The lack of Oakland League of Women Voters cooperation to open its September 23rd Forum leads this blogger to ask if the LVW is being paid off by certain elements of the Oakland Business Community, specifically, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, not to have an open forum?
Given my conversations with a number of people, payoff can come in different forms, like forum sponsorship.
Since I was told that the League Of Women Voters was approached by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce to have a restrictive forum, it's fair to assert that for all practical purposes a payoff was in play. Otherwise, the LVW would have said "no" to the Oakland Chamber's desires, and had an open forum. The Oakland LWV knows the risks at hand in having a closed, or "fixed" forum, yet they're going to do it anyway!
Fixed? Yes. Anytime you have a set of rules designed to exclude candidates, that's the same as "fixing" the forum. I said the "grassroots" effort to get more donations wasn't going to work, and here's my proof in this email from Oakland Mayor's Race candidate Don Macleay:
The LOWV should open their event to all candidates
Dear League of Women Voters, Oakland Branch,
I am writing with concern about the event you have planned for Sept 23rd.
My concern is about the “viability” standards I have received as a requirement to participate as a candidate in this event.
It is my firmly held belief that all ballot qualified candidates should be allowed to participate.
If you do not believe that so many people should be on the ballot, then just say so and advocate a change in the city charter.
We did not respond to your “qualification test” because we do not feel that there should be any other criteria than that of the City of Oakland.
It was my understanding that the Oakland branch of the League of Women Voters had the missions of INCLUDING and INFORMING the public away from our money dominated, media advertizing politics. The “viability” standards seem to be based only on media, money, and existing political connections. Do you now want to make sure that some people get exposure and others do not? It does not really matter what your intention is, that will be the effect. Now one place where all candidates were to be given a chance to make their case in front of the public and see their message distributed by the broadcast media has become one more place where the citizen candidate has been excluded.
The current press coverage is already strongly biased towards a pay-to-play model of politics which creates a self fulfilling prophecy of who is viable. The public is poorly served by the press which has done nothing to inform the public of their choices in this election. Why has the Oakland branch of the League of Women Voters become part of that process that does not fully inform the public?
Other events have taken place and other people have found ways to deal with the large number of candidates. In our modern media age, I think you could find a way to deal with this as others have.
What in effect will happen is that you will end up holding an event that tells the public:
There are people you are allowed to vote for and all the others are not viable.
Is that really the mission the League of Women Voters has now?
So I ask you to reconsider.
Green Party Candidate for Mayor of Oakland, 2010
P.S. We have received “consolation prize” invitations to at least one other Oakland branch of the League of Women Voters sponsored events.
This does not address the issue I raise here and I wonder who is served by these second string events.
Former State Senator Don Perata has said he would not attend a forum that excludes the other candidates. Thus, he should not attend the Oakland League Of Women Voters Forum.