Complaint alleges false information on local ballot measure flier

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A formal complaint lodged last week with the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission claims that a flier mailed out to voters in support of a Berkeley ballot measure contains false endorsements.

The complaint states that the flier, distributed by the Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley in support of Measure T, falsely names SEIU Local 1021 and the Telegraph Business Improvement District as endorsers of the measure. Measure T allows for the rezoning of six large sites for 10 years in West Berkeley.

The complaint was filed Oct. 17 by Zelda Bronstein, a member of the Save West Berkeley/No on T Committee. As of Monday, Yes on Measure T had taken down the TBID and SEIU Local 1021 endorsements from their website.

“Meanwhile, the impression cannot be changed, and (voters) have it in their homes,” Bronstein said. “Unless they read (local news), they’re not going to know the flier is false.”

SEIU Local 1021 could not be reached for comment but encourages voters to vote “no” on the ballot measure in the Nov. 6 election on its website.

Executive Director of the Telegraph Property and Business Management Corporation Roland Peterson said TBID is ineligible to endorse a city ballot measure because it is a city-sanctioned funding mechanism. The corporation is a nonprofit entity that administers TBID’s funds and is permitted to make endorsements on ballot measures in local elections.

“There was a bit of an issue because the Yes on T folks said the Telegraph BID was the endorser,” Peterson said. “The flier should have said ‘the corporation,’ which is allowed to endorse measures.”

Peterson said the corporation does endorse a “yes” vote on Measure T in the November election.

On Thursday, Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission will convene a special meeting to discuss the complaint, among other agenda items. The commission primarily ensures that money involved in city campaigns follows the disclosure guidelines of the Berkeley Election Reform Act. At the meeting, the commission will determine if this complaint falls under its purview.

If the complaint does fall within the scope of the commission’s mission, the issue will move to a hearing, after which it could go on to be investigated by the city attorney, said Kristy van Herick, secretary for the Fair Campaign Practices Commission and deputy city attorney.

If complaints regarding election practices are found valid, the investigation will usually recommend a fine, van Herick said.

Contact Jacob Brown at [email protected].