Thursday, November 04, 2010

Elections are the democratic pivot (not war)


The purpose of proposing an Encinitas Fair Campaign (EFC) Pledge is to make all aware of the city’s desire for more useful and comfortable campaigns. Voluntary campaign pledges come in many forms. What is below is a place to start. Please suggest edits and additions.


The Draft City of Encinitas Fair Campaign Pledge

As a candidate or election participant (PAC or major contributor) I shall:


1.I shall conduct my campaign for city office openly and fairly. I will not misrepresent, distort, or otherwise falsify the facts in any of my communications.


2.I shall discuss the issues and participate in fair debate with respect to my views and qualifications. I will focus on the issues in all statements, debates, advertisements, and press releases, and other communications.


3.I shall not engage in, or permit, the unfair representation of the character of my opponents; nor shall I engage in unwarranted invasions of personal privacy unrelated to campaign issues.


4.I shall not, at any time, use or permit the use of any campaign material or advertisement that misrepresents, distorts, or otherwise falsifies the facts regarding any candidate or the candidate’s position on issues.


5. I will at all times be prepared to provide supporting evidence for statements I have made, and will issue a retraction and apology, in a timely fashion, should I find that I have been in error. Any retraction will be conspicuous and in the same manner as the initial statement was made.


6. I shall clearly identify myself, or my campaign committee(s), as the sender of all of my campaign communications. The person(s) responsible for approving and funding the content of the communications will be identified.


7. I will not condone personal attacks in my campaign. I will not discuss during the campaign or issue any statement or communication whatsoever discussing my opponent's family, children, race, religion, personal associations, or sex. I will not discuss or issue any statement or communication related to my family, children, race, religion, personal associations, or sex.


8. I will formally request all local advocacy groups and PACs--special interests, campaign contributors, or any other--to not make independent expenditures that involve negative or personal attacks on my opponents, and I promise to immediately and publicly denounce any of this activity if it occurs.


9. I will help my opponents respond to violations of the EFC Pledge by helping them to publish a response, if they desire, by sharing up to 35% of the space/time of my mailings (or other communications) to allow my opponents to response to any attacks until the response has reached an equivalently sized audience as offending communications.


10. I shall publicly repudiate support derived from any individual or group whose activities would violate this Fair Cam­paign Pledge.


11. I will not participate in slate mailers.


12. I will take responsibility for managing the actions of my campaign teams.


13. To further public discussion of the issues a website will be provided as a clearinghouse of information and debate for the candidates’ campaigns. I will publish all of my mass communications to this website. I will conspicuously note in all my mass communications that I am participating in the EFC Pledge and give the specific EFP website address where my opponents and I may opt to discuss or respond to each mailer, video, or robocall (mass communications).


14. I will not tie nonprofit organizations into my mass communications.


15. I agree to participate in regular private meetings with the other candidates to discuss campaign issues.


16. I will recognize that no candidate or campaign will be without flaws.


I’d just say this is mostly crazy talk, but there are pledges out there that contain most of the elements listed above. Please suggest edits and additions.


Moderation rules will be applied to this post. Only comments that are constructive will be retained. Do not rehash the last election in this thread.

42 comments:

  1. You forgot to add:

    17. As I realize literate Encinitans read newspapers, go to candidate forums or research their candidates and political issues online to make informed choices at the polls, I will forbid the following:

    A: Insulting the public's intelligence by blighting Encinitas with the visual litter of campaign signs in the right of way. Especially when realizing most voters are ill informed and still believe bigger is better and that nothing exceeds like excess.

    B: Disturbing the peace of my neighbors at any time with politics by either knocking on their door or invading their phone space.

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  2. 8:56,

    Candidates do sign and adhere to pledges like this, around the country.

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  3. There needs to be a pledge to limit the number of campaign signs to no more than 40.

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  4. No dropping campaign material off at homes without making contact with the resident. Without so, would just be litering.

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  5. I agree with nearly all of it, however, it's too long. I would be happy with just the following:

    I will not pay to be included in any campaign literature where I do not agree with at least 75% of the endorsements.

    That alone would have cut the number of deceptive mailers I received in half.

    Also, as per your pledge to filter the posts I suggest you look at EncinitasGoofs.

