Election Year Agitprop in City Hall Plaza
If you agree with Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty that a word “means just what I choose it to mean,” then you could say “compelling” can be used to mean “non-existent.”
That’s what Mayor Lisa Gillmor did at last Tuesday’s city hall noontime political theater, claiming the San Francisco 49ers were in some way involved with the brand new political committee BLUPAC, and its website BLUPACUS.ORG.
“If they are involved and I believe that they are,” Gillmor said, “the evidence is very compelling.” In fact there is no evidence connecting the football team with the political committee.
The 49ers said in a public statement, “This organization does not make a practice of commenting on political matters and will not begin doing so now in response to unsubstantiated rumors that support the personal agendas of local politicians.”
Tuesday’s event was purportedly to reveal “money laundering” by BLUPAC, an IRS 501(c) 4 non-profit, which some are incorrectly calling an IRS 527 “super PAC.”
The event was organized by political action committee Stand Up for Santa Clara in concert with the Old Quad Owners Association – which conducted a robo-call poll recently asking if voters would support candidates if they were told the candidates were supported by the 49ers, said OQOA spokesman Noreen Carlson.
SUFSC spokesman Burt Field gave the sparse audience of TV cameras, politicians and fellow-travelers a Glenn Beck-style pasteboard presentation, complete with stick-on pictures of Jed York and BLUPAC founder San Francisco Civil Service Commissioner Douglas Chan, lest anyone miss the point. Field also accused four current candidates – John McLemore, Patricia Mahan, Mohammad Nadeem and Michael Sellers – of being “Citizens for Economic Council,” a Santa Rosa-based slate mailer organization.
But despite all the arrows, no actual evidence was presented of anything linking the NFL team to the PAC. Field concluded the theatrics by brandishing a bag of laundry he said the group intended to deliver to the 49ers.
If the “medium is the message,” then the visual message Tuesday was that this was an official event, although in fact it was not.
The visual of a majority of the City Council – Gillmor, Debi Davis, Teresa O’Neill and Kathleen Watanabe – accompanied by former Council Member Will Kennedy and Debi Davis Campaign Manager Robin Burdick, the second generation of one of the City’s preeminent power families, provided a backdrop that would lend itself to the misinterpretation that this was some kind of city event.
“I have a majority of the Council here,” said Gillmor, referring to who spoke for two-thirds of the 15-minute rally. Gillmor did not say whether or not she was speaking in her official capacity as Santa Clara Mayor.
“This BLUPAC has been running vile, vile videos and saying terrible things about our candidates,” said Gillmor. “I want to make sure, my Council right now, we want to make sure Santa Clara is given everything we were promised, everything in our contract.”
This kabuki dance follows a pattern started by Gillmor last winter of communications and closed session leaks to hand-picked reporters promising click-baiting headlines about civic corruption. Evidence proving any of these claims has yet to surface.
These include allegations that general fund money is subsidizing Levi’s Stadium, expenses aren’t being properly charged to the stadium management company, city stadium-related activity isn’t being charged correctly by employees, and that city officials are and have been complicit in all this.
Last month, KPIX was privately invited to a meeting of the Measure J ad-hoc audit committee; where Gillmor tried unsuccessfully to get auditor Fred Brousseau of Harvey Rose Associates to say on camera he had found evidence backing these charges.
Ultimate responsibility for stadium operations lies with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which is the Santa Clara City Council, chaired by Gillmor. Thus, responsibility for any malfeasance starts with the Council.
A full video recording of last week’s event can be found at www.facebook.com/thehaggag/videos. An edited version of the video is posted on YouTube.
Stand Up For Santa Clara Keeps in the Shadows
If any organization in local politics could be called “shadowy,” it’s Stand Up for Santa Clara.
After operating for over a year without divulging any information about itself, Stand Up For Santa Clara (SUFSC) currently reports that it “was started by” Tino Silva – candidate for City Council, Parks & Rec Commissioner and former Santa Clara Youth Soccer League President – Steve Robertson – current SCYSL President who claimed, in a lawsuit the SCYSL filed against the City last December, that his son’s ability to get a soccer scholarship was injured by the NFL’s use of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park during the Super Bowl – and Santa Clara resident Vicki Field.
Although unnamed on the website, Santa Clara Youth Soccer League VP Gabe Foo is said to be another co-founder and handles the organization’s email. SUFSC isn’t shy, however, about posting on its landing page the Facebook profile picture pictures of everyone on its mailing list.
SUFSC doesn’t publish the names of its donors – if any – and doesn’t show a federal tax ID number. It doesn’t appear on the IRS’ current lists of tax-exempt organizations and political committees, nor does it appear on the California Secretary of State’s databases of corporations and political committees.
The group’s activities focus on rallying support for its agenda, which began with trying to block City compliance with its Super Bowl contract providing the Youth Soccer Park for NFL use as a media village. SUFSC has since expanded into influencing City Council decisions on hiring outside professionals and political campaigning – tag-teaming with anti-stadium group Santa Clara Plays Fair. It’s currently running a venomous series of attacks on City Council candidate Patricia Mahan.