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Measure T Groups Duke It OutGet Involved Today!

Rebecca S. Bender, Eureka Reporter
April 11, 2006

Shots are volleying back and forth in a Measure T skirmish sparked by the official launch last week of a campaign to defeat the June ballot initiative.

On Thursday, the No on Measure T Committee asserted that the Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair Elections and Local Democracy is unfair and hollow, the vehicle of what NOT Chair Chris Crawford called a "naked power grab" by special interest groups.

The initiative would ban all nonlocal corporations from making contributions to local elections.

Critics believe that the ordinance's definition of "local" is faulty, as it establishes different standards of residency for corporations, nonprofit organizations and labor unions, in descending order of strictness.

Crawford announced NOT's intention to work instead for an initiative that would set a flat $500 limit on all campaign contributions. He called for the proponents of Measure T, the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights, to join forces with NOT - and to limit donations to their own campaign to $500, as NOT has pledged to do.

In a response Friday, HCCR said that donation caps are useful only if they close all loopholes.

"If NOT is talking about a merely symbolic pledge for campaign limits. then we're not interested," Campaign Manager Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap said in a news release. "We're skeptical of NOT's intentions, but if their group promises to abide by the true spirit of a contribution limit - one person, one contribution - then we'll happily do the same."

She mentioned Nancy Flemming's campaign for a seat on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors as an example: though Flemming has limited her donations to $500, Sopoci-Belknap said, one donor funneled multiple contributions through corporate subsidiaries, totaling significantly more than the individual limit.

HCCR lobbed its own challenge back at NOT, asking the group to refrain from accepting any campaign contributions from nonlocal corporations.

"Measure T is about asserting our community's right to define itself," she said. "Is the NOT campaign really opposing Humboldt citizens' right to do that?"

On Monday, Crawford respectfully declined what he interpreted as HCCR's request to act as though the initiative were already enacted.

"The Measure T proponents have 'challenged' the No on Measure T Committee to disenfranchise local employers from participating in the electoral process," he said.

At Thursday's news conference, Crawford pointed out that HCCR's highest single contribution so far has been $1,000, while NOT has not received any donations over $100. That information was posted on NOT's Web site,, over the weekend.

While Sopoci-Belknap was initially receptive to NOT's proposal of collaborative - or, as she saw it, complementary - efforts, by Monday, she was skeptical.

"After looking at the changes NOT made to their Web site over the weekend, it is obvious that they intend to run a dirty campaign that misrepresents the truth," she said. "They are not the kind of people we trust to enter into deals with."

The campaign for Measure T is a strictly grass-roots effort, she added, run by local volunteers and supported by working-class people.

"We will stand by our support for the idea of a contribution limit for Humboldt (County) elections, and once Measure T passes and our community is assured local control of elections, we would support any effort to pass a complementary law that will also limit campaign contributions," she said.

Crawford held his position equally firmly on Monday.

"HCCR claims that Measure T would ensure that political contributions come from local entities," he charged. "In fact, outside interests such as labor unions with one local member and political action groups taking outside contributions are untouched by this flawed ordinance. The only people targeted are the hard-working men and women who employ our local workforce; No on Measure T refuse(s) to turn its back on these valued community members."

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Humboldt County Leaders Endorse Measure T!

Democratic Party of Humboldt County

Green Party of Humboldt County

Central Labor Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local #1684

Building and Construction Trades of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

Carpenters Union Local #751

Operating Engineers Union Local #3 AFL-CIO

Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney

Peter LaVallee, Eureka Mayor

Chris Kerrigan, Eureka City Council

Dave Meserve, Arcata City Council

Harmony Groves, Arcata City Council

Paul Pitino, Arcata City Council

Bob Ornelas, Former Arcata Mayor

Connie Stewart, Former Arcata Mayor

Elizabeth Conner, Former Arcata City Council

Julie Fulkerson, Former Humboldt County Board of Supervisors

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