One of the main missions of the League of Women Voters is promoting “good government.” So imagine my disappointment when I learned that they had endorsed ALL of the tax measures being proposed by Oakland for the November election. I immediately sent an email to our local chapter leaders asking what information they relied in making their recommendation, and how this fit into their agenda. No response.
Today, I showed up at their “hot topics” meeting to hear them explain how they reached their inexplicable decision. They prefaced the presentation on the local ballot measures by explaining that their endorsement was based on the fact that “Oakland needs the money.” End of story. Now, the League is supposed to be “non-partisan,” but frankly, I can’t imagine anybody but a left-wing Democrat subscribing to such a position. The presenter, reading intently from her notes, explained that Measure X guaranteed no layoffs of police for three years, and promised that the police would begin contributing to their pensions. Probably somewhat impertinently, I announced to the group that Measure X said no such thing. The group stared. I clarified that no such language appeared anywhere in the ballot language, although the police union and the City were mounting a misinformation campaign on this issue. The League co-president piped up, stating that she had spoken the union president himself, and that this information came directly from him.
At that stage, I was incredulous. The LWV refused to respond to my emails, and yet consulted with the president of the police union, and passed on his lies and propaganda as if it were the gospel, and as if it were contained in the ballot measure itself! I gave the leaders a royal tongue lashing, and then let them move on to Measure BB. One member of the audience asked if the community police officers would at least be restored. The presenter stated that she had called the City Administrator representative who oversees the Measure Y Oversight Committee, and he told her, probably not. What? (She must have misunderstood - even the City wouldn’t sink the BB campaign!) I asked if it was Jeff Baker she had spoken to. She couldn’t say. By now, I was practically falling out of my chair. They were calling the union president, and the City Administrator’s office, and simply passing along the information without any interest in verifying it! Worse yet, I had gone out of my way to contact them, and they ignored me. Now, I should mention that the co-president actually called me out of the room and apologized for not calling me back, and asked me not to blame the League, but the reality is that all of these so-called government watchdogs were complicit in promoting the misinformation. I again voiced my disappointment and outrage, and provided the accurate information on Measure BB, but what more could I do?
At the end, the co-president meekly delivered the same apologist rhetoric delivered by our pathetic city officials, about the recession, how they could never have predicted the revenue shortfall, blah blah blah. Gag me. Afterwards, one of the members encouraged me to join the LWV. When they actually show the remotest interest in upholding the values they’re supposed to be promoting, let me know. Until then, I won’t waste my time.