Friday, May 2, 2008

A deeper look at the Solano County 2008 election

by Will Gregory, April 2008

" Money is the mother’s milk of politics"
Jesse Unruh, Speaker of the California Assembly-1961-1969

One of my favorite quotations from James Madison in 1822, is that a popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy. Or perhaps both."
– Article: Neither Popular Government Nor Popular Information- spotted in Z magazine, March 2008 -

The author of the article is Professor Emeritus Edward S. Herman– He continues,
"By ‘popular government’ I think Madison meant an elected government and by ‘ popular information ’ I think he meant information that would be useful to the citizenry and allow them to make intelligent choices consistent with their own interests and perception of the public interest. Of course if you have an elected government without popular information there is a good chance that you may end up with a government that serves the special interests that control that flow of information. In that case popular government would be a misleading phrase, as the elected government would likely be a servant of those special interests."

In this particular installment I will concentrate on District 5 Supervisor Michael Reagan. Closing with questions and comments about this County election cycle.

Very much like his colleague District 2 Supervisor John Silva, Mr. Reagan has secured contributions from a variety of sources.

Here are some of the highlights: 62 pages of [campaign disclosure statements/ public documents] that candidates are required to file by law.

These are the cumulative totals for all of 2007 up to March 17, 2008.

Mr. Reagan has raised: $117,888. (of this amount- $13,070 came from un itemized monetary contributions of less than $100.)

Mr. Reagan has had 171contributors –"39" of which came from out side the county. The out of county cash totals: $15, 584.

Largest contributors: out of county.
1.) Lodi Gas & Storage...Acampo, CA .$1,500.
2.) Abernathy Valley...... Mt. View ...$1,000.
3.) ENXCO No. Palm Springs .. $500. Wind Power Co.
4.)Ferma Corp. Mt. View ....$500. General Engineering Contractors.

Largest county contributors:
1.) John and Lola Dobles............................ $10,700. Cattle rancher.
2. ) MV Transportation ............................... $10,000 . Fairfield Transportation Co.
3.) Northern Solano Co. Assoc. Of Realtors. $3,000
4.) Yolano Engineers, Inc. ...........................$2500. Land Survey Co.
5.) Jelly Belly Co. .......................................$1,500. Candy Co.
6.) Biggs Realty ..........................................$1599.

Trade Groups:
1.) Nor Cal Waste Management Co. ...PAC #921099. S.F. $250.
2.) North Bay Credit Union Vallejo. $1,000.
3.) Golden Gate Chapter of Assoc. Builders. Pleasanton. $ 500.

To sell himself, so far, Mr. Reagan has spent $46,000 ( Note: That is more than District 2 Linda Seifert and District 5 Skip Thompson have spent on their respective campaigns combined!! See below.)

1.) MMS Strategies ..Sacramento. Consultant fees and polling. $32,000.
2.) Sharp Public Affairs. Vacaville. Video Production; voter link; and consulting fees.
3.) Simz Production..Sacramento. T.V. Video. $3,000.

In contrast, challenger Mr. Skip Thompson has raised a modest sum of just over $14,000. From 44 donors. Mr. Thompson has had "5" out of county contributors totaling...$1900.

Here as you can see, Mr. Reagan has raised more money outside of Solano Co.. Than Mr. Thompson has raised in the county. This is the same scenario in the Seifert vs Silva race. ($30,000 vs $52,000)

This outside monetary influence is unfair and undemocratic; (we saw this in our last Benicia election when then Planning Commissioner Mr. Scot Strawbridge raised over $61,000 from out of town sources) I believe if it continues, it will cause the citizenry to lose confidence in the integrity–of what is suppose to be a " LOCAL COUNTY ELECTION."

So this powerful duo of Supervisors (our popular government) Michael Reagan and John Silva have dominated the election process and the politics (political direction) in Solano County.

Or as professor Herman, states," In that case ‘popular government’ would be a misleading phrase, as the elected government would likely be a servant of those special interests."

Here’s the breakdown:
Mr. Silva is just over $116,000 up to: March 2008. Nearly $52,000 came outside the county from 65 donors out of a total of 161 contributors.

Mr. Reagan’s figures of nearly $118,000 raised– with over $15,500 from outside the county.

With yet one more contribution filing set for May 22 for both of these incumbents.

The opposition candidates: Linda Seifert and Skip Thompson have raised a humble $44,000 combined. Outside contributions for Ms. Seifert total: $2500 from 13 donors.

These kinds of figures (over $234,000 in this last election cycle-with well over 25% of contributions coming from outside Solano County ) would seem to indicate a "certain pattern" of special interests money pouring into our county for these incumbent elected officials.

Especially when you compare and contrast senior District 1 Supervisor Barbara Kondylis’ present campaign for another 4 year term on the Board. Ms. Kondylis has raised just over $6,000. With no special interest money,in her file. And only "2 " outside contributors totaling $1200.

This kind of largess is just a microcosm of what the citizens see at state and national elections. They may be smaller amounts, but the influence and impacts are the same. This is only what (the community) knows about through these public documents; what is going on behind closed private business doors is anybody’s guess?

Questions: WHY is so much money coming into Solano County? One astute political observer asked me recently is the county up for sale? Should this be a campaign issue? WHO is really represented by my elected officials? How do modest/grassroots campaigns compete (legitimately) against this onslaught of cash? WHERE is the accountability to the public sector,here? WHAT government agency/citizens group/grand jury(?) oversees this kind of abuse of the electoral system?? Is it time for public financing of elections in Solano County? Do we need a Measure T (Tea Party) in our county. Please See: (google) Measure T campaign in Humboldt Co., for example.
Or go to .

If as President James Madison states-- "we don’t have the popular information"– i.e. an informed citizenry. For example- not one of the" newspapers in our county" has covered the past contribution filing period of March 22. (As of this writing)

Both of the working clerks I have come to know in the Registrar of Voters office were both astounded that not a single reporter had come in to check for the campaign disclosure state- ments of the candidates and incumbents. They both can’t remember this ever happening in the past.

How can we as citizens of Benica have the "popular information", President Madison considers essential to our democracy; when our own home town paper doesn’t even cover the Board of Supervisors meetings or our most senior politician on consistent basis?

Is this the prologue to a farce or tragedy. Or perhaps both. That Madison warns us of ?

These are serious concerns. I hope the community would agree.

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