On September 27th the five candidates for three seats on the Fort Bragg City Council appeared at a League of Women's Voters forum. Their statements and responses to audience questions can be viewed on the Mendocino TV internet site.
However, some overlooked activity in public and on the internet may prove more informative to Fort Bragg voters. In short, Mendo-Lib is running scared. First, pretty much under the radar, a small lib-lab-gab group calling themselves the Mendocino Women's Political Coalition endorsed Dave Turner, the current Mayor of Fort Bragg, current Council member Heidi Kraut, and former school administrator Mark Iacuaniello.
Iacuaniello seems to be something akin to a handpicked successor to retiring Council member Meg Courtney, though Iacuaniello has seldom if ever been seen at City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings or any other City Hall meetings in recent years. The other non-incumbent candidates for Fort Bragg City Council are Mike Cimolino, who until August was just as equally invisible at city government meetings. Cimolino is a recently retired Fort Bragg Public Works Deptartment employee of nearly thirty years. His candidacy appears to have stemmed from the outrage some citizens hold at the resignation of former Police Chief Scott Mayberry and the corollary theory that Mayberry was micro-managed out of his job by City Manager Linda Ruffing. Until a week or so ago Cimolino's Facebook home page was topped by a photo of Mayberry and Cimolino standing side by side in camo clothing on what appeared to be a fishing expedition. The other candidate for City Council is Lindy Peters. Peters is a long time local radio DJ who served 12 and ½ years on the Fort Bragg City Council beginning in 1992 (that election saw eleven candidates vying for just two seats).
Possibly because of the snub by the Mendocino Women's Political Coalition or just because he actually feels this way Peters issued the following statement a couple weeks back: “Hello Friends,
I am not taking any endorsements in my race for a seat on the Ft. Bragg City Council. I want to represent you the people, not any specific group who has an agenda they will expect me to uphold. I will not be beholden to anybody except the citizens of Ft. Bragg. I will not take any money from any large corporations for this exact same reason. I do not believe corporations are people and I was disappointed in the McCutcheon Supreme Court decision. All my donations are from individuals and all but 2 of them have been $99 or less. Do not rely on others to tell you how to vote or what I stand for. Please do me the courtesy of approaching me yourself ! I am a life long Democrat and not ashamed to say so. There seems to be a polarization forming in our city and I believe I am the best candidate to bring us all together. Isn't it exciting to have a hard fought election again in Ft. Bragg? … Had I not entered this election NONE of you would have been able to vote because there would not have been an election... 3 candidates + 3 seats = 0 election. Go to my Facebook page Lindy Peters for Ft. Bragg, CA. City Council. If you have a group of people who'd like me to make an appearance, please let me know. Let me address your questions. Let me explain my positions. Let me define my candidacy. Don't depend on others to do this for you. That is all I ask. And no matter who you support, please vote on November 4th!”
By this time Cimolino had been seen campaigning throughout town as well as attending civic meetings as did Peters. The Libs must have been getting in touch with their feelings of insecurity. At the Fort Bragg City Council meeting of September 22, the live-in partner of outgoing Council member Courtney, a Mr. Bob Bushansky, sidled to the podium during the public comments section of the meeting. Apparently reading from a prepared script, Bushansky stated, “One of the candidates for City Council says he does not represent special interests. That's a term in politics whereby a candidate or someone already in office will promote the interests of a person or a small group of people over the interests of a majority of the people.
“Doesn't it seem curious that realtor and developer Paul Clark, of Century 21, sent notices on Facebook or otherwise for people to come to his office on North Main Street to sign the nomination petition or leave a $99 check for Lindy Peters. What does Paul Clark expect in return?
“It should also be noted that Mike Cimolino also had his nomination petition at the Century 21 office for him and checks could be sent there or dropped off for him as well. On the back of each petition it states that only one person or circulator may evaluate, I'm sorry, may circulate the nomination paper, otherwise known as petition, per election codes 104, 10220, and 10222, [that] each candidate swears under penalty of perjury that they have personally witnessed the signature of each person who signed the petition. All five candidates have signed their petition forms. If two of the candidates left their forms at the Century 21 real estate office, did they really witness each person who signed their petition?”
The problem with this nitpicking utterance is the error within it. California Election Code 10222 actually says: “Every nomination paper shall have annexed an affidavit of the person who circulated it, to the effect that he or she saw written all the signatures appended thereto, and knows that they are the signatures of the persons whose names they purport to be.” In other words someone can circulate the nominating petition for the candidate, and that circulator then swears to the validity of the signatures.
Bushansky went on to insinuate that City Council members elected before 1998 (Peters was elected in 1992) were guilty of “questionable practices.” He cited the failure to follow through on low cost housing units in the Glass Beach housing project and the out-of-compliance North Cliff Motel as reasons why “reform” candidates were elected in 1998. Bushansky concluded by complimenting the current council and saying “We don't want to go back to the '90s.” His last sentence was a slightly re-worded echo, “We live in the 21st Century, not the 20th.”
All of this wouldn't have come up if Peters nor Cimolino hadn't upset the apple cart and dared to run against liberal darlings Kraut and Iacuaniello. Peters rose from the audience to immediately reply to Bushansky. Peters began by pointing out that Mayor Turner also has a large campaign sign on Paul Clark's property. Peters went on to report that immediately prior to the election of the three new Council members in 1998, City Attorney Tom Lonergan advised the City Council against getting involved in a lawsuit with the owner of the North Cliff Motel because of the potential high cost to the City's coffers and the uncertainty of winning such a lawsuit. After the 1998 election City Attorney Lonergan was let go/fired by the new council and the ensuing protracted legal battle over the North Cliff was lost with a cost to the City of Fort Bragg of more than seven million dollars. Peters pointed at Bushansky and mentioned him by name at this juncture.
Peters also noted that the Glass Beach development project preceded his tenure in office. He concluded by saying that a lot of dirt was being slung in this campaign. Sound familiar? When a viable middle of the road candidate became a serious challenger to Mendo-Lib's favorite son Dan Hamburg in 2010, plenty of pro-development, anti-environment mud was slung by similar self-professed “do-gooder” liberals. If you are not in there club, well, screw you seems to be their motto. Much the same pack of Lib-gabbers without facts pushed through Clayton Brennan to the Ten Mile Court judgeship some years back when we could have had Coast native and long time coastal attorney Jone Lemos. The Bushansky-ites backed Heidi Kraut a year ago in the special election to fill Dan Gjerde's seat. The most qualified candidate, Fort Bragg Planning Commission Chair Derek Hoyle was too independent-minded for the Mendo-Libber's endorsement. Besides his Planning Commission duties Hoyle had regularly attended City Council meetings for years. Kraut didn't begin attending City Council meetings until a month or two before the election. In her year in office Kraut has done little more than cheer-lead such obvious projects as the opening of a Coastal Trail on the old G-P mill site and tote her small child with her to Public Safety Committee meetings.
Cimolino also rose to rebuff Bushansky comments on Sept. 22nd, stating that he garnered the needed nominating petition signatures by driving around town for an hour and a half.
Hopefully, the voters of Fort Bragg are paying attention and will heed the actual words of the candidates at forums like the one the League of Women Voters put together on September 27th. As a callow youth who came of age in the era of Watergate I used to think it was only nasty arch conservative Republicans who played dirty tricks and fast and loose with the truth (besides Nixon and George W. see Saxby Chambliss's misrepresentation of Senator Max Cleland's war record), but on the Mendocino Coast recently and this year in Fort Bragg it's so-called progressives like Bushansky who are dealing from the bottom of the deck.