Waterfield criticized for stopping taping of candidates forum

May 30, 2010

Etta Waterfield

An Oceano woman has posted a Youtube video, criticizing state Assembly candidate Etta Waterfield after a campaign staff member objected to the taping of a candidates’ forum Friday night in San Luis Obispo.

Nina Grabiel claims that Joanie Brown, host of the event, requested that Grabiel stop taping the forum after a little more than one minute in response to a request from the Etta Waterfield campaign.

The forum, held at the San Luis Obispo Country Club, featured candidates for the Republican state Assembly race. The winner of the June 8 primary will advance into the November election race against Democrat Hilda Zacarias to determine who replaces incumbent Sam Blakeslee in Sacramento.

Grabiel, who insists she is not working for any of the candidates, has been recording debates and one-on-one interviews with candidates for posting on YouTube. Her goal, she says, is merely to educate the voters.

“I’m doing this so that people who could not attend could see it so they could make an informed decision,” Grabiel wrote in an email. “I have recorded other races and posted them on YouTube. They are being shown on SLO Public Access TV Mondays at 9:30 p.m. and the Republican Party of San Luis Obispo has links for the videos posted on their web site.”

Grabiel said she had contacted the organizers of the event two weeks prior, indicating her desire to attend and to record the event. The response from the organizers, Grabiel claims, was “happy at the prospect of having the Assembly forum recorded and posted for the public.”

On Friday night, she showed up at the Country Club forum about thirty minutes early and set up her camcorder in the back on the room, well in view of the candidates already assembled.

The brief excerpt posted on YouTube shows the opening welcome by Brown as candidates Fred Strong, Matt Kokkonen, Katcho Achadjian, and Etta Waterfield take their places on stage.

At the 1:00 mark, Brown announces, “I’m afraid I have to ask the videographer–we have a candidate who said, ‘Please do not tape us,’–so will you turn it off, please? Thank you.”

Grabiel complied immediately, packed up her gear, and slipped out quietly.  She later asked which candidate had made the request and was told it was Waterfield.

The one-minute excerpt is now on YouTube along with a blistering indictment of the Waterfield campaign by Grabiel. “I consider the way I was told to be nothing short of cowardly. I was there thirty minutes early. Ms. Waterfield or any of her attending staff could have easily approached me and queried me as to what I was doing and what my intentions were, and I would have gladly told them. None of that respect or opportunity was given to me. Instead, they cowardly went behind the scenes and approached someone else to tell me to turn off the camera in front of the whole audience, slipped in between gracious acknowledgments, which made it even more unexpected and startling.”

Heather Moreno of the Waterfield for Assembly campaign, the staff member responsible for requesting a halt to the taping, issued the following statement in response to Grabiel’s accusations.

“I noticed the camera right before the event began and I asked Joanie Brown if they were the ones taping. She said they were not and she wasn’t aware that it was being taped. I pointed it out to her and she seemed surprised.

“She asked if I’d like to have it removed and I made a quick call to do so. We have a particular candidate using underhanded techniques…that without more information, I didn’t trust it wasn’t his campaign taping with the intent to cut and paste for further attacks.

“In hindsight, I wish the organizers and candidates had been told beforehand of the intent to tape and make it available to the public. Having it up on YouTube would be a great resource to the voters. Without that knowledge, I made a split second instinctual decision.”

Grabiel wants people to watch her short video and decide for themselves. For her, the issue remains one of transparency.

“We have a candidate running for public office who already wants to privatize things. The last thing we need is another person in any public office who wants to do things behind closed doors.”

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Looks like the post this referred to has been moved – hopefully to the correct place.

Sorry, guess again, pakuma.

In response to afonzi’s post below:

And what, exactly constitutes a “credentialed journalist” and why is that so important? What about a newbie just starting out? or the people’s right to know matters concerning the public? or the individual’s rights? No one is harmed by anyone recording a public event and putting it up on YouTube. Or is freedom, and more specifically, freedom of the press, only for corporations? You sound like a corporatist and quite frankly, I think more and more Americans are sick and tired of having everything run by corporations – including the government. Get up with the times, afonzi, there’s a new wave of American sweeping across the country and they don’t work for anyone but the Constitution and Lady Liberty. You seem to be out of the loop.

