Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Perata Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 10:47 AM

If the events of recent days are any indication, Don Perata’s candidacy for mayor is off to a very shaky start. Not only have the major dailies noted the many ties between the ex-state senator and a shadowy political group that blanketed the city with two political hit pieces over the weekend. But the glossy mailers sent by the Perata-linked group — Coalition for a Safer California — are full of ridiculous errors that raise serious doubts about the intellectual capacity of Perata’s close associates, while offering potential insight to how a Perata mayor’s office would function.

For starters, the mailers urge Oakland residents to call councilmembers and voice their concerns about the cops’ layoff plan before a “Tuesday, June 29th” vote. But the council already voted for the cops’ layoff plan on June 24 — before the mailers had even arrived in peoples’ mailboxes. In fact, there is no City Council meeting on June 29 (today). It was canceled last week, before the mailers hit Oakland.

In addition, the mailers target Councilwomen Rebecca Kaplan and Desley Brooks, criticizing them, along with Councilwomen Jean Quan and Pat Kernighan, for the Oakland cops’ layoff plan and the city’s financial woes. However, Kaplan and Brooks voted against the cop layoffs on June 24 — again, before the mailers arrived in Oakland.

In other words, if the purpose of the mailers was to convince residents to put pressure on the council to not vote for the cop layoffs, then the hit pieces completely missed the mark. Pathetic and amateurish are two words that immediately come to mind.

Not surprisingly, Larry Tramutola, Perata’s campaign manager, distanced himself from the mailers, telling the Express in an interview that the former senator was not involved with them. Still, there is no denying that Perata has close ties to the group behind the mailers — Coalition for a Safer California.

That group is funded primarily by the California Correctional Peace Officers’ Association, which gave it $100,000. As this newspaper reported last week, the prison guard’s union has paid Perata at least $350,000 in the past seventeen months for work as a “campaign consultant,” even though it has mounted no political campaigns. Perata has long had ties to the prison guard’s union, and helped protect it from budget cuts while he was state Senate president pro tem. The prison guard’s union also is Perata’s only political campaign client.

Coalition for a Safer California also is co-run by Paul Kinney, a Sacramento political operative whose son, Jason Kinney, has been one of Perata’s longtime spokesmen. The group’s headquarters is Paul Kinney’s Sacramento offices.

In addition, other contributors to the group include longtime Perata supporters and campaign donors, including Foster Interstate Media, which is owned by the ex-senator’s close friend John Foster. Foster gave the group $25,000. Perata friend Ronald Dreisbach donated $10,000 to the group. Oakland lobbyist and Perata supporter Carlos Plazola and his business partner Laura Blair donated a total of $5,000.

Tramutola also said Perata had nothing to do with last week’s robocalls from the Oakland police union that attacked Quan, who is also running for mayor this year. It should be noted that the robocalls also contained inaccurate information. They blamed Quan for the city’s budget problems, noting that she is the council’s budget chair. However, most City Hall observers agree that Oakland’s financial problems are primarily due to the recession and to generous employee wage, benefit, and pension packages approved by the council before the economic downturn.

Finally, as previously reported, the robocalls also alleged that Quan had refused to consider budget cuts other than police layoffs, when in fact, she and Kernighan, along with council President Jane Brunner and Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, had proposed nearly $19 million budget-balancing measures, including cuts unrelated to the layoffs, prior to the robocalls going out.

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