News


Questions abound over anonymous campaign mailer

Mailer appears targeted, in more ways than one

An anonymous mailer urging recipients to vote for the three female candidates for Palo Alto's school board went out to an unknown number of local homes this week, creating a stir due to its negative tone and apparent targeting of one candidate.

Titled "We Can Do Better ... School Board Candidates ... Vote For The Women," the one-page mailer includes five bullet points extolling the professional and school-related experiences of Gina Dalma, Catherine Crystal Foster (whose maiden name is misspelled throughout) and Terry Godfrey -- while at the same time characterizing candidate Ken Dauber negatively.

All three women have denied having anything to do with the mailer, and Dalma was the only of the three to actually receive it. Foster and Godfrey said not only did they not receive it, neither did any of their campaign members or supporters from whom they've heard.

"I was so disappointed," Dalma told the Weekly on Tuesday, the day the mailer arrived. In a follow up letter to the community, she added: "I publicly repudiate support deriving from any individual or group that resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponents, to the methods and tactics which I condemn, as this mailer does."

"I can say to you with 1,000 percent certainty, I have nothing to do with this," Foster said. "I have never heard of this before. ... That's not the way I do business. That's not the way my campaign does business."

Godfrey wrote in an email that, "At this point it seems like a prank, and I don't want to call attention to it with a response to something only a handful of people have seen."

The mailer's five bullet points, which conclude with, "If you are looking for clear, informed and intelligent decisions for our students, VOTE for: Catherine Chrystal Foster -- Terry Godfrey -- Gina Dalma," are listed under the title, "What Palo Alto Weekly Won't Tell You."

Each of the first three bullet points of the mailer start by making a negative reference about Dauber -- without naming him -- and then offering a piece of positive information about each of the female candidates. We Can Do Better is also the name of the group Dauber co-founded in 2011.

"While others have been attending all the school board meetings lashing out against the current Board members on any program they are considering, Gina Dalma has been leading the education portfolio for SVCF (Silicon Valley Community Foundation) where she heads the regional effort to support Silicon Valley school districts to adopt the new Common Core State standards and is a leading public advocate for educational excellence for all students in our region," one bullet point reads.

Dauber, who also got the mailer and denied any knowledge of its origins, refuted the piece's claim.

"On the contrary," he told the Weekly in an email. "I've successfully worked with the board for years to make progress on issues like homework policy, modifying high school graduation requirements to ensure that all graduates are college-ready, changing the calendar to provide pre-break finals for our high school students, and many others."

Questions about the mailer remain, including whether it was sent by someone truly advocating for the female candidates or someone wanting to cast those candidates in a negative light.

Foster wondered if it was a "stunt from a rogue supporter" of Dauber's campaign, designed to generate bad publicity.

"My campaign does not stoop to negative or anonymous campaigning," she wrote in an email. "I am running on a strong, positive message, an extensive record of service to children and the community, and an unmatched breadth and depth of support from community members and elected officials alike."

But Dauber denied it could be from his supporters.

"I'm surprised to hear that kind of speculation," he said. "I don't believe any supporter of mine would send a mailer making false statements about me, and I am going to refrain from any public speculation at all about who is behind it."

It's also unclear how many people have received the mailer -- numerous community members whom the Weekly reached out to had not -- but if more than 200, the mass mailing would be considered illegal under election law governed by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) due to its anonymity.

The mailer has no signature, indication who paid for it or return address. It carried a San Francisco postmark of Oct. 11 with a first class stamp.

Dauber said if it indeed went out to more than 200 people, he would support an investigation.

Foster said she wouldn't call for an investigation of the mailer at a point when few people have reported receiving it.

"This is trivial and stupid, and I don't want to waste public dollars pursuing it," she wrote in an email. "If this grows into something more significant, I will reassess then."

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Unless you know it was sent to more than 200 people, who cares? [Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Andrea Wolf
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 16, 2014 at 1:18 pm

The idea that the mailer was sent out by a "rogue supporter" from Mr. Dauber's campaign is beyond insulting, especially considering the campaign of whispers and innuendo that was made against him in the last school board campaign. Now, Ms. Foster is actually suggesting that one of his supporters may be responsible for this letter? Isn’t that simply another method of slandering this candidate and his supporters? Speculating that one of your opposing candidates supporters may have done this as a "way to generate bad publicity" is going negative, Ms Foster. It is most certainly not running "on a strong positive message." Furthermore, it is not a message to the community that you will work "collaboratively" with whichever of the other candidates wins, should you win a seat on the board.

Ken Dauber is a local citizen and parent who has worked for at least three solid years to improve the lives and education of our children. Rather than characterizing this anonymous letter as "trivial and stupid," Ms. Foster would be better advised to follow Ms. Dalma's lead and condemn the flier outright without speculating on its motivations and origins.


Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm

> Ms. Foster would be better advised to follow Ms. Dalma's lead and
> condemn the flier outright without speculating on its motivations and origins.

Wonder what the candidates would be saying if the person, or persons, responsible for the mailer were to come forward and identify themselves?

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Fundraising stunt?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 16, 2014 at 2:28 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Does anyone really pay attention to anonymous campaign mailers? I doubt this will have any effect on the election.


4 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

@resident: If they weren't effective, they wouldn't be distributed, would they now?


2 people like this
Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2014 at 3:29 pm

It is unfortunate and revealing that Ms Crystal Foster would consider underhanded and unethical politics "trivial and stupid."

