Political Climate with Mark Simon: Big money flowing into Redwood City council campaign

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Big money flowing into Redwood City council campaign

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate by

Big money has started to flow into the Redwood City Council campaign – most of it in support of community activist Jason Galisatus or in opposition to community advocate Diana Reddy.

The money in support of Galisatus has included $12,609 from the National Association of Realtors, including $11,300 in online advertisements.

The support of the national association clearly triggered another $11,000 from real estate-related interests, including $1,000 from the California Real Estate Political Action Committee, $3,000 from the Newmark commercial real estate firm and $1,000 from the California Apartment Association.

It is the Apartment Association that has made an independent expenditure of $9,632 for a mass mailing opposing the election of Reddy.

The mail piece dropped yesterday, a postcard asking, “Do you know the real Diana Reddy?” The piece also states, “Diana Reddy wants government to control your home.” Reddy, a long-time advocate for rent control, is described in the piece as being against private property and homeowner property rights and it says she “ran the local organization that tried to remove homeowner protections.”

In fact, Reddy was a leader of what is now Faith In Action, a grassroots, faith-based organization that long has advocated for tenant rights and protections, along with a longer list social justice and equity issues.

Reddy was a supporter of a 2016 ballot measure in Burlingame, Measure R, that sought to implement rent control, a measure that would have affected single-family homes available for rent.

She continues to support rent control and has said in campaign appearances that she supports the lifting of state law that restricts the ability of local governments to implement rent control.

As for the donations to Galisatus, a community relations representative at Stanford University, they are likely to be cited by his opponents as evidence that he is the favored candidate of development interests, although, in campaign appearances, his stated positions are in the mainstream of comments by all of the candidates: That additional growth is likely in the city, needs to be managed effectively and needs to emphasize a wide range of housing options.

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE: Development interests also are beginning to assert their presence in other campaign donations, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

The Western Housing Manufacturing Association gave $1,000 each to Incumbent Diane Howard, businesswoman Giselle Hale and Galisatus. … Harbor Village Mobile Home Park gave $2,500 each to Howard, Hale and Galisatus.

AT LONG LAST, A SLATE MAILER: Ever since the field of Redwood City candidates was set, there has been speculation, bordering on suspicion, that three of the candidates – Reddy, accountant Rick Hunter and small business owner Christina Umhofer – would run as a slate.

That sentiment was further fueled when the three and Planning Commissioner Ernie Schmidt recently held an ice cream social event organized by Umhofer and held at her home.

Asked about it, Hunter said, with some sign of frustration, “Why does everyone think there has to be a slate?

Well, there is one, it involves Hunter and Howard. It hit mailboxes yesterday in the form of a mail piece from four former mayors – Dick Claire, Georgi LaBerge, Barbara Pierce and Brent Britschgi – and their spouses, along with community leader Dee Eva and her husband, urging support for Howard and Hunter. The mail piece is paid for by Hunter and Howard.

MORE MONEY: From the last round of spending reports, there are some interesting matters worthy of note. Howard received almost 20 percent of her cash donations from people who listed their occupations as “retired.” … The Asian community is always a presence in politics and can be relied on to support members of their community, and they are doing so for Galisatus, who received $3,250 from donors with Asian surnames, not always an accurate measure of ancestry, admittedly. … Fox Theater executive Schmidt received $4,000 total from his former employers, Eric and Lori Lochtefeld. … I’m trying to think if I’ve ever had a boss who would give me $4,000.

NOT ABOUT REDWOOD CITY: Having moderated a recent debate between the four candidates for the Belmont City Council – incumbents Charles Stone, Warren Lieberman and Julia Mates, challenged by Deniz Bolbol for three seats – it is particularly strange to hear the principal argument made by Bolbol for her candidacy: The current council gets along too well.

In a city once so riven with disagreements that they had to hire a relationship counselor, it is more than a little odd to hear someone complain when the council is working together well. Sure, there’s an argument to be made for some dissent, but any unified council tends to get things done, usually because they’ve worked together to develop a consensus around which they can unify. To argue that a council needs someone to disagree for the sake of disagreement sounds pretty argumentative.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.

3 Comments

  1. VACANCY TAX: BETTER THAN RENT CONTROL

    Rent control doesn’t force owners to offer their properties “to let” at the allowed rent. Rent control doesn’t force land owners to build more housing. On the contrary, it discourages both, reducing the supply of housing and RAISING other rents. Exempting NEW buildings from rent control may avoid deterring construction, but it still doesn’t open up EXISTING buildings for tenants. Worse, it means that the stock of rent-controlled housing becomes a shrinking fraction of the whole housing stock — unless the exemption is only for a limited time, in which case you’re discouraging construction again!

    Will removing regulatory barriers to construction solve the problem? Not by itself, although it’s obviously a necessary condition. Cheaper housing requires developers, builders, and owners to increase supply to a point where it reduces their return on investment. They obviously won’t do that voluntarily. They will do it only if they are penalized for NOT doing it.

    SOLUTION: Put a punitive tax on vacant lots and unoccupied housing, so that the owners can’t afford NOT to build housing and seek tenants. By reducing the owners’ ability to tolerate vacancies, a vacancy tax strengthens the bargaining position of tenants and therefore reduces rents. It yields both an *immediate* benefit, by pushing existing dwellings onto the rental market, and a *long-term* benefit, by encouraging construction.

    Such a tax, by reducing the cost of housing, would make it easier for employers to pay workers enough to live on. A similar tax on commercial property would reduce rents for job-creating enterprises. That’s GOOD FOR BUSINESS and GOOD FOR WORKERS.

    A vacancy tax is also GOOD FOR REALTORS because they get more rental-management fees for properties coming onto the rental market, plus commissions from any owners who decided to sell vacant properties to owner-occupants (who of course don’t pay the tax).

    Best of all, the need to avoid the vacancy tax would initiate economic activity, which would expand the bases of other taxes, allowing their rates to be reduced, so that the rest of the city/state/country gets a tax cut!

  2. Mr. Simon – Your mention of donations to Jason Galisatus from people with Asian surnames strikes me as odd. When someone of Hispanic, Irish, German, British or other ancestry runs do you make similar observations? How much money has Jason Galisatus received from non-Asian donors? How much money have the other candidates received from donors with Asian surnames? Without all those data points, your comment means nothing and is a bit offensive. (By the way, I am half-Asian and I donate to candidates without regard to ancestry. Like most people, I take into account their positions on the issues.)

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