No promises

Sacramento 60’s attack dog?Pugno gets Bee love

Most candidates for Sacramento City Council have agreed to keep their campaigns reasonably civil and clean. But some are reserving the right to go negative.

Of the 21 candidates running for city council or mayor, just six have refused to sign the city’s Code of Fair Campaign Practices pledge. Candidates who sign promise not to attack their opponents based on race, sex or religion, or lifestyle, and to generally run a clean campaign.

Most importantly, it requires candidates to let their opponents know eight days before sending out mailers of other campaign materials which directly names another candidate.

“That’s not enough time,” says Phil Giarrizzo, campaign manager for Allen Warren, who’s running for the District 2 council seat. He said that his campaign doesn’t plan to go negative, but needs to be able to respond to “last-minute, scurrilous attacks” from other campaigns. But all the other candidates in that race have signed the clean-campaign code.

“These days, when independent-expenditure committees can run amok, it’s just too much of a risk to hamstring a candidate like that,” says Giarrizzo.

The other candidates refusing to sign the pledge: District 8 candidate Betty Williams, District 4 candidates Phyllis Newton and David Turturici, and mayoral candidates Richard Jones and Kevin Johnson.

Johnson’s spokesperson Steve Maviglio said the incumbent didn’t need to sign the pledge because, “We’re not doing any mail about our opponents, and perhaps no advertising at all.” (Cosmo Garvin)

But Mayor Kevin Johnson ally Betty Williams has already chosen to go negative on her opponent, incumbent councilwoman Bonnie Pannell. One Williams brochure attacks Pannell for opposing Johnson on his strong-mayor initiative and a key redistricting vote.

Williams just got $25,000 from independent-expenditure committee Better Sacramento Political Action Committee to help her keep up the attack. Better Sacramento is the outgrowth of the so-called Sacramento 60, a group of businessmen and developers who formed to support strong-mayor and other Johnson initiatives. The contribution is listed on campaign-disclosure forms as paying for campaign signs and “grassroots/field walkers.”(C.G.)

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board surprised a few folks by endorsing anti-gay activist Andy Pugno—one of the authors of California’s gay-marriage ban Proposition 8—for state Assembly last week.

The Bee’s editors acknowledged their distaste for Pugno’s history of discrimination, downplayed it saying his Republican opponent Beth Gaines, “shares the same views on gay and lesbian rights.”

Maybe so, but there’s a big difference between being a run-of-the-mill conservative and making your living by fighting against marriage equality in the courts and at the ballot box.

Said Stonewall Democratic Club of Greater Sacramento spokesperson Neil Pople: “Andy Pugno plans to legislate hate. He’s done it in the past, and he eagerly awaits the chance to be able to do it as a legislator.”

Asked why he thought the Bee would embrace such a divisive figure, Pople guessed, “It almost feels like the Bee is listening more to the idiotic comments people leave on their website over the real feelings of the people who live where these races are being held.” (C.G.)