Editorial: A necessary investigation | March 17, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - March 17, 2017

Editorial: A necessary investigation

State opens inquiries into Kniss and Tanaka campaign practices

State and federal campaign laws have long been rooted in the principal that the transparency of campaign contributions is the most effective way to discourage and expose special interests attempting to influence elections and public policy.

These laws establish strict rules for reporting of donors, their occupations and the amounts given in all local, state and federal elections. And because of past abuses, where major donors would wait until after the final pre-election reporting deadline to make contributions, in California any donation of $1,000 or more received within the final two weeks before the election must be publicly reported within 24 hours.

These requirements are the backbone of our election system, and those who are found to have violated the law face potential fines, or in extreme cases, criminal prosecution. The law does not provide a means of negating an election outcome or forcing a new election.

Palo Alto Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, the most experienced and longest-serving public official serving on the City Council and the top vote-getter in last November's election, was notified this week, as was Councilman Greg Tanaka last month, that the state Fair Political Practices Commission's enforcement division is investigating anonymous allegations that her campaign failed to make timely reports of contributions.

Tanaka's final post-election campaign report, covering the period of Oct. 23 to Dec. 31, showed that he received $48,000, more than half his total contributions, after Oct. 23. The FPPC will investigate complaints that he failed to include the occupations of several developers on his reports and did not report the value of a campaign sign on the building of the architect for 429 University Ave., a property owned by Elizabeth Wong. Wong's son, Andrew, had also made a $5,000 campaign donation to Tanaka, which Tanaka returned prior to voting on Feb. 6 to approve Wong's controversial project at that site.

The complaints against Kniss are potentially the most serious because they allege a failure to report in a required, timely manner of a $2,500 campaign donation sent to her campaign by the California Association of Realtors PAC and other large donations, primarily from development or real estate interests. The Realtors reported they made the donation on Oct. 18, but Kniss didn't report receiving it until Nov. 18. She told the Weekly in January that her campaign treasurer, Tom Collins, was unable to process any contributions between Oct. 22 and Nov. 15 due to knee surgery and that the campaign was advised by the FPPC that if the envelope hadn't been opened it didn't need to be reported (a position that FPPC regulations appear to contradict).

The commission will also examine the reporting of other contributions Kniss received during this period, mostly from real estate interests and many without the required occupations listed.

The FPPC has not issued any notice to a third councilman, Adrian Fine, who also received substantial donations after the final pre-election campaign filing on Oct. 23, including six $999 donations from real estate interests. Although he reported receiving $26,000, about a third of the total money he raised, after Oct. 23, he was not required to report the donations under $1,000 until his final report filed in January, which he did. He also properly reported two contributions of $1,000 or more within 24 hours in the period leading up to Election Day. The $999 contributions, however, were clearly designed to avoid pre-election reporting requirements.

The laws and guidelines for compliance with campaign laws are well-documented and even novice political candidates have no excuse for not complying. An experienced candidate such as Kniss, who has run successfully in nine elections subject to the Political Reform Act, knows the legal importance of reporting large campaign contributions in the final days of a campaign and the responsibility to appoint an alternative treasurer if necessary to meet reporting requirements. It is disturbing if she did not do this.

We are pleased that the FPPC will investigate and render a judgment on what violations, if any, occurred in last fall's campaign. Everyone in the community should support this inquiry.

But regardless of the commission's legal findings, the actions of the Kniss, Tanaka and Fine campaigns in the handling of late campaign contributions established a new low for politics in Palo Alto that future candidates must commit to correcting. Kniss in particular, a political veteran who pledged not to accept financial support from developer or real estate interests early on in her campaign, owes her supporters and constituents an apology for reneging. And attributing the investigation to sour grapes by those who lost the election, as she told the Weekly, is a diversionary tactic unbecoming of such a successful politician.