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  6. How about adding something to address these made up groups (citizens united, ethic council, etc.)that support their own agenda or candidates?

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  7. FINAL PLEDGE: If your side loses, you shouldn't make excuses and just accept the voice of the majority.

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  8. 9:29,

    No mailing literature to people who have not asked for it (aka junk mail)?

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  9. Meathead. Signs in the right of way are already a violation. Maybe we can make the candidates approve the immediate removal and disposal of any signs in the right way or something?

    655, I got the base of this pledge from a few pledges used in other cities.

    Toughlove, Which items would you strike down.

    941, make a suggestion

    1019: I’ve never heard of an Encinitas candidate failing to step down when they’ve been beat at the polls. What do you mean by “just accept the voice of the majority?” Can you give some specific language that can be added to the pledge?

    Peter Pan, I’m a skeptical optimist with an internal locus of control.

    Goofbuster, I want to post your review of the “TnT” lies. Send them over, but lets put that in another thread.

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  10. Again, as a serious criticism, while I agree with your recommendations, there are too many of them. A candidate could say, "I didn't take the plcedge because item x was too vague, or infringed on free speech, etc.". It should be much shorter, 25 to 50 words max. Then the public would remember the essentials and would be better able to judge what it meant to take or decline the pledge

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  11. A noble idea but I don't think it will work.

    Their developer buddies will keep sending out the hit pieces and lying slate mailers, and the candidates will claim they had nothing to do with it.

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  12. KC,

    How do we handle these fake groups that come up every election year?

    Chris

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  13. Chris,

    What "fake groups" do you mean? The out-of-town developers who dump big money to bombard us with mailers? Or groups of Encinitas neighbors who get together because they care care about their community?

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  14. 951 & HH,

    save that material for another post

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  15. ToughLove,

    What was posted was a set of items from pledges in use, with a few modifications. A shorter and sweeter pledge would be welcome if it encompasses all the problems that involved would agree should be alleviated.

    The pledge would be a voluntary agreement to set up boundaries. A pledge that doesn't set up meaningful boundaries might not be worth much?

    There may be too many items in the current pledge. Which issues should be dropped, or how can it be digested without increasing the vagueness. Can you suggest something?

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  16. It's funny that anno 'chris' is not me 'chris' but a fake 'chris'.

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  17. There is more than one person in Encinitas named Chris. Then again perhaps you have copyrighted the name/word Chris. In which case ..just forget it Chris. I'm afraid you will have to just accept someone is using your name.....

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  18. Chris, just in case you are wondering, I am still using your/my name as you/me.

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  19. Ten is usually a good number for these types of things. Find ways to eliminate/combine items.

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  20. K.C. I don't think we should try to fix everything at once. The hit pieces are unfortunate, and perhaps the candidates and their staff object most to those, but to me the systemic threat are the slate mailers in which candidates and initiatives which are diametrically opposed to a candidate's beliefs are endorsed, along with the candidate. These mailers prey on voters who are actually trying to vote their conscience or beliefs and are duped into doing just the opposite in our local elections. If we just can fix this one problem, the number of deceptive slate mailers I receive would be reduced by more than half. So, here is an alternative pledge - short and sweet. Call it the Slate Mailer Pledge.

    "I will not allow my name to appear on campaign literature which endorses candidates or ballot initiatives with which I do not agree."

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  21. My thought is to display this pledge on the city website in a section titled "Fair Campaign Practices". At the start of each election - the Coast News, the Blog, the ETA, the Patch, and perhaps even the U-T or NCT interviews each candidate and asks them whether they will take the pledge. Then, it's on record, and can be used by them, or against them, if they are dishonest. Sure, dishonesty is still possible, but I think it's a mistake to dismiss this out of hand for that reason. Almost any such measure is susceptible to foul play, but it certainly can't hurt. Let's try it and see?

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  22. I like Tough Love's idea except it is my understanding that the candidates do not know what is going to be on a slate mailer. I don't exactly understand how it works, but what I read suggests that the person gives money to the company and then 4 things have to be on the mailer. The candidate gets no choice about what else, besides their name is on it. So, perhaps it might read "I will not put my name on any slate mailer."
    Another thing that I don't think has been brought up yet is to point how how environmentally unfriendly these mailers are. The more paper and ink used, the more it impacts the environment in a negative way. It might have been interesting, if I had kept them, just to see how many slate mailers Dalager, Gaspar, Barth and Kranz sent out, and then do a "cost to the environment assessment". I do agree that the pledge should be as short and simple as possible.

