Two days before the election, the man behind the 'Who Is Stacey Lawson' website has come forward.
'Who Is Stacey Lawson' uncovered details about Lawson's upbringing, her history in Silicon Valley, her move to Marin, her spiritual guru Dattreya Siva Baba, her large campaign donations, her writings on Huffington Post and more. In his words:
This whole endeavor started because I was interested in how someone who’s a complete unknown could raise so much money — which in today’s day and age makes her an instant contender among a group of candidates that actually have significant governmental experience.
Stacey Lawson has barely lived in this district for three years. She has no public service experience in our community. She doesn’t even own a house, instead renting a mansion in her current location of San Rafael. Who had even heard of Stacey Lawson before last fall?
With a strong political research background I took it upon myself to do some digging. This is actually the type of research journalists used to do, but unfortunately there aren’t any journalists that do this at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (unless you’re declared an enemy of the editorial board, like Michael Allen).
Andersen insists the whole project has only cost $205, circumventing the requirement for an FEC filing, and says the site has been "purely voluntary." However, expect feathers to be ruffled by the fact that Andersen was Susan Adams' campaign manager from August 2011 to the beginning of April 2012. "I left for a variety of personal and political reasons," he says in the post. "I want to state clearly that the Adams campaign had no knowledge of my activities with the 'Who Is Stacey Lawson?' website."
Adams, a Lawson opponent, is not considered a frontrunner.
Andersen previously ran a site called RiggsWatch in the mid-'90s to monitor Frank Riggs' actions in Congress. Over the years, he has worked for Dan Hamburg, the SEIU and served as councilmember in Ukiah.
It was Lawson's status as a wealthy, well-connected newcomer that caused Anderson to start digging:
As it turned out, Stacey Lawson has her own personal fortune from her well-timed sale of a failing company during the heyday of Silicon Valley in the late 1990′s when a company losing money was actually considered a winning proposition. This also allowed her to ingratiate herself with wealthy benefactors such as investment bankers and venture capitalists. She also has significant ties to the well-funded new-age community through her guru.
This is all reflected in the fact that fully 80% of her money comes from outside the 2nd Congressional District and nearly half from out of state. 70% of her money comes from people who have contributed the maximum $2500 to her primary election. Nearly 60 people have actually contributed the maximum of $5000 for her primary and potential general election campaigns.
Because she is such an unknown, we really don’t know what to expect from her which makes her funding sources so important. We don’t know what she has pledged to the high-tech and investment banking industries that are funding her campaign. The Stacey Lawson campaign is unfortunately a prime example of the power of money in politics, which I think most people would agree is one of the prime reasons we’re in the mess we’re in.
Read the whole thing here.
What can't be found are the posts themselves, because Lawson had all of them deleted. And judging from her post "What it Means to Delete Everything and Start Over," dug up last night by Empire Report, it was probably a wise thing to do. An excerpt:
And while perhaps it sounds like a liberating process to face ones demons and invite them back into the heart, each step has been death. My idealized identity, the safe picture of “self” which has shielded me from these shameful aspects, is crumbling into nothingness. There is nothing to hold onto. There is no ground to stand upon. I am DYING. And it is terrifying.
Despite the pain and despair, I have tried to stay alert, watchful. I want to find out what this dying is. I have discovered an enormous burden of sorrow and suffering within me. I want to know if I can be free from this false self and from this sorrow.
As I have hurtled toward oblivion, it has felt like my skin is being pealed off, followed by muscle and tendon and bone until there is nothing left. Everything must die this inevitable death. What is Truth? How can one know the answer unless everything is stripped away? Every veil, every gauze of perception, every conditioned belief.
“Delete everything and start over,” suggested a good friend. All my well worn beliefs? Piles of crap. Delete. Everything I thought I knew? Bullshit. Delete. My personality? A bunch of absurd story lines. I have slowly been deleting everything and starting over.
This is a person running for U.S. Congress?
Read the whole thing here.
UPDATE: Empire Report has reprinted all of Stacey Lawson's Huffington Post writings here.
