Fightin' Words in Council Run-off
Shade swings; Tovo ducks
If there was any doubt whether Randi Shade would duke it out in a run-off, those doubts were dispelled during a press conference last week, with Shade laying out a combative take on her opponent, election night front-runner Kathie Tovo.
Making her case in City Hall's media room, Shade was flanked by supporters, including Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Council Member Chris Riley. In her remarks, Shade promised to define "stark differences" between herself and Tovo, emphasizing three in particular. On Water Treatment Plant No. 4, she reiterated, Tovo "won't say if she would vote to stop construction if she were elected. That's a clear choice for the voters to make."
Shade also called public safety her top priority, alleging Tovo has "said very clearly that she believes we spend too much money on public safety." She also says Tovo "speaks with a forked tongue" on development issues, opposing denser development like the Park PUD, which, Shade argues, will provide the tax base and central city development that will keep neighborhood schools open.
It remains to be seen whether Shade will see dividends from her attempt to turn potential liabilities among certain voters into strengths with others, but she's doubling down on the hot-button issues. On WTP4, she writes, "I have an excellent track record on environmental issues, but to some folks who claim to represent the entire environmental community, my vote to proceed with this important infrastructure investment trumps all else. This vocal minority of citizens does not represent the entire environmental community, nor does it represent the best interests of our community as a whole."
"I heard some of the distinctions she drew yesterday, and I think most of them were frankly inaccurate," Tovo told the Chronicle. "My idea of 'complete communities' definitely includes having safe and secure neighborhoods, so a big part of that is making sure we have police and EMS and firefighters out on the street. I certainly don't support any cuts to those," she says. And on development issues, Tovo notes: "Just talking about density doesn't get us there. Just talking about tall buildings doesn't get us there. It's really about the kind of buildings we're developing, and what kind of services we have near them." She proposes tools like density bonuses tied to community benefits as a solution to development woes.
As for WTP4, Tovo wouldn't say whether she would act to stop the plant if elected. "I did say, and I stand by it, that had I been on council, I wouldn't have voted for it. To me, it's a different question now, because the project is under construction and there has been a substantial investment of taxpayer dollars. So any decision would have to be considered in light of the financial implication, the economic implications – I don't have access to all of the information at this point. My priorities are: going to make sure we have an ample, secure water supply and that any decision [I make] protect that investment." Tovo also renewed her previous calls to look for cost savings and efficiencies in plant construction.
"I've got a really broad base of support," Tovo said, when asked to define her own differences with Shade. "While there certainly are members of the development community on there, that's not my primary backing."
Tovo Rolls In Dough, Yo
Late last week, Shade's campaign finance complaint against the Tovo campaign was dismissed by the city Ethics Review Commission. Shade had filed regarding an email her opponent's campaign had sent from former Save Town Lake President Tom Cooke; the email did not carry any disclaimer language. "It is my belief that the disclaimer language was purposefully omitted by the Tovo campaign in order to disguise the true source of the communication," Shade wrote in her complaint. However, the commission found they had no jurisdiction to rule on the matter – moreover, under the current ordinance, it's not clear who does. "This is a victory and a vindication," Tovo said of the Ethics Review Commission's decision. "I hope that today will mark the end of the petty tactics – and spurious, made-up charges – coming out of my opponent's campaign."
On Monday, Shade filed a related complaint with the city clerk, charging that Tovo violated the Fair Campaign Ordinance by accepting the email list, containing more than 8,000 names, as a contribution. "There is no question that the fair market value of an 'opt in' email list of over 8,000 local recipients exceeds the legal contribution limit of $350," wrote Shade in a statement.
The motivation behind Shade's complaint? To prevent Tovo from collecting $64,000 in public funds for her run-off campaign because she signed the city's "fair campaign" pledge. "If the City Clerk finds that a violation occurred, the Tovo campaign should not receive public funds," wrote Shade. However, on Tuesday, that's just what happened: Tovo received $64,157 from the city clerk. Again, Shade's complaint fell outside the city clerk's purview.