To the Editor;
Moraga’s elections generally are quiet and sometimes even uncontested. That’s not the case this year. Some have likened the current race to Chicago- and Russian-style politics. They aren’t far off.
Articles and discussions on NextDoor and SMARTMoraga have detailed many of the current-season antics. This ain’t Mayberry no more:
This year’s election season began with a union-funded fire district candidate’s advertisement falsely claiming he was endorsed by the Town Council (an impossibility, as the council doesn’t endorse individual candidates). That was soon followed by the termination of two MOFD employees who targeted a non-union-backed candidate with unauthorized inspections and an unsubstantiated citation.
Shortly thereafter, a widely-circulated email from an open-space advocate (who doesn’t live within town limits and is a major endorser of the incumbent Mayor) lambasted a competing candidate’s open space record; the email totally misrepresented the competitor’s record and public comments and were the opposite of the candidate’s stated position and of public record.
Moragans got a two-week respite until one person called into question the local newspaper’s objectivity when – contrary to their historical policy – they published unsubstantiated critical opinion of a non-incumbent candidate.
Most interesting, IT WAS SUBSEQUENTLY REVEALED THE NEWSPAPER ITSELF OWNS AND ADMINISTERS THE INCUMBENT MAYOR’S CAMPAIGN WEBSITE. What’s more, it appears the newspaper’s owners were involved with the Mayor in a couple of “back room” deals for the failed Hacienda restaurant and Rheem Theater property swap that took place outside the public eye and without town council authorization when they were conducted, while incurring over $45,000 in legal fees. This seems just a bit too cozy and conflicted.
A few months ago, a couple (of) enlightened council members acknowledged the fallout from the town’s declared fiscal emergency and failed storm drain tax were as much a result of mistrust and lack of transparency as it was the handling itself of those situations.
Beyond just trying to parse the campaign soundbites and qualifications of candidates, Moragans this year really need to vote to ensure trust, integrity and transparency in its elected officials. Indeed, that may be the most important criteria this particular election.