Tonight's city council meeting had it all: grandstanding, fireworks, hyperbole, backtracking and bickering.
What it didn't have, unfortunately, was any substantial clarification on gang-related crime.
Some may remember what started this discussion: Robert Edmonds' Bohemian cover story on the admitted inability of the Santa Rosa Police Department to report accurate gang crime statistics—even as the department was receiving millions of taxpayer dollars for gang prevention from Measure O, which required a "standard statistical reporting format" for "gang-related criminal data."
As editor, I was proud to run the story. I was also glad to see Kevin McCallum bring it to a wide audience on the front page of the Press Democrat this past Sunday. But what I really looked forward to was SRPD Chief Tom Schwedhelm's report on the matter to the city council tonight.
I like Schwedhelm. The fact that he agreed to sit down and answer tough questions from Edmonds, who's worked on police accountability issues for years, speaks volumes. As he himself said tonight, "We're being very transparent about this. There are other communities where this would never see the light of day."
As such, Schwedhelm has openly admitted that the department doesn't have accurate gang crime data, and for this he cites budget cuts and lack of officer training. Mostly, though, he's chalked it up to a change in the "reporting and methodology" for gang-related crime. That's the key reason, according to the department, that in documents supplied to Edmonds (and later, to city council members), gang crimes in Santa Rosa appear to have jumped a whopping 346 percent in the past five years.
Despite repeated requests from Edmonds, Schwedhelm didn't supply details. After the story ran in the Bohemian, however, this item popped up on tonight's council agenda: "GANG CRIME STATISTICS AND REPORTING METHODOLOGY UPDATE."
Here's the update, then. I went to tonight's meeting, and in his presentation, Schwedhelm reported that the department had "broadened" their statistical reporting, thus causing the alarming jump in reported gang statistics. But how broad was "broad," I wondered? When it came time for Schwedhelm's grand reveal on the overhead projector, the department's much-touted "new" definition of a "gang-related incident"—instead of a gang-related crime—read as follows:
“A gang-related incident is defined as an incident where there is a reasonable suspicion that the individual who is involved with the incident has been or is currently associated with criminal gang activity, or where the totality of the circumstances indicates that the incident is consistent with criminal street gang activity.”
Now, call me crazy, but to me that sounds a lot like saying "A gang-related incident is what we say is a gang-related incident." Which is not really saying anything at all.
So there are a few things I'd like to see.
After the presentation, and after Gary Wysocky and Ernesto Olivares traded some lively barbs ("I resent that," "I take offense to you," etc.), the public comment portion of the meeting finally included several mentions of what no one likes talking about: race. So with concern to racial profiling, I'd like to see some specific criteria on exactly how the department designates an incident as "gang-related," and what evidence the department uses to designate an individual as a gang member. Something like this, perhaps, which is a document showing how the department once identified gang members. Really, read it.
I'd like to know why the department has now decided to include "incidents" in gang statistics, which has sharply raised the statistics for gang activity in Santa Rosa, and I'd like to hear some concrete examples of situations that might constitute an "incident" as opposed to a crime.
I'd like to know more about Schwedhelm's twice-repeated statement tonight that "We don't track individuals, we track incidents." That seems to directly contradict the department's stated goal of identifying individuals that have been or are currently associated with criminal gang activity. Furthermore, I'd like to know if, like the majority of law enforcement agencies in the state, the SRPD works with CalGang, a statewide "intelligence database targeting specifically members of criminal street gangs, tracking their descriptions, tattoos, criminal associates, locations, vehicles, fi's, criminal histories and activities."
I'd like to know how often the police department and Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force receive additional outside funding in the form of grants, and if their chances of receiving grants are increased by doing just this—demonstrating higher statistical gang activity in Santa Rosa.
Mostly, though, I'd like to know where this all leads.
We can talk about statistics and funding all we want, but here's where my cynical side kicks in. I hate my cynical side, but here's what it's telling me: no matter what the statistics say, the police department can always make a case for more funding. If gang-crime statistics are down, they can say "We're doing a great job, here's the proof, keep giving us money." If the gang-crime statistics are up, they can say "There's a huge problem here in Santa Rosa, we need more money."
Then my positive side kicks in and says that the Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force is truly doing a lot of good work with after-school programs and community festivals, even though they allowed children in South Park to play with semiautomatic weapons as part of "Gang Awareness Week," which I think is deplorable. (They also publicly boasted about banning "Snitches Get Stitches" shirts from being sold at the Santa Rosa Plaza, which I think is just kind of funny, actually.)
Then I think about all the anecdotal evidence, which is what the SRPD and Olivares prefer to talk about in the absence of hard statistics. Except the anecdotes I hear are a little different. The former gang members who can't get off the gang database. The kids who commit misdemeanors, like writing graffiti, which then get unfairly upgraded to felonies because the police say it's "gang-related." The times my wife has called the police reporting gang fights at her work, only to wait 45 minutes for officers to arrive. The friends I have living in Roseland who say the gang problem is blown way out of proportion as a political fear tactic. The officer who disfigured a woman when he crashed into her truck driving 100mph in response to a call about some kids at the DMV wearing baggy clothes. The guy from South Park who talked at tonight's meeting, who said the only authority figure that ever helped him avoid gang life was a school counselor, and the only thing Measure O ever did was cycle a bunch of his friends through jail and juvenile hall. There are hundreds of other stories.
At any rate, Measure O doesn't expire until 2026, so there's going to be plenty more years of Santa Rosa taxpayer money going to gang prevention. But always remember: it's our sales tax increase that we voted for—it's our money, really—and because of that, we have a right to be able to ask questions and expect clear answers about its effectiveness. And we definitely have a say in how the money is spent.
Here's the problem with that.
Candidates for city council must be registered to vote at a Petaluma address, according to Sonoma County Assessor and Registrar of Voters Janice Atkinson. When I got in touch with her, she affirmed that “it is a requirement that a person register at the address that s/he considers to be her domicile.”
“Domicile” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as the “place of a person’s permanent residence, which he or she leaves only temporarily.”
So is it kosher for Albertson to take a tax deduction for his “principal place of residence” in Santa Barbara while holding elective office in Petaluma? Can he have one domicile for tax purposes, and another domicile for voting?
Albertson rents a home in Petaluma. But public records show that he and his spouse, Marilyn Albertson, are joined in a living trust that owns 2211 Sycamore Canyon Road in Santa Barbara. They’ve owned the house for decades. In 2011, as in prior years, the Albertsons declared to the Santa Barbara County Assessor that they are eligible for the homeowner’s tax deduction because the house is their “principal place of residence.” The exemption knocks $7,000 off the assessed value of the home for property tax purposes. (Currently, Zillow estimates the house to be worth $1.22 million.)
I asked Atkinson to clarify the issue. She explained that a person could “accept employment in one county and to avoid commuting establish a residence in another county. However, this person considers the second residence to be temporary. S/he has every intention of returning to his or her original residence, and continues to consider it to be his or her domicile.”
It makes sense that Albertson might still consider Santa Barbara home—he served with the Santa Barbara Fire Department for 28 years. But in 2001, he was hired as the fire chief of Petaluma, where, according to his campaign biography, “Marilyn and I made many lasting friendships.” Albertson retired as chief in 2008 on a public pension, and he successfully ran for city council two years later.
(During Albertson’s campaign, supported by the Argus-Courier and the North Coast Builders Exchange, he favored making public employee retirement plans less cushy for public employees hired in the future, while safeguarding benefits for currently retired public employees. But we digress. Back to Atkinson.)
Atkinson says that although her office does not check the authenticity of voter registrations, “If there is sufficient evidence to cause concern that someone has registered to vote at an address that is not his or her domicile, the Registrar of Voters may forward information to the Secretary of State’s Voter Fraud Division for investigation.” Of course, while Albertson’s domicile for voter registration may be perfectly acceptable for holding elective office, there does remain the thorny question of domicile for the tax deduction. Or vice versa.
