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Keep sports leagues out of politics

Original post made by Catherine McMillan, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park, on Oct 18, 2006

I was astonished to receive an e-mail from Alpine Little League containing both a questionable description of Menlo Park's sports fields issue and a patent endorsement of three City Council candidates.
Beyond the obvious inappropriateness of using sports leagues' e-mail lists for political purposes, the e-mail puts the Alpine West Menlo chapter of Little League in the reprehensible position of serving as a mouthpiece for candidates John Boyle, Lee Duboc and Mickie Winkler.
Other sports leagues are following suit and ratcheting the whisper campaign up a few notches. Commissioners sympathetic to Winkler, Duboc and Boyle are using our sports leagues as publicity vehicles for their pet candidates. And these are the people teaching our kids about sportsmanship?
It is improper for sports leagues, school boards, churches, and the like to allow use of their e-mail distribution lists for political advantage favoring any one side. Candidates Vince Bressler, Rich Cline and Heyward Robinson have signed a pledge of ethics and are living and campaigning by it. The harm intentionally caused to them is unknown; but far more damning is the stain on the name of the individuals who shamelessly perpetuate insinuations without regard for the truth, and to that of candidates who allow their name to be associated with those unsavory practices.
That systematic disinformation, combined with brass-knuckle tactics, is at the root of the lingering divisiveness pitting neighbor against neighbor in our town.
The AYSO, which was asked by slate fans to disseminate a similar e-mail, declined on ethical grounds, and suggested instead an e-mail referring their membership to non-partisan sources. (For candidates' factual positions, visit www.smartvoter.org.)
As the course of action of David Teichmann, AYSO regional commissioner, must be applauded, so must the approach of Alpine Little League and others be deplored. Please urge Mark Greenstein (mark@dfj.com), Alpine West Menlo Little League president, and all other offending leagues to allow the maligned candidates to issue a response -- one that should rightfully be distributed to the same membership. Refusing to do so will reflect poorly on the board and its leadership.

Comments (3)

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Posted by Against Hyperbole
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 2, 2006 at 4:27 pm

Referring to "brass knuckle tactics", "whisper tactics" and impugning the integrity of people who are providing volunteer services to the community is in no way promoting civil discourse on issues.

This letter belies its own intent. Would that it could be ignored.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:11 pm

I agree with Against Hyperbole. Let's agree to disagree and stick to the issues. The last thing we want to do is drive community leaders and volunteers out of our community.


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Posted by AgainstAgainstHyperbole
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 2, 2006 at 11:24 pm

So, Against Hyperbole, why didn't you ignore the letter?

Fact is, 501(c)(3) organizations are not allowed to endorse a political candidate. Period. If someone reports this to the IRS, Little League and Pop Warner could have their tax-exempt status yanked, and I'm sure they wouldn't like that.

If our "community leaders" are people who prefer to lie and manipulate the truth, then frankly, I'd just as soon they left our town and went elsewhere. Or perhaps they can learn to follow the example of the AYSO board, who chose the more honorable route despite the fact that one of their board members is a city council candidate.


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