Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer, one of two Democrats competing in the 7th State Senate District special election, wants the BART board of directors to probe what he says is inappropriate union campaign work on BART property to benefit his opponent, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.
In a news conference Monday morning outside BART’s Oakland headquarters, Glazer displayed photos of BART workers at the Richmond, Concord and Hayward yards, accompanied by a Service Employees International Union Local 1021 organizer, displaying Bonilla campaign signs or fliers. Another photo showed workers, apparently in a training classroom at the Hayward facility, watching the Bonilla-Glazer debate.
Glazer said that despite serious maintenance problems that have snarled commutes in recent weeks, workers apparently had the time to organize for his opponent on BART property. He acknowledged he didn’t know whether the photos were taken during work hours, but called it “an outrageous use of public property.”
He said he would deliver a letter Monday to BART Board of Directors President Thomas Blalock demanding an independent third-party investigation of the union workers who took part in the activities, and whatever managers allowed it to happen on BART property. Management must be notified of work-site union activities, he said, and so is “at some level involved in this illegal campaign activity and they should be held to account as well.”
Glazer’s call to ban BART strikes is among the centerpieces of his campaign.
Steve Maviglio, organizer of the union-backed Working Families Opposing Glazer committee that has spent millions to support Bonilla, dismissively called Glazer’s news conference “nothing more than a Hail Mary publicity stunt for Steve Glazer to deflect the criticism away from the Koch Brothers and a Tea Party developer from LA funneling millions of dollars into his campaign.”
The Working Families committee launched a new ad along these lines Monday:
Independent Women’s Voice, a Washington, D.C.-based group with ties to the Koch brothers, has spent $8,600 to produce an anti-Bonilla ad, promote it online, and conduct some phone surveys; Bill Bloomfield, a laundry and real-estate millionaire from Manhattan Beach, has spent almost $1.79 million so far to support Glazer. Maviglio said Bloomfield has supported Tea Party candidates, but Bloomfield has said he quit the GOP and became an independent because he believes the party has grown too extreme; last year, he supported moderate Republican Neel Kashkari over Tea Party favorite Tim Donnelly in the gubernatorial primary.
The election is next Tuesday, May 19. Glazer said Monday morning that about 71,000 vote-by-mail ballots already have been received by the Contra Costa and Alameda county registrars, of which about 15 percent are from voters who didn’t cast ballots in the March primary. He also said about 33 percent of the ballots returned so far are from registered Republicans, whom he has been actively courting – which means GOP voters are outperforming their 29 percent voter registration in what’s expected to be a very low-turnout election.
UPDATE @ 12:52 p.m.: Bonilla agrees union workers shouldn’t be campaigning on BART property – and neither should Glazer and his supporters.
“I am appalled that BART platforms and BART property have been used for electioneering by Steve Glazer, Los Angeles billionaire Bill Bloomfield (who has spent $2 million on Steve Glazer campaign advertising), and by BART employees who were holding my campaign signs,” she said in a statement emailed to reporters early Monday afternoon. “These parties should immediately stop using BART property for electioneering, including candidate Steve Glazer who has repeatedly used internal BART property for self-advertising.”