Atkinson says that in California statutes, “the concept of domicile is somewhat fuzzy, but it needs to be, as there are many different situations. I hope this clarifies the situation.”
Oxford defines clarity as “lack of ambiguity.” So, I called upon Albertson himself, hoping for some unambiguous clarification.
He acknowledged that his family does indeed take the tax deduction in Santa Barbara. “My wife and I have a long distance relationship,” he explained. “She lives in Santa Barbara, and I live in Petaluma, and it’s none of your business.”
Or is it?
On Friday, Jan. 6, Occupy Santa Rosa joined with the Committee for Immigrant Rights, the Graton Day Labor Center and other Sonoma County organizations in a rally and march against Wells Fargo's position as an institutional holder of stock in Geo Group, Inc. The for-profit corporation builds, maintains and runs private prisons, including immigration detention centers in Arizona and California. For more information, check out a news blast from the Dec. 28 issue of the Bohemian.
Maureen Purtill and Jesus Guzman of the Graton Labor Center speak to the crowd of about 200 in front of the old Albertson's on Sebastopol Road about Wells Fargo and the rally. Purtill translated everything into Spanish.
"It's wonderful to see the Occupy movement really out in embracing the immigration rights movement," said Richard Coshnear, an immigrant rights attorney from Santa Rosa. After discussing the profit motives and laundry list of offenses at immigration detention facilities in the United States, he said, "The treatment of prisoners in detention is bad, but it's worse in for-profit private institutions."
Juan Cuandon and an unidentified man portray people held in detention at a private prison during a theater performance just before the march to the downtown branch of Wells Fargo Bank.
David Ortega of Occupy Petaluma rode his bike to the march from Petaluma. He was joined by Wendy-O Matik who rode her bike from Sebastopol.
85-year-old Marjorie Golden came out to support the fight for immigrant rights and the Occupy movement.
Two people were arrested outside of Wells Fargo after they attempted to "mic check" inside of the downtown branch, according to Occupy Santa Rosa organizer Carl Patrick. The bank locked its doors just after the protestors arrived. Police did not allow anyone on the property, including press, claiming "private property." Wells Fargo representatives did not respond to a written request from the Bohemian to speak about the closing of the bank or the protest.
Jerry Camarata of Sonoma County said that the orange jumpsuits printed with Sonoma County Jail symbolize the connection between private detention centers and the Secure Communities program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "They are allowing undocumented workers to open accounts while funding these private detention centers that profit off of the same workers," said Camarata.
As bank customers approached the doors of Wells Fargo and found it locked in the middle of the day, many walked away grumbling about the inconvenience of the protest. "I love my bank," said this woman, who refused to give her name. "You can kiss my ass!" Soon after, she nearly got into an altercation with a protestor while retrieving money from the ATM.
Not everyone found the rally and protest inconvenient. Here, the protestors cheer after one man, upon hearing about the possible connection between Wells Faro and immigration detention centers, said that he was going to move his money to another bank.
Love him or hate him—or still blame him for the kinda-election of George W. Bush—the legendary Ralph Nader is coming to Sonoma State University on Tuesday, Oct. 4 to speak to students and the public alike.
Nader recently released his first novel, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. His speaking topic at SSU? "Fixing Our Broken Economy."
I'd expect a lot of suggestions for taxing the rich, possibly including visual graphs that look like this—a clear picture of our nation's debt and the wars and policies enacted by George W. Bush that got us there.
What I wouldn't expect? Comments like those on election night 2008, when he speculated on-air, without hesitation, if President Obama was going to be "Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations."
Ralph Nader speaks on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the Sonoma State University Cooperage. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 7:30pm. $10 public; $5 SSU staff and faculty; free to SSU students. 707.664.2382.
