Statement to the Press: October 13, 2004
Redwood City Library

Thank you for attending this press conference by People for Housing Not High-rises, No ON Q.

Since the beginning of the campaign, but especially in the past couple of weeks, the Yes on Q folks have engaged in character assassination, name calling, and accusations of bad faith, despite their overwhelming financial advantage in this struggle for control over the development direction our city will take in the future. Such attacks are a desperate attempt to distract Redwood City voters from the discussion of the real issues in this campaign, namely height, density, traffic and water impacts.

Take the sign ³issue² for example. There has been defacement and destruction of signs on both sides, but only the proponents of Measure Q have accused the other side of being responsible for these acts.

First let me emphasize that No On Q applauds each individualıs exercise of his or her first amendment rights. Putting a sign in your yard supporting either side, or choosing not to, is a form of free speech. It is protected by our constitution and supported by the members of No On Q. Anything that interferes with that basic exercise of rights is reprehensible. In fact, let me remind you that NO on Measure Q is responsible for providing voters in RC with the opportunity to have their voice heard on this critical issue. Measure Q is before the voters only because the No On Q volunteers circulated petitions to force this issue on the ballot. We gathered 5,000 signatures in 28 days, a strong indication that the people of Redwood City wanted this decision to be made by them, not by the City Council.

We are an all volunteer group of Redwood City residents. We are your neighbors, your teachers, your nurses, your business people, your community activists. We helped save Bair Island, we are former and current City Planning Commissioners, members of the Housing and Human Concerns Committee, we are on the Pride and Beautification Committee, we have won awards from the city for our contributions to it. We deeply resent the developerıs characterization of us as vandals.

We have lost over a hundred signs in the past few weeks. This is a severe blow to us because of their expense. We were experiencing only minor ­ and expected-- sign pilferage until the Yes on Q folks held a press conference all but accusing us of stealing their signs. After those stories appeared, our signs started to disappear in much greater numbers.

Tone is important. While we do not believe that the Yes on Q campaign is directly responsible, the accusatory tone set by the developer helped set the stage for this escalation of theft, and that hostile tone does neither side a service. Saturday night the results of that hostile tone showed with the disappearance of well over 50 signs in a single neighborhood. Worse, the freshly laid concrete porch of our volunteer, Merrily Robinson, was destroyed. Repairing the damage will cost her thousands of dollars. That is felonious damage, not petty vandalism. Merrily is a native of this community who stayed and became a teacher in Redwood Cityıs schools, serves on the Cityıs Pride and Beautification committee, and has demonstrated her commitment to public service in any number of ways. It is outrageous that Merrily will have to pay such a high price for exercising her constitutional right to free speech, fighting for the future of her community ­ our community.

But their complaints about signs are only one of the ways the proponents of Measure Q are trying to distract voters and cast aspersions on us, citizens of Redwood City. A member of City Council who has fully exploited his bully pulpit to sing the praises of this out-of-scale development, now accuses us of unethical politics because we quoted him -- with full attribution to the source of the quote‹admitting that Redwood City cannot guarantee water supply to the Marina Shores project. While we do not believe that even one RC voter was or would be confused by this narrowly distributed handout, Council Member Hartnett can rest assured that each time we use his quote in the future, we will be certain to identify him as a project supporter admitting our point.

Proponents of Measure Q are throwing up a mud screen to obscure the height and density of this development, along with threats about what they will do if Q fails. They have spent over $500,000 on their many ads, mailers and TV spots without even once showing the primary characteristic of this project ­ skyscrapers. They are running a campaign of deception and the voters of Redwood City are not buying it.

NO on Q has received approximately $35,000 in donations from over 200 citizens and has been outspent 14-1 in this campaign. With the support of volunteers we have placed hundreds of yard signs, sent out 70,000 pieces of mail, built a web site and brought an important issue about the future of our city to the ballot. I urge the developers to join us in an honest and accurate discussion of the issue without mud-slinging, character assassination and rancor.

 

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