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Debriefer: May 20, 2015 

Marc Levine, Basin Street–friendly; Goodbye Tank?

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Basin the Music

Last week we reported on a big project on the Petaluma waterfront from Basin Street Properties and wondered why, given the pro-labor posture of local elected officials who fly under the "progressive" banner, it's not a union job site.

The question was prompted by Basin Street's use of non-union labor at its mixed-use Riverfront project in a county where politicians talk the talk on pro-union issues: competitive wages, healthcare, worker safety. The walk is something else.

One elected official contacted for the story was state Assemblyman Marc Levine (pictured), whose 10th district includes Petaluma. According to campaign records, Levine accepted $2,000 in contributions from Basin Street Properties in 2012, and another $2,000 from its Nevada-based president Matthew White that same year.

The $2,000 from Basin Street Properties was donated to Levine about three weeks before election day, according to online data. Levine won the 2012 election and was reelected in 2014.

A Levine staffer speaking on background pushed back against the argument that campaign contributions equal support for a project or a builder. He noted that Levine had played no role in the riverfront plan. "This project was not on our radar," says the Levine spokesman.

A San Francisco real estate consultancy firm offered a generally cheery fiscal and economic impact analysis of the plan in 2013. The project then faced a state-mandated environmental review that critics have labeled a sham—a sham in search of a preordained approval from a bloc of five city council members.

Petaluma Mayor David Glass was one of the two no votes on the plan, which passed 5–2. A nine-year incumbent, Glass says of Levine: "He's tight with the five members of the majority" that support the Basin plan.

Besides Basin Street Properties and its president, Levine also counts support from the progressively inclined Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees.

"Levine is an interesting figure," says Lisa Maldonado of the North Bay Labor Council.

The Levine spokesman says his boss is a friend to unions and that questions about campaign contributions should be put to those making them, not those receiving them. "Ask them," he suggested. We did just that last week, and Basin's lawyer didn't get back to us.

Tanks for the Memories

Last Summer, we took off on that Ferguson, Mo., policing debacle, and looked at some of the military gear that local law enforcement agencies had snagged from the feds ("Spoils of War," Aug. 27).

It was a pretty hairy list, you might recall, that included night-vision goggles, high-powered rifles and an armored personnel carrier in Napa.

This week President Obama told the world he would be putting the skids on the program.

It remains to be seen what becomes of the Napa tank, but Public Enemy might want to drop "Fight the Power" from the set-list during their scheduled BottleRock appearance next weekend.

The way Debriefer sees it, police are feeling a little sensitive around that kind of talk lately, especially when it's coming from militant African Americans . . . So keep your head down, Chuck D!

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