‘Alamedans United’ Investment Pays Dividends
‘Alamedans United’ Investment Pays Dividends
“Tony Daysog”: These two words when spoken together strike fear into the hearts of at least two local unions. Add “Councilmember” to the front of the mix and raise the anxiety at least a notch or two. That new level of fear spurred a crusade to strip Daysog of that title.
To accomplish this, the crusaders took on a name — an identity to hide behind. “Alamedans United” they called themselves. On Aug. 15, the campaigners filed Form 460 with California’s Secretary of State. One week later, they turned the mandatory forms in to the City Clerk’s office here in Alameda.
A close inspection of the paperwork reveals that a more honest name for the crusaders might have been “Unions United.”
It turns out that the Alameda firefighters’ union and a grocery workers union — and not individual Alamedans — are behind Alamedans United. Its principal officers — Byong Kim and Michael Henneberry — represent those unions; Kim, Alameda Firefighters Union Local 689 and Henneberry, United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 5. On the forms they filed with the state and city, Kim and Henneberry listed their respective unions as the sponsoring committees for Alamedans United.
They listed the mailing address for Alamedans United as Sacramento. According to the paperwork, the organization also does its banking some 90 miles away in the state capital.
Not long after the unions duly filed their forms as Alamedans United, the money began pouring in — none of it from Alameda; almost all of it from unions. The first contributions came from firefighters’ unions in Hayward, Sacramento and San Francisco. Later, more unions added to the pile. For example, the elevator constructors union donated $250. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters — under the guise of its political action committee, the “Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education” (D.R.I.V.E.) gave $10,000.
The teamsters’ contribution almost covered the $12,794 that Alamedans United spent attacking the name they feared most: Tony Daysog. Alamedans United spent none of this money in Alameda.
Alamedans United paid Mary Leigh Henneberry a total of $1,445.66 to “Design/Oppose Tony Daysog/City Council.” Form 460 lists Henneberry’s address as “Castro Valley.” She owns a graphic design business in San Francisco.
Alamedans United paid Pacific Printing in San Jose $10,709 to print Henneberry’s design and more than $2,700 on postage to mail items from a San Jose post office.
It’s unclear how much of that money Alamedans United spent on the postage required to get its anti-Daysog message to Island City mailboxes.
The Alameda Sun went to press two hours before the polls closed in California, so at press time it remained unclear whether the unions were successful in ridding Alameda of the man they feared enough to spend more than $12,000 to have his seat.
Alamedans United’s investment of union money in mailers that bashed now lame-duck City Councilmember Daysog proved successful. The organization, which had little to do with Alameda — other than making certain that the City Council casts at least three sets of favorable eyes upon them — played an effective role in unseating Daysog and seating Malia Vella in his place.
Daysog prided himself in not taking money from the unions. Vella, who works for the teamsters as an attorney, had her hand out to the unions from the very start. On March 23, unions that represented the firefighters and food workers footed the bill at Alameda Island Brewing for Vella’s first fundraiser. Two other unions — Vella’s employer and a construction trades union — the 35,000-member Operating Engineers Local 3 with offices on South Loop Road — also chipped in.
On April 17, well before the first beer was poured at the brewery, Vella’s employer had deposited $5,000 in her election coffers. The teamsters would add more later.
After the Alameda Sun editorial last week, (reprinted here on the left) the Sun received phone calls and comments inquiring why this issue is being covered now, instead of during the election. For the last 15 years the Sun has stayed out of politics at election time. Instead, the Sun has given its readers voices on the opinion pages.
Well, the election is over, and three people whose names appeared on those deceptive pieces — none of whom stepped forward to disown the mailers’ twisted facts — are now representing Alameda: Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Malia Vella on the City Council and Gray Harris on the School Board.
Voters should watch these elected officials closely. Will they represent the interests of “Alamedans United” (“OUR interests,” as the unions put it in their mailers). Or will they recuse themselves from voting on matters that involve the “the public safety and labor organizations” behind the illusory hit pieces that helped unseat Daysog.