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  23. Thanks for your comment Dr. Lorri. I actually don't have any problem with, for example, Kristin Gaspar being endorsed on a slate mailer which endorses Meg Whitman for Gov, and takes generally Republican initiatives on positions, so although I agree that getting candidates to forswear any use of slate mailers would be desirable, I can also see the argument for this type of use. I find it difficult to believe that they have absolutely no idea what candidates or initiatives a slate mailer endorses. Perhaps one way to resolve this is the following revision:

    "I will not allow my name to appear on campaign literature which endorses candidates or ballot initiatives with which I do not agree, or whose content I have no knowledge of".

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  24. Dr. Lorri, I also agree that the slate mailers are wasteful, however, I don't think we should focus on the green issue for the same reason I thought the original pledge from K.C. was too long. I think focus and simplicity are the key here, so the voters can easily remember what the issue is - fair campaign practices which respect the voter.

    I also think it's important that we as voters demand that candidates state their positions on the pledge. Let it become a community custom, which we all expect from anyone running for office.

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  25. TL,

    You miss a major thing. Slate mailers are being used to hide contributors and skirt campaign funding regulations.

    see http://encinitasundercover.blogspot.com/2010/10/follow-money.html

    I'd also like to see the candidates pledge to not use deception. Is Gaspar really going to forgo any reimbursement for travel to government events? Her slate mailers seem to say she thinks that's a bad thing. That is why it was included in a mailer she paid for. Why did Barth vote no on the Scripps permit? Because it making the neighbors pay for traffic mitigation was unethical. It was intellectually dishonest to be framed in the slate mailer as it was.

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  26. Anon 11:22. I'm aware of the link between slate mailers and "anonymous" 3rd party donors attempting to skirt contribution limits. It's may be that if a campaign pledge were successful, this money would funnel to some other sort of undesirable behavior, but I say let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This is a bit like political whack-a-mole. I would also favor a second, concise pledge dealing with attempts to circumvent contribution limits. How about something like this:

    "I will publicly identify the amount and sources of financing for campaign literature on my behalf within 24 hours of the distribution of that literature".

    I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments such as removing deception from campaign mailers, but I would rather use terms that are not open to interpretation. The more specific, the better.

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  28. Anon 11:43. Point well taken. I have no problem with the interview being conducted by any reputable organization whatsoever. It could be done by Mike Andreen and the New Encinitas Chamber of Commerce. As long as the question is asked verbatim, and the response is published, it serves it's purpose.

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  29. OK, KC, here is a revised Encinitas Fair Political Practices Pledge, consisting of two items:

    1) I will not allow my name to appear on campaign literature which endorses candidates or ballot initiatives with which I do not agree, or whose content I have no knowledge of.

    2) I will publicly identify the amount and sources of financing for campaign literature on my behalf within 24 hours of the distribution of that literature.

    This pledge would be published on the city web site under a section titled, Encinitas Fair Campaign Practices. At the start of each election, one or more organizations with city-wide non-partisan membership will ask each candidate to take or decline this pledge. Decline-to-state would not an option.

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  30. TL,

    Just so you know the laws. If a candidate approves the content of a slate mailer they will likely be in violation of campaign finance laws.

    The slate mailers have been used to abuse those laws. Ethical candidates don't use slate mailers for two reasons:

    It is insulting to the public
    It is an unethical end run on campaign finance laws.

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  31. Anon 1:42. Thanks for helping me on the laws. I'm just trying to get candidates on record as saying they will or will not use slate mailers. There's no mention of whether a candidate approves a mailer or not. I'm not sure I understand your point though. Are you saying a campaign pledge is a good idea, or a bad one?

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  32. Anon 1:42. OK, I think I see what you're getting at. Requiring that a candidate agree with the content is equivalent to approval. Is that it?

