Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

Concerned Citizens Editorial

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Voter Fatigue
Decisions, decisions, decisions: After more than a year of campaigning, we had the Presidential election in November.  Many of us breathed a sigh of relief when that was over—and then the Monterey Park City Council campaign started the month after that. And, hey!, it’s only just begun: there’s another election right around the corner—on May19.  The “main event” will be the election for Congress—to replace Hilda Solis who resigned to become Secretary of Labor in President Obama’s cabinet.  There are other contests on that ballot—the Community College runoff, and something that will affect all of us directly, Propositions that affect the California state budget make-up.  Those 3 votes all occur May 19.  So YOU have 2 months to determine your voting choices – again.

But for now, let’s take a look at the just completed City Council election.

Bankers Three
You’ve got to appreciate the irony. At a time when bankers are doing mea culpas at Congressional hearings and suffering a nation-wide low in popularity, Monterey Park voters have chosen to put three lockstep-voting bankers in charge of City affairs. By adding March 3 winner Betty Tom Chu to Mitchell Ing, Frank Venti has succeeded in his long battle for Council control. Our sense is that retributions will not be long in coming.

A No Issues Election
As for the election itself, it was essentially an exercise with no issues. So team Venti created some. Incredibly it resurrected the old Athens contract myth, which, for some reason, still resonates with many otherwise reasonable voters. And there were the usual Venti/Tom Chu lies and innuendoes ranging from a preposterous Chinese spy association aimed at Lau to the flat out lie that Martinez and Lau had voted to “grant themselves lifetime, health , dental and vision care.” (That act actually occurred in 1994 when neither were on the Council.)  We, CCMP, also became a Venti fabrication object with his claim that CCMP is a spin off of R.A.M. P. We’re flattered to be compared with such a successful community spirited group as R.A.M.P. However, the spin off story simply isn’t true.

25% Turnout Isn’t Terrible but, Oh, The Cost
Monterey Park has about 26,000 registered voters. About 6500, 25%, voted in the March 3 election. You think that’s bad? L.A. City election only brought out 15%. Complete data isn’t yet available as to the money spent in the campaigns. But it appears that, for the top 4 finishers, it could have been in the $90,000 – $100,000 range. We base that on prior City Council election costs, records available for the 2009 contest and the amount of external advocacy in evidence – Frank Venti, fire/police, CCMP, etc.

What these numbers suggest is that the big vote getters spent (or had spent on them) around $30-$50 per vote. In the process a huge effort went into producing signs, mailers and robo calls. Tons of paper were used up and discarded. Given current recession remedy theory — that funneling bailout funds directly to the consumer provides the greatest economic impact — should we consider abandoning today’s costly indirect method of buying the voter and return to Chicago direct pay? Say–$40 a vote?  Voters in Chicago used to get $10 per vote—but you have to allow for inflation.  I bet we’d increase turnout.


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