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An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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2018 pre-election reflections

Uploaded: Nov 1, 2018
Election Day is (finally) almost here. It’s a very important one nationally, the outcome of which may foretell whether President Trump will be reelected in 2020. A large turnout is predicted. It’s the most critical midterm election we have had in years. But I want to reflect on the state and local elections.

California voters -- Stanford University just released a poll, administered by the survey research firm YouGov and designed in conjunction with Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, showing that gun safety is the top concern among California voters. (In Florida it’s surprisingly not a big issue, even though a Parkland high school and Jacksonville arena shootings were a big issue this year.) Registered voters were also asked in the poll what are the most important problems facing this state. Immigration, said 42 percent, health care and education, each at 36 percent. But when asked what they perceived as the most important issue, only one in four (23 percent) said it was immigration. The poll showed that 83 percent of the 2,178 polled said they planned to vote. That is an amazing, but questionably reasonable estimate for this year, since midterm turnouts are typically in the 25 to 40 percent range. And the one other interesting finding, I thought, was, according to Stanford, “When broken down by party and gender affiliation, only 11 percent of both Democratic men and women thought that the #MeToo movement treated men unfairly versus 76 percent of Republican men and 68 percent of Republican women.

Measure – More than $10 million! That’s what the supporters and opponents of Measure F (and an identical Measure U in Livermore) have spent so far on getting Palo Alto (67,000) and Livermore residents (around 90,000) to convince them that Measures F and U should win/or/lose. The measures were put on the ballots by the SEIU union and the United Healthcare Workers union. It calls for capping health care charges from hospitals and clinics -- and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and all local dentists and doctors to 15 percent over what the union thought should be charged. And the two cities would be required to oversee all these costs—every charge to every patient all year long – an overwhelming requirement for Palo Alto city staff with no health care pricing experience. As of Oct. 20, the union's campaign committee had spent $6 million in support of Measure F and Measure U (the Livermore measure). The hospitals, for their part, have spent $4.9 million as of Oct. 20 to combat the two measures.

Campaign mailings – Since August, for some stupid compulsive reason, I’ve kept all the campaign mailings sent to my home – and they are still arriving daily. Since I’ve expressed my views on some candidates, my name may have been crossed off some candidate mailing lists. But the tally is as follows: In the Palo Alto City Council race Alison Cormack, five mailings; Eric Filseth, four; Tom DuBois, one and Cory Wolbach, one. Midpeninsula Open Space – Greg Scharff, five; Karen Holman, one. Measure F – 19 mailers! 14 urging “No on F”, five a “yes.”

Campaign donations – The amount candidates have raised during their campaigns is uncomfortably escalating. In the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space district race, candidate Greg Scharff loaned more than $100,000 to his campaign and received several thousands from supporters. Holman received more than $7,000 from supporters – but these are not the final figures. This is a relatively inconspicuous board, compared to the city council, upon which they both served, but I guess if a person wants to stay in an elected office, then s/he has to look around to see which seats are vacant in 2018 and plan accordingly. And in the Palo Alto Council race, four out of five candidates have been given more than $50,000 each in donations, with incumbent Cory Wolbach getting the most money. Local newspapers did not endorse him. It will be interesting to see, again, if bigger donations can help a candidate win.

Do vote on Tuesday!
What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

 +   6 people like this
Posted by margaret heath, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

From the financial reporting period a week ago, the last one before the election.

Karen Holman has raised almost $34,000 from numerous supporters. Holman gave $250 to her campaign.

Greg Scharff has raised almost $6,000 from a handful of supporters. Scharff has given himself over $121,000.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by margaret heath, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Nov 2, 2018 at 1:37 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

Measure F also requires the city of Palo Alto to fund an entirely new department to administer the proposed measure F program. The initial cost to the city for the first year has been estimated to be approximately $2,000,000. The staff of this Palo Alto department would then review each claim. Not sure how many of us want city staff to review our medical claims!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Nov 2, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Thanks Diana, for confessing to being stupid and compulsive re saving campaign mailings, but I'm sure you're not alone, and you are being too hard on yourself. You are not stupid and not compulsive by my definition of the word. But, yes, sometimes you may seem overzealous or passionate about things/issues, and that's okay. You are not alone. Keep up the good work.

"four out of five candidates have been given more than $50,000 each in donations, with incumbent Cory Wolbach getting the most money. Local newspapers did not endorse him. It will be interesting to see, again, if bigger donations can help a candidate win".

Yes, it will be interesting and it's been interesting to watch how each candidate has spent their campaign money. Cory has had several video clips on Facebook, one with him standing by, but not hugging thank goodness, El Palo Alto, which he made reference to in the video. A beloved tree in the past by many of our dearly departed, and now very old population, but how many millennials have ever heard of it and would ever get excited about the story and history surrounding it? My thought...it's been trying to die for decades, and almost looks dead already, so let it go. It makes no sense to bring that tree up in any discussions about grade separation solutions in PA.

Although Cory didn't get newspaper endorsements I wouldn't count him out. He has PAF support as well as from his mentor, Liz Kniss, and his team knows how to run a campaign, even when their candidate has had some unfavorable comments in the press and from commenters online. If he and his supporters are truly knocking on doors, like he says, that is a powerful tool. Most people throw away campaign flyer ads, but if you had someone knock on your door and be willing to spend time to talk to you about issues, you would remember their face and name when it came time to vote.

