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So Most of Emerald’s Official Advisory Council Are Campaign Donors?

Saturday, October 17, 2009
posted by Mr. Murphy

Rostra analysis shows 67 percent of Advisory Members are Donors

Last night Marti Emerald took a short interview where she said she was “surprised” that her District 7 Advisory Council would support the massive taxpayer expenditures required for a new downtown library and city hall.

Really?

I’d be pretty surprised too, since every public poll I’ve seen says taxpayers hate both ideas, both of which Emerald publicly supports. But then some little elves took a quick look at Marti’s “Advisory Council” and, stunningly would anyone have guessed that some 67% of the members of this group (the larger group of 34, not the original group of 20 her press release claimed were members) are Emerald campaign donors? Unless 67% of the district were Emerald campaign donors, I’d say this is a pretty unrepresentative voice of the community. (The info culled from online campaign resources is below.)

But finding that almost 67% of the members of the Advisory Council are Emerald campaign donors (which Emerald’s office apparently didn’t think worth telling the Voice of San Diego in the earlier interview) is really only the first question, because again that’s almost 67% of the 34 larger group, not the original 20 that Emerald said met with the Mayor’s representative. Anyone want to make a guess what the ratio might be with that group of 20  (hint: Emerald took four days to reveal the list of 34)? The public information requests will no doubt let us in on that little secret, unless Emerald wants to come clean now.

So just to make all this clear: Emerald formed her campaign donors into an official “Advisory Council,” then allegedly met with the Mayor’s office, presumably without telling the Mayor’s office these were campaign donors rather than legitimate community representatives, then issued a public press release stating that this group endorsed controversial measures Emerald herself supports, without noting in the release that the group was largely campaign donors. All this, by the way, was paid for by you and me, since it was all done on government time, with government resources, by government employees.

Now what would the reaction of Marti Emerald “Troubleshooter” to this little scam? Turko? Is this what Emerald means when she talks about ‘open government’ – essentially generating a fake community group to make it sound like some fairly controversial positions she is taking have community support? Further, what are the legitimate community group activists supposed to think? Does it take a campaign contribution to ‘advise’ Councilwoman Emerald?

The review of campaign donors was done quickly. Maybe the Union Tribune or Voice of San Diego can pick it up with their more substantial resources. Meanwhile, our little research elves are still digging…