Comments

Posted by Neilson Buchanan, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2017 at 6:43 am

Nationally 2017 will be a historic year and will affirm the power of journalism to guide Congressional priorities. We are fortunate to have local journalism reminding us of what is important for Palo Alto and the region.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:51 am

Wow, that FPPC letter is filled with allegations around two things, 1) the reporting of the the Residential Realtors check for $2500, old news and explained months ago, and 2) the same issues as Tanaka about donor titles like occupation and employer.

[Portion removed.]

I am much more unhappy and troubled with the expenditure during the elections PASZ spent $20k on a Washington DC poll as an in-kind donation to Keller/Kou. Then Keller/Kou spent $50k each on an SF political strategists that specialized in negative campaigning, and mailers from Sacramento targeting Fine with the unfortunate words of "Palo,Alto doesn't need Adrian Fine" (a Gunn grad, isnt that exactly the type of language we don't want our kids to hear). It was horrifying for me to open that large mail piece in my home.

Yes, an ugly campaign. Keller/Kou spending over $90k each on polls, negative campaigns v. The $70k to $80k campaigns of Kniss, Tanak and Fine who used community volunteers and spent their funds on getting their message out, not trashing other candidates.

Yes, I read the bloggers that witnessed Kniss complaining about the large checks from the five rich families to PASZ, Keller and Kou [portion removed.]

So sad, who runs for council next year without the PASZ and press machinery will need to raise thousands of dollars, early, not late like this year after the big five family's donated early (prior to the,chambers letter based on the PASZ poll timing) while still trying to keep a positive message, reach out to the community with walking and knocking and candidate gatherings.

If all these funds were spent on getting their message out, than OK by me. In this election I still would not have switched my vote to Keller/Kou after that mailer slipped through my mail slot! Paid for by those five large donors.

The Press is villifying both the candidate and their volunteer treasurers--all long time residents of Palo Alto with family and friends now thinking that they were part of some high stakes strategy of hoodwinking the community with corrupt candidates, bringing shame on them for having personal lives, and health issues. I am so sorry to learn that Kniss's treasurer had to be on medical leave during this time [portion removed.]

Goodbye council elections costing $30k, hello nasty negative campaigns with expensive professional strategists, polls and Sacramento mail houses. And candidates that don't want to meet the community.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

It's cute that the editorial board doesn't feel that Kou/Keller donations need to be investigated. This editorial is so lazy and devoid of any real reporting it's almost comical.

Be aware of lazy lines such as:

"a position that FPPC regulations appear to contradict" - or if you are so certain, go do the research and declare one way or the other.

Or the continuous, vague references to "real estate interests". I also like how the editorial lumps Fine into the mix though there is no investigation into his campaign. So he received donations from developers or "real estate interests". Kou/Keller received money from those with opposing views. What's your point?

What is truly unbecoming is the witch hunt of Kniss/Tanaka/Fine and the Weekly's running as point guard for it. Now let's wait to see how much of this comment is removed because it does not agree with the Weekly's views.


Posted by Help End Local Corruption, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

The Weekly's editorial is excellent!

Kniss and Tanaka can still redeem themselves by admitting guilt, paying the penalties, and recusing themselves on all projects related to improper contributions. That would be the honorable course to take. But don't hold your breath, as many politicians are quite accustomed to getting away with dishonesty and thus reflexively attack others and spew out clouds of distractions. A couple of the postings above demonstrate how that's done: ignore the legal issues but attack the other side for having "started it." It's classic "blame the victim."

So not only do Tanaka and Kniss dishonor our city [portion removed] but then they and their supporters make it worse with their disreputable defenses.


Posted by Biased reporting, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:03 am

Well stated, anonymous, the weekly is indeed running point for this witch hunt. But they have been stirring the pot against kniss, Tanaka and fine even before the election. They have clearly deleted comments which disagree with their view and allow a series of non stop attacks against the 3 council members. IMHO, the weekly gives independent, unbiased journalism a bad name. Also remember their recent editorial and guest " opinion" from Tom dubois.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:04 am

The avoidance and deflection as expressed in the 2 lead comments above feed the political sickness that these 2 or 3 (Kniss, Tenaka, and possibly Fine) have indulged in. The irresponsible blaming of others for one's own actions is exactly what we don't want our elected officials to do.