I am curious and puzzled by the Palintir and PAF (doubt if there's one Republican in that group) bedfellow connection in light of the fact that Thiel supports Trump and plans to support him again in 2020.

I guess a bigger question is how many registered voters read the local newspapers, or go to candidate forums, watch the Weekly's sponsored candidate TV interviews online or regular CC Monday night meetings available on cable TV Channel 26 or online on Mid-Peninsula Media. Again, and I repeat my mantra, don't count signs stuck in the ground on shopping area corners or front lawns.

And yes, I would urge people to vote, but not everyone...only those who have studied the issues and candidates and really understand who and why they're voting the way they do. Sign counters...STAY HOME!!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 2, 2018 at 2:25 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Margaret --
Thanks for the update campaign contribution in fo on Holman and Scharff. Appreciate it!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Arnold D Pigg, a resident of Green Acres,
on Nov 3, 2018 at 10:04 am

Several comments above about political purchases, errr, "donations".

Perhaps it's time to revisit how Maine and Arizona do it - public financing of elections.

Who loves it most in Blue Maine? Republicans.

Who loves it most in Red Arizona? Democrats.

hmmmmm....


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Better Bond - NO on Z, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 3, 2018 at 9:40 pm

@Diana,
This is an interesting take. I wonder what you think about the donations to the Yes on Z campaign. There's probably no chance that a request for money from the schools will be rejected by voters here, no matter how vague it is or how poorly the district performs the last time it promised something through a ballot measure. And no one is going to stand up publicly against a Measure, no matter how right the No people were the last time. (It's worth reading about what ordinary citizens were saying on the last tax -- they weren't saying NO to funding the schools, they were saying no to a measure that wasn't likely to be spent well, and they were right. And yet that ballot won by like 85%. People said things like "If you kill Measure A, you are hurting every single student." But then the things it promised to be done, to be spent on, never were -- where was the community to make sure the students weren't hurt after all that?)
Web Link

So here we are with a money ask from the district that almost can't fail no matter how poorly the thing is structured and over $130,000 was donated to the campaign. Not by any ordinary citizens, but by the parties who most stand to gain from having a big pot of money to play with with almost no strings.
Web Link

All the same disturbing trends that got us fleeced over Measure A and nothing done when the opposition's warning all came true, are present here in Measure Z.

People should vote NO and

-Ask the district to plan out what will happen and get rough estimates, THEN ask for the money
-Set up a donation campaign first (if the bond comes first, people tend not to donate as much)
-Plan for what we are going to do with Cubberley so it can be included in the next bond
-Make sure the next bond is specific about what will be done and for about how much, even if part of the ask is openly non-specific, at least we know what will for sure get done.

If people in this district want to keep getting fleeced, they should not keep making everyone pay for these pots of money with no plan. That's NOT good for the schools.




 +   4 people like this
Posted by Local, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 5, 2018 at 8:43 am

I wish instead of Measure F, that the SEIU had written a proposal to create an independent office of Ombudsman, someone who is paid through the City but who works for the community, with one person to resolve problems with overcharging and care quality problems at Stanford and local medical offices, and one with the power to force the school district to due the right things for local students and families so they don't have to escalate things to state and federal levels. (The current culture means that only the most hardy and well-connected/well-resourced get what they need.)

I recently ended up shuffled through a process at Stanford resulting in my being charged thousands of dollars all the while protesting that's not what my doctor ordered. I felt like a hostage. No one listened to me or communicated. That situation wouldn't even be covered by Prop F, because the insurance company paid.

I would say vote no on Prop F, the system isn't going to be fixed by more bureaucracy, consumers and patients need powerful advocates, and we need to fix the incentives.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Nov 5, 2018 at 10:27 am

>> I recently ended up shuffled through a process at [...] {could be any hospital} resulting in [...] thousands of dollars all the while protesting that's not what my doctor ordered. I felt like a hostage. No one listened to me or communicated. That situation wouldn't even be covered by Prop F,

>> because the insurance company paid.

Stated very succinctly. I've been charged for unnecessary things at some medical facilities, and, it was of no concern to the insurance company, while being denied certain things that were directly ordered by my doctor because the insurance plan had its own recommendations.

The ombuds proposal is something that could actually work to make things better.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by ADHD voter, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards,
on Nov 5, 2018 at 10:44 am

>>>> I recently ended up shuffled through a process at [...] {could be any hospital} resulting in [...] thousands of dollars all the while protesting that's not what my doctor ordered. I felt like a hostage. No one listened to me or communicated.



Nothing to see here.

No change needed.

Rulllly, don't vote for change.

We need perfect, not a change to just 'better'.

Move along.

Carry on.

Look over there! Squirrel!


 +   4 people like this
Posted by DataNotNeeded, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 5, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Diana - any thoughts on the large sums of money coming in to our Council election for Wolbach and Cormack, either directly or indirectly through PACS? I'm very concerned about the influence of Unions and special interest groups are having on our local election.

DuBois and Filseth have nearly all their money raised from residents in Palo Alto - and no developer, lobbyist groups or unions that I know of.

After the election we sorely need campaign finance reform.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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