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  33. Anon:1:42-Thanks for bringing in the legal issue. Whatever we draft, has to be legal and something that ethical candidates will endorse. I wonder if Teresa or Tony would be interested in helping us all draft something? Kevin has done a great job. Seems to me it just needs to be fine tuned and shorter. 2 or 3 points is about all the public can digest and that candidates will sign. Therefore, I agree that they should be very very specific so nothing gets "lost in translation". Nice to have blog post where we can brainstorm together for the benefit of our community. Hopefully, there will be more of these kinds of dialogs.

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  34. The first obstacle is to get the council to even consider this. Since it requires a majority to even agendize an item, it's probably unlikely they would hear it at this point. At one of the candidate forums, Kristin said she would support a return to requirement of only 2 votes to get an item on the agenda. We'll see if she keeps her word on this. In any case, I'd like to get the council members to individually go on record, even if it means they reject it as an agenda item.

    The 2nd thing I worry about is even if it makes the agenda - if the ultimate wording gets totally sausage'd up, it could render the whole thing irrelevent.

    But, I say, start out optimistically and just act according to principle and let the rest work itself out.

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  35. Please,

    I threw a bunch of stuff together from other pledges and really only added a few things that I thought were worth considering.

    I hoped that people would take it and run with it. That's happened and I've got a few emails for readers with some suggestions. I'll work on those and should have them up this week sometime.

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  36. anon 1143,

    The ETA hasn't reviewed the pledge idea. Coast News?

    As for the ETA, you are correct. The ETA openly harbors an objective of open and transparent government that works efficiently on the public's behalf.

    As for the LB, we editorialize. Does that mean we can't propose something? I hope the LB is fair and open (way too open?) to discussion.

    Is there an organization which will produce a pledge for the city that you might suggest?

    [try reposting without rehashing the election, in this thread]

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  37. You're still going to have third parties sending out the dirty hit pieces, and the candidates will be able to legitimately deny they had anything to do with it.

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant. What we need is more excellent reporting by the LB, the NCT, the U-T, and the Coast News about who these people are dumping big dirty money into sleazy mailers.

    If the special interest groups knew they'd get a front page story in the local news exposing them every time they sent out a dirty mailer, they'd think twice.

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  38. A couple things that trouble me.

    We probably want to have a pledge that includes a provision that the candidate "benefiting" from misinformation/distortions/etc will help other candidates to straighten the record. That is a form of sunlight.

    I think a lot of people won't be persuaded by who is funding the hit pieces especially when those people can effectively hide their identity and motivation.

    On the flip side, if they thought their hit pieces could get a second round of publicity in the newspapers, maybe they'll be MORE likely to send them out.

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  39. I consider the hit pieces a separate issue. When I mentioned that we shouldn't try to fix everything at once with a pledge, I was referring mainly to those hit pieces. The pledge would be mainly directed at the slate mailers from The Democratic Disinformation Guide, etc.

    The hit pieces are more difficult, because they can get into a back and forth about what it means to distort contexts and shade the truth. I agree with W.C. that in this case, public media such as the LB, Coast News, U-T, etc. might be the best solution. That does not mean however, that we should dismiss the pledge idea - just that it's only part of the solution.

    The difficulty with public media is that it is independent ( to an extent ) and could not and should not be managed ( though it is ), and it depends on voters being proactive about procuring information.

    To be addressed in a pledge, we would have to carefully define what a "hit piece" is. It's difficult for me to think of wording that would address things like the picture of Tony flipping someone off, Teresa's credit card charges, or conversely, Jerry Brown's side-by-side depiction of Meg Whitman and Arnold Schwarzenegger, without unduly restricting a campaign's right to do it's thing. Here's a first try though.

    "If I or my supporters publicly attack my opponent's character or conduct, I will either provide supporting evidence for any charges on a campaign website within 24 hours of the attack, or disavow the legitimacy of the attack. I will also allow my opponent to post a response to the attack on my campaign website".

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  40. DENVER – A federal appellate court ruled Tuesday that requiring small groups who promote ballot initiatives to file campaign finance reports is so burdensome that it's unconstitutional, dealing the latest blow to open-government advocates.

    What gives???

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  41. This certainly muddies the waters as far as mandatory campaign financing disclosure is concerned. A voluntary pledge though, doesn't compel an action, it only puts a candidate on record, so it would not be a 1st amendment issue. As I mentioned, perhaps the only antidote to bad free speech is good free speech. Asking each candidate in a public interview to take or decline the pledge would be an example of good free speech.

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