W. Sacto Mayor threatens local businesses

W. Sacto Mayor threatens local businesses

June 24, 2013

By Katy Grimes

 

A local Sacramento politician recently issued a threat to punish businesses who disagree with him. His threat barely received a blip in the news.

In a recent State of the City speech, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said he would “make sure that not one penny of the hundreds of millions of dollars” his city spends on construction projects would go to companies that would undercut the Blueprint and thereby hurt West Sacramento.

Is this how business is done now? The seriousness of this type of behavior by an elected official should send a chill throughout the business community.

This is a shame because Cabaldon has done an admirable job of supporting policies to allow the growth of the once industrial West Sacramento into a thriving, viable community.

Government and business

Last week the Sacramento Bee ran an editorial supportive of the Sacramento Area Council of Government’s governing board  vote on a resolution to reaffirm the council’s support for the region’s “Blueprint” growth strategy. The “Blueprint growth strategy” is another sustainable communities plan, spawned from Senate Bill 375, and AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

SACOG board members, made up entirely of local elected officials from the region’s six counties and 22 cities, are being asked to back the agency’s staff on the sustainable growth plan. But a local building association charged the SACOG staff with lobbying on behalf of SACOG.

“The vote is necessary because SACOG is under attack,” the Bee editorial board wrote. “As the recession draws to a close, the region needs to recommit to sound planning principles.”

The Editorial Board of the Sacramento Bee claimed the recession is coming to an end. But Sacramento and California still top the nation’s unemployment numbers.

“If it doesn’t, it could head back to the era of leapfrog development, worsening air pollution and potential loss of federal transportation funding,” the editorial said. “Influential developers and their elected allies complain that SACOG staffers have gone beyond providing technical assistance to ‘lobbying against projects.'”

The Bee accused Region Builders, a Sacramento trade coalition comprised of companies in the Sacramento building industry, as well as 13 local trade and professional associations, of  “going after West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, a strong SACOG supporter.”

The Bee has rarely attacked other area developers, particularly the local cabal supportive of Democratic politics, politicians, and causes.

One Bee reader left an apropos comment:

“The Bee mentions the lawyer, a Republican, is threatening to sue that little weasel Cabaldon but fails to mention the biggest developers in the valley, all Greeks, that support almost exclusively Democrats.  Angelo Tsakapolis and the Angelides family have paved over more farm land in this valley and also hold lavish fund raining parties for the likes of Hillary Clinton. Spare me the Republican hit, Bee.”

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But the video above makes clear that in his recent State of the City speech, the threat that came from West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon,  was unequivocally directed at Region Builders.

Cabaldon, a Democrat, said he would “make sure that not one penny of the hundreds of millions of dollars” his city spends on construction projects would go to companies that would undercut the Blueprint and thereby hurt West Sacramento.

The Bee claimed Region Builders has attacked Cabaldon, who is a strong SACOG supporter. But in his recent State of the City speech, Cabaldon said he would “make sure that not one penny of the hundreds of millions of dollars” his city spends on construction projects would go to companies that would undercut the Blueprint and thereby hurt West Sacramento.

The Bee editorial said “Cabaldon may have crossed a line with that comment,” but accused Region Builders of going even more overboard by hiring a lawyer. “The group has hired a lawyer – Harmeet K. Dhillon, vice chair of the California Republican Party – to threaten a lawsuit against Cabaldon, according to a letter received Friday by Cabaldon and West Sacramento’s city attorney,” the editorial said. “It’s an obvious attempt to muzzle Cabaldon after previously trying to muzzle SACOG Executive Director Mike McKeever.”

Twitter tells the story

The Twitter account for Region Builders and friends who responded, tells the tale.

One Tweet said:

“Politician ‘makes it very, very clear’: oppose him and he will use his public office to attack your private business. http://youtu.be/aNy15Q8wknM

Another Tweet from Region Builders said:

“The claim that Region Builders is voting on a proposal to recall West Sacramento Mayor Cabaldon is false. #absurd #irresponsible

Another Region Builders Tweet said:

@SACOG to recommend staff-only lobby projects if elected officials invite them. We agree, decisions should be made by those who are ELECTED.”

It’s no secret that Region Builders supports the SACOG blueprint.

Region Builders says it has worked hard to promote regional cooperation. And, Region Builders reported via Twitter they have tried, unsuccessfully, to meet with Mayor Cabaldon for the past three months.

So, rather than sitting down to talk, apparently Mayor Cabaldon launched an attack of Region Builders during his State of the City, where he threatened to block members of Region Builders from doing business in West Sacramento.

Another Tweet:

@SacBeeEditBoard well…it’s definitely not near everything we asked for…but again…it’s a good first step. #compromise

The coalition was left with no legal option other than to seek  protection from Mayor Cabaldon’s threat for its member companies. Region Builders hired San Francisco attorney Harmeet Dhillon to address the Mayor’s threat.
Another Tweet from a Twitter friend of Region Builders:

@SacBeeEditBoard @regionbuilders @mayorcabaldon Elected officials cannot be allowed to threaten retaliation against those who disagree. Ever.

While the Twitter fight played out, the Mayor  said he promised to “forgive” members if they repudiated Region Builders. Cabaldon suggested he would push for prosecution of members who did not.

And more recently the Mayor escalated the conflict when I heard he suggested that members of Region Builders were responsible “if his mangled corpse was found in a ditch.” And  the Mayor claimed Region Builders was pushing a recall against him.

“The claim that Region Builders is voting on a proposal to recall West Sacramento Mayor Cabaldon is false. #absurd #irresponsible

A comment on the Sacramento Bee editorial probably said it best: “WOW!  Cabaldon’s blacklisting of local employers is not only illegal, but it will have a chilling impact on the City’s business reputation. Local employers should not be blacklisted if they don’t agree with those in power. Every employer in West Sacramento needs to be assured that their projects will be considered based on merit and not political connections.”

And summing it up on Twitter:

Only a politician (@mayorcabaldon) would threaten the jobs & businesses of those who disagree, then whine on FB when they stand up to him.

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