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Monday, November 15, 2010

A Tale Of Two J's

Two Measures Eerily Similar
Measure J? It's Deja Vu 
All Over Again

News Analysis
Quick: what do 1991 and 2010 in Emeryville have in common?
Answer: they where both election years that featured a highly contentious Measure J.

Perhaps it may be surprising to some new Emeryville residents but the Measure J we just voted on in November has a twin, at least in name, dating back to 1991.

Both campaigns shared much more than the title Measure J; both vastly outspent the opposition and used deception in the campaign.  Both had a phony grassroots genesis and both were funded in a subterranean manner by corporate concerns interested in profit maximizing posing as a bottom up genuine citizen originated process.

Measure J in 1991 was forwarded by an election committee called "Citizens For An Emeryville Grocery Store" and was advocating for building the East Bay Bridge mall (aka the Home Depot mall).  The idea of the measure was to disallow Emeryville's Planning Commission to independently decide about whether to approve the mall and instead have the decision made by a new government entity set up expressly for this, the  so called 'Joint Planning Authority' (JPA); a mix between some of our Planning Commissioners and some of Oakland's Planning Commissioners.  This was justified since a little of the land for the mall was in Oakland.  The Emeryville Planning Commissioners selected for the JPA would be hand picked by Mayor Nora Davis, a stanch supporter of Measure J.  She gave herself the capacity to select only those commissioners who wanted to approve the proposed mall, filtering out the independent dissenters, which constituted the majority.

The whole Measure J election came about because the Emeryville Planning Commission majority had earlier voted against the mall and Ms Davis and the majority of her colleagues on the council needed a way to go around our Planning Commission's vote of no confidence in the proposed mall.

The NO on J committee was called 'Residents For An Independent Emeryville'.

The grocery store the YES on J side was clamoring for turned out to be the Pak 'N Save now located in the East Bay Bridge center at 40th Street and San Pablo Avenue.

Catellus, a Denver based development corporation morphed out of the Santa Fe Railway reality company, was the developer that owned the land and that wanted to build the mall.

Highlights of the Measure J campaign, 1991 style:
  • Citizens For An Emeryville Grocery Store had donations totalling more than $140,000, 100% of which came from Catellus Development Corporation.
  • A vast campaign of color brochures and phone banking was featured.  The phone banking featured 'push polling' and a last minute negative campaign that called the other side "racist" because they were trying to deny black people a grocery store.
  • The No on J side, Residents for an Independent Emeryville raised about $7000, all from Emeryville residents and mostly in $10 to $20 donations.
  • The YES on J side had paid staffers but the NO on J was all Emeryville resident volunteers.
  • Emeryville power broker and Pete Wilson (R) for Governor donor, John Gooding worked for both YES on J committees ('91&'10).
  • The final vote was 50.8% YES to 49.2% NO.

1 comment:

  1. John Gooding's name seems to crop up whenever there's anything sleazy to be done.