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Oakland Mayor's Race: SEIU 1021 endorsement meeting's clumsy start

The Oakland Mayor's Race is not without its share of groups who think they can influence the race by excluding certain candidates. The Oakland SEIU 1021 Union Organization is just one of them.

As this is written, the Oakland SEIU 1021 is about to hold its interviews of candidates for the Oakland Mayor's Race. From many conversations held Tuesday, it appears the SEIU finally got its act together and contacted all of the candidates, instead of just three: Former State Senator Don Perata, and Oakland Councilmembers Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan (District Four and At-Large, respectively.)

Now, from the information communicated to this blogger, the SEIU's talking to more than just the three, although as of this writing the Joe Tuman for Mayor campaign was left out of the SEIU process.

UPDATE: a text from the Joe Tuman Campaign explains that after "several phone calls" they were invited for later tonight.

In all, it was an awful state of affairs punctuated by this email letter to Ariana Casanova, the event organizer with the Oakland SEIU from the "Friends of Terrance Candell for Mayor" campaign (paragraphs broken by this blogger):

Dr. Terrance Candell calls out other candidates 

Dear Ariana,

You met with our candidate on February 3rd, 2010. Other unions have met with him and are close to endorsement. How, then, can you act as if he does not exist. Our constituents within your union have told us that you intended to discriminate against Terence Candell. We hope that this is not evidence of that. Our campaign never received any notice of Wednesday's interviews of Oakland Mayoral Candidates.

We assume that means that we will be allowed participation without having to render advance questions, since you never advanced them to us. Do not misunderstand. Our candidate is the frontrunner in this race. The rest just have KTVU, who has ignored him since he paid them $10,000 for airtime for his campaign.

Dr. Candell was the first Oakland Mayoral Candidate on the ballot. Don MacCleay and Greg Harland are also on the ballot. Terence Candell has a regular show on local Channel 78 Comcast. You might want to check that out. Your membership deserves a chance to hear him.

We understand that you don't like him. However, you cannot deceive the people and your membership by denying him due process. That is very unprofessional.

Dyra - Campaign Chair

Friends of Candell

Green Party Candidate Don Macleay was also not contacted, so he sent this email to Ariana:

I am also asking to attend and particpate requesting the SEIU 1021 endorsment in the Mayor's race.

Please let me know how to proceed.
Is there a questionaire?
What time should we arrive?
What else should I know or do?

Don Macleay

Who's Ariana Casanova?

Ariana Casanova's an organizer with the Oakland SEIU and an activist involved in several issues from the Nik Nak Liquor Store to protests against banks during the financial crisis, and who this blogger called three times without a single return phone call. I've never seen or met Ariana Casanova and I had a lot of questions for her after my conversations.

According to several sources, Ariana Casanova's not shy about telling Oakland Mayor's Race candidates if they're even worth paying attention to. The woman with the cool-sounding name allegedly told one candidate he needed to raise $325,000 and that he should not even try because he was not going to win.

That unguarded view is what started the problem where candidates were excluded.

When this space got word of the problem, a text was sent to Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan who was set to participate in the SEIU event. The text communicated the intention of exposing the SEIU game playing and encouraged her to back out.

After a time, the problem, at least for Dr. Terrance Candell, was solved. He's part of the SEIU process as is Don Macleay.

Oakland Mayor's Race candidate Greg Harland, who doesn't want union backing, said he rejected the SEIU's last minute invitation.

However it turns out, if the SEIU handled its interview process the way it's explained here, and by all accounts this is accurate, their final recommendation for the Oakland Mayor's Race is not worth paying attention to. That's also true for The League of Women Voters.

Stay tuned.
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