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ImageDemocracy at Work in Pinole
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YCCR - January 29, 2008

Article Launched:01/30/2008

Big Fishes in a Small Pond, Redux

A few fishes shrunk a little…but some grew!

This is definitely a redux; Triad’s downtown development plan—continued from the January 8th meeting and continued yet again to another meeting. Since staff requested it be continued and the council agreed, they took public comment and that was it. But some public comment was bizarre…

There were no presentations

Consent Calendar:

First the public comment (We all missed John Osborne, I hope he is feeling OK, or better yet, I hope he took some time off)…

Item 6.B: Mustafa Abdul Ghanee indicated that Bethel students from the Country Club Crest are taking short cuts under the Hwy 37 tunnel. Ghanee asked if this issue be included in item 6.B, approval of the “Safe Streets to School” Program. Mayor Davis asked that the resolution be changed to include language about the getting a solution to the Bethel/Country Club Crest students’ short cuts.

6.A was moved to 6.1: This was a “waiver of claims and indemnification” agreement between the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the City of Vallejo, due to Vallejo’s participation in a regional study. Councilmember Schivley asked this be pulled from the consent calendar because she wanted to make sure complaints by citizens about signal timing are addressed. Public Works Director Gary Leach indicated that they would, and this was one of the purposes of the study.

Click HERE for the rest of this article...

Gary CloutierElection Challenge Update

Posted January 29, 2007

By Marc Garman


Gary Cloutier's election challenge fund raiser/ Q&A session on Sunday January 27 was well attended.

Rick Mariani's cavernous photo studio on Tennessee Street (used for the event) was filled with Cloutier supporters--the press, both print and television--Cloutier detractors, and other notables such as county supervisor Barbara Kondylis and councilmember Joanne Schivley.
"People need to be assured that their vote is counted." said Cloutier, speaking about his reasons for pursuing what is likely to be a lengthy and expensive process with an uncertain outcome.
Supervisor Kondylis also addressed the audience.  "The county screwed up."--"We don't know if Gary won or Osby won."
Kondylis went on to emphasize the need for citizen oversight of the election idea that has not been greeted with much warmth in Fairfield. 
Citizen oversight groups have been successful in other communities.  Jennifer Kidder of the Voting Rights Task Force and Dan Ashby of the Election Defense Alliance were on hand to speak, and answer questions about election oversight.  (See the contact info at the bottom of the page if you have questions or want to get involved.)
Click HERE for the rest of this article...

Does Your Vote Matter-Redux?

        By Katy Miessner

        Posted 01/24/2008

Or, An-ar-chy in the counting-room!

 If you are concerned, please get involved!


ADQ might be a disco-queen but on occasion has been known to listen to some punk-rock (no slam dancing or mosh pits, though-yuk!). The Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK" can be this election's motto; just substitute "UK" with "Counting Room." This includes the rooms where the voting machines were, and the rooms where the hand-counts took place. Each had its own version of anarchy.

Last night, January 23, the level of anarchy became even more apparent during a Q&A with the Solano County Registrar of Voters, Ira Rosenthal, and the Assistant Registrar, Lindsey McWilliams. The Solano County Central Committee hosted this Q&A at their monthly meeting.

The Q&A, intended to be general, started off with some general questions but as soon as the first question about the Vallejo Mayoral Election was lobbed, the discussion was all about that. Rosenthal and McWilliams appeared evasive, gave contradictory and/or unclear information and the result was that the entire process is more suspect than ever.


And-whoa-on top of what we already know, a trashed ballot; another vote "found" during a "secret" recount; etc, etc, we discover:

  • Mr. McWilliams stated that "marks" invalidate ballots, including identifying marks, correction marks and signatures (the only signature that is acceptable for an absentee ballot is the one on the mailing envelope).

I argued this point with McWilliams on Tuesday Dec 4th. I basically said the same thing: absentee ballots that have been marked up (and there were plenty, including several that I saw with signatures on them) should be disqualified. But on Dec 4th, McWilliams told me something entirely different; that ballots with marks & signatures are OK, as long as "voter intent" can be determined.

My recount group spotted several ballots that were signed. The group just sort of thought it was quaint or endearing that someone would sign their ballot.

  • Notices to Hiddenbrooke voters contained incorrect information because when they were printed "the flag was checked" and McWilliams "can't explain why." This "flag" apparently when "checked" makes a message print that tells voters that their precinct has been consolidated-and that they should vote by mail.

The Registrar then left it up to one of the Hiddenbrooke Neighborhood Associations to get the word out that there would be a polling place in Hiddenbrooke, because the Hiddenbrooke precinct was not sent the "vote by mail" ballots that normally go with the "flagged" message. McWilliams indicated that sending these would be too expensive. Instead, the association was asked to send an email (hope they weren't recognized as spam!) to residents. The result was that there was much confusion within the Hiddenbrooke community about voting, and because that precinct consisted of a majority of Cloutier supporters, the Registrar's error most likely inordinately impacted Cloutier's campaign.

The Hiddenbrooke polls closed early, and not directly related to this, but McWilliams did say that poll workers don't like working at Hiddenbrooke because the gates close at a certain time. The audience corrected McWilliams: Hiddenbrooke does not even have gates that close.

