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Thoughts and Analyses from the Anybody but Perata website



What's At Stake In Oakland's Mayoral Election

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Anybody But Perata Website
October 28, 2010

At least once in every campaign season, you can pretty much count on someone to jump up and declare this particular election to be the election of the century, a monumental game-changer with the potential to alter our political and social landscape for a generation.

Usually this is just campaign hyperbole, designed only to stir up enough interest to get people out to the polls.

In this year’s Oakland mayoral race, however, there is good reason to believe that predictions of a landscape-changing election may be true.

Here are the reasons I believe this.

If Don Perata is defeated on November 2, it would probably give big, outside money interests pause when they think about  massive intervention in Oakland politics again. Their thinking would be much like Oakland gangs once discouraged LA’s bloods and crips from traveling north and taking over our streets. Big money always seeks a return on their investment, and after seeing more than a million dollars go into the Perata For Mayor campaign without reward, Oakland would not look as much like a productive field of play for them as it does right now.

Discouraging big outside money from overloading future Oakland political campaigns would not solve the rest of Oakland’s problems, but it would mean that Oaklanders would be better able to fight over the solutions to the problems amongst ourselves, which is the way it ought to be.

Just the opposite would be true, however, if Don Perata wins.

If Perata wins, big outside money would conclude the obvious, that throwing massive amounts of contributions into Oakland campaign works, and that breaking Oakland campaign finance law results in little or no bad consequences either to the interests giving out the money or the politicians to whom the money flows. Even if the Oakland City Council is eventually able to close up the independent expenditure campaign finance loophole that the Perata campaign has exploited in the current race—and that’s a big if—big outside money would treat Oakland like rodents treat a house they have successfully invaded. Blocking up the hole they originally used to get in wouldn’t discourage invasion, it would only cause them to scurry around looking for other openings. It would take many years, and much political struggle, for Oakland residents to get back control of our campaign finances—and our city—again.

In fact, we see the money influx into other Oakland political campaigns already happening. This week, the campaign of District 4 Council candidate Libby Schaaf is charging that the Rental Housing Association Of Northern California PAC has gone over the independent campaign expenditure limit on behalf of Jill Broadhurts, another District 4 candidate, thus triggering a negating of the campaign finance limits in that race. Like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the levees have been breached and Oakland can expect to be flooded, and polluted, with more outrageous sums of campaign money.

Meanwhile Don Perata—the most prodigious big-money fund-raiser on the Oakland political scene today—can be expected to be the main person using outside big money donations to consolidate his power, if, in fact, he wins the power of the Oakland mayor’s seat on November 2.

Almost certainly, Mayor Perata’s first target—if he becomes mayor—would be creating for himself a solid working majority on the Oakland City Council in order to ensure that his budgets get passed and his favorite projects get approved. We could expect massive amounts of money poured into the 2012 City Council elections on behalf of Perata-supported candidates, when five Council seats will be up for re-election.

And since unlike Oakland mayors, Councilmembers are not subject to term limits. If a Mayor Perata could build another cadre of Peratistas on the City Council as he did a decade and more ago, those members could end up serving long past a one or even two-term Perata mayoral administration, just as some of the original Peratistas continue to serve on the Council now.

With a working Council majority in a Mayor Perata’s hands and with the massive outside financial capital available for his use to either fund the ballot measures he wants or block the ones he opposes, a Perata victory next on November 2 would have Oakland in danger of a radical restructuring of our political and neighborhood landscape. Just like the Oakland Unified School District became an experimental zone under the state takeover instigated and authored by Perata—an experiment that ended in a battered and wrecked OUSD—all of Oakland under a Perata Administration would become a testing ground for anyone with the working capital to pay Perata to play in and with our streets, our neighborhoods, our waterways, and our hills.

Some Oakland residents see this outcome as a desireable prospect, particularly when they overlook Perata’s detriments and only describe him as leader who can “get things done.” The problem is, most Oakland residents would have little sayso in a Perata Administration over what direction that “doing” would do. A man so willing to ignore the wishes of Oakland residents in destroying Oakland’s campaign finance limit would have no hesitation in moving to sweep away other checks and balances in city government once given the keys to Oakland’s kingdom.

That means many of the things we love about Oakland—the reason we live here instead of San Francisco or Walnut Creek or LA—would all be in jeapordy under Mayor Don Perata.

You think you’re being ignored and locked out of Oakland decisions now? You think Oakland is working for others and not for you? Just wait until the big money, outside-of-Oakland interests get their full hands around Oakland City Hall in a Don Perata Administration. As they used to say on those old West Oakland porches back before West Oakland neighborhoods were devastated by redevelopment in a previous big-money Oakland overhaul, “Lord, honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

That’s why the position I’ve taken in this year’s election is anybody but Don Perata for mayor of Oakland.