Here are the stats (date, dollar amount, name, election):
5/12/2008 50 Froome, Roberta Primary 6/3/2008
8/29/2008 50 Froome, Roberta Primary 6/3/2008
3/17/2008 25 Froome, Roberta Primary 6/3/2008
5/30/2008 60 Fisketti, Claudia Primary 6/3/2008
4/24/2008 100 Fisketti, Claudia Primary 6/3/2008
8/4/2008 50 Fisketti, Claudia Primary 6/3/2008
3/13/2008 50 Fisketti, Claudia Primary 6/3/2008
5/17/2008 20 Edgington, Barbara Primary 6/3/2008
8/19/2008 50 Edgington, Barbara Primary 6/3/2008
5/2/2008 70 Rideout, Nancy Primary 6/3/2008
9/8/2008 270 Rideout, Nancy General 11/4/2008
1/17/2008 100 Rideout, Nancy Primary 6/3/2008
3/17/2008 100 Rideout, Nancy Primary 6/3/2008
9/4/2007 270 Mundell, Carol Primary 6/3/2008
7/11/2008 270 Mundell, Carol General 11/4/2008
8/11/2008 50 Taylor, David General 11/4/2008
9/18/2008 50 Taylor, David General 11/4/2008
1/7/2009 270 Brown, Dana Primary 6/3/2008
5/7/2008 100 Teipel, Celeste Primary 6/3/2008
4/30/2008 100 Balkwell, Carolyn Primary 6/3/2008
9/24/2008 100 Balkwell, Carolyn General 11/4/2008
2/11/2008 50 Balkwell, Carolyn Primary 6/3/2008
10/18/2007 100 Minter, Mike Primary 6/3/2008
7/14/2008 50 Spencer, Jennifer Primary 6/3/2008
8/11/2008 30 Spencer, Jennifer Primary 6/3/2008
3/3/2008 50 Spencer, Jennifer Primary 6/3/2008
12/7/2007 100 Oleff, Howard Primary 6/3/2008
10/29/2008 25 Oleff, Howard General 11/4/2008
9/29/2007 270 Coombs, Diane B Primary 6/3/2008
8/22/2008 150 Coombs, Diane B General 11/4/2008
10/19/2007 270 Owen, Karen J Primary 6/3/2008
10/1/2008 100 Owen, Karen J General 11/4/2008
10/15/2008 170 Owen, Karen J General 11/4/2008
9/27/2007 220 Latimer, Charles Primary 6/3/2008
6/16/2008 270 Latimer, Charles General 11/4/2008
10/1/2007 270 Filner, Barbara Primary 6/3/2008
7/1/2008 270 Filner, Barbara General 11/4/2008
10/20/2008 100 Knowles, Verna J General 11/4/2008
6/1/2008 100 Spinler, Martha Primary 6/3/2008
10/10/2007 100 Coffey, Pat Primary 6/3/2008
12/31/2007 25 Coffey, Pat Primary 6/3/2008
5/30/2008 100 Coffey, Pat Primary 6/3/2008
10/30/2008 25 Coffey, Pat General 11/4/2008
8/4/2008 45 Coffey, Pat General 11/4/2008
8/4/2008 55 Coffey, Pat General 11/4/2008
10/17/2008 100 Coffey, Pat General 11/4/2008
12/19/2007 25 Weber, Sandra Primary 6/3/2008
10/24/2008 140 Ben-Yehuda, Selma General 11/4/2008
4/1/2008 200 Ben-Yehuda, Amnon Primary 6/3/2008
8/6/2008 70 Ben-Yehuda, Amnon General 11/4/2008
8/6/2008 130 Ben-Yehuda, Amnon General 11/4/2008
5/17/2008 100 Anderson, Barbara C Primary 6/3/2008
9/9/2008 100 Anderson, Barbara C General 11/4/2008
Total 6015

See all the posts on the saga of the Emerald “Advisory Council”

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24 Responses to “So Most of Emerald’s Official Advisory Council Are Campaign Donors?”

  1. TGIF says:

    Wow. This is too much. You scooped the UT and the Voice on this one all right.

    The Troubleshooter setting up fake community groups to influence public policy? Rank Hypocrisy.

  2. GOP Lawyer says:

    Hmmm this is interesting. So campaign donors got special treatment (ie access, titles). I see an ethics commission complaint here, in the very least.

  3. John says:

    THIS IS AN OUTRAGE:

    “Emerald formed her campaign donors into an official “Advisory Council,” then allegedly met with the Mayor’s office, presumably without telling the Mayor’s office these were campaign donors rather than legitimate community representatives, then issued a public press release stating that this group endorsed controversial measures Emerald herself supports, without noting in the release that the group was largely campaign donors. All this, by the way, was paid for by you and me, since it was all done on government time, with government resources, by government employees.”

  4. THE TROUBLESHOOTER says:

    I’m going to bust a guy, either laughing or crying, this is so funny and so disgusting.

    Really, Marti? Really? This is exactly the kind of scam you would have raised hell about in your younger days. And by scam I mean scam.

    If I were in that district, and heard about this, I’d be furious.

  5. Randy says:

    We don’t have money to fix potholes. We don’t have money to keep libraries open. We don’t have money to keep enough cops on the street. But we have money to help Marti Emerald set up organizations of her donors to influence how we spend taxpayer money.

  6. Wait a Minute... says:

    I think I know at least one of the people on that list, and I don’t think she even lives in the 7th District. Can someone look that up?

  7. Thor's Assistant Rostra Administrator (Thor's Assistant) says:

    The linked Voice story has the zip codes, if that helps.

  8. Thor's Assistant Rostra Administrator (Thor's Assistant) says:

    From the original People’s Reporter Voice post…some of the questions even more important now…

    “Participants comprise a diverse cross-section of the district and serve as an additional set of eyes and ears in the neighborhoods of District-7,” Emerald said in the statement.

