Saturday, November 5, 2011

Un-Democratic Voters Choice

As a public service to voters in Montebello I have tracked down more information regarding the slate mailer sent out by "Democratic Voters Choice."  I've found out that this slate mailer organization has a notorious reputation for deception and has been around for several years.

Here is a brief list of blog posts and news items which criticize and condemn "Democratic Voters Choice" for their unethical behavior:

Daily Kos
"Voter Info Switch on CA Initiative Flyer"
Nov. 8, 2005

Daily Kos
"The scumbags ar trying to steal our votes"
Nov. 5, 2006
[Please notice the similarities between the photo of the mailer in this blog post and the one I posted yesterday.]

The Sac Rag
"Ugly Flyer Tries to Fool Naive Voters"
June 2, 2008
[Features familiar photo.]

New Times
"Green bait: Supervisor Gibson and other candidates statewide had no idea their ads would appear with an endorsement for Prop. 16"
May 27, 2010

Odd time signatures
"PG&E buys lies in sleazy Democratic Voters Choice group slate mailer"
June 8, 2010

Mission City Lantern
May 27, 2011
[Another familiar photo.]

I think the most disturbing news about "Democratic Voters Choice" is found in the following blog post:

The Pragmatic Progressive:
'Kinde Durkee's "Democratic Voters Choice Guide" A SCAM'
Update 9/7/2011
[Kinde Durkee, a former campaign treasurer, was recently arrested by the FBI on charges of mail fraud!]

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) identifies "Democratic Voters Choice"  as a for profit slate mailer organization.

"Slate Mailer Organizations are for-profit businesses that spend millions of dollars each election cycle encouraging people to vote for certain candidates and/or ballot measures. In many instances, committees representing candidates and ballot measures purchase space on a “slate mailer” as another way to influence voters. The more money a campaign spends on each slate mailing, usually equates to more room on the slate mailer profiling the candidate and/or ballot measure."
According to the FPPC, in 2010, "Democratic Voters Choice" was #4 on the list of "Top Ten Slate Mailer Organization that raised the most money during the 2007-2008 election cycle."

All of this information is readily available on the internet and should serve as a stern warning to all candidates to do your own homework, be careful who you do business with and please, ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS before turning over your own money, or your donor's money, to anyone!!!

Hopefully, these are lessons that future Montebello candidates will take to heart.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Unethical Political Mailers

 Dear Montebello Residents,

Election Day is almost here and for weeks now our mailboxes have been stuffed with political mailers.  In all the confusion, how can you tell the difference between a "good" mailer and a "bad" one?

The City of Sunnyvale California created an excellent Campaign Ethics Guide to help voters evaluate the merits of political mailers.

Among the suggestions they give are:

Read the Fine Print. Campaign laws in California require that every political mailing and advertisement contain information on who is paying for it. Typically, this information is in very small type in an inconspicuous
location. But this is very important information to know in evaluating what is said in the campaign piece.

Most candidates create a committee name to accept contributions. Often, these committees have names like “Committee to elect …” or “Friends of …” The committee or candidate’s name and street address must appear on the outside of the campaign mailer. In Sunnyvale, voters can contact the City Clerk’s Office to clarify who is behind a committee and whether it is controlled by the candidate or another group.

Many of the brochures that “endorse” a variety of candidates for different offices are actually paid advertising by the candidates themselves. The group that appears to be mailing the piece usually has a vague name that references family values, education, the environment or even a political party. There is nothing wrong with candidates using some of their campaign funds to be part of a co-op mailing with other candidates, but it is unethical to mislead voters into thinking these are independent endorsements.

Any individual or organization can send a political mailer or place an advertisement about a candidate, without the candidate’s knowledge or approval. This type of political marketing is called an “independent expenditure” and it is covered under the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. What’s more, money spent by independent groups on behalf of candidates is not reported on Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) campaign spending forms. Unfortunately, independent expenditures have sometimes been used for nasty hit pieces on a candidate’s opponent. Check the source!

In regards to the race for Montebello City Treasurer, let me reassure my supporters:

I am the ONLY candidate for treasurer "officially" endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP).  You can view this endorsement at the LACDP website here.

I would like to add that my political opponent, Mr. Sheraly Khwaja,  is a registered REPUBLICAN, not a Democrat.

With these facts and the Sunnyvale guidelines in mind, I present to you a mailer that arrived in Montebello mailboxes this morning:

Using the guidelines from the Sunnyvale publication, please keep in mind that just because a candidate's name appears in a political mailer, that doesn't mean the candidate was aware of or approved of their inclusion in the mailer.  It is possible the candidates mentioned in this piece were unaware that such a mailer was being sent out.

The "fine print" on this mailer reveals it was paid for by a group called "Democratic Voters Choice."  At this time I have no idea what person(s), organizations or special interest groups are behind the name "Democratic Voters Choice" but I intend to do my best to find out.

This deceptive mailer is a prime example of the type of political shenanigans I plan to fight against if elected to the position of Montebello City Treasurer.  Montebello doesn't need this type of juvenile behavior from any group or anyone trying to influence our residents to vote for "their" candidate.  It's time the individuals behind such unethical behavior grew up.

Respectfully yours,

Yvonne Watson

Please don't forget to vote next Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Letter of Introduction

Dear Montebello Neighbor,

Welcome to my blog.  My name is Yvonne Watson and I am running for Montebello City Treasurer.

For too long Montebello has relied on outdated operating practices, tired technologies, and an antiquated approach to city government. Our city needs to jump forward and join the rest of the world in the 21st century.

As your treasurer, I will work hard to ensure that our city updates its operating practices to fully implement the changes recommended in the recent audit reports issued by the State Controller’s office.

I will listen to the concerns of city staff and make recommendations to the City Council regarding economical ways to improve the efficiency of our computer systems.

As a strong proponent of open and transparent government, I will work to ensure that you are always provided with the information you need about our city’s finances that is both clear and easy to understand.

Our world is rapidly changing, and instead of merely keeping up, Montebello could be leading the way. Green is the color of the future, and Montebello has the opportunity to benefit from the economic savings, job creation and revenuegenerating power of green businesses. As your treasurer, I will work hard to encourage the city to expand upon its slogan: “Montebello - Going Green.”

I respectfully ask for your vote on November 8th so that we can work together to restore the good name of Montebello and make this a better community for all of us.

Sincerely yours,

Yvonne Watson

I Am Honored To Be Endorsed By:

 Los Angeles County Democratic Party

 Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Personal Highlights 

B.A. Degree Cal State Los Angeles
 Montebello resident since 1990
Happily married to my husband Jim 21 years
Proud mom of Montebello High School graduate Megan
Daughter of 18-yr. Montebello Police Department Chaplain Robert Martinez

Community Service 
 MUSD Shining Star Volunteer 2006
 Montebello High School Band Booster Club Secretary (2007 - 2008)
 Mighty Oiler Band (MOB) Booster Club Parent (2005 - 2009)
 Montebello Girl Scout Leader (1999 - 2001)

Community Activism 
 Chief Researcher—Save the Montebello Hills Task Force, Sierra Club Angeles
Chapter (2010 - Present)
 Organized free public screenings of the Emmy Award winning documentary
Split Estate in Montebello, Whittier, Fullerton and Santa Clarita
Frequent public speaker at Montebello City Council meetings advocating for
open meeting laws, public finances, historic preservation, “Smart Growth”
development and various environmental issues