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Fundraising stunt?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Facts, please!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Board observer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 16, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Yes, facts please. Dozens of people have reported receiving the mailer, not three. And the fundraising letter was sent a day and a half later, not within hours. Every political campaign uses hit pieces against it to fundraise. They're crazy if they don't. But to suggest the candidate who has most to lose sent it in the first place is ludicrous.


Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 16, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Another weird thing about the mailer as reported (I haven't seen a copy) is that it is urging people to vote for three candidates in a race where there are only two open seats. Is this just carelessness -- such as misspelling one of the candidate's name? If recipients were to vote for three, that over-vote would mean that none of their votes would be counted in that race. To my knowledge, encouraging over-voting is a very uncommon piece of campaign trickery/fraud.
Aside: About 85% of the voters are likely to use Vote-by-Mail ballots and there are no mechanisms to discourage over-voting.
Request: Please don't comment that people who can't follow directions and over-vote don't deserve to have their votes counted.


5 people like this
Posted by Janis Hom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Janis Hom is a registered user.

Catherine Crystal Foster is running a campaign that is notable for its consistently positive character and message. During this entire campaign, she has never said anything negative about any other candidate. Further, she has urged her supporters to follow her example of integrity and leadership.

Of all the candidates in this campaign, she is the one that has been most frequently quoted out of context and misrepresented. I hope Palo Alto voters will do just a bit of research to uncover what her real positions are. This anonymous forum does not represent any candidates' positions accurately.


5 people like this
Posted by parent2
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 16, 2014 at 5:59 pm

parent2 is a registered user.

I got the flyer. I live in College Terrace. Two of my neighbors got it, one did not. It's addressed "Resident," like junk mail. I don't think that Dauber is sending out stuff unfairly attacking himself. I think Foster comes off VERY badly for making that remark with no proof -- just blaming the victim based on nothing. And let's not investigate? Wha? Seems pretty flip for someone who wants to be on the board. You would think someone who wants to be an elected official would say that we should take our laws seriously.


7 people like this
Posted by Paly Mom 2
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 16, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Paly Mom 2 is a registered user.

I was shocked by Foster calling this incident "stupid." That just isn't appropriate language for a board member or an elected official. I can't recall hearing even Nancy Shepard say something like that, even when she called the voters bullies, she didn't call their concerns "stupid." Is that the kind of language she is going to use to talk about other board members or community members when she doesn't agree with them? I have never heard that kind of language from an elected person. "stupid."

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Jason S.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Jason S. is a registered user.

So let me make sure I understand this. Someone sends out an anonymous letter supporting Dalma, Godfrey, and Foster, and implicitly criticizing Dauber (though not mentioning him by name). But this letter doesn’t actually go to very many people [portion removed.]

And to make it even odder, within 24 hours of word of the mailer getting out, my wife received an email from Dauber's campaign asking her to donate to the campaign to help fend off anonymous hit pieces. All of a sudden the idea that the anonymous hit piece that wasn’t actually sent to voters might have been written by someone trying to pull a prank or by a rogue supporter of Dauber doesn’t seem far-fetched. Possible that everyone got fooled here!

I recommend that everyone settle down, stop making hysterical comments attacking one candidate or another over this, and focus on the issues that matter to PAUSD students. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by proud pausd mom
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 16, 2014 at 9:45 pm

proud pausd mom is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

As a resident of PA and a huge supporter of our school district I encourage voters to PLEASE research your facts and do not get influenced by the PA weekly article or comments that are accusing alternative candidates.
There is no reason for candidates to get vicious and point fingers. This is a race to elect board members for our school we need members who can stick to the law and be honest and truthful. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by peppered
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2014 at 9:53 pm

peppered is a registered user.

You can bet Dauber is not stupid enough to spend money on a mailer attacking himself and pushing his opponents.

That Foster blamed this on a Dauber supporter with no basis whatsoever. That she failed to condemn it (while withholding opinion on the OCR matter) speaks volumes about her values -- or lack thereof.


Like this comment
Posted by peppered
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2014 at 9:57 pm

peppered is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by proud pausd mom
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 16, 2014 at 10:01 pm

proud pausd mom is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2014 at 10:22 pm

village fool is a registered user.

There is nothing new under the sun (and behind closed doors).

These issues were discussed many times, especially after the OCR investigations became public knowledge.

I wrote here Web Link more than a year ago about the previous elections:

"
..
The stories you heard about dirty politics, if true, can not be water under the bridge. Those tactics, if true, did not come out of nowhere. It seems to me that there is a culture and atmosphere that enable these occurrences...

But those occurrences, if true, are possible/can thrive only in an atmosphere that marginalize those who do not conform with the majority.
...
"

This is about a public education system where speaking one's mind or being different (or both) is viewed by many (including this board moderators) as uncivil.
Sadly, it all goes back to the kids who know exactly how difficult it is to be different, the questions that are not to be asked, the words that are not to be spoken. And so it continues.


1 person likes this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:23 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.


Yes. This sounds like 'South Carolina' political tricks.

Let us not get fooled by these events.

Remember, in Palo Alto, we are smarter.

Cut the chase, and read the voter information pamphlet, and others to exercise your opportunity to pick the best candidates.

Respectfully


Like this comment
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 18, 2014 at 10:08 am

Reason is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Reason
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 18, 2014 at 11:22 am

Reason is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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

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