidate, and often without their knowledge or approval. Independent Expenditures are not run through a candidate's campaign funds and would not show as a contribution. Another example is the large ads paid for by the Chamber of Commerce's PAC in support of candidates for local office. The candidate you supported for example, did not receive funds for these ads and he did not approve or pay for the ads. They were facilitated Independently.

As I said in the City Council meeting, my campaign did NOT receive any funds from a PAC, a builder or a developer.

I continue to be very proud of the support I received from the Livermore Pleasanton Firefighters Local 1974. This PAC did not "contribute" funds directly to my campaign as you claimed; instead, they endorsed me for office and spent their own money on a postcard in support of my election for Mayor of Pleasanton 2020. Call me or email if you would like to talk further because I know accuracy is important to us both.


Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 30, 2021 at 11:49 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Karla,

Thank you for responding, cleaning up the garbage!


Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 30, 2021 at 8:06 pm

Fact Checker is a registered user.

The Livermore Pleasanton Firefighters PAC filed official campaign reports stating that they gave Karla Brown for Mayor a direct monetary contribution of $1000 AND independent expenditure support in the form of an ad valued at $473 and a mailer valued at $2992.73. Look up the campaign reports for yourself.


Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 30, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Fact Checker is a registered user.

Valerie Arkin applied for and received the Alameda County Democratic Party endorsement in 2020. She is also a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.


Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 30, 2021 at 8:47 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Valarie was taking Bart to Livermore at that time.

"Being completely uninformed is precisely how most liberals stay liberal"...Ann Coulter.


Posted by Karla Brown
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 1, 2021 at 9:50 am

Karla Brown is a registered user.

When I make a mistake, I will admit it, and I made a mistake. To Brian Gillette, you are right, upon receiving the endorsement of Firefighter local 1974, I received both an independent expenditure for postcards in support of my candidacy, plus a financial donation.

Now that I have had time to review the documents in detail, I want to make this correction and apologize for my misstatement.

On 30,000 door hangers I made the following pledge which did not comment on PAC funds, "CLEAN MONEY PLEDGE" "The only experienced candidate not accepting campaign donations from builders and developers that aim to buy influence."

I will also make this disclosure at the next city council meeting.


Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on May 1, 2021 at 11:09 am

MsVic is a registered user.

This is what is wrong with politicians. You do something you claim you won’t or didn’t do and then when caught red handed you apologize. Nope nope nope - just as bad as all politicians saying one thing and doing something else Ms. Mayor.


Posted by skynet
a resident of Mission Park
on May 1, 2021 at 1:23 pm

skynet is a registered user.

So donations from local businesses (ie developers) are bad. Even though developers are regulated by local/state/federal requirements, along with our planning staff, planning commission and city council. But accepting donations from public unions to help get elected is good. Even when those same public unions will be on the other side of the table from you in contract negotiations.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 3, 2021 at 8:06 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Public unions are the worst! And in particular here, the whole union structure make zero sense.

We all agree with the initial formation of unions - no reasonable person (IMO) would say their origin was not necessary.

Now fast forward to today where local, regional, state, and federal regulations, governing bodies, codes, laws, etc all exist and you've eliminated 90% of the reason unions were needed. That leaves the remaining 10% which are basically glorified HR/benefits 3rd party negotiators that take a cut from the same people they supposedly empower- and actually diminish their negotiating power by having to cover 100% of their population which over 50% suck - which inhibits the other 50% ability to get what they actually deserve. What's more asinine about this is that for that remaining 10% benefit, government can establish those same minimums eliminating the union "benefit" all together. Public unions in politics also create an obvious conflict of interest. Not to mention if Tax payers are funding public employees public employee unions should definitely not be able to hold any "close door" sessions. Completely corrupt in my opinion, at a minimum deceitful and lacking transparency.

Trade unions I have a harder time making that argument, here, I've seen these unions really enforce craftsmanship and skilled training vs the public unions "take this online learning class" and if you've been here for 10yrs then your safe for life. If a union actually provides a employee / employer benefit by having some skin in the game by investing in the employee to make them more valuable and competitive to the employer I can see value...otherwise...NUMMI.

And without question we saw the pendulum swing too far this past year with the teacher's union. When CDC, drs, pandemic committees, etc are all advocating and presenting data for full time return to school/work safely and one union is able to hold the entire Ca economy hostage for their own demands we have a problem.


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