Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Power of Reconciliation

Today's editorial in the News-Press was FactsWrong's valiant attempt at the fact that 2 out of the 3 candidates he endorsed did not win last Tuesday. His point about day of election turnout was good but lower turnout always helps the incumbent -- you go with what you know. Scary to some but true.

Travis' suggestion that the Mayor be the subject of the next Police and Fire roast is an interesting one an should be considered. It also points to the fact that, despite Travis' attempt to hold this election in a vacuum, the differences between The Slugger and Council Member Falcone date back a little further than Labor Day. Last year's roast -- was in part a roast of the Mayor and the press orchestrated around it was not done in a vacuum either. The timing was unfortunately around the time that many potential candidates for Mayor realized that The Slugger was not as easy of a target as they thought.

Our comments in the last post have been interesting and have included an interesting letter to the Mayor from an old friend and a post from Council Member Williams offering to speak with anyone about the campaign and his involvement. This kind of access, no matter what one thinks of his politics, is refreshing and appreciated.

Finally, today's article in the News-Press about campaign finance reform deserves consideration. John Davies' attempt to democratize political contributions doesn't completely fly with me. Yes, the better candidates will raise more money -- but does that mean there should be no limits? Council Member Schneider has a good point in that any attempt to control candidate contributions gives more power to the special interests like the unions (of which POA and Firefighter for Better Government are two) and local media.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Among the other "special interests" are SEIU, PUEBLO, Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee, Dog Pac, Lincoln Club, Friends of Das Williams, etc. Let's not be too selective here.

11/10/2005 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, so a special interest group is one that didn't endorse Marty?

11/10/2005 9:05 AM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...

To be more specific, these "special interests" are more correctly called Independent Expenditure groups , or IE groups or just IEs. It is a huge vector of issues for State and national politics, but only lately with so much attention locally.

I doubt any City efforts to limit campaign finances also can affect IEs, but at the same time a candidate also does not have to like what an IE does, so if a union, business, land developer, leashless dog group, or another other group is sleazy, then that candidate can renounce that group or at least stay distant from it as part of the election campaign.

Just like the trend lately with State elections, the IEs that support a candidate reflect highly on the candidate directly. Bob Pohl in the recent state Assembly race got hurt tremendously when the group JobsPAC supported him, just like that PAC supported nearly all Repubs in state races last year. But Pohl did not renounce that PAC and it hurt him.

Locally, if the LevyPAC or whatever supports a candiate, that candidate still can speak out that such support is not welcome etc. A cleaner campaign would result, because the candidate is not directly accepting those contributions that create a direct conflict of interest.

11/10/2005 9:12 AM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...

Or, with the shift to IEs, a cleaner campaign may not result, because a candidate could benefit from IEs and their advocacy, but then claim that he or she never received direct contributions, so thusly is not influenced with any conflict of interest.

Whether such conflicts should be direct through direct contributions to a campaign account, or slightly indirect and laundered through an IE, will remain different theories that no doubt will be part of the local discussion for months to come.

At least the public discourse at city Council has begun at last.

11/10/2005 10:37 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Okay Anon -- could have been more specific and named every group in town -- whether or not they endorsed Blum was their perogative and that wasn't my point. The POA and Firefighters are, however, often treated like they are something different than a union or a special interest -- but yes, let's include everyone else. I want to also make it clear that I don't hold anything against them for not supporting specific candidates.

IE's is a most approrpiate term once support turns to money, mail, radio and tv for a candidate. This is a concern no matter who you are supporting. Perhaps it will at least be more clear....

11/10/2005 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The right to spend money on a campaign is a first ammendment right. So go ahead and limit what a candidate can spend or recieve and empower independent expenditure groups to go forth.

IE's can say or do anything as they are not on the ballot. They can hurt campaigns they really want to help. They take the responsiblity and the true issues of campaigns out of the hands of the candidates. IE's in Santa Barbara will become the attack dogs and make a horrible mess of local politics. Hello DC and Tom DeLay tactics to get around reform. Go ahead a take our city down the ugly path we started this year - with councilmembers not just endorsing others (perfectly proper) but recuriting and financing other candidates.

