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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Bob Nelson, you’re not kidding anyone. You’ve been an Etta supporter all the time!

Thanks Andrew, I welcome you to come by and pick up the Kokkonen sign I USED to have in yard. E-mail me.

Andrew Russo, right? You’re Matt’s campaign manager, aren’t you? At least I’m just an enthusiastic supporter.

What do they have to hide? A great many political candidates around the country are acting strangely, putting up barriers to public inquiry, and preventing people from finding out more about them or seeing and hearing them in action. That is a very bad sign, a red flag, really. I would never vote for such a person.

But then, we probably should not be surprised. This is the way things are done in The Information War. The protagonists think that they must be in control of all information disseminated about them. When they lose control, they go ballistic. “Raw” footage is out of the question. Slick, carefully crafted, Madison Avenue images are what sells and puts them in the best light possible.

Maybe Etta Waterfield has good reason not to want herself videotaped. Maybe the others do, too. After all, their opponents can go back later and replay for all to see and hear all the “promises” they made and then broke, all the contradictions, gaffes, blunders, nose-picking, contorted faces, warts and all. She obviously does not care a whit about the public’s “right” to see this stuff.

Whether the public has a “right” to see all this is debatable (I am of the opinion that they do have that right), we have come a long way since the days of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Actually, when Lincoln was in the White House, he very seldom gave public speeches, though he did quite a bit before becoming president. The vast majority of Americans, of course, never saw Mr. Lincoln in the flesh.

Now the cameras are nearly everywhere, recording their every move. I think that’s a good thing. Now more than ever, we need to keep a close eye on these politicians. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. If Etta Waterfield is uncomfortable with the level of scrutiny now, she has not seen anything yet. She really should reconsider her candidacy, because the people are going to be going over her life and qualifications, her speech, her knowledge, her background, her appearance, and everything else, in such detail as has not been seen before in American history.

She has reason to be nervous.

Heather Moreno is on the Atascadero PC and I’ve got to say that I have observed her attempt to obfuscate an issue on at least two occasions. I have been watching Kokkonen and Waterfield for some time now. While I am a Non Partisan who has often identified more with Democrats than Republican’s I have current concerns that I believe only a Rep will correct at this time. I guess Heather just helped me make my decision. BTW that is the honest to G truth.

I’ll be voting for Kokkonen.

Matt’s got my vote!

The so called three front runners, like their rich gubernatorial candidates, are trying to out fascist each other. By raising the bar on immigration hysteria and those no good government workers (Matt is the only one not in government as of now but trying hard to be in the ‘in’ crowd) they do a disservice to their country. I haven’t heard a single positive comment from any of them about what they will DO to confront our political problems. Nothing but empty rhetoric.

The comments from Heather Moreno of the Waterfield for Assembly campaign are lame to the max. She could have easily discovered what the purpose of the video was and withdrawn her objection. For anyone to avoid public scrutiny is enough to deny them the privilege to serve us. In this day and age of voter outrage we should hold our representatives accountable for their campaign promises and a first step is documenting what they say during debates and their ads. Joanie Brown should be spanked too for allowing one of the debaters to prevail in this tantrum.

Kudos to Nina Grabriel for doing this good work.

The truly ironic nature of this “episode” is that the only other candidate more “out there” than Ms. Waterfield is Matt Kokkonen, the very person who Ms. Waterfield was supposedly concerned about. With all of the attention on Katcho, Kokkonen and Waterfield, I almost feel sorry for Mr. Strong, the near invisible candidate. Doesn’t really matter though, if Katcho is not the candidate to face Hillary Zacarias, then we finally get a Democratic Assembly Representative here in SLO county. Oh yeah, nice attempt by Ms. Moreno of the Waterfield campaign to “almost” make the reason for requesting the taping being stopped sound plausible. Republicans, you should be very proud of your candidates. Sad.

Preston, I think you are the one they are worried about. You did take a 2 sec clip and tried to use it to make her seem weak on immigration, right?

I just found her in 4 YouTube videos…love ya Preston, but really? Do you need the links?

Miss Gabriel, You’ve jumped to the conclusions here and have turned it into a personal attack. Have you heard the explanation from the person who is responsible for the decision? It seems that you do have an agenda here. Why is a link to this smeer article showing up on Matt Kokkonen’s Facebook page within an hour of it posting? Strange.

We experienced the very same thing at a Republican Women’s event where Etta Waterfield and Matt Kokkonen were both speaking. I was there to videotape Matt Kokkonen’s speech, and Etta’s campaign manager raised a fit with the event organizers who in turn came over to ask me to turn off the camera. In the end, after I assured them we would ONLY video Matt, Etta insisted that someone stand behind me and watch me every minute we were there, and the very second Matt was finished speaking the plug was pulled on my camera, and I was asked to pack it up and take it out of the building. She simply did not want to be video taped at all.

I honestly have no idea what Etta has to hide, but if you notice, you can’t even Google or Youtube search to find any video of her. Seems very shady to me.

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