For the past four days, a group of people have gathered outside the Republican Headquarters on East Washington Street in Petaluma to exercise their right to free speech. But no one’s holding Obama signs—California being a foregone conclusion in the Presidential race—no, the entire focus is on Proposition 8, which, if passed, would amend the California constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday afternoon, reaction to those carrying No on 8 signs was mixed. Shortly after the assembly began, a woman from inside the Republican Headquarters looked out the window, gave the middle finger, and then turned around to bend over and shake her posterior.
Later, more volunteers emerged from the Republican Headquarters, where Yes on 8 signs were displayed in the window and on the lawn. One told the crowd to get jobs, saying that she didn’t want to “pay for your food, or your welfare.” Another one emerged with a Yes on 8 sign and quoted Bible scriptures, claiming rather strangely at one point that people don’t die in wars. Another asserted that she thought same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, but didn’t think it was a good idea to redefine the word “marriage.”
More people showed up. One of the demonstrators, Eva Gangale, a mother with a small infant, walked across the crosswalk at E. Washington Street holding a No on 8 sign to join the crowd. A car drove by, and the driver yelled out the window. “Your kid’s gonna grow up to be a faggot,” he said.
And yet most of the passing drivers honked, waved and gave thumbs up. Several leaned out their windows to say thank you. A passing pedestrian, who explained that he had an hour to kill before an appointment, asked if there were any extra signs; he picked one up and joined the gathering.
Still more demonstrators arrived, almost spontaneously: an Iraq veteran, Arthur Wallis, came to voice his support. He held a sign that said: “Vet. Straight. No on 8,” and wore his military uniform. When a Republican volunteer walked up and asked him, “Are you a veteran, or are you just wearing that?” he explained that yes, he was in fact an veteran of the Iraq War.
A mother passing on the street, Paulette Carlés, saw the crowd and approached with her two children, Isabel and Gabe. She wore a yellow t-shirt which endorsed the reading of books. She had gotten increasingly flustered with the numerous Yes on 8 signs posted around town, and was glad to see that she wasn’t alone.
She excitedly called her husband, who was home making dinner. He stopped what he was doing, drove down, and held a sign too.
It’s not too late to donate to No on 8.More photos by Elizabeth Seward below.
Dan Pulcrano, our executive editor and the owner of our paper, weighs in with his recommendation for the land's highest office.
There’s something profoundly wrong with an economic system that sells homes cheaply, then takes them away from young families; that encourages wasteful energy consumption while fuel prices double and ExxonMobil serially breaks corporate profit records ($12 billion last quarter). And there’s something immoral about a political order that allows its leaders to invade countries on pretext, then fails to hold them accountable; that end-runs international and constitutional principles on torture and incarcerating the innocent while endeavoring to globally spread its values.
The Republican administration in Washington turned surpluses into deficits, peace into war, prosperity into chaos. It failed to address the rising costs of food, health care and college tuition and ignored the decline of public education and the earth’s atmosphere. It let Detroit collapse, and New Orleans drown.
In short, the Republicans that America elected screwed up the country, and it’s time to take it back.
With an abysmal record to run on, the GOP has taken to questioning the patriotism of its opponents, conducting a campaign of innuendo and guilt by association. The irresponsible fearmongering and demagoguery had predictable results.
When John McCain posed the rhetorical question “Who is Barack Obama?” amid the worst financial stress of our lifetimes, he riled the lynch mob. Given McCain supporters’ use of Obama’s middle name and the campaign’s exaggeration of his relationship to a ’60s radical, the demonization took its next illogical step.
In the end, McCain was forced to answer his own question and declare that Obama was a decent family guy of whom Americans didn’t need to be afraid, but with whom he had differences. If that’s what the election’s about, why didn’t McCain just stick to policy differences in the first place? (The Obama campaign, other than posting an informational video, resisted making a big deal out of McCain’s close friendship with Savings and Loan criminal Charles Keating.)
McCain’s lurching, shambolic campaign and confused messaging—Obama’s a terrorist, no he’s a family man—is precisely what’s not needed to calm the jangled nerves of consumers, bankers and nuclear wannabes around the planet at this critical juncture.