If one reads any of the detailed articles in the 4 local newspapers over the last week, it is inescapable to ascribe the FPPC's charges to a political conspiracy. The FPPC doesn't just investigate because someone files a complaint. It only opens an investigation when it sees there is real evidence justifying an investigation. The evidence detailed in the articles is damning on its face. Facts are facts, not political gamesmanship, so stop the pitiful attempt to deflect responsibility from Kniss and Tanaka's to their political opponents who were transparent financially, obeying the law, who, unlike Kniss, who said she wouldn't take money from developers, took it hugely but hid it, seemingly illegally.

The only games played here are those by Kniss and Tenaka. Adrian Fine too hid his developer money, making sure it was only revealed after the election. What a sorry way to start what he hopes is a political career. We deserve better politicians with more integrity than this.

Trust by voter residents is gone because Kniss and Tenaka deceived voters to get elected. Had voters known, the outcome of the election may have been very different. Think about that. They have betrayed us and their Office. How they can be effective council members anymore is beyond me. They have completely undermined their ability to lead. Both should resign [portion removed.] If not, they should be recalled.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:35 am

It isn't avoidance. I am not opposed into looking into the reporting requirements as required. The clear and overwhelming bias comes from those opposed to the fact that developers or "real estate interests" donated at all.

Can any residentialist who wants to take Palo Alto back to the 1850s with cows grazing on the land honestly say that he/she would have had zero issues with Kniss/Tanaka/Fine so long as they met the reporting requirements accurately?

There are two issues: accurate reporting of donations, and the fact that residentialists are using this technical detail for which, again, there is no possibility of a recall or forced resignation, to lash out at the fact that they lost the election.

The reality is, though there may be penalties, this will not satisfy the residentialist bloc. In other words, even though the law does not prescribe for a recall, you hear them hooting and hollering about a recall. Sorry, that's not how this works. So yes, be worked up about the technical reporting and go ahead and investigate.

I await the residentialists stamp of approval if/when these fine folks are cleared or are found to have done something in violation and have been forced to pay the appropriate remedy. But this nonsense about removing them from council, you can give that a rest.

The idea that the voters of Palo Alto do not know how Kniss leans to begin with goes to show how uninformed they are. There is this thing called Google which would give you ample evidence as to which way she leans, so the idea that the public "just" discovered her leanings is an indictment on the public's lack of intelligence or laziness towards researching her history.

This is symptomatic of the country at large. There are too many large swaths of uneducated / uninformed voters throughout the US (how do you think Trump got elected?).


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:38 am

I hope Kuo, Keller and/or someone with in-depth knowledge of PASZ's supposedly deep campaign coffers can speak to the allegations above.

As a regular voter, though, I remember adding up the campaign contributions and seeing the contributions reported for the 2 slates were roughly equal ONLY after the contributions from the 5 ordinary citizens that provoked such organized outage.

The only public opinion polls I got were the frequent ones for Berman. Where was the organized outrage to that?

Re the "negative attack" ad that so infuriated the Kniss-Tanaka defenders, I got that one; it merely said "Vote For Kuo-Keller. We're worried about Transportation Gridlock" and QUOTED the other candidates SAYING WHY they opposed dealing with transportation problems.

Shouldn't candidates stand by their own words and/or clarify them, not just attack their opponents for pointing them out?

That "negative attack ad" was apparently the ONLY ad Kuo-Keller could afford. It came late in the campaign and only after the contributions from the 5 families.

Before that, I got LOTS of ads, emails and automated telephone solicitations from Berman and Kniss-Tanaka-Fine, including the one re the Democratic Party's supposed endorsement of them that they themselves paid for, not the party itself.

Someone paid handsomely for the well-organized pr and misleading campaigns of Kate Downing and PAF who [portion removed] when they claimed Mayor Burt wanted to ban all tech companies from Palo Alto when in fact he only said that multi-billion dollar companies like Palantir priced out the small startups on which the Valley was founded.