  • They were asked if observers touched the ballots and McWilliams responded with a resounding no, and that there are no exceptions. Uh-oh: I mentioned to him and the other attendees that a recount election board member passed me a ballot that I wanted to challenge. There wasn't anyone in the room (as there should have been) from the Registrar's Office to say that I shouldn't touch it, but I immediately put it down, thinking that it was very odd that I would even be handed a ballot.

  • They were asked about rules and training and if any materials were handed out. Rosenthal said that there were materials "available on the Secretary of State's web site." Apparently there was no direct training of the observers, at least not me, or the recount election board. This was especially illustrated by the fact that a recount board member handed me a ballot: A big "no-no."

  • Brent Turner from the San Francisco Election Integrity League in response to the many problems with the machines, including display of "cryptic messages" (the registrar's own words) and counting ballots that should not have been counted, described problems with Solano County's voting machines that result from not having "open-source code."

Open-source code describes a machine which has programming that is accessible to anyone in the Registrar's office. The current problem with our machines, manufactured by ES&S (who was recently sued by the State of California) is that their code is their "intellectual property" and what they make their profits from. So the code is closed, that is, only the vendor understands and has access to it. So, when something goes wrong, like cryptic messages or ballots erroneously counted twice, only the vendor can fix it or address it! As the Open Voting Consortium states, the entire voting system must be open to complete public scrutiny with no "trade secrets."

For Solano County specifically, the Registrar has asked ES&S for additional training regarding the "cryptic error message" which won't be scheduled until after the February primary! HELLO? We are going into the most critical primary in California's history: we will actually have quite an influence in both the Democratic and Republican races, and we will be using machines that spit out "cryptic messages." "We're so sorry Mr./Ms. [insert candidate name] that you lost but we can't tell you why because the message was cryptic..."

After the meeting, after hearing all the election blunders, especially with the machine count and the recount, Turner came up with the description "anarchy in the counting-room!"

  • Supervisor Kondylis suggested the idea of creating an Election Advisory Committee, as she did at Tuesday's Board of Supervisor's meeting. It was received like a lead balloon by Rosenthal and McWilliams. They obviously wanted nothing to do with such a committee and only discussed reasons why there should not be one.

  • The idea was then discussed about creating a citizen's group-one that would be created outside of the Board of Supes and/or the Registrar's Office. The Registrar was quite resistant and indicated that the viewing room could only accommodate 8-10 people and any group would have to be limited, and that they already have observers totaling about that amount: reps from various groups including the Democratic Central Committee.

Rosenthal and McWilliams are actually quite incorrect on this point. Turner from the San Francisco Election Integrity League said that the Registrar must accommodate any citizen that requests to observe the vote-counting. After the meeting, we all speculated that within that brand-spanking new County Center, they must have some space somewhere. Maybe in that fabulous and gigantic lobby?

  • Last (but not least!) Pam Keith, Gary Cloutier's campaign manager, invited Messrs. Rosenthal and McWilliams to make contributions to Cloutier's legal expenses...

If you are interested in contributing, or are interested in what happened and how you can help make sure it never happens again, please attend this important meeting hosted by Gary Cloutier:

Election Results Meeting hosted by Gary Cloutier

When: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Where: 733 Tennessee Street, Rick Mariani's photography studio

With the confusion about the election and contest, Cloutier believes it is necessary hold a public meeting to discuss what he knows about the election results and explain the necessity for the contest. Cloutier has sent a letter to every household in Vallejo which voted in the last election, inviting them to attend.

The meeting will be a forum to discuss the election and contest. Supervisor Kondylis will be there as well as possibly a staff member from the Secretary of State's Office



        By Gary Cloutier

        Posted 01/23/2008


Challenge the Recount!

Dear Vallejo Voter,

Doing the right thing is never easy. That is why I filed a contest to dispute the recount results in the Vallejo Mayor’s race. On January 27, 2008 at 4 p.m. at 733 Tennessee Street in Vallejo, I intend to hold a public meeting to disclose all I know about this election and contest, and to seek funds to pay for this effort. Here’s why I have taken this action.

  • The day after county officials told me they had “counted every ballot”, and that I lost the election by three votes, the Registrar called my campaign manager to report that they had found a ballot marked in my favor “in the trash,” and the margin of victory was no longer three but two votes.

  • In a memo dated December 20, 2007, county officials advised the Board of Supervisors of an eleven vote discrepancy between the machine (under which I was sworn in as Mayor by five votes) and the hand recount. The Board was told that most but not all of the discrepancies could “reasonably be explained.”

  • The Board of Supervisors was further told that in a secret staff recount of the board recount in four out of the 47 Vallejo precincts, the recount was incorrect in two and that I “most likely” received one of those votes. If 2 of the 4 precincts were wrong, one has to wonder what the outcome would be if all the precincts were recounted.

We saw what happened in 2001 when the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the recount in Florida and stole the elections for the Republicans. It is time to stop bureaucrats and judges from pushing the voters around! I have advanced $26, 000 to attorneys who specialize in election law to file a contest against Osby Davis who is, unfortunately, and as a result of procedure required by law, the named defendant. I am advised that the attorneys’ fees may reach $100,000 to get to the bottom of what happened in this election and to seek a fair outcome for all. That is why I need your help. You may send your donations to Friends of Gary Cloutier, Box 713, Vallejo, California 94590 or go to: http://GARYFORMAYOR07.COM for more information or to make a donation by Pay Pal.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Very truly yours,

Gary Cloutier

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