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Is Don Perata Trying To Bypass Oakland's Campaign Finance Limits In Order To Buy The Oakland Mayor's Office?

From the latest city and state campaign finance reports filed by the Perata campaign, it certainly looks that way. And it's not like Perata hasn't gotten away with this kind of thing before.

We know that the Perata campaign is suddenly hurting for money. Perata has legally raised more money than any other candidate in the mayor's race, and he's had the benefit of outside-the-campaign financial help from both his statewide cancer initiative organization (see "The Cancer In The Oakland Mayor's Race") and from the California prison guards union (see "Don Perata And The Oakland Police Layoffs"). But Perata doesn't seem to feel that is enough, and so late in June he sent out a signed email appeal to supporters, asking for more donations. Perata also posted the new financial appeal on his campaign website.

"Over the past four months the goal posts have shifted," Perata wrote, "making a successful campaign more expensive to run. As uncomfortable as it is, I must ask you to consider making your first, or another, contribution to my mayoral campaign if you have not already donated the maximum allowable of $700."

The $50,000 Loan

The Perata mayoral campaign financial crunch apparently got so bad this summer that at the same time Perata was asking for more donations, Perata was loaning his own campaign $50,000. The loan came from Perata Consulting, Perata's political consulting business.

Generally there's nothing wrong or illegal or suspect about a candidate loaning money to his own campaign. It's a regular practice allowed by both California and local campaign finance regulations. But there was something a little suspicious about the timing and the amount of the Perata Consulting loan to the Perata For Mayor campaign, and that involves the California prison guards union.


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The situation:

The Perata For Mayor campaign is running out of money, and is close to reaching Oakland's campaign finance expenditure limit

The allegations:

* Perata is laundering $50,000 in above-the-legal-limit campaign contribution money from the California prison guards union, running the money through his Perata Consulting company and then loaning it to his mayoral campaign

* Perata supporters are giving above-the-legal-limit campaign contribution money to help the Perata mayoral campaign through the Coalition for a Safer California



"Don Perata got four trips to Sacramento and all I got was a damn potholder..."



No Surprise...No Campaign Expenditure Report From Marcie Hodge, Yet

Anybody But Perata Website
October 6, 2010

One of the most widely-anticipated "minor candidate" expense reports of the 2010 Oakland mayoral election had not yet been filed by candidate Marcie Hodge by mid-day on Wednesday, October 6, a day after the reports were due in the Oakland City Clerk's office.

Late last month, the East Bay Express reported that "Hodge's mayoral campaign appears to be suddenly swimming in cash. Her face adorns giant billboards in East, West, and North Oakland. She's bought ads on Bay Area radio stations. And last week, she blanketed Oakland with a glossy, four-page mailer — an expense that typically ranges from $30,000 to $40,000." The Express speculated that mayoral candidate Don Perata may have recruited Hodge to run for mayor—in the same way he recruited Hodge to run against Councilmember Desley Brooks four years ago—in order to siphon off African-American votes from Perata's main mayoral challengers (See "The Baffling Mayoral Bid Of Marcie Hodge," East Bay Express, September 29).

Hodge's campaign finance report might shed some light on whether longtime Perata financial supporters were now giving money to Hodge's mayoral campaign. But as the Express reported last month, "[Hodge] has a history of not reporting her contributions until months after an election is over — in violation of state and local election laws. In both 2006 and 2008, she failed to file campaign statements until five months after the statutory deadline."

And so the failure of Hodge to turn in a campaign finance report for this year's mayoral election is no surprise.

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Is The San Francisco Chronicle Promoting The Perata Candidacy On The Sly (Part 2)?

From The Anybody But Perata Website
September 19, 2010

A month ago, we asked the question if the San Francisco Chronicle was pushing Don Perata's candidacy for Oakland mayor by giving Perata's picture unusual prominence in the Chronicle's online stories ("Is The San Francisco Promoting The Perata Candidacy On The Sly?").

Now the San Francisco newspaper appears to be doing it again.

On Sunday, September 19, the Chronicle published an article by local journalist Brenda Payton about the Oakland mayoral race ("Oakland Looking Up As Mayoral Election Nears").

In the story, Payton writes that "Ten candidates are running [for Oakland mayor this year]. Former state Sen. Don Perata and City Councilwomen Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan are considered 'The Big Three.'"

That is the only mention in the story about any of the mayoral candidates. The rest of Payton's story consists of quotes from Oakland voters about what they expect from the next mayor, with none of the voters mentioning any of the candidates by name.

As you can see below, however, the Chronicle decided to highlight a story about Oakland voters in the online version of its story with a picture—not of Oakland voters—but of one mayoral candidate, and only one: Don Perata.



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Perata Misses Another Oakland Mayoral Debate

Anybody But Perata Website
September 3, 2010

We're not ready to draw any conclusions yet, but this is beginning to be a pattern.

