Tuesday, February 21, 2006

4th District voters should follow the money

My Word by Gregory Conners
The Times Standard

The best way to understand a politician is to "follow the money." We can learn a great deal about candidates by identifying their funding sources and examining the political track records of other politicians who take money from the same sources.

Here is a real-life current example: Humboldt County financier Robin P. Arkley II and his wife, former Eureka Council Member Cherie Arkley, are investing millions in political causes on their way to purchasing yet more political power. The Arkleys paid $500,000 or so to bring us Gov. Arnold, another $500,000 to defeat Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and over $700,000 to support Gov. Schwarzenegger's unsuccessful 2005 ballot measures. In the past year and a half the Arkleys have spent about $700,000 on federal campaigns. We know this much from public records.

The Arkleys' favorite federal office holders have extensive track records that can help voters decide if they want to vote for Arkley candidates in the future. The track records of two powerful Arkley beneficiaries, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Sen. George Allen, R-Va., illustrate the point. In the past year the Arkleys have given Santorum and his political action committee at least $27,000. Allen, running for president in a race still three years in the future, has received $5,900 so far.

Both of these Arkley senators receive the same extreme ratings from key sources. NARAL Pro-Choice America rates them at zero. The AFL-CIO rates them at zero. The League of Conservation Voters rates them at zero. The American Public Health Association rates them at zero. The Christian Coalition, infamous for leader Pat Robertson's violent, racist proposals and for their goal of dominating the world by merging church and state, gives these Arkley senators a rating of 100 per cent. Both senators voted against banning soft money political contributions and restricting issue ads. Both are on record against tax deductions for college tuition. Both are on record favoring funding of private education over public. Santorum insists publicly that our culture is "too tolerant." Allen is running for president.

Are you alarmed yet? You should be. These extremist politics have been successful all the way to the presidency, and have now come home to roost right here in Humboldt County.

The Arkleys and other wealthy extremists have formed a committee to replace moderate Republican Humboldt County Supervisor Bonnie Neely with former Eureka Mayor Nancy Flemming. Since the office of mayor of Eureka is ceremonial, voting only to break the rare council tie, Flemming's track record is skimpy to non-existent. It is more important than ever for 4th District voters to "follow the money" before they vote.

Gregory Conners has served as chair of Eureka's General Plan and Zoning Committee, a member of the Eureka Planning Commission and chair of Eureka's Parks and Recreation Commission. He was a candidate for 4th District supervisor when Bonnie Neely first ran for election in 1986, and endorsed her immediately following his third-place showing in the primary. He lives in Loleta.

The opinions expressed in My Word pieces do not necessarily reflect the editorial viewpoint of the Times-Standard.

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