Desperate Allison campaign engulfed in scandal
As her rhetoric grows more shrill and her opponent racks up endorsements, the Aimee Allison campaign for City Council is growing desperate. From tearing down lawn signs throughout District 2 to recruiting volunteers from San Francisco (for whom "Love Oakland" is merely "optional"), Allison clearly hopes that a last-minute barrage of extremism will make up for her utter failure to connect with District 2 voters (or perhaps she just wants to go out with a bang). Unfortunately for her, a rising tide of scandal is marring her message.
While Matier and Ross's investigation into Allison's business taxes has received little coverage in the East Bay press, she has certainly suffered a serious black eye in the minds of political junkies. Either she's failed to pay taxes for four years (as she claims, paying $200 after the Chronicle contacted her for comment), or she does not actually operate a business and is lying about her resume (which I think is more likely). Either way, it's more ammunition for Pat Kernighan's extremely successful phone-banking effort.
The growing furor over the Allison campaign's sign wars has disgusted many residents of District 2. This scandal has fomented for months, as Ken Katz points out on his blog at the Grand Lake Guardian (whose comments are a useful look at what District 2 is thinking). Two friends of mine, about two months ago, separately told me that Aimee Allison's young campaign manager attempted to berate them into posting signs at their workplaces on Lakeshore. One friend characterized the operative as "pushy" and "obnoxious," and said that she left a trail of venemous insults in her wake when her signs were rebuffed. While these signage battles have been high-profile, they rise to the level of scandal when one realizes that Allison has three times signed documents acknowledging that posting campaign materials on public property is illegal, yet her flyers are posted on and chained to lightpoles immediately around her campaign office (among other places). Pat Kernighan's campaign say they have been calling the Public Works Department daily for the signs' removal, yet the department refuses to act. Interestingly, the only letter written to the Trib in Allison's favor was by the head of the city employees' union.
A federal judge struck down Oakland's unfair and overly restrictive campaign finance rules on Friday, freeing up OakPAC to send mailers throughout the city attacking Allison and City Auditor Roland Smith (and hopefully supporting Measure N). Allison is trying to make some hay out of it, as her leftist supporters are completely opposed to free speech for business interests. On her "blog" this weekend she writes, "We cannot – and will not – allow a special interest group to buy this election." What about Allison's huge support from the city employees' unions, non-profit activist organizations seeking city grants, and sundry SF-based leftist political groups? Those certainly sound like special interests to me. It is yet another demonstration of Allison's extremism that she considers a coalition of Oakland merchants and businesses to be unworthy of First Amendment protection. Additionally, her blog fallaciously claims that Pat Kernighan "support(s) efforts to weaken (the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2000)." Kernighan not only supports this unfair law (which saddles new organizations with lower contribution limits than established PACs), but also favors the even more clearly unconstitutional Prop 89. Once again, Allison lies about her opponent's positions, attempting to place herself as a "progressive" in a race against a liberal.
Another issue on which Allison attempts to draw a false contrast with Kernighan is over so-called inclusionary zoning, which was fortunately defeated last week at the City Council. Pat voted for this law despite unanimous developer opposition, utterly flawed language, and specific provisions that hurt District 2. This demonstrates again that Pat is already a lefty, and all Allison would do is add rigidity to the ideological balance of the council. Aimee Allison did show up at the IZ meeting to pass out her fliers, but didn't speak or even observe the contentious meeting. Her campaign manager was dressed for a cocktail party, and their campaigning appearance at City Hall was similarly inappropriate.