Open the door to big business dominating campaigns. I can see it now the Levy Family IE!

11/10/2005 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Council Member Schneider is 100% correct. Limits turn the campaigns over even more to special interest. Police and FIre spending plays a huge role in city elections. Fire more than police. When was the last time fire really lost a race or more than one candidate? While the rant above about Levy Family IE is alarmist it is a horrible idea to limit contributions beyond state law. But how about rule that you must submit the donations all the other candidates and the local media as you report so they do not have to go get them.

11/10/2005 9:46 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Funny how the critics of limits to campaign contributions are the very same people who sell their services to candidates to run a campaign.

If IEs become the "attack dogs" and get sleazy, then a candidate they attack actually will gain sympathy, and candidates competing against the target of such attacks will be under heavy pressure to denounce the attacks and the IE groups. Either way, the POA loses influence and will not benefit from so much pandering anymore.

11/10/2005 10:14 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

The public discourse on clean campaigns and limits to contributions will review all these issues, and the truth shall rise to the top about how money taints elections and how the city should deal with it.

But just like the lack of a salary has discouraged good candidates from running, now the need to sell one's soul and raise money also will discourage good candidates from running.

The time has come for finance reform, so deal with it. Santa Barbara people may be grizzled and jaded, but when an IE group attacks one candidate A and the opponents B and C refuse to denounce such an attack, those opponents B and C will suffer a backlash, and the story will shift to why B and C refuse to request the attacks on A stop.

11/10/2005 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on FactsWrong's suggestion of the Mayor being the subject of the next Police and FIre Roast I finally agree with him on something but can you imagine the fire and police going along with that? it wll never happen. I say they roast travis?

11/10/2005 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone here think that district elections are the only way to get the spending down? Not sure it is worth it to go there - but it may be the only real way to get the spending down. Das doubled the amount raised by the top votegetter in the previous race(iya). This time iya exceeded that amount by probably $10,000. The mayor played a role in the cost by making the campaigns start earlier.

11/10/2005 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem with the notion that people get upset at the attacker - that is true and a candidate gets hurt and IE does not. So an IE attacks in a council race - it hurts the IE (who cares) and hurts the person attacked. So those who attacked get away with it - and if the IE supports a candidate that candidate can say bad bad and bad bad and is not hurt. Just look at the hard fought legislative races around the nation, IE's have runied poltics.

district elections have been good in the county.

Last I agree - roast the Mayor.

11/10/2005 11:01 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

The Mayor started early to get Loretta Redd and Iya Falcone out of the race for Mayor and I don't blame her -- part of winning is getting other candidates out of the race.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the Council comes up with...

11/11/2005 6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, except they weren't in the race. Loretta looked very early but was out before January and went away, but Falcone always said she wasn't going for it. And as the year dragged on the Mayor wouldn't let it go. She had a wierd need to be in a fight with someone, anyone. And until Lanny signed up in August she didn't have anybody signed up but except the Thinker. Jeez, Nels, couldn't you counseled her a little better on this? She could have come out of this with the air of a real leader. Instead she is damaged and leads a Council that, despite her very peculiar pronouncements about how well they get along, is fractured and at odds with each other. Her odd behavior is what led to Lanny getting 6,000 votes. On his own Lanny couldn't get out of his own way.

11/11/2005 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Redd made it clear early that she was NOT running for mayor and Falcone could not have made it clearer. Blum's action do boarder on the paranoid. She created the whole Redd and Falcone fear in her own mind and then even created an odd theory that the political roast was Falcone working with police and fire to get Secord elected mayor. That would have been an odd idea as she, Falcone, would have created an incumbent when she, Falcone, would have wanted to run. None of it made any sense at all. Our mayor was lost in her own mind. Blum is damaged, totally damaged. As is Williams. Too bad. They are both good progressives yet damaged goods.

11/11/2005 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as the success of Travis's endorsed candidates, do you really think he felt that they would win? With the exception of Falcone, of course not. But it did serve the interest of irritating the Mayor and her supporters. And if, in a supposedly non-partisan office, Democrats crow about holding all seven seats, aren't thousands of people in town unrepresented? How progressive is that?

11/12/2005 9:23 AM  

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