    A few questions from readers (and me): Who are these citizens? Who do they represent? Why do they deserve more access and influence to Emerald than any other citizen? What are their interests?

    I called Emerald’s office before noon and explained that I was working on a People’s Reporter assignment. I also sent an e-mail asking about the Citizens Advisory Council to Geni Cavitt, the councilwoman’s director of communications.

    Later in the day, an Emerald staffer said city attorneys were reviewing my request.

  9. Greg Larkin says:

    Carol Mundell was on the Emerald campaign payroll. Charles Latimer was a candidate for Democratic Central Committee. Out of curiosity, would any Republicans or April Boling supporters be welcome on the advisory group? How about any fiscal conservatives that may be against the Library and City Hall? This “annointed” group would have supported those projects with their eyes closed!

  10. Hal says:

    Her reason for setting up this sham group:

    “I don’t want to get myself cut off from the community” – Voice of San Diego

    So she considers her campaign cronies and donors ‘the community’.

    This woman should not be in office, regardless of her partisan affiliation or ideology.

  11. Give Me A Break says:

    I got the link to this website via email a few minutes ago and read this column about Councilwoman Marti Emerald. So what if she appointed donors – they are members of the community, right? Who is to say who she listens to – why not her own campaign supporters after all its them who got her elected, right!

    You Republicans lost, bigtime. Now you expect some degree of fairness from the winners? Give Me A Break.

  12. Criticus says:

    This story is such an obvious example of abuse of power that I am going to hold my own next blog for a few days so this story stays on top. I don’t like corruption, be it Republican or Democrat.

    We’ve met several times Marti. I respected you as the troubleshooter. I’ve been very disappointed by your behavior once you decided to run for office. Shame on you Marti.

  13. DDD says:

    After Marti was taped saying one thing to her friends, and taped again saying something else to voters, I knew her ethics were situational. From my perspective, her conceit and arrogance are only really overshadowed by her embarrassing ignorance on policy.

    None of her compounding ethics problems particularly surprise me – having listened to her for literally dozens of hours it was clear to me that ethical standards were to be applied always to others, never to herself, and that this was bound to catch up with her.

    I don’t enjoy watching this. The citizens and taxpayers of San Diego and the 7th District deserve better than Marti Emerald. In a legislative body she would be considered a backbencher, a figure at which people who make decisions roll their eyes. In a body of 8, she’s a powder keg ready to go off and bring further disgrace on the city.

    I like signing my name big, so Marti can read this without her spectacles.

    DUANE DICHIARA

  14. Jim says:

    You know, Duane, that the Brits would have hung John Hancock if they could have gotten their hands on him, right? I trust you are speedier than Marty however.

    I wouldn’t be hugely upset about this particular incident, if not for the other incidents. It’s a pattern of behavior.

  15. The real questions says:

    ** Who were the 20 original members that were mentioned in the press release

    ** Who was at the meeting with the Mayor’s representative, if such a meeting took place

    ** What was the specific question that Emerald’s office asked the city attorney

  16. Agree says:

    I agree with ‘the real questions’ above.

    Answer up, Councilwoman Emerald.

    On a side note… I haven’t seen anything from the local tv stations on this. Are they going to cover their old friend melting down? Doubtful.

  17. D7 voter says:

    Has anyone asked the Mayor’s office to confirm whether or not they met with members of this group?

  18. Regrets says:

    The only constituents Emerald supports are the ones that give her cash. Couple this pay-to-play nonsense with Emerald’s recent support for the SDG&E shutoff plan after the company gave mightily to her campaign, and this woman is turning out to be a revolting joke. She has got to go!

  19. Gwen says:

    Question for Mr.Murphy:
    Have you done your research on other council members and their process of forming advisory committees? I asked this question in a previous blog and have yet to see if you have done your homework.

    If not, your complaint here is incomplete. You are not able to compare Council member Emerald to other council members in their committee compositions. Your complaint lacks “body.”

