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Friends of Livermore functions like a Super PAC

Uploaded: Sep 8, 2016
The national Super PACS (Political Action Groups) have nothing on the Friends of Livermore.
The Livermore group has mastered going around the city’s strict campaign contribution limit of $250 per person for City Council elections. Instead, followers give to the Friends of Livermore, which has no such limits. The Friends’ leaders decide who to back and spend generously to get them elected. Individual candidates with their endorsement raise little money.
Three people, Lynn and Joan Seppala (publisher of the Livermore Independent) and Jean King have poured tens of thousands of dollars into the group for recent election cycles. In the 2014 election, they invested $40,600 (59 percent of the $88,750 raised by the group for the election).
In the non-election year of 2015, King contributed $32,100, while the Seppalas gave $24,500. You can expect that $56,000 to go into the fall campaign that is just getting cranked up.
In addition to King and Seppala, the other major donors are Denise Watkins and Loretta and Jeff Kaskey. They put $11,800 into the 2014 election campaign.
The group, which successfully backed incumbent Bob Woerner and Planning Commissioner Steve Spedowfski in 2014, had turned its back on both Mayor John Marchand as well as Councilman Stu Gary. Presumably, they have been showing too much independent thought concerning the major downtown development the city is considering for the vacant lot that once held a Lucky store.
Marchand had been backed by the Friends in 2012 and 2014 in his successful run for mayor as was Gary in 2012. Marchand also has contributed financially to the group.
Instead, the Friends are backing Bob Carling and Bob Coomber. Like many of the donors to the Friends, Carling spent his professional career at the national labs (Sandia, where he was an executive). Coomber is a director of the Livermore Area Recreation and Parks District. Both have been endorsed by Spedowfski.
Interestingly, Mayor Marchand was also slated to have an opponent, but the selected candidate was not registered to vote in Livermore.
Carling and Coomber will face off against incumbents Gary and Laureen Turner. There’s no doubt that the incumbents will be significantly out spent—the core issue for voters will be whether they want to a council that will toe whatever policy the Friends advocate or a council with members who will independently act for the residents.
Gary and Turner are staging a joint campaign kickoff next week.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by DThomp, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 8, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Thank you for pointing this out! If only the majority of Livermore residents/voters knew how much this core group of long-time residents get people in their pocket to do whatever their current special agenda is! Livermorians need to realize that we need independent thinkers. Not elected who will only listen to someone handing them money. Mayor Marchand is speaking out and refuses to be bought. As are Turner and Gary. Hence, they are being targeted by this group that you so correctly call a PAC skirting the rules. Friends of Livermore collects the money, and does the bidding of its basically 3 leaders. It's about time they were called out!

Posted by RonB, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:19 am

They have been showing so much "independent thought" that they are ignoring the majority of the public. What you failed to mention in your story is that the vast majority of Livermore residents are against high density housing on the City owned site behind First Street. At he two public meetings to discuss the Lennar proposal, approximately 80-90% of the residents opposed the project. Did you attend those meetings? Are you saying Friends of Livermore are responsible for all negative comments?

You also failed to point out that Marchand, Gary, and Turner voted to bail out the Bankhead theater among other gifts to Friends of Livermore. How is turning their back on the public over the downtown issue suddenly showing independent thought? Looks like election season politics to me. Similar to the national election, scream and cry about other groups and attack other people to distract from the real issues. Council members are out of touch with the public.

Posted by local, a resident of Vineyard Hills,
on Sep 9, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Livermore has their PAC and Pleasanton has ours (BACPAC - Chamber of Commerce PAC).

Posted by Rod, a resident of Old Towne,
on Sep 10, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Good article. We need more of this type of reporting. I agree with local. We have our PAC's too in Pleasanton.

Posted by sapnarani, a resident of California Reflections,
on Sep 11, 2016 at 11:27 pm

sapnarani is a registered user.

I appreciate your great work and respect a lot for your blog. I like the most your title of article Friends of Livermore functions like a Super PAC.

Posted by Resident, a resident of another community,
on Oct 8, 2016 at 9:17 am

Resident is a registered user.

Joan Seppala, Jean King, Jeff Kasey, Denise Watkins, has spent $118,000.00 of their very own money in the last two years to control Livermore City Council seats. They have control of the Livermore Performing Arts Center Board of Directors. They organized a Livermore Vibrant committee that has their very own plans for downtown Livermore. These drawings are based on what Joan wants it to look like. Hey Joan threaten anybody lately with negative attacks in your Independent Newspaper?

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