Who funded that? That type of pr doesn't come cheap!

Less spin and more honesty and balance here would be special.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:40 am

Hold on, the FPPC is asking for the candidates comments to annymous allegations, then their decision to investigate further begins. This editorial has found the claims to be true and the candidates guilty--before learning of their response. Contributions often come in after an expensive election late, there is no crime in that.

Let's allow due process to operate with these volunteer candidates and treasurers before making judgement. These people have family, Tanaka has kids in the schools, has volunteered in the community before his appointment to commission. Kniss has made significant contributions to Palo Alto over the years and has long time friends and family. Fine is a Gunn grad, and Palo Alto raised!

Keller and Kou have also made significant contributions to Palo Alto, even though their attack ads against Fine were bad decisions in my opinion.



Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:46 am

Anonymous, please stop twisting people's views. No one said we wanted to go back to the 1850s! Stop dismissing legitimate complaints about real and worsening transportation problems.

That's the type of dishonest spin to legitimate complaints about gridlock that Kniss-Tanaka supporters call "attack ads."


Posted by A Reckless Editorial, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2017 at 11:19 am

This Editorial reads like a political attack, which is exactly what it is.

"the actions of the Kniss, Tanaka and Fine... established a new low for politics in Palo Alto that future candidates must commit to correcting." A new low? Does the editor have some insight with the FPPC that the public does not? Let's allow them to be the judge, not our local newspaper.

Additionally, this editorial is roping Kniss Tanaka and Fine together - when it seems like Fine.. was just fine! What did he do wrong exactly? If you're going to complain about the appearance of impropriety, then the Weekly has an obligation to talk about the behavior of other candidates, like Kou and Keller, who raised - what was it? - over $150k from five families. That's impropriety.


Posted by 6Djockey, a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

In response to Reckless Editorial, the obvious difference between donations to Kniss/Tanaka and those to Kou/Keller was that Kou/Keller's donations were all in the open and reported according to the FPPC rules. Kniss/Tanaka donations were not and that's why they are being investigated. We will never know how much breaking the rules affected the outcome of the election but it could be significant, even to the extent that the pro-developers gained a majority on the council. Such an outcome could never be reversed no matter what the findings are and what penalties might be imposed.


Posted by Editorial is not an editorial, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Biased, one sided editorial. The weekly is acting as judge jury and executioner. Proclaiming tamaka and kniss guilty without the investigation being completed and also tarring fine as well. That said, thesis totally in line with the Weekly's recent efforts regarding kniss, tanaka and fine, which go back to before the election. The weekly should be straightforward with their readers and state that they are spokespeople for a certain group in town with a certain agenda.


Posted by Deception, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm

"Really?" doesn't seem to get the key issue with fair campaign practices and campaign law. It appears that 2 and possibly 3 sitting council members intentionally deceived voters by hiding financial information. Let me say that again. Intentionally deceived voters. This damages trust in our public institutions and our city government. It's not a politic issue. It's a basic decency issue.

These laws are in place for public transparency. Knowing who is supporting a candidate is core to a Democracy. I hope no own on either side of the development debate would question that.

In addition it appears Kniss has hidden where she spent the money other than "various tech companies". Likely polling and micro-targeting - just the thing "Really" finds really offensive.

Other people in the campaign complied with reporting requirements - that's why we know who backed Keller and Kou. They were transparent and reported the information well ahead of election day.

In the end, I believe Kniss and Tanaka raised more money than anyone. We need to see the final totals since they reported such a huge percentage of their fundraising after the election was over, which is entirely unprecedented in Palo Alto politics. To put it in perspective. They raised more money after than election than most candidates spend in entire local elections.

Lets keep the focus on the honesty and integrity of our elected officials and not fall into the distraction tactics that appear to be the current state of American politics.


Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2017 at 6:12 pm

"But regardless of the commission's legal findings, the actions of the Kniss, Tanaka and Fine campaigns in the handling of late campaign contributions established a new low for politics in Palo Alto..."

Says it all.


