You Can't Always Get What You Want

Good news, first:  The city will ask Judge Klausner to lift his restraining order on our February 7 recall election.  Bad news:  The election date will be much later than I would have hoped.  Also, nothing is certain until Judge Klausner actually does lift his restraining order and our city council allows the recall election to be reinstated.


The details, and some complaints:

By a 3-1 vote, Rosemead City Council voted to seek clarification from Judge Klausner in the case of Imperial v. Castruita.  Voting in the majority were councilmembers Nunez, Tran, and Clark; voting against was Mayor Gary Taylor.  Councilman Jay Imperial was prohibited from voting because he is a party to the suit against the city.

So, in a sense, it's a victory.  But I suppose it says something about the kind of experience we've been having with our city council that when they do what they really don't have any good reason not to do, it's still a fight and still a partial victory.  I had held out hope that we could get our recall election consolidated with the June primary.  But apparently the logistics of getting the ballots printed will not allow that.  Instead, the city will ask Judge Klausner to tell the city to set our recall election sometime between August 15 and September 19.  That means Jay and Gary get to enjoy six to seven months longer in office than they deserve, and I have to admit that I am not happy with that.

It did not help that we at the city council meeting had to sit still and listen to Gary drag out the old dog and pony show about how the referendum petitions were not literally tossed into a trash can.  Why he thinks that using a figure of speech ought to be illegal is beyond me.  I am especially perplexed because of Gary's own casual relationship with the law.

During the summer of 2005, while SOC-YOR volunteers were going door-to-door in their quest to qualify the February 7 recall election, several mass-mailers went out to Rosemead voters.  Some were correctly identified as being sent by so-called Rosemead PRIDE [read--Mike Lewis and Wal-Mart].  Others, however, purported to be sent by Jay Imperial and Gary Taylor.  Those mailers were not merely misleading.  They were, in fact, undisputably illegal.

That's because, although Rosemead PRIDE paid for those mailers, they did not identify themselves as the senders.  Yet state law is very clear on this point:  All mass mailers MUST identify the sender, by which it is meant the person or committee who paid for the mailer.  And this identification MUST occur on the outside of the envelope containing the material.

In the case of these Rosemead PRIDE mailers, the "sender" was incorrectly identified as Jay Imperial and Gary Taylor, respectively.  BUT THEY'RE NOT THE ONES WHO PAID FOR THOSE MAILER [either that, or both Gary and Jay filed false information with the state Fair Political Practices Commission].  If Gary Taylor wants to get someone prosecuted for violating election laws, he ought to look in the mirror.  He and Jay attend Rosemead PRIDE meetings regularly, so neither can credibly plead ignorance when Rosemead PRIDE breaks the law.  Also, both Jay and Gary have decades of experience running as politicians.  And Rosemead PRIDE is run by Mike Lewis, an out-of-town hired gun that is no stranger to national and state campaigns.  None of the three can claim that the "oversight" of identifying the sender was anything other than an intentional decision to try to mislead the voters of Rosemead about who was paying for those mailers.

And don't even get me started on the distortions [and slander] that the actual text of the mailers contained.

This is yet another example of Wal-Mart and their contractors blatantly flaunting the law and suffering absolutely no consequences.  Money talks, and Wal-Mart, as the world's largest retailer, speaks louder than anyone.

Do something about it.

Well Todd, if you say that Gary and Jay, and Wal-Mart are breaking the law, do something about it. You're always talking about how bad they are and how they're always breaking the law, I guess what I'm trying to say is "Put up, or shut up!"

Do something about it.

Here are the laws and regulations applicable to the mass mailings in question:


Political Reform Act, 2006

California Government Code, sec. 84205 (in part)

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), no candidate or committee shall send a mass mailing unless the name, street address, and city of the candidate or committee are shown on the outside of each piece of mail in the mass mailing and on at least one of the inserts included within each piece of mail of the mailing. . . .

(b) If the sender of the mass mailing is a single candidate or committee, the name, street address, and city of the candidate or committee need only be shown on the outside of each piece of mail.


Regulations of the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Title 2, Div 6, CA Code of Regulations

sec. 18435. Definition of Mass Mailing and Sender (in part)

(a) A "mass mailing" has been made when over two hundred substantially similar pieces of mail have been sent within a calendar month.

(b) The sender, as used in Government Code Section 84305, is the candidate or committee who pays for the largest portion of expenditures attributable to the designing, printing, and posting of the mailing which are reportable under Government Code Sections 84200-84217.


Last month, I asked both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Imperial about these mailings, and both denied having paid for them.. Last night (May 9), I again asked the two councilmen about these mailings. I also provided photocopies of the mailings in question, to be certain that there would be no ambiguity. Both times, Mr. Taylor acknowledged that, although only his name and return address appeared on the outside of the envelope, he did not pay for the mailings. The FPPC form 460 (on which committees must itemize their expenditures and contributions) that Mr. Taylor filed for the period July 1 - December 2005 similarly show no expenditures on behalf of his reelection campaign during the period in question. So if he *did* pay for the mailings, he broke the law by not reporting the mailings. And if he did not pay for the mailings (and I do not believe he did) then the actual sender of the mailings (the person or committee that paid for the mass mailing) broke the law because they did not identify themself on the outside of the envelope.


The same would go for Mr. Imperial. Either he broke the law by not reporting the expenditure for the mailing, or the committee that actually paid for the mailing broke the law by not properly disclosing on the outside of the envelope that they were paying for this mailing.


So who is responsible for these indisputably illegal mass mailings? So-called Rosemead PRIDE. The number of the postal meter used to send the letter that is ostensibly from Imperial has the same number as the meter used to mail Rosemead PRIDE material from earlier that summer. And both the Imperial and Taylor mailings included a postcard to be sent back to Rosemead PRIDE for people wishing to have their names removed from the recall petitions.


Why would so-called Rosemead PRIDE break the law? First, they were trying (as they have throughout this campaign) to present the illusion of grassroots support for themselves and their candidates. Rather than have all the mailings come from out of town, they wanted it to look like Taylor and Imperial were themselves stepping up to the plate. Second, they were obviously hoping that no one would notice they were breaking the law as they attempted to create this appearance of grassroots support. After all, they knew that the FPPC 460 forms for expenditures made in July and August 2005 would not need to be reported until January 31, 2006. That would be just a week before the recall election was scheduled, so it was unlikely that anyone would be able to expose their duplicity before the voters of Rosemead went to the polls.


But let us not excuse Taylor and Imperial for the lawlessness of Rosemead PRIDE. After all, both Taylor and Imperial do take credit for the content of the letters sent out over their names. And both Imperial and Taylor attend so-called PRIDE meetings regularly. It is laughable to contend that they had no knowledge of the mailings. We may thus conclude that Imperial and Taylor willfully and deliberately conspired with Mike Lewis and Rosemead PRIDE to break the election laws and the political disclosure laws of the state of California.


I have passed this information along to the appropriate authorites.  Unfortunately, the appropriate authorities are either underfunded or are not willing to take the sort of aggressive action I would like to see.  Their files are still open, however, so perhaps, eventually, justice will be served.


In the meantime, if there are Wal-Mart sock puppets who don’t want to admit that their favorite city council members have been caught breaking the laws of the state of California, well, then, it is their turn to "put up or shut up." Have I misquoted the laws and regulations applicable to these mailers? Have I misread the postal meter numbers on the envelopes? Do you not yourself (if you are a registered voter in Rosemead) recall receiving these same mailers in July and August 2005, with the return addresses of Taylor and Imperial, even though they both have admitted that they did not pay for these mailers? By all means, put up or shut up.