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Welcome to ConcordGate. Community outrage has erupted because of a hatchet job mailer the Concord Police Officer Association (POA) sent out to voters to defame Edi Birsan, a candidate for Concord City Council. This expensive, four-color brochure has been labeled, among epithets, as “racist,” ” inflammatory,” “disturbing,” “disappointing.” Unfortunately, the POA mailer goes a long way to exposing the usual suspects and power brokers who run the election process in Concord to be the despicable political animals they are.
Going after Edi for not mentioning his middle name or where the corporate office of EDI is located is ridiculous. One would ask why an organization like the Concord Police Officers Association (POA) would put its name behind a piece of trash like this. Why would they along with Concord Disposal and a select number of special interests groups resort to character assassination to destroy the candidacy of an individual who they don’t own?
The answer to this puzzle occurred 40 years ago with a similar act of paranoia when President Nixon’s “Plumbers” burglarized the Democratic Party offices at the Watergate Office Complex in Washington D.C. Much like the POA, this act of vandalism wasn’t necessary. Nixon was a cinch to win a second term. A similar situation has existed in Concord where the POA and its allies have controlled the City Council for years.
Is an independent thinker like Edi Birsan such a threat to the so called Get Along Gang that keeps Concord under its thumb? Of course not, but that is not the point. These power mongers are so over the edge that they cannot tolerate even a small amount of non-conformity in their political model of how the city “where” families come first “should be run.
To understand current events we should take a look at the three mailers the POA”s 145 or so members sent to voters this election. Their first pamphlet showed support for Dan Helix and Tim McGallian from law enforcement and firemen. Even though a few people such as me objected to such scare tactics. If this was the end of it, then no big deal. But this wasn’t the case. The POA then sent another four-color mailer that had virtually every member of City Council and local government for the last decade chiming in their endorsement of the POA’s guys.
These endorsements by everyone from Susan Bonilla to Mark Peterson and Laura Hoffmiester just show the stranglehold that the money from the Cops/Garaventa Enterprises/Seeno crowd have over the politics and governing of the city of Concord. But then again these “Everyone Loves Raymond”, “all my friends,” type of support for in-crowd candidates is nothing new and falls into the category of acceptable political practices during local political campaigns.
But apparently this wasn’t enough to elect the POA slate. Internal polls showed that community activist Edi Birsan actually had the nerve and popularity to challenge Helix and McGallian for one of the open seats November 6th. The result of this unusual situation was the universally condemned hit piece which has awakened the decency of the body politic of Concord.
No one including the POA wants to take responsibility for the mailer that depicts Birsan for being a virtual member of the Taliban and being an outsider who wants to inject his unworthy self in local affairs where carpetbaggers are tossed out of town. As might be expected several POA supporters such as George Miller and Susan Bonilla have distanced themselves from the racist allegations and hatred spread by the POA.
Ironically, the recent attempt to defame Edi Birsan actually will help him capture one the two Council seats. Damage control will no doubt occur this week, but it is probably too late to quiet an outraged grass roots of Concord that will demand justice. It is also being asked if the POA’s horrendous mistake will affect their current grip on the City Council. Will the probable election of Birsan result in Police Officers having to take similar pay cuts and pension reductions as other city employees had to endure? The answer is “probably not” as the POA and Garaventa and their allies have endorsed and monetarily supported every sitting member of the City Council.
Oh yes, I forgot to ask… is the concern the POA have for who wins the City Council race entirely philanthropic or somehow related to the pay packages that law enforcement receives? Should voters follow the wishes of their police officers because of their moral authority? Ask Joe Higby as he routinely attends City Council and other subcommittees to guarantee that the troops stay in line.
If this thinking seems to be over the edge perhaps we should take a more trusting approach. Recently, when I mentioned my concerns about the influence of the POA to Concord Mayor Ron Leon, he shrugged the notion off by claiming “all campaign donors can do is receive an audience with Council members. After that good public policy determines how we vote.”
But this isn’t the point of “Concord Gate.” Just like the Watergate scandal in the 1970’s, it’s not the act itself which determines the outcome. What really matters now is how the POA and their allies act to rectify their errors in blantant and knowing Edi Birsan in a brazen effort to thwart his effort to be elected to the Concord City Council.
As a starter, POA President Joe Higby should step down from his post effective immediately. Mary Jo Rossi or whoever was responsible for producing the hateful racist pamphlet smearing Birsan should be expelled from the campaign and be appropriately denounced. And one last suggestion for the POA; Tell the voters you are sorry.