    It now appears that you and others on this site have way too much time on your hands and just like to complain. Maybe you need a real job…or, just a job.

  20. Mr. Murphy says:

    Dear Gwen,

    As far as I know no other Council member has issued a press release on public letterhead indicating that a legitimate community group endorsed a series of projects in this manner. Please, if you have heard otherwise, let me know.

    Frankly, as bad as the facts themselves was the way Emerald continued to stonewall, and, in fact lie. It shouldn’t take a public information request for what sound like very simple answers, right? I’d suggest you address the right or wrong of this particular instance, instead of making excuses.

    Thanks,

    Mr. Murphy

  21. Greg Larkin says:

    What Gwen may not understand: Yes, nearly all politicians have kitchen cabinets made up of supporters, confidantes and personal insiders. That’s different than a public community advisory group. The difference is that most politicos (all?) are cautious about publicly touting the findings of a kitchen cabinet to bolster their position or opinion. As a newbie, let’s face it, it didn’t even occur to Marti that anyone would ask about her “group” once she mentioned it. When they did, she realized she had stepped in it, then tried to lawyer up. Voice of SD asked the first very legit questions, not just some “right wing” blog. Rostra took it a step further and compared the list with her donors and the jig was up. She’s still learning!

  22. Gwen says:

    Dear Mr. Murphy,
    Do you feel left out not being included in this community advisory committee? Do you feel that you and others who are of your political persuasion should have access to give your opinions to your Council member? If “yes”, then I still don’t see the problem here. You as a citizen can certainly call her office, make an appointment, or group meeting and express your concerns to your council member at any time. The Council member has an office number and a website. Council member Emerald may not have set up this committee according to your specifications, but don’t think she’s done anything radically wrong here.
    You seem to like to nitpick and that indicates that you are not very busy and like to focus on small things. That’s unfortunate, considering you could be doing good things in your community. Perhaps you could offer to watchdog the level of crime in our area or water waste, or such. We all need to work together to keep our community liveable.
    So what do you say Mr. Murphy?

  23. Mr. Murphy says:

    I think you said it all, Gwen. Perhaps what Emerald did wasn’t ‘radically wrong’ meaning she committed a crime, but what she did was certainly wrong.

    I hope that you are not implying that (1) donors should get more access to elected officials (2) Emerald should not have revealed who was on this community group, and that she should have failed to mention the donor status to inquiring reporters (3) Emerald should not answer the basic questions that have been posed here and elsewhere, but that to get simple answers citizens should be forced to take the time to file public information acts.

    If I remember right, Gwen, Emerald ran on a platform of open government. Do you think these antics qualify as open government?

    Emerald said that this group of her was established so she could get ‘independent’ opinions. Do you consider a pool of largely donors and Democrat activists ‘independent’?

    I don’t consider this nitpicking… and on the topic of doing good things I consider pointing out her lack of ethics and core hypocrisy a ‘good thing’, while I’m guessing you just nod and give her a pass. Haven’t we seen what your attitude gets us at City Hall?

  24. Gwen says:

    Dear Mr. Murphy,
    My point is that the time you spend on trying to show that Council Member Emerald is not ethical because she didn’t release names of her advisory committee the moment that she was approached is ludicrous. My understanding is her commitment to open government has more to do with Council members making back room deals that result in financial benefit to those parties….that could include developers, lobbyists, etc.
    Just looking at the list…In this case she chose a group of individuals who are active in the community and know the communities they live in to participate in issues that would affect their community…not benefit them financially or personally. I have to laugh at your question….”Do you consider a pool of largely donors and Democratic activists “independent’”? Don’t know Democrats and Progressives very well do you Mr. Murphy? Getting Democrats to agree on one thing is like herding cats in a kitchen. It’s truly an amazing site though when they do come together. They hash out the pros and cons and don’t take each other for granted. Nor do they believe everything they hear. Have to say I’m impressed. They are definitely not the Republican Rubber Stampers from the Party of No.

    Again Mr. Murphy, you have access like anyone else. So, what’s the big deal? And yes it is “nitpicking” Mr. Murphy.

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