Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

Opinion Piece by Samuel Strait – October 2, 2016 – Recently there have been a couple of letters to the editor written in our local print version of a “newspaper” regarding the campaign contributions given to local politicians running in the November elections for Supervisor.  It was duly noted that both Roger Gitlan and Bob Berkowitz both reported contributions that were entirely local in origin while their competitors Kathryn Murray and David Finigan each reported contributions from Labor Unions and Murray from State level democratic politicians as well.

While it is easy to dismiss these kinds of contributions as unimportant, it seems that the “Local Unions” in question felt it important enough  to respond and dispute  this “Outside” interests charge with their own letters to the editor claiming that they were in fact local and the relatively large donations were merely to support local members who live in Del Norte County.

In the letter “‘Outside interests’ charge doesn’t fit”, (Triplicate, September 26,2016} written by Mr. Jeff Hunerlach, a member of Operating Engineers Local #3,  he claims that his union does not fall under the heading of a “Big Money” union and implies that they are merely a small local union that is representing the working people within the County for their right to a living wage.  He further states that while the Union’s hall is in Eureka, they support over 100 members who reside in Del Norte County.

Sounds good so far, and it has all the appearance of in fact being a “local” more or less union.  So the question becomes, Mr. Finigan, as chair of the County’s Airport Authority who has recently contrived to push forward a largely unnecessary new airport terminal which will hire expensive members of Operating Engineers Local #3 and is in a tight race to retain his Supervisor’s position willing to assure the voters of the County by returning the donation that there was no “private conversations in smoke filled backrooms”?  Is he willing to keep the donation and stick by the explanation given in the union’s letter to the editor?

At this point reality and honesty should be upper most in Mr Finigan’s mind.  Operating Engineers Local #3 by their own account is the largest construction trades local union in the United States with over 35,000 members who by their own admission donate by a 90% margin to Democratic candidates who share their particular  political interests, and insure that their members are given preference for large building projects to be constructed within the areas where members are represented.  It doesn’t sound quite so much like a “small moneyed local union” in that light and more like how it was originally described, “Big Union, Big Money”.

Kathryn Murray and her contributors have even more explaining to do.  Mr. Timothy McDermond, President of the  Central Labor Council of Humbolt and Del Norte County’s, in his letter, “Donor – Union council represents laborers in DN”, {Triplicate, September 30, 2016) offers this stance of being “shocked” at being characterized as “Big Labor subverting the electoral process”.   Sure thing Mr. McDermond.

While Murray’s political contributors have chosen to wisely remain silent, Mr. McDermond doesn’t seem to realize that his “local council” is but one of 3,000 “local councils” that make up the AFL-CIO, which just happens to also be one of the larger unions in the United States.  The AFL-CIO is and has been for some time a heavy political contributor to all things Democratic in order to gently nudge representatives to vote as the union requires.  Absolutely no arm twisting WHAT SO EVER!   Should Murray be fortunate enough to be elected can we count on her undivided attention to do what is best for Del Norte County?  I think that the answer to that question has been completely revealed in her activities as the City’s representative for the last seven, nearly eight years of cozying up to State politicians and Unions over the fiasco known as the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

While there is nothing that says to local candidates not to accept such donations, it should be remembered that this is a small local non partisan election in which those that are elected should not be under any obligation to unions and State politicians to be influenced beyond that, that is what is best for us, the great unwashed citizens of this County.  Knowing human nature as has been clearly demonstrated here recently by the alleged activities of one of our own local representatives who served this County for nearly twenty years, it would be truly unfortunate for this County to elect two individuals who have clearly demonstrated the willingness to possibly be involved in similar unsavory activities of Pay for Play.  I would have to say by accepting the donations from Unions and State politicians that both Kathryn Murray and David Finigan have opened doors for just that kind of activity.

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