Another Record Shattered

It’s not the direction that I was hoping to see things move, but when I notice a pattern, it’s impossible not to see where the pattern repeats. 

When Daniel Lee won his seat on the council, I was totally exasperated with his change of position on an issue at that first City Council meeting. I declared that no one had ever broken faith with their voters so quickly.

But then – the next election cycle saw Albert Vera, Jr. wearing a ‘Blue Lives Matter” bracelet as he raised his hand to be sworn in, an absolute contradiction of statements he had made campaigning, and declared him the new record holder. Not breaking faith with voters on his first meeting, but in the process of accepting his office. would seem that there’s no way to top that one…

…but wait: 

Dan O’Brien, the projected first place winner of the 2022 council contest, has managed to break faith with voters even before the votes have been certified. A new record. A new high in lowness. A rock bottom moment. But there’s an old saying “When you think you’ve hit bottom, there’s a bottom below.”

After years of community involvement, volunteering in multiple organizations, putting his name on issues like hunger and homelessness,  O’Brien accepted the financial support of a PAC funded by a real estate developer. It’s like someone who trained for the Olympics for a decade, and then, on the eve of the games, decided the steroids were just fine; bring on the performance-enhancing drugs. 

Why O’Brien would decide to simply throw away his reputation as a community activist to take up the banner of being a corporate rights advocate is more than disappointing. It’s a package that says caring about community is fine, until someone offers to buy out your brand. 

Jon Stewart, noted comedian and public intellectual has observed, “If you don’t stick to your values when they ‘re being tested, they’re not values – They’re hobbies.” 

But the bottom below? The firm putting out the avalanche of mailers to hoist O’Brien into office opted to take a quote out of context, (the comment was about displacement, not mass murder) and misinterpret it to the point that they had framed a person of Jewish ethnicity as a ‘Holocaust minimizer.’ (Like, what even is THAT?) 

The bottom below that? The resounding silence of all the people who found nothing objectionable in this ridiculous smear. O’Brien had stated that he was proud to have the endorsements of former council members. So, Mr. Cooper, Mr. Weissman No objection to this?  Crickets?

If using this Orwellian double-speak anti-semitism as a way to attack a political candidate works, then you can be sure we have not seen the last of it. Expect it to come back even bigger on the next election. Because this is not about serving the community, it’s just about winning. If anti-semitism wins votes, people desperate for power will use it. 

The only refutation of this truly disgusting piece of propaganda came from Denice Renteria, who sent out a statement that her campaign did not okay this, did not approve of this and would not stand with it.

Some people have values that are not hobbies. 

The thing about selling your soul, is that there’s very few options to buy it back. Especially at these prices. All told, it looks like the Political Action Committee to Elect Dan O’Brien and Denice Renteria put just under $500,000 into the tall pile of propaganda that clogged mailboxes for a solid month. 

The silver lining here is that, without any corporate funding or smearing of opponents, the voters also chose to elect Freddy Puza. Because you can be elected to public office without selling out. Voters can expect that Puza will be representing the things he believes in, and the things they voted for, not making someone else’s financial chess moves for them. 

It’s time for this pattern to shift. Because the only way this get worse is if the next council candidate does something heinous while filing the papers to run for office. 

Judith Martin-Straw





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