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We Get Letters: Spicy Gumbo; Space Bank

Published on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 8:59 am

There are a lot of bad arguments flying around with regard to the campaign contribution limit debate and I’m concerned that your recent Political Gumbo on Oct 19, 2021 adds to the confusion.

You begin with a non sequitur; namely, that campaign contribution limits will not end corruption. I’d be curious to know whether any of the over 150 signers of the open letter to Mayor Gordo and City Council would argue that campaign contribution limits would eliminate corruption. My guess is that zero of them would make such an argument. I don’t recall any of the speakers on Monday night making such an argument. I certainly didn’t.

Arguing that we don’t need to worry about campaign contribution limits because it won’t stop every unethical behavior committed by politicians only serves to obfuscate the issue. I sincerely hope Pasadena voters are not distracted by this line of reasoning.

Referring to the rampant and ongoing string of corrupt politicians in Los Angeles in spite of campaign contribution limits only serves to further confuse the situation. The alleged illegal activities of Mark Ridley Thomas, Jose Huisar, Mitchell Englander, and others, has nothing at all to do with whether Pasadena should impose campaign contribution limits.

Where I do agree with you is that candidates can win elections the old fashioned way: by committing themselves to policies and actions that benefit their constituents and the city at large, and by going out and talking to voters, one by one, about those ideas. This is an argument in favor of campaign contribution limits.

The city of Pasadena is small enough that every elected official and potential challenger can knock on every door in their district. Even the Mayor can personally reach most of the voters. The endless junk mail needs to stop anyway. Not only are they a waste of precious resources but the information contained in the mailers is whole unreliable. I hope none of my neighbors in Pasadena would vote for a candidate based on those mailers.

However, my most serious objection to unlimited or unreasonably high limits on campaign contributions, like $4,900, is not how it affects the election itself, but how it influences elected officials once they’re elected. Of course it won’t end all corruption. Power opens many doors to corruption. But arguing that we shouldn’t close one door because we can’t close all of them at once is just bad reasoning.

Even after all of this debate over the past few weeks I still find myself baffled that we’re having this conversation. Especially considering our political and cultural context, how could we even consider codifying no limits to campaign contributions? It’s unthinkable. My guess is City Council thought it might fly under the radar. If Mayor Gordo is serious about his commitment to transparency and openness in local government, now would be a good time to retire this bad idea and start considering how to further limit campaign contributions beyond the $4,900 per person set out by the state.

Ryan Bell


In response to the opinion “We Get Letters: Take Another Look at Space Bank” published 10/19/2021

For many years, I often considered Pasadena as a well-managed city. Our elected officials have always had the citizens’ health and welfare as their first job priority. I wonder if this is no longer the case.

The “Removal Action Work Plan” for the development states that during much of the site grading and excavation, site carcinogens are so high that the workers will have to wear respirators. Of course, people in private homes, schools, and office buildings will not be wearing respirators. Did any of our elected officials ever consider the health impacts for the nearby residents when they voted on July 17, 2018 to move forward with this project?

As residents of the nearby neighborhoods, we need the city’s protection from the toxic site on 3200 East Foothill Boulevard. We don’t understand why the city approved an inadequate cleanup of this dangerous toxic site.  Personally, I believe affordable housing is very important for our community, but there is no reason for affordable housing to be unsafe and to cause harm. It is NOT just the housing which is important; people’s lives and their health are just as important!

That’s why a petition with 700+ signers was sent to Mayor Gordo and the City Council in early September of this year, asking our elected officials to demand that the developer keep his promises, to clean up the toxic site to residential level without land-use controls.  We want clean affordable housing, but it must be safe for those who live and work on the proposed mixed-use development.

Let me close by echoing the statement at the end of the published letter; it could not have been said any better:

One can only hope that our Pasadena City Council will follow Alhambra’s lead by voting with intelligence, heart, and integrity.

Margaret Wong
Pasadena Resident

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