Green Mayor of Richmond, CA faces “vicious” smear campaign

Reposted from Green Party Watch (McLaughlin has since responded in a campaign newsletter):

California Green Party Mayor of Richmond Gayle McLaughlin, who is up for reelection in 2010, has been targeted by political opponents with a smear campaign to undermine her reputation in the weeks before Election Day. Richmond, with over 100,000 residents, is the largest city in the US with a Green mayor. Chip Johnson at the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

It’s the loss of political power and influence – not a noticeable lapse in professional judgment or behavior – that compelled Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin’s political opponents to release details of her medical and financial history.

Richmond’s police and firefighter unions launched a vicious campaign attack this week where they portrayed McLaughlin as an unstable, irresponsible individual whose mental fitness for public office should be questioned by voters in next month’s election.

In a 2003 bankruptcy filing to seek relief from unpaid student loans, McLaughlin described bouts with “serious psychological disabilities” dating back to her mid-20s that had continuously hindered her ability to work, and subsequently left her unable to repay the loans. She received disability payments for nearly a decade and was hospitalized for her condition twice in 1999.

The information was released by Richmond Firefighters Local 188, who paid a research consultant $15,000 to investigate the mayor’s past.

Calls to fire union officials seeking comment were not returned.

But the Richmond Police Officer’s Association, which stood shoulder-to-shoulder with firefighters, explained its motivation.

“The truth of the matter is the mayor is a relatively new resident in Richmond who moved here from Vallejo in 2003,” said Joey Schlemmer, secretary of the police officers union. “I don’t think anybody knew much about her or her background, and we wanted to find out what she was all about.” McLaughlin, 58, served two years on the Richmond City Council until 2006, when her election as mayor made Richmond the largest U.S. city with a Green Party member as mayor.

“It’s not the adversity one faces, but how they emerge from that adversity that defines them,” McLaughlin said in a phone interview Thursday. “People in Richmond understand adversity, and overcoming it is something people in this city do all the time, in all kinds of ways. I stand with them in an urban community that has seen more than its share.”

The police and firefighter unions have endorsed McLaughlin rival Nat Bates, who has served on the Richmond City Council for 30 years. John Ziesenhenne, a local businessman and a former council member, is also a candidate.

If the city’s public safety unions are that interested in a walk down memory lane, it’s only fair to peek at their past history in Richmond politics as well.

Let’s see. Oh here’s a good one.

In 1997, the firefighters union was caught red-handed by The Chronicle doctoring the donor lists of its Political Action Committee, which made campaign contributions to city, county and school district elections.

The donors list included the names of numerous retirees who had not made campaign contributions since retiring from work – which in at least one case – was 25 years earlier.

Darrell Reese, a former union president and consultant, told The Chronicle the names were added to avoid a state law limiting individual contributions to $250.

So it’s not as if McLaughlin is the only interested party in the Richmond mayor’s race with a skeleton in her closet.

Seems like McLaughlin’s dovish stance is what has put her at odds with members of the city’s Police Department. Firefighters are also angry and say her refusal to hire an additional three firefighters has endangered lives.

“In 2005, after a series of shootings and a wave of violence, there was a (council) motion to declare a state of emergency, but the mayor voted against it,” Schlemmer said. She has also failed to support the purchase of electronic surveillance equipment and other investigative aids used in modern-day law enforcement, he said.

She even tried to get a council resolution passed to condemn the war in Iraq.

“This isn’t Berkeley,” Schlemmer snapped. “This is Richmond.”

It seems that once you cross a certain point in a political campaign – or a court case – the emphasis shifts dramatically from being right to being the winner.

At issue for Richmond voters next month is whether they have confidence in McLaughlin’s ability to lead the city, and whether the low point in a person’s life permanently impairs ability and function in the workplace.

In her first term in office, the city’s incumbent Green Party mayor has shown no signs of emotional distress, has stood her ground against political criticism and stuck to her principles on public policy decisions. Nor has she missed long stretches of work because of health problems.

So long as McLaughlin is able to maintain her health and perform her duties as mayor, she is no different from millions of U.S. citizens who use prescription medicine on a daily basis to treat a temporary or permanent medical or psychological condition.

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8 thoughts on “Green Mayor of Richmond, CA faces “vicious” smear campaign

  1. Paul from NH

    Turning to personal attacks because you can’t win on the issues is absolutely disgraceful. It is especially disheartening that the attacks are coming from Richmond’s own public servants. Good luck, Mayor McLaughlin. Fight back against the ad hominem wave!

  2. Psyche

    Good luck, Ma’am. My might have some mental health issues, but these guys have clearly demonstrated themselves to have an accute lack of ethics.

  3. Deran

    Mr. Milnes is one of those unfortunate embedded survivors of MKULTRA. And is Lord Mayor of Trolltown.

  4. Robert Milnes

    Ross, I understand she was elected. N ot ALL members of the Crazy Losers Club always lose. OK?
    There are a few elected Greens & Libertarians.
    The divisions are clear but not absolute.
    Crazy Losers Club people are perceived by the reactionaries as crazy. & more often there is evidence to support that such as previous psychiatric incidents.
    There is a built in filter such that reactioinaries with any psychiatric past simply do not run for elective office.
    & the sane v insane line is also clearly delineated. Yet there is a convincin g argument tht those that are presumed sane just have a different form of mental illness which is so common that they blend in.

  5. George Tatevosyan

    Gayle was done a huge favor by this attack, because uniformed goons and thugs are at an all time low in public opinion.

    This attack is bound to backfire. Support your local police by putting them in their place as your servants, not your parasite predators profit-generators for the asset forfiture career white collar criminals destoroying California.

    Good job meatheads, you just handed this one over!



    STARS AND STRIPES (and kindlier gripes)

    Words and Music by Alice Connally Fisk (ASCAP) and Richard Melvin Brown (Socan)

    Give us stars for our right to assemble
    and for free speech in venting our spleen
    doesn’t matter at all our political stripes —
    the far left, the far right, in-between

    There’s the usual Dems and Republicans
    but branching out further from there
    at each end of our widening spectrum
    complex heartfelt issues all air

    Deep concerns leave many quite angry
    bitter rivals won’t always sway
    but our mainstream agree that malice is not
    the truly American Way

    So let us have cooler behavior
    our forefathers now remind…
    spiteful action is quite far beneath us
    in a nation intrinsically kind

    Let vitriol fall by the wayside
    fine manners once again flair
    Agree to respectfully disagree on
    common good & what’s basically fair.

    Opponents debating each other
    minus hate in our land of the free
    with One great and timeless reminder
    Love of neighbor has always been key

    Our empathy’s ever praised worldwide
    we’re admired for our caring so true
    ‘neath our own stars and stripes
    let’s have kindlier gripes
    for our beautiful Red, White and Blue.

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