The makeup of the recently announced 2016 slate for the Jumpstart political action committee contained little in the way of surprises. What raised eyebrows was mayoral candidate Landis Graden’s attempt to spin the political network most directly responsible for the dysfunctional status quo into the role of change agents in this election. We need to consider what direction this change he's talking about might take.
Does he mean changing back to the days before Measure A when binding arbitration cost the City more than it could afford in public safety employee contracts? In the run up to the last election outside public safety union PAC money poured into Jumpstart’s coffers, and the Napa Solano Labor Council was asking candidates seeking their endorsement if they would favor undoing Measure A to bring back binding arbitration.
Are we talking about going back to recent times when our LGBT neighbors could be talked about at pseudo-civic public events as though they’re second class citizens? The 2013 Jumpstart slate included a pastor with a history of homophobic statements, and the Jumpers elected that year form the current working majority with Mayor Davis. Our current Mayor hosted an annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast that repeatedly served as a public platform for backward-looking opponents of policies like gay marriage. It appears that Jumpstart is determined to try and paint reform advocates in this cycle as divisive troublemakers. Does Mr. Graden think the Mayor's prayer breakfasts have been divisive by mingling church with state and providing a platform for bigoted public statements against gay marriage? Would he continue that practice?
Maybe more Jumpstart leadership would foster change in the sense of turning back the clock to return heavy industry to our waterfront, and promote the kind of economic development that would follow dredging a marine superhighway the length of the Mare Island Strait. The secret ad hoc Mare Island Straits Economic Development Committee that regularly met with the Orcem/VMT applicants long before the draft environmental report became public was born out of Jumpstart. Their clandestine plans to entice the Army to resume deep dredging in our Strait would threaten to turn our waterfront into a version of Stockton or west Oakland. The invitation-only committee was organized and chaired by Councilmember Malgapo, and joined by fellow Jumpstarters Pippin Dew-Costa and Rozzanna Verder-Aliga. Zell and Associates, the Orcem consultant that represents clients like the Richmond refinery, made a contribution to Jumpstart earlier this year.
Mr. Malgapo is a political protege of Mr. Sunga, who served two terms on the Council leading up to the City’s bankruptcy and sat out the 2013 election because of term limits. Sunga is joined on the 'new’ recycled Jumpstart slate this round by Council incumbent Verder-Aliga, who presided over a school board caught flatfooted by the financial collapse and bankruptcy of our school district in 2004. This is the change slate? It’s going to take a lot more than putting a new face in front to sell that one. No, this is more like an attempt to lock in the status quo.
All the Jumper talk this cycle about pushing past division is so much cynical rhetoric. The new Jumpstart slate showed that clearly by deciding to avoid a well-attended public forum scheduled months in advance to talk to mostly empty tables at a hastily scheduled competing event instead. Not all the candidates were even invited to the event they chose to attend.
Luckily, we don’t need to Jump back. We have a set of independent candidates united in their desire to form a new working majority and take Vallejo in a new direction. Each of these leaders has been working in the trenches for decades to make our community a better place for all its residents, whether connected to a political network or not. These are the people who have demonstrated over years of service that they won’t play along to get along. They are the true agents for positive change for our future in this election. Join us in voting for Bob Sampayan for Mayor; and Liat Mietzenheimer, Mina Diaz, and Robert McConnell for City Council.
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