Monday, June 4, 2012

Thoughts on the June 5 Fullerton Recall

Tomorrow Fullertonians go to the polls to vote in the second recall election in 20 years. In 1994, Don Bankhead (who is again facing a recall) was recalled for the first time. The other two city councilmen facing a recall are F. Richard "Dick" Jones and Pat McKinley. Voters will be able to decide both whether to recall each of these men, and also choose from several candidates to replace them. The stated reasons for the recall are: an "illegal" water tax (that I still do not really understand), bloated pensions (which I kind of understand), and their silence and lack of leadership on the Kelly Thomas murder case (which I do understand, and abhor).

Old Guys Rule
When the recall was first announced, people asked me if I was going to run as a replacement candidate. In the essay I wrote about my 2010 campaign for Fulleton City Council, I said I would run again. I am still considering it (there is a regular election in November), but I chose not to run for the recall because I was sincerely conflicted about the recall for a long time.

I am no fan of the three men facing recall. In my view, Bankhead, Jones, and McKinley represent a style of local government that I profoundly disagree with. They take contributions from developers, and generally dismiss public comments at Council meetings, unless those comments are from their supporters. I disagreed with their vote on the Coyote Hills issue, and with their disturbing silence on the Kelly Thomas issue, and the dismissive way in which they handled public comment and scrutiny.

On the other hand, I was a little wary of the fact that the Recall was being funded almost exclusively by local landowner/developer/blogger Tony Bushala. I'd followed Tony's blog before the Kelly Thomas issue, and found that it tended to bitterly criticize people (some of whom I knew were deeply hurt by the blog's accusations) without offering much in the way of a positive alternative. Over a year ago, Tony asked me to write for his blog, and I said I preferred not to.

Having said that, I think Bushala and his bloggers (recall candidates Travis Kiger, Greg Sebourn, Barry Levinson) have done some good in bringing the Kelly Thomas issue to a wide audience. Without the Friends for Fullerton's Future blog, the Kelly Thomas murder would not have reached the viral audience that it did. His local blog scooped all major news sources on this issue, and his unrelenting posts kept the issue in the public spotlight, and that is, in my view, a good thing.

Opponents of the Fullerton Recall claim that Bushala used the Kelly Thomas as a platform for his own financial and political interests. I honestly don't know if this is or is not the case. What I do know is that he funded the recall, and that three of his bloggers are running as (fairly well-funded) replacement candidates. Beyond that, who can know the heart of a man?

I was, however, disturbed by a few recent Bushala-funded political maneuvers that, to me, represent not the transparency that his blog claims to promote, but plain old-fashioned self-interested politics. Recently, Bushala blogger Chris Thompson sent an e-mail to all of the signers of the Recall petition urging them to vote for fellow bloggers Kiger, Levinson, and Sebourn.

Those opposed to the recall filed a complaint with the DA which stated, "Tony Bushala’s high priced campaign manager, Fullerton School Board Trustee Chris Thompson, sent a letter addressed to “Dear Fullerton Recall Petition Signer” in clear violation of Elections Code Section 18650. This code section protects the confidentiality of recall petition signers and makes it a misdemeanor for using the names for any purpose other than qualifying the recall."

Yesterday, Bushala funded thousands of door-hanger signs that looked like this:

The name Matthew Rowe on the flier, which is the name of a Fullerton police officer, also happens to be the name of a recall candidate whom I know and support. This flier seems to be an attempt to confuse voters into thinking that the Matthew Rowe on the flier is the same Matthew Rowe who is running for council, which it is not. 

Like it or not, the Fullerton Recall is upon us, and it is up to the voters to decide its fate. Personally, I like three of the replacement candidates who are running: Jane Rands, Glenn Georgieff and (the real) Matthew Rowe. But I think it is important for each voter to do his/her homework and decide for themselves who and what is best for Fullerton. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing about this. I feel guilty that I didn't look into it further, and wasted my vote on leaving the ballot blank. I just didn't do enough research. As for the Bushalas, and all the old time farts. I say to hell with them all. I only wish I would have voted for the three replacement candidates. I encourage you to run again, and again and you will have my vote. I have to refrain from using foul language when referring to the Bushalas, I rented from them years ago, and lets just say the word "Greed" comes to mind. I could go on about them but I think they do enough themselves to ruin their own reputation.