On Thursday night, September 2, Perata missed a mayoral debate at Beebe Memorial Cathedral. The debate focused on the issue of jobs, and was co-sponsored by Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), the Oakland Black Caucus, the Oakland Private Industry Council, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, the Oakland African American Chamber and OaklandSeen online newspaper.

Perata had confirmed that he would attend the jobs debate, but campaign aides said that he attended a Thursday meeting in Sacramento, and could not get back in time.

Seven of the ten Oakland mayoral candidates were at Thursday's debate.

Oakland Mayoral Jobs Debate
[left to right: candidate Marcie Hodge (sitting), candidate Don MacLeay, moderator Aimee Allison, candidate Greg Harland]

So far, Perata has missed three of the four Oakland mayoral debates, for various reasons.

Is Perata ducking debates? We'll have to see.

The Perata Mayoral Debate Record:

June 10

Perata skips the 100 Black Men forum after initially agreeing to participate. After he had agreed to debate, Perata said he decided not to participate because Mayor Ron Dellums had not yet decided whether he was going to run.

July 15

Perata misses the mayoral candidates forum on public safety based on his statement that he would not debate until after filing for the office had closed and the final list of candidates had been set.

August 11

Filing closes in the mayor's race. Ten candidates qualify.

August 25

Perata initially refuses to participate in the Sierra Club forum on green jobs when the Sierra Club announced it would only invite the top three candidates: Perata and Councilmembers Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan. Perata participated in the Sierra Club debate only after the debate was opened up to all ten qualifying candidates.

September 2

Perata agrees to participate in the jobs debate, but misses the debate because he was at a meeting in Sacramento.

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Is The San Francisco Chronicle Promoting The Perata Candidacy On The Sly?

From The Anybody But Perata Website
August 12, 2010

Two months ago, we asked why the San Francisco Chronicle was pushing California gubernatorial and Oakland mayoral candidates on the state and local budget crises while giving Don Perata a pass ("Why Is The San Francisco Chronicle Practicing A Double Standard When It Comes To Political Candidates And The Budget Crisis?").

Now we're wondering if the San Francisco newspaper is promoting Perata's Oakland mayoral candidacy on the sly?

An article in the August 12, 2010 Chronicle on the final lineup for the Oakland mayor's race seems to be doing just that ("13 Candidates File For Oakland Mayor's Race").


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A Strange Action: Perata Drops Out Of First Oakland Mayoral Debate

June, 2010
Anybody But Perata Website

In what has to be considered one of the strangest actions of this early campaign season, Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata announced on Monday that he would not participate in Thursday's mayoral debate, the first scheduled debate of the Oakland mayor's race. The debate is being co-sponsored by 100 Black Men and OaklandSeen.com online newspaper along with community partners Black Women Organized For Political Action (BWOPA) and 100 Black Women.

In a signed letter released on his campaign website on Monday, June 7, Perata wrote that he made his decision out of consideration for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who has not yet announced whether he will run for-relection.

"I regret that I will not attend any mayoral forums until the official filing deadline for mayor has closed and the full field of aspirants is known," Perata wrote. "Holding mayoral debates before all candidates are declared is undemocratic and misleads voters. In particular, Mayor Dellums has yet to announce his intentions as is his right as an incumbent. The mayor is running for re-election until he says he's not, or when filing closes in August. Ron Dellums has served our community for almost four decades. He's well entitled to such consideration."

Why do we think this is such a strange action?


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Why Is The San Francisco Chronicle Practicing A Double Standard When It Comes To Political Candidates And The Budget Crisis?

June, 2010
Anybody But Perata Website

Late last month, the San Francisco Chronicle made a powerful case that candidates for California governor in this year's election should release detailed plans on how they would solve the state's budget crisis. In a May 22 editorial called "Gubernatorial Candidates' Fuzzy Fiscal Plans," the Chronicle wrote "Wanted: a candidate for governor who is willing to confront tough choices and lay out plausible solutions for a state with a $20 billion budget deficit."

Saying that none of the major party primary candidates "comes close to meeting [that] criteria," the Chronicle editorial said that "the budgetary math being offered by Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner does not add up to a solution in the short or long term. Democrat Jerry Brown, who does not face significant opposition in the June 8 primary, has talked about the need for getting legislators together to make painful choices—while offering none of his own." The Chronicle editorial concluded that "[i]f Whitman, Poizner and Brown continue to mumble through the campaign with pain-avoidance platitudes, the winner is going to be in the untenable position of having to start breaking promises from the day he or she enters office."

That's good stuff, true, and fair to all sides.

We just wonder why the Chronicle doesn't apply the same fair standard to the race for mayor of the City of Oakland.


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You can contact the Anybody But Perata For Mayor website at admin@notdon.org