McCain’s hurried selection of a charming yet unqualified political extremist who abused official powers to settle a family matter exhibited the kind of rush to judgment that created the debacle in Iraq. Keep him away from that nuclear button!
Luckily, there’s an alternative in one of the brightest political lights to emerge on the national stage in decades. We chose Barack Obama early on, for his measured intelligence, cool persona and smart embrace of technology.
Sen. Obama’s continuing success in winning over Americans of all colors, religions and economic classes reconfirms our early support for an Obama presidency. His focus on positive themes and inspirational messages displays an intuitive flair for leadership. He has run a better campaign, organizing neighborhood teams and making innovative use of modern digital tools. He has a better bench, with an experienced vice president and seasoned advisers. His formidable yet diverse funding base will leave him less beholden to special interests.
His election offers a possibility to turn the page on racial division, Cold War thinking and widening class divides. Though the challenges are greater than ever, the recent wake-up calls present an opportunity, with inspired leadership, to finally tackle the health-care crisis and achieve alternative energy breakthroughs that will reduce dependence on unstable foreign oil–producing nations.
Maybe he can’t walk on water. But Obama is a unique talent who arrived at a critical moment in history. For America, the choice is clear.—Dan Pulcrano
Women's LPGA World Championship, Half Moon Bay:
We do find it more than curious that the only person arrested at yesterday's May Day march in downtown Santa Rosa (other than seven gang members who violated parole by hanging out outside the mall) was CopWatch activist Ben Saari. Indeed, Saari—cofounder of Free Mind Media—was probably only one of a handful of people out of the estimated crowd of 2,500 who exactly knows how to interact with officers without violating his or their rights. Yet he was nonetheless hit with a misdemeanor charge of interfering with an officer and had to post $2,500 bail. We called him up this morning as he shook the jail experience out of his head. Here is his side of the story.photo of May Day march 2007 by Brett Ascarelli "What happened was that I was just finishing the march going past Santa Rosa City Hall and in front of the Court House, the minutemen were out—they’re right-wing racist vigilantes—and they were being protected by the Santa Rosa police department. I got a phone call that cameras and observers were needed at Juilliard Park behind the stage, so I hustled over there. When I got through the crowd to the edge of the park, what I saw was one officer with a very agitated dog amid a crowd of thousands of people. The officer was visibly panicked and shouting at people to back up. There were three other officesrs with extendable batons employed and they were engaged in a face-off with a group of young people, mostly teenagers. The police weren’t giving any clear or consistent commands. Police approaching from three different directions were shouting to backup. It’s confusing, it’s hard to comply with, you don’t know what’s going on. The police tactics were really confused, really chaotic and my experience is that when police behave that way, situations escalate quickly. The police were trying to encircle this group of young people and push them out of the park. At that point, I had no idea what was going on. One of the officers yelled at me that there was a group of Norteñas behind me. When the Santa Rosa police department calls someone a gang member, I don’t trust it. That’s a convenient way to arrest people without evidence.
The police encircled this group and were trying to push them out. The police were really aggressive, really combatative. I was asking for clarification—where do you want us to go, what do you want us to do. At one point, an officer shoved me and I asked him why he was doing that, and he told me that if I didn’t stay out of his way I would be arrested. I said, I won’t get in your way. He increased his pace, shoulder-checked me and arrested me.
I think that the police were phenomenally disorganized and didn’t know what to do in a crowd to deescalate tensions or they were trying to pick a fight. I can’t . . . I have suspicions about why they would want to do that. It was definitely the effect they had, they were obviously scared and they weren’t issuing clear orders to anybody in the crowd. When we were being moved out of the crowd, I started walking out with a young man and a young woman and the officer who arrested me engaged them in a belligerent and embattling conversation. He was making accusations that they were a criminal element, that they were up to no good. When you are a police officer and you have suspicion of probable cause, there are things you can do and if you chose to bait people hoping that they will rise or sink to the bait and do something arrestible. By California law, it’s not entrapment, but it’s fishy, especially when it’s adult men doing it.
My intention was to not interfere with an officer. I was swept up in a police escalation of a conflict."