Fact-checking contentious issues from this election season
What seemingly began as community-minded individuals seeking positions on local elected boards has become a scene of simmering tensions this campaign season.
Most of the drama involves the race among seven candidates running for three open seats on the Roseville City Council, and the competition among three candidates for two seats on the Eureka Union School District board of trustees.
The Press Tribune compiled a summary of the big conflicts this election season based partly on emails to our reporter and letters to the editor.
Eureka Schools Foundation database breach
In late August, the nonprofit Eureka Schools Foundation’s private donor database was inappropriately used to invite parents to a campaign event — later canceled — benefitting candidates Renee Nash and Ryan Jones, who are running as political allies.
Nonprofit organizations are prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elected public office. Nash attributed the breach to an uninformed volunteer and Jones blamed it to “clerical error.”
But some readers suggest whomever was responsible should have known better. Only five people have access to the ESF database, which includes two board members with full access, one board member with limited access and two paid outside professionals — an accounting firm and bookkeeper, according to President Tory Griffin.
Griffin would not confirm which three board members have access. But sources point to ESF operating committee member Mark Goozen as the person who sent the invite for the Nash/Jones event. He has also contributed money to both campaigns, and was paid $375 by the Nash campaign for “reimbursement for supplies for signs.”
According to Griffin, Nash promptly compensated the foundation for “the one-time use of only a tiny fraction of the thousands of names in the database.” Nash also reimbursed the foundation again for the single use of a small number of email addresses, he said.
“The foundation’s operating committee is satisfied with the resolution of this issue in its entirety,” Griffin said.
Nash’s most recent campaign paperwork through Sept. 30 filed with the Placer County Office of Elections does not show payment to the foundation for use of their database.
Upset over election signs
The Press Tribune received several emails and calls from residents upset over election signs — their location, overabundance and tendency to get stolen.
City Council candidate Tracy Mendonsa had several dozen of his signs go missing and confirmed that in early October signs were removed from his front lawn and replaced with another candidate’s signs. His house was also hit with pumpkins. The police were called but no report filed, he said.
One reader was upset that Eureka Union School District school board candidate Kristie Greiss failed to sign the statement of responsibility for election signs with the city of Roseville. The district serves schools in both Granite Bay and east Roseville. Greiss signed the paperwork required by Placer County to place signage in Granite Bay.
Roseville Area Business PAC endorsements
Over the summer, the Roseville Area Business Political Action Committee — established by the Roseville Chamber of Commerce — interviewed council candidates for endorsements, including Scott Alvord.
“I was certain there was no way my own chamber would really not endorse me since I’d be — always have been — such a good asset for our business community,” Alvord told the Press Tribune. “In fact, I texted my wife when I walked out of the interview that I was certain I’d get the endorsement.”
While there are three open seats, the committee only endorsed two candidates.
Alvord did not get the endorsement by the business group, despite being the only business owner in the bunch. He has also served on chamber committees, and his consulting firm trains small business owners. Alvord said he’d been warned ahead of time by multiple people the PAC “had already selected their new ‘anointed one.’”
Robert Sinclair, on behalf of the PAC, said the committee voted unanimously to endorse incumbent Carol Garcia and Bonnie Gore based on their longstanding business support, chamber involvement and community participation.
“Regarding other candidates for office, the bylaws of the PAC prevent any member of the committee from discussing its deliberations outside of committee meetings,” Sinclair said.
Friends of Roseville newsletter
Thousands of Roseville residents recently received the FOREfront newsletter in their mailboxes with a front page story on the council race with a summary of two candidates who “merit your support:” Phil Ozenick and Pauline Roccucci.
Roccucci is Roseville’s mayor and Ozenick chairs Friends of Roseville, the citizens watchdog group that publishes FOREfront. The newsletter appears to endorse these two candidates. Why is this potentially a problem? Because Friends of Roseville is a nonprofit organization and is prohibited from engaging in political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office.
Ozenick told the Press Tribune that the newsletter isn’t giving endorsements but “merely suggests that both ‘merit’ support.”
“Friends of Roseville has used the same terminology for other candidates over the years who support (our) ideals,” he said.
Flier to Sun City residents
Meanwhile, Sun City residents recently got a letter from a group calling itself the League of Placer County Taxpayers — this is not the same Auburn-based organization that existed for 39 years to fight government waste and is in the process of dissolving, according to former President Wally Reemelin.
The letter is signed by Roseville Vice Mayor Susan Rohan, Councilman John Allard and Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler among others and attempts to “correct false campaign statements” made by Ozenick. The letter states Ozenick “did not take part in a vote in ‘bringing you a Sun City.’”
Ozenick has publicly said he played a role in bringing Sun City to Roseville, telling the Press Tribune he held a meeting in his kitchen with a prominent player in the development. But Rohan said for him to claim he played any significant role is untrue. Rohan worked as vice president of government affairs for Del Webb during the development of Sun City Roseville.
The letter also states that Ozenick, while on the Placer County Board of Supervisors in 1990, “voted to increase his own taxpayer-funded salary by 43 percent.” Actually, Ozenick served as supervisor from 1991 to 1994, as confirmed by Placer County public information officer Mike Fitch. The vote took place Nov. 13, 1990.