Thursday, August 31, 2006
OUTTA MY WAY…Ah, politics. The power. The parties. The fluff money.
Oh, wait. That last one, fluff money, only applies to the District 5 Salinas City Council race.
It’s a sordid political tale, almost unbelievable, and yet it makes a certain kind of cold-blooded sense. It goes like this: Perennial candidate and controversial anti-immigrant activist Angie Morfin Vargas filed early on to run for the District 5 seat. Tick tock. Tick tock. No other candidates. That’s when, according to a long-time Squid source who has never been wrong, the deal went down.
Can it really be true that Peter Newman, chairman of the Monterey County Republican Party, offered Vargas money if she’d pull out of the race so Newman could slide another candidate, Steve Villegas, in? Tick tock. Tick tock. Vargas doesn’t bite, but reportedly saves messages. Villegas files anyway, minutes before deadline.
Squid called Vargas, who took valuable time out of a pro-Minuteman Militia march to chat. Vargas was chipper. Happy. Right up until Squid asked about Newman’s offer. Dead silence. Just when Squid was about to knock the handset against the desk to see if it was broken, Vargas finally blurted, “I…I…I just can’t talk about it.”
Maybe Newman would. So Squid called. And called again. Newman has yet to call back.
Villegas did call back. He had heard about the allegation. “I was completely shocked,” he said. Villegas says Newman did call and ask him to run. Villegas insists he had nothing to with any cash-for-withdrawal plot.
Squid’s bugged. If this happened, then Villegas got duped too. He’s a homicide investigator with a masters in public policy and real plans for the district. Villegas could have done just fine on his own without his party’s (cough) help. Villegas says he hasn’t reported it or called Newman. “I just stayed out of it. But wow. This could affect the election.”
Yeah. Squid thinks that was kind of the point. Vargas and Villegas were joined in the race by another 11th-hour candidate, a Roberto Garci. No word yet on whether Newman has his number.
MESSING WITH THE CURVE… A special issue of the CSU Monterey Bay’s Otter Realm came out last Aug. 17 to coincide with the beginning of the school year. Each summer contributor was awarded $350, even if they wrote just a 275-word piece.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of spring semester last year, the staff was begging for just a one new Mac or better design software.
Here’s a free seminar from Professor Squid: The otters deserve summer pay. But aspiring sea creatures manic enough to launch into journalism deserves the tools to do it right. Class dismissed.