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By Martin Lamarque

About this blog: I have lived in Belle Haven since 1997, and work as an interpreter in the emergency department of a county hospital. My main interest is to help improve society by way of giving families the support and information they need to ra...  (More)

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Election Choices Made Easy- Follow the Money

Uploaded: Oct 6, 2014
Confession: I haven't read the text of Measure M.
Every time I look around and see the discussions going on in the Almanac, I grow more confused, and develop a headache.

See, with my son away in college, I can't cheat in the coming election. He is very smart, cool headed, and a great believer in the common good. By now he would have studied measures and candidates so well, that I could just pick his brains and make an informed decision on how to vote.

He is not beholden to any special interests, nor has he gotten money from developers and big property owners. And, he thinks that one can't go wrong by voting for what the Sierra Club endorses (hint: the Sierra Club endorses Measure M).

But I am a simple, unsophisticated guy. Instead of poring over pages and pages of legalese text that I will not understand, I look for more practical signs to help guide my votes.

On Measure M, for example, I have gotten so many pieces of campaign literature paid for by big money, that even if the measure is, as they say, full of errors, at least it is the product of a citizens initiave. Something very rare and precious in our sad politcal environment.

Besides, why would I think that developers, and those who profit along them, would care for those like me, who own nothing but their time and skills to earn a living?

Have you checked those campaign finance reports? It's mostly big money investing on defeating a Measure that would get in their way of making more money. Regardless of how their projects affect the lives and commutes of residents.

And speaking of campaign finance reports.
If you look closely, you will notice that the rich individuals and interest groups giving a lot of money to defeat Measure M, are the same ones who have been donating big to the 3 incumbents: Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki.

It is a great strategy. Big money funds the opposition to Measure M. From there, it funds the 3 incumbents who are dedicated sposkespeople against the Measure. This way, developers and big property owners get to kill 2 birds with the same one stone. If the incumbents win, their investement will have been more than worthwhile, and pay them dividends for years to come.

You too, fellow resident, can kill two birds with one stone. Just follow the money in this election, and save yourself the time and trouble of trying to decipher the misinformation going around.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by feedback, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 8, 2014 at 8:14 am

Martin, city council may currently impose any element of M without the need for a vote. The specific plan is a living document that can be changed at any time by council, unless M passes. M was created in secret, without any public scrutiny, as a way for a small group of people to impose restrictions on the city.

"he thinks that one can't go wrong by voting for what the Sierra Club endorses"

The local Sierra Club board (which includes Heyward Robinson) chose to ignore the recommendation of their own subcommittee that studied the measure and advised that the Sierra Club should remain neutral. Like you, others on the Sierra Club board have not read the text of Measure M.

"you will notice... the same ones who have been donating big to the 3 incumbents"

Keith has raised four times as much as Cline, so clearly you have also not read the campaign finance reports.

Posted by Martin Lamarque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm


I thought it was obvious from my piece that I wasn't trying compare amounts raised for individual campaigns, but rather to note the fact that the 3 candidates I mentioned received relatively high in-kind donations from the big developer who stands to profit from the defeat of Measure M.

Today in The Almanac, you can read for yourself:

"Greenheart's political organization, named the Committee for a Vibrant Downtown - No on Measure M, reported spending $82,860 during the reporting period, from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30.

The money was spent to produce and distribute campaign materials not only against Measure M but also for Menlo Park City Council incumbents Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki, who are seeking re-election and are opposed to Measure M."

Do I need to explain what the connection is here?

And too be fair: Yes, Mr. Cline raised a lot less money than Mrs. Keith. (And also less than every other candidate.)

I hope this is a sign that he will not be as indebted to wealthy donors who will, sooner rather than later, profit from buying seats in the City Council.

I also found it interesting that Mrs. Keith got donations from Senator Hill, and Santa Clara Supervisor Joe Simitian. Somehow I always thought those two sided with the little guy. I told you, I am very unsophisticated--or naive.

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