Martinez mayoral candidate John Fitzgerald has accused incumbent Mayor Rob Schroder of stealing his signs and posted a video claiming that Councilwoman Lara DeLaney is blackmailing him. (See both videos below.)
Sigh. Why is it always Martinez?
On the sign-napping case, Fitzgerald sent Schroder an invoice for signs the challenger insists the mayor pinched from the property next to Home Depot where the landlord usually sells pumpkins and Christmas
trees. Fitzgerald made a video, where he admitted removing Schroders’ signs in retaliation.
But according to an email from Jerry Kilma, the property owner, Fitzgerald failed to obtain permission to place his signs there and they were removed. Schroder had nothing to do with it. (Fitzgerald subsequently removed the video from his website but one of Schroder’s supporters recorded it, which I have provided below.
The pair have also sparred over the placement of signs outside LeBeau’s restaurant in downtown Martinez. When Schroder saw Fitzgerald’s signs affixed to the outside railing, he told the bartender he was disappointed. He and his wife, Suzanne, eat there often but she told the staff she had no desire
to dine next to Fitzgerald’s signs. The bartender took down the signs and the owner later apologized to Schroder.
Now, about the blackmail allegations.
The flap emerged after the publication of a quote from Fitzgerald on Oct. 3 in the Martinez Gazette: “I think the City Council is tied to money outside of this community, I can’t prove it but I believe they are tied to Gus Kramer and are on the take.”
DeLaney was furious. She confronted Fitzgerald at a recent candidate event and asked him to retract his “baseless and false statements.”
Fitzerald refused, she said. After talking over the situation with a few supporters, DeLaney left what she nows agrees was an ill-advised phone message on Fitzgerald’s phone on Oct. 7, which he saved and posted on his website:
“John, this is Lara DeLaney. I have not seen your apology in the paper as yet, so I guess what I need to do is to just give you a deadline and I’ll give you 48 hours to send me a copy of your apology to the council and to Mr. Kramer and a retraction of your comments or not only will I contact your wife but I’m afraid Mr. Kramer who knows about, uh, your, your interest in me and your, ah, your stalking me, ah, is going to contact the papers himself and I really don’t have control over him and what he does, so, um, 48 hours, I’d like you to send me, you can email me a copy of your apology and your retraction. Thank you.”
It was not blackmail, DeLaney says. She simply wanted him to “step up and do the right thing, which was to retract a statement which is totally untrue and for which he has no facts to base them upon.”
It particularly galled DeLaney to read accusations of unethical behavior from Fitzgerald, a man she says she met two years ago at Armandos, a music club in downtown Martinez.
She says Fitzgerald pursued her for weeks. He dropped by her house unannounced. He left her CDs of artists he thought she would enjoy. He called her at work. He said he was unhappy in his marriage.
“There is no doubt he was interested in me, and if I had given him the green light, he would have had an affair or left his wife,” DeLaney said. “But I had zero interest in John Fitzgerald, especially after I began to hear so many of his crazy conspiracy theories.”
Fitzgerald’s attentions waned and she says she didn’t hear from him again until earlier this year when he filed to run in the Congressional District 7 Democratic primary against Rep. George Miller. He dropped by her house and brought her some of his campaign literature, she said.
“I knew he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, especially after people heard some of his conspiracies,” DeLaney said.
But now, DeLaney says she intends to file a police report outlining her encounters with Fitzgerald, particularly after a friend and supporter received anonymous phones calls from individuals who described themselves as his supporters and said something to effect of, “How can you associate with someone like her (DeLaney?)”
I sent two emails to Fitzgerald mid-day and as yet, I have received no answer to my questions about DeLaney’s assertion that he pursued her romantically. I also asked him on what information he based his statement that the City Council and Gus Kramer are “on the take.” I’ll update this post as soon as I hear from him.
UPDATE 10/12/2010, 1:37 p.m.: Fitzgerald sent me this response, which I have posted in its entirety:
Lara and I have spoken several times about city matters: the noise issues
with the motorcycles, why police aren’t walking the streets, the need to
revitalize the marina and many others – she’s a city councilwoman. There’s
nothing romantic in city ordinances, and her attempts to inflate that into an
interest in her is absurd.
In my comments in the Martinez News-Gazette, I merely expressed the widely-
held concern about the council’s ties to Mr. Kramer, a view shared by countless
That obviously touched a nerve with Ms. DeLaney, otherwise why would she
risk her political career by attacking my family and committing felony
blackmail? The powers that be seem desperate to maintain business as usual
at City Hall, as evidenced by the Le Beau’s sign incident.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond.