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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I just listened to the show and thought that it would have been much better if Ms. Waterfield herself went on and expressed her own feelings of regret that the forum was not taped as a sign of good will towards Ms. Grabiel and the public.

After reading some of the posts here, it doesn’t seem like she’s really coming forward and making herself accessible to anyone unless it’s in a really controlled environment.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I do know I don’t feel comfortable about her representing me.

Kokkonen has an interesting opinion piece, a couple of articles down this page.

I’ll be voting ***KOKKONEN for the 33rd District State Assembly***

Heather Moreno lies. She claimed Etta “lost her voice” and couldn’t attend the Shandon event on Sunday. Turns out Etta was speaking at the very same time in a Santa Maria church!

It doesn’t surprize me that Moreno is in the Waterfield camp because Moreno is yet another mean spirited politico who embraces the philosophy about lying to further your own interests. What is it they say about birds of a feather?

The reason Waterfield doesnt want the forums to be taped is …

A. Based on past performance she ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

B. She doesnt want anything memorilized that may someday indicate she is a flip flopper.

C. All of the above

I coordinated and directed two candidate forums for the Lincoln Club in March and April. Credentialed news outlets were invited and allowed to tape. Candidate’s staff were asked not to tape unless all of the candidates agreed it was ok. At the March Assembly candidate forum in Atascadero, Waterfield campaign staff were taping the forum. Mr. Kokkanen personally objected to me and I asked the Waterfield staff to cease taping, which they did immediately. There is no problem with the media having full access; they were invited and KCOY TV, KPRL Radio, The Tribune and the Atascadero News had full access without any interference. Having a candidate staff tape a presentation exposes other candidates to possibly unfair characterization of their remarks, especially when editing is taken into account. The young lady who is upset by being requested to cease tapiing, is either not a credentialed journalist, or is part of a political campaign. This entire story is a mischaracterization of what is happening and major media outlets are being used and sucked into a false story.

Hummmm, Got to check this one out, not sure what to think. I’ve always liked Roberta Fonzi and noticed that she always asked all the right questions when she was on the PC. She is still good at her job as a Council Woman IMO. But AL is a different story, I’ve seen Al spin the truth before and even once outright lie but that might have been because someone like (CB) lied to him and he publicly repeated it as if he knew the truth. Like I said, I’m not sure what to think yet, I’ll have to do some digging.

Cindy, don’t bother trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. Waterfield is backed by the ABA. What else do you need to know?

I think Ms. Moreno should get over here and explain why she doesn’t want anybody taping Waterfield during a public interview. One of my associates just sent that u-tube video out to about 800 republican voters.

One of our church members was at a previous Woman’s event where these candidates were speaking. Waterfield refused to be taped at that event also, Kokkonen had no problem with it. I know (according to my wife) that almost our entire female congregation is voting for Kokkonen although they did consider Waterfield but something about her lack of transparency just doesn’t feel right.

Considering what we’ve heard about the people running her campaign it’s hard to say if who came up with the tactics, but it isn’t pretty in fact, my wife mentioned that it’s almost evil to watch how nasty Etta is.

During Etta’s tele-town hall meeting recently, a questioner asked her what “specific actions” she would take take against employers who enable the supply and demand of illegal immigrants in industries such as agriculture. Twice, she was asked for specifics, and all she could do was mention a previous caller’s suggestion of revisiting the idea of a bracero program as a useful alternative.

Although it would have been nice if Etta had at least appeared to have a much more original thought, I felt she twice hedged the hardball question of holding large-scale employers (and potential campaign donors) much more accountable for taking an active part in attracting people to cross the US-Mexico border illegally by hiring them.

I’m tired of the same old talking points and evasions masquerading as insightful answers by many of this year’s primary candidates. While many are focusing strongly on the economy and “fixing Sacramento (or Washington) because it’s broken,” a now hollow and oft-repeated cliche as “change” is, we know little about our candidates in other areas, too. I hear a lot of “safe” answers that seem tailored to please a previously robo-call, polled public. Are there any candidates who will bring more specifics into how they are going to do all this “fixing,” or do we simply brace ourselves for when they get into office and pass the buck?

Big deal who cares about a video when there are certainly more important things to be concerned about.

We have been getting Etta Waterfield’s mailers and she is the meanest, most vicious politician I have seen since Bordonardo ran. Expect one last hit piece from her. I don’t like Kokkonen’s politics but I’ve never seen him run a dirty campaign. Atascadero council persons Fonzi and Kelly “like” Waterfield because she has fire in her belly. Sounds like a dragon lady to me. All I’ve seen from this woman is MEAN.

Moreno as well as Fonzi are part of the Tea Party group except they didn’t participate in Kokkonen’s Tea Party rally he held in Atascadero. Moreno is also part of A Better Atascadero (Mean, nasty, paranoid people) and in the last city council election Fonzi was the beneficiary of $2400 media advertising done by the ABA for her.

Ironically Katcho has Bordonardo’s and McCarthy’s endorsements and both of these guys, in my opinion, are more like Waterfield.

Have you seen Matt’s mailers? Great quote from Fred Strong (the forgotten candidate) on his facebook page the other day:

Got another Assembly candidate “hit” piece. Previous “hit” piece candidate is now objecting to his own tactics. Both were unwise, in my opinion. The character being displayed is not what I want to be associated with. More gutter politics doesn’t contribute anything of value to our social fabric. Who is advising these people?

It’s always interesting to watch how people try to smear an entire group through innuendo. Whether or not you think Waterfield should have allowed the taping is the subject, not ABA or Kelly and Fonzi. Where did that come from?

By the way, If you want to talk about mean and Atascadero politics, think of Mike Brennler, past mayor of Atascadero. There has never been a more controversial figure in Atascadero politics! It’s unfortunate Brennler is supporting sheriff’s candidate Joe Cortez. Cortez seems like a decent guy but Brennler’s endorsement is the kiss of death in Atascadero. We won’t forget that guy for a l-o-o-n-g time!

Waterfield, on her merits alone, seems as qualified as the other candidates. Transparency is important, and Waterfield should have allowed the taping. However, it is an error, not a scandal. Get over it and analyze the issues and the candidates, and don’t get sidetracked by the dirty tricks so prevalent in the last few weeks of any campaign. Being “mean” or “not mean” shouldn’t be the criteria for electing a candidate – competency and their stand on topics is the REAL issue!

Roberta and I didn’t attend the Tea Party sponsored by Mr. Kokkenen because as he stated to me on live radio (KPRL) he would not allow other candidates to speak. As he stated, “…he bought and paid for it, he will decide who gets to speak.” The Tea Party sponsored by Mr. Kokkenen was not a tea party; I’ve spoken at three out of four of them in North County. This was a Kokkenen campaign rally disguised as a Tea Party, which is why I and many other organizers and Tea Party activists declined to attend Mr. Kokkenen’s event. As for ABA being “mean, nasty and paranoid”, ABA started when the previous city council mocked members of the audience and displayed supreme arrogance towards the public. The mayor had a police officer escort a 72 year old man, a former Atascadero Citizen of the Year, from the council chambers because he didn’t like the expression on his face. Such outrageous behavior by any public official is inexcusable and intolerable. The people watched on TV how their council was behaving, and their planing commission, and decided enough was enough. The cabal that ran Atascadero for nearly 30 years suddenly had an aroused citizenry who pushed back and pushed back hard, starting with the 2400 signatures gathered in two weeks to repeal unwanted creek setbacks. Angry homeowners and Americans all; call them whatever names you like, but they aren’t going to go away. They are awake, they are watching and will hold anyone to account who disrepects the will of the people. ABA members are neither mean, nasty nor paranoid, just alert, fed up with arrogance at any level and they will not be ignored.

Heck, I don’t like the way this web site is set up. We have to scan and even re-read blogs to notice added posts. Al I disagree with you. The CC at the time that Mike Brennler was voted in was way too cozy with folks like Gearheart and the very heart of Atascadero, which was or should have been ‘main street’ and commercial development was and had been becoming pure ‘blight’. Can you deny that Luna had been pushing for commercial development and arguing against high density residential building that was taxing our local resources while the GOB’s let the ‘band play on”? The end result of which we are experiencing today, I might add.