Posted by Claude Ezran, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 17, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Palo Alto Weekly: It is PRINCIPLE, not PRINCIPAL! (in the second line)


Posted by Political motivations, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm

"It doesn't appear that council member Adrian Fine did anything illegal or wrong, but we're including him in this editorial because we don't like council member Adrian Fine."


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm

Re Adrian Fine, from Palo Alto Online's 3/3 article:

Web Link

Tanaka is one of three council members who benefitted from the late surge of developer cash. Vice Mayor Liz Kniss and Councilman Adrian Fine also reported contributions from the builder community after their election. Both Kniss and Fine had also been subjects of anonymous complaints, according to the FPPC, though the agency had not indicated whether these complaints had triggered investigations.

From the Merc, 3/13 Web Link

The commission also is reviewing an anonymous complaint regarding Councilman Adrian Fine to determine whether it warrants an investigation, Wierenga said.

Each violation of the Political Reform Act is subject to an administrative fine of up to $5,000, but the commission also could choose to resolve matters without issuing a fine.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@"Political motivations"

1. Your quote is a fabrication.
2. The Weekly endorsed Fine, contrary to the claim in your fake quote about the Weekly: "we don't like council member Adrian Fine."

That is is par-for-the-course for the defenders of Kniss and Tanaka suggests that their supporters here on TSF don't think they have a valid defense.


Posted by Support tanaka, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Naturally, Doug Moran, lumps all defenders of knows and tanaka into 1 group and then miraculously knows exactly what their motivations are for defending knows and tanaka. I say that is,par for the course for someone that is associated with the weekly.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:31 pm

@Support tanaka, surely you can do better than that. Isn't Steven Levy a blogger for the Weekly, too?

And remember that the Weekly endorsed both Fine and Kniss so please stop twisting the facts.


Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:38 pm

"Biased, one sided editorial. The weekly is acting as judge jury and executioner. Proclaiming tamaka and kniss guilty without the investigation being completed ... ."

All of us have access to the same evidence the FPPC has--the blatantly deceptive forms 460 and 497 filed by these two. As politicians, Kniss and Tanaka must face a much more fundamental kind of court than a remote state commission--the citizens they attempted to deceive. We are perfectly free to make up our own minds about the arrogant contempt these politicians displayed for our intelligence who thought they could get away with this amateurish transparent deceit.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

What the editorial said: "We are pleased that the FPPC will investigate and render a judgment on what violations, if any, occurred..."

What commenter "Editorial is not an editorial" claims of the editorial: "The weekly is acting as judge jury and executioner. Proclaiming tamaka and kniss guilty without the investigation being completed and also tarring fine as well."

Standard military and PR maxim: When in a indefensible position, attack, attack, attack.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 17, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Curmudgeon's comment "We are perfectly free to make up our own minds about the arrogant contempt these politicians displayed for our intelligence who thought they could get away with this amateurish transparent deceit." applies equally to their defenders who ALSO insult our intelligence.

I'm truly amused by their transparent lies, silly attacks and refusal to concede any points even when they're caught twisting easily verifiable facts like which candidates the Weekly endorsed, which candidates are under investigation and which bloggers the Weekly features.

If these amateurs think they're helping their candidates, they're only making them look worse.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by margaret heath, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

A "formal" investigation is not begun until after a preliminary investigation into whether there are grounds to do so. In the case of Liz Kniss, apparently grounds to do so have been established since a formal investigation has now been initiated. There are very clear rules about violating campaign procedures.

This includes a candidate manipulating campaign donations to conceal from voters who is financially supporting them.

Liz Kniss is being investigated because she accepted a sudden cluster of large donations after the election. In addition, they represent an industry that Liz Kniss had campaigned on a platform of not accepting money from.

Would she have still won another term on the council if she had not misrepresented herself?

We'll never know.


Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

"Nelson Mandela was an elected politician. It is possible to succeed in politics and keep your integrity intact."

Dennis Glover, a Melbourne author.