Since this has happened before with Ms. Waterfield, it’s obviously a policy they developed, and a bad one because it’s based on fear and not on love towards your fellow man. If she was confident in herself, she wouldn’t be so fearful of what others might say or do, but would welcome the opportunity to get her message out.

Read Dave’s post. It appears that what the campaign manager said on the radio was false, so who’s really at fault here? A fearful lying pack of hyenas or an engaged citizen trying to do what they can to help their community be aware of local public governing events? She did get prior approval from the organizers. And from looking at her YouTube channel, apparently no one had a problem being filmed at any of the other forums, credentialed or not.

Requiring media credentials is just a lame excuse to keep everyday ordinary people out of the information process, out of the governing process, and from being watchdogs of their own government. I suppose you think all the plebeians should just stay home and do as their told by the corporate media, right? Typical elitist. Shame on you. Find another excuse.

I’ve seen enough and done enough homework. I have also familiarized myself with the group who is called “A Better Atascadeo” that took on Etta as a campaign management group but I want to be clear that this has played a lessor role in my decision. I will be voting for Matt because I belive that Matt is the better and most sincere candidate.

**************************** MATT KOKKONEN*********************************** He is OUR MAN.

The polls reveal that Etta doesn’t have a shot in hell of winning at the Primary anyway.


So what do we have? Katcho or the weakling Fred Strong? I think not. People are all too ready for new blood. I know it will be Kokkonen.

Reference AFonzi’s post below specifically your last sentence, “This entire story is a mischaracterization of what is happening and major media outlets are being used and sucked into a false story.”

I find it amusing that Al Fonzi would complain in such manner having seen first hand he and his wife’s underhanded behavior in Atascadero.

In 2007, during the failed recall effort, Al Fonzi told me that I could make the recall go away if I simply made a public apology to Kelly Gearhart for having requested the DA to investigate the failure to pay his development impact fees. Fonzi suggested that Gearhart was a pillar of the community and I shouldn’t be picking on him. We all know what happened with Gearhart shorltly thereafter

Al Fonzi also sent reporter Karen Velie an email claiming that I had attacked his wife which was an absolute lie. When I asked Roberta Fonzi to publically refute the lie during a council meeting she choose to remain silent. So much for this couples honesty and integrity.

Before the last few weeks I knew little about Waterfield but if the Fonzi’s are examples of the people who support her, it doesn’t reflect well.

Mike I remember all of this. I do question if Roberta told Al that you attacked her or if Al made it up and Roberta was stuck in the middle of a difficult situation and remained silent rather than end up in a possible divorce?

I have seen Al Fonzi make things up before and tell outright lies, I haven’t seen Roberta do any of that.

Regardless, I’ll be voting for Kokkonen.

BTW, Al Fonzi accused some people I know of attacking a Cheryle Burback (sp?). Not only did I witness the entire event in person but it was on video. No such thing ever happened or even came close to happening. The fact was that the ABA which Al Fonzi was a lead member of didn’t like being taped! That’s right they didn’t want to be recorded making the public statements that they were making and a member told them to shut off the recorders in Von’s parking lot. When they said it was their right to record she called the police and said she had been attacked.

These people don’t like being recorded or going on record, that’s a fact.

I just shared the YouTube video with a friend and we read the little explanation at the bottom. It reads:

This is what happened when I attempted to record the 33rd Assembly District candidate forum. I am posting it here so the public can make an informed choice. Update 6/2: Topic was discussed on Dave Congalton’s show. A caller reported his recording was shut down at another forum. Waterfield’s camp said they don’t want to be taped without their authorization because footage may be used by an opponent against her. After considering that position, all I can say is that to err on the side of caution to protect an image instead of protecting the public process and freedom of the press (and video) speaks volumes about what her priorities are.

I couldn’t agree more!

Ms. Waterfield has spoken volumes by what she has not said, the way she has side stepped questions, and seems to say what she thinks will get her elected. Mr. Kokkonen has never wavered his stance on issues whether they were popular at the time or not. Whether you agree or disagree with his positions, you know what you are getting. He is getting my vote.