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Teachers union says campaign tactic misleads

Times Staff Writer

Recorded phone calls to voters that falsely imply the Santa Ana teachers union supports a ballot measure extending City Council term limits are “dirty tricks,” the union president said Friday.

In addition, the recording does not identify who is paying for the call, a violation of state law.

Measure D, heavily funded by developers and businesses, would extend City Council members’ terms from eight to 12 years. The Yes on Measure D committee has received more than $82,000 in donations, 10 times the opposition’s total.

Dave Barton, president of the Santa Ana Educators’ Assn., said a recording of the call was being sent to the union’s attorney.

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In a written statement issued Friday, the union said, “It is unfortunate when a campaign uses dirty tricks to drum up votes. It is totally unacceptable for them to try and use our good name.”

The call sounds like this: “This is Marina Alfaro, a Santa Ana schoolteacher calling with important information regarding the Feb. 5. election. The local teachers and I strongly urge our Santa Ana neighbors to vote yes on Measure D. Measure D is critically important to ensure ethical and accountable leadership in City Hall. Measure D is for democracy, so please join our local teachers, firefighters and police officers in voting yes on Measure D. It’s time to take back local government.”

Police and firefighters unions have each donated $5,000 to support Measure D.

School district spokeswoman Angela Burrell said a teacher named Marina Alfaro does work for the district. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.

Neither Max Madrid, treasurer of the committee supporting the measure, nor Kaufman Downing, a Los Angeles political consulting firm working for the committee, returned calls seeking comment.

Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez, who will be termed out in November unless Measure D passes, said in an e-mail, “Individuals have any and all freedoms to express their opinions and their views on political measures, this includes teachers. . . . “

Alvarez’s home address is the address of the Yes on Measure D committee on campaign contribution statements.

Nelida Yanez, who unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2006, said she received the call Thursday. She said she would file a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission. “The teachers aren’t backing measure D. It will confuse the average citizen, and because teachers are normally well-recognized, voters may be swayed, and it’s a shame,” said Yanez.

The FPPC will investigate if it receives a complaint, but it can also chose to investigate on its own, said spokesman Roman Porter. Those who make such calls without identifying themselves can be fined $5,000 per violation, he said.

jennifer.delson@latimes.com


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