Claremont Insider: Full Circle

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Full Circle

History repeats itself; first as tragedy, then as farce, and finally as desperation.


In 2003, a group calling itself Residents United for Claremont paid for an election eve, citywide mailer that tried to scare voters into supporting incumbents Sandy Baldonado, Karen Rosenthal, and Al Leiga. The RUC letter warned voters that they would face the loss of vital city services if challengers Jackie McHenry and Peter Yao were elected. McHenry and Yao won, and, contrary to what RUC had predicted, the sun still came up in the morning.

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In 2005 came Preserve Claremont, about whom we've written much. PC raised nearly as much money as some of the candidates' campaigns. They used the money tattacking Jackie McHenry and Corey Calaycay with innuendo, rumor, and, in at least one case, a blatant lie. The PC experience so tarred the people behind it, that many, including a few leftover from the Residents United Campaign, rejected the group or at least started to display independent thinking.


The hardcore PCers, though, just went underground and work mostly behind the scenes now. Some of the true believers like J. Michael Fay and Bill Baker, respective treasurers for city council campaigns of Joseph Lyons and Robin Haulman, still take active roles when called upon for the their services and PC experience.

Haulman was the original chosen one of the PCers, but some of the antics surrounding her campaign - cheating in a debate or stealing another campaign's fliers - damaged her candidacy to the extent the Claremonsters had to have an insurance policy in Lyons. So, you see people like PC spokesman Butch Henderson donating money to both Lyons and Haulman. And they've hitched the Haulman-Lyons wagon to incumbent Sam Pedroza to get people to vote for the three of them as a slate, the hope being that Pedroza's coattails pull the other two along into office.

Yesterday's Claremont Courier had a full-page ad (purchased at the going rate of a little less than $900), taken out by a group calling itself "Concerned Claremont citizens." (Their civic-minded concern apparently isn't large enough to warrant a capital letter for themselves.)

The CCC ad took what had been a sarcastic letter to the editor from council candidate Opanyi Nasiali and turned it around by interpreting it literally. Nasiali's letter (posted below) appeared in the Daily Bulletin and in the Courier last September.

The ad proclaimed "WE ARE SHOCKED!" and falsely intimated that Nasiali was serious about eliminating the police and public schools. It asked the reader, "Is this someone we want on the Claremont City Council."

What's really shocking is the implied contempt the ad has for voters. They expect readers won't read Nasiali's full text and will just scan the bullet points, helped out by the large arrow pointing the eye neatly past the context-placing introduction.

The ad was signed by eight people, including Ann Joslin, a Claremonster in sheep's clothing along with her life partner in crime Planning Commissioner and aspiring council candidate Bob Tener. Joslin's still sore at Nasiali for opposing the Parks and Pasture assessment district and for his successful backing of the Measure S bond for Johnson's Pasture, both in 2006.

Not coincidentally, also in yesterday's Courier, Joslin and Tener have a letter extolling the virtues of Joseph Lyons. The Joslin-Tener letter, together with another from Architectural Commissioner Susan Schenk singing the praises of Robin Haulman, are designed to work in concert with the "Claremont Concerned citizens" ad. The latter is supposed to drive people away from Nasiali, who has been running ahead of Lyons and Haulman, and the letters are there to attract voters who buy into CCC's attack ad.

Another CCC signer was Bob Gerecke, who has been working for the Pedroza-Haulman-Lyons alliance. Gerecke is a past president of the Claremont Democratic Club, whose repertoire of dirty tricks in this campaign has included appropriating private property for campaign signs. Gerecke's wife Katie, is the past president of another Claremont 400 institution, the League of Women Voters.

Yet another is Sally Alexander, who one reader notes is the 97-year-old mother of Pedroza-Haulman-Lyons supporter Sandy Hester, making Alexander the oldest frontwoman in Claremont election history.

As we say, none of this is new. The Claremonster playbook only has two or three pages, all of them outlining some aspect of their bullying ways. Expect to see more of the same, possibly including one or two hit pieces paid for by municipal employee unions awaiting new contracts.

As this election winds down, we see all these strands coming together so that the all too familiar design becomes visible. In five days, on March 8, we'll see how it turns out. In Claremont, we've always gotten the government we deserve.