Posted by Collusion?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2017 at 7:06 am

Given that Kniss seemed so involved in helping Fine and Tanaka, and that all three employed the same strategy of downplaying their developer ties during the election and attacking their opponents for bringing up those ties, while loaning themselves money and taking developer cash afterwards to pay themselves back/accepted a significant amount of undisclosed developer cash, shouldn't the complaint and investigation be looking at possible collusion to avoid legal disclosure to the voters? The strategy wasn't employed by their opponents. It seems to me a separate look at each misses the most concerning problem here, possible collusion to fool the voters into voting for candidates colluding to basically represent development interests.


Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Sea Seelam Reddy is a registered user.

Ok.

Let the investigation continue if there are potential violation
Hope it is not intentional. I like Liz and Greg. Let's put energy on making Palo Alto GREAT AGAIN.

respectfully


Posted by margaret heath, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 20, 2017 at 4:05 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Collusion?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2017 at 7:58 am

"Someone paid handsomely for the well-organized pr and misleading campaigns of Kate Downing and PAF who [portion removed] when they claimed Mayor Burt wanted to ban all tech companies from Palo Alto when in fact he only said that multi-billion dollar companies like Palantir priced out the small startups on which the Valley was founded.

Who funded that? That type of pr doesn't come cheap!"

I wonder if there is more here, especially with Adrian Fine. You bring up a really interesting point about the tech companies. Didn't Kniss have a lot of unspecified tech services? One really common thing for large companies to do is pay for bloggers to pretend they are ordinary citizens to make it seem like there is more support for certain candidates or issues (or products) than there is. I have long wondered whether Palantir whose employees have been so aggressive in Palo Alto polittics - misleading for development interests that serve Palantir's takeover of downtown - in any way rewards or pays them for that. Did the complaint include that issue? Did Kniss receive any "astroturf" tech donations? What were the unspecified tech donations? It seems to me they are relevant. I have lately seen a lot of posts trying to forward the idea that the Kniss Fine and Tanaka campaigns were just so "volunteer" driven, so many volunteers, just volunteers volunteers volunteers, when there is very little evidence of true grassroots swell for them and questions of whether some of the grass has been cultivated in one way or other by large companies like Palantir who seem to want to make Palo Alto a giant office park and company town. . @Doug Moran, that's a pretty common tactic, when someone is vulnerable about an issue, to go on the offensive about it. The vociferousness of the questionable claim here nline lately that Kniss Fine Tanaka campaigns were dominated by so many "volunteers" makes me wish the FPPC complaint had included more about exactly what those unspecified tech donations were. What really would a local political campaign need? If they came from Palantir or paid bloggers to create astroturf, this, too would be highly relevant information all citizens deserve transparency about.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by KFT, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 22, 2017 at 2:55 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Support tanaka, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Collusion?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2017 at 8:09 am

"Given that Kniss seemed so involved in helping Fine and Tanaka, and that all three employed the same strategy of downplaying their developer ties during the election and attacking their opponents for bringing up those ties, while loaning themselves money and taking developer cash afterwards to pay themselves back/accepted a significant amount of undisclosed developer cash, shouldn't the complaint and investigation be looking at possible collusion to avoid legal disclosure to the voters? The strategy wasn't employed by their opponents. It seems to me a separate look at each misses the most concerning problem here, possible collusion to fool the voters into voting for candidates colluding to basically represent development interests."

People have already been asking whether there were potential Brown Act violations - in the selection process for the current (developer-centric)mayor and in the gutting of the work of the citizen commission on the comp plan. This is highly relevant to the investigation by FPPC. The complaint really should have included the issue of potential collusion between Fine Tanaka and Knuss.

However, I'm not holding my breath about FPPC being a strong watchdog. If history serves, I doubt they will do much, and that's probably what the experienced Kniss was counting on.


Posted by Bogus claims once again, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 23, 2017 at 8:21 am

Collusion- if you have any evidence oh a brown act violation you should forward it to the protest authorities. [Portion removed.] The fppc investigation deals with campaign finances. [Portion removed.]


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