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Other Campaign Efforts Dwarfed By Chamber PAC

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday October 31, 2006

Besides the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce’s Business of Better Government Political Action Committee (PAC) and the backers of Measure J, the most active PAC to report contributions was the Berkeley Democratic Club’s PAC. 

With total contributions for the year through Oct. 21 totaling $9,487, the party PAC was a mere 15.4 percent of the chamber’s far grander total of $61,793.58. 

Many of the contributions came in the form of donated space in the club’s endorsement mailing, and benefited many of the same candidates backed by the chamber, including Mayor Tom Bates and City Council challengers Raudel Wilson and George Beier, who are challenging incumbents Dona Spring and Kriss Worthington. 

Other beneficiaries included incumbent Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, opposition to Measure J (the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance update initiative) and Berkeley Unified School District board candidates Shirley Issel, Nancy Riddle and Karen Hemphill. 

City Auditor Ann Marie Hogan, who is running for reelection without opposition, was also recorded as the beneficiary of ad/endorsement space. 

Typically, candidates reimburse party clubs for the reported value of the space, as Bates and the three school board candidates each gave $1,000, with Wozniak and Beier chipping in with $500 apiece, with an additional $50 from Wozniak’s spouse Evelyn. 

In addition, the Berkeley Democratic Club gave its own PAC $3,300. 

Local candidates who did not reimburse the cost of space as of the Oct. 21 filing date included Wilson, Hogan and East Bay Municipal Utility District candidate Andy Katz. 

The PAC spent $5,335.61 for printing and $3,900.47 for postage and also gave $250 to the North Alameda County PAC of the National Women’s Political Caucus. 

One committee that didn’t report any expenditures despite printing and mailing an oversized postcard supporting Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Gordon Wozniak was the Berkeley Fire Fighters Association Local 1227 Political Action Committee. 

The only expenditure reported to the city was an April 25 donation of $1,500 to the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Phil Angelides. 

Another committee took legal form three months after it held a public forum and issued endorsements on candidates and measures. 

While school board member John Selawsky and activist Elliot Cohen recorded the formation on the Committee for a Progressive Berkeley on Oct. 17, the group was actually formed in the summer, and held an open public meeting in July where endorsements were made for local candidates and races. 

The group’s only contributor, Steve Wollmer, was recorded as giving $100 on Oct. 24. 

“It’s a group of us who consider ourselves progressives,” said Wollmer, who added that he gave the lone contribution to pay for door hangers and on the condition that he didn’t have to make calls.