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Allen paid by 2 unions after becoming legislator

By DEREK MOORE

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Assemblyman Michael Allen remained on the payroll of two North Bay labor unions after he took office last year, raising questions for the Santa Rosa

Michae Allen (PD FILE)

Democrat who previously ran afoul of state political conflict-of-interest laws because of his work.

State records show that unions representing health care workers at two North Bay hospitals paid Allen at least $20,000 last year for legal services.

The income, which Allen legally had to report under state political disclosure laws, was in addition to the $95,291 Allen earned as a state lawmaker last year.

Lawmakers generally aren’t prohibited from earning outside income so long as they don’t vote on matters that directly affect the companies or organizations that they are working for.

But some political observers said such work raises questions about a candidate’s independence.

“Appearances are everything in politics. It raises the specter of impropriety, whether or not that exists,” said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.

Allen declined to be interviewed on Wednesday but in a written statement defended his paid work on behalf of the Redbud Community Hospital Employee’s Association in Clearlake and the Canyon Manor Employees Association in Novato.

Allen’s work for both organizations began before his election to the Assembly.

In his statement, Allen wrote that after the election, he “initiated the process of assisting my remaining clients to other representation,” and that the two unions in question are now “primarily” represented by other law firms, with Allen filling in as needed as “backup.”

“Neither of these two small, independent employees associations is affiliated with public employee unions which lobby, or have business before, the California Legislature,” Allen wrote.

Allen declined to say how much he specifically earned from the organizations. On the state forms he reported that each organization paid him more than $10,000, and that his total income for his legal work ranged from between $10,000 and $100,000.

Jim Quigley, the secretary of the Canyon Manor association, said Wednesday that Allen has represented the organization in labor relations since the union’s inception about 30 years ago. “He’s just been a tremendous resource in helping us craft the union itself,” Quigley said.

Pat Van Horn, president of the Redbud association, would say only that Allen has worked for the group “for some time.” Redbud is now St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake, which is owned by Adventist Health.

Allen also is the former general manager of the Service Employees International Union Local 707 and executive director of the North Bay Labor Council.

Last February, the Fair Political Practices Commission levied a $3,000 fine against Allen for voting on matters in which he had a financial interest while he was a Santa Rosa planning commissioner. The FPPC found that Allen voted to change the city’s general plan while he was under contract to a county agency to work on behalf of that change.

Allen labeled his actions in that case an “innocent mistake.”

Critics questioned Allen’s selection to the Assembly’s Legislative Ethics Committee in the aftermath of that fine, as well as his selection to a high-profile state committee that is tasked with addressing the crisis with state public employee pensions.

These critics are finding new fodder with Allen continuing to be paid by unions.

“We need a representative who will put the district and their constituents first, and these kinds of outside contracts put that in question,” said San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine, Allen’s main opponent in the June 5 primary election for the newly-formed 10th Assembly District seat.

Allen’s largest campaign donations to date have come from labor unions, including the maximum allowable donations of $7,800 each from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the California Teachers Association, state records show.

As an assemblyman, he has championed legislation favoring organized labor, including introducing a bill this year that would pay overtime to farmworkers. The bill is backed by United Farm Workers of America.

Allen also co-authored a resolution calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that prevents the government from restricting political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

Those efforts don’t appear to conflict from a legal standpoint with Allen’s paid work for the two North Bay labor unions, said Bob Stern, the former president of the Center for Governmental Studies and an author of the state’s political conflict-of-interest laws.

“They deal with general matters as opposed to specific contracts,” Stern said Wednesday.

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com.





53 Responses to “Allen paid by 2 unions after becoming legislator”

  1. 2 paul harris says:

    your desperation is showing.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  2. Wesley Logan says:

    Michael Allen is truly a great representative. He stands up for working people and fights for fair working conditions for nurses at Napa State Hospital and farmworkers in our vineyard and this is the consequence- a yellow journalism hatchet job by the local hack reporter. Derek Moore and the PD should be ashamed. Not only is the writing poor, but no sources are named just ‘critics” and the story admits (at the end) there is no conflict. It was obviously an excuse to smear a legislator who is too progressive and worker friendly for their business interest advertisers. I for one am thrilled to be represented by Michael Allen . He works hard for his constituents and isn’t afraid to do what’s right, no matter how many times the PD attacks him. Voters in Marin are getting an intelligent, thoughtful, principled leader and a fighter for working people and their families.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11

  3. Wysocky/Evans To Blame 4 Allen says:

    Who is responsible for the embarrassment of this area being represented by such a sleaze as Michael Allen?

    Gary Wysocky appointed Allen to the Planning Commission and have been heard around town saying he was “proud” of Allen. What does that tell you about Wysocky’s values?

    Noreen Evans co-chaired Allen’s last campaign. What does that tell you about Evan’s judgment?

    It tells me that those of us who used to give them the benefit of the doubt, should wise up.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  4. A Message Bought to You By NBLC? says:

    So it appears Michael Allen’s staff and the North Bay Labor Council have at least three employees here to repeat the talking points they’ve been using since 2009, i.e., Michael Allen is a victim, his Democratic opponents are good targets for cheap shots, and his critics must belong to the “tea party”. Right…

    In 2010 these same paid political posters covered up and denied the stories about Allen.

    In 2010 these same political professionals were accusing Democrats Michael Wilson of harming the bird population on the Gulf Coast and dumping on Lee Pierce too. The Allen screaming smear machine is guaranteed to complain about any vote independent of the North Bay Labor Council and to belittle any donor to an opponent even though it’s Allen with the big pile of dirty money.

    These tactics have blow back and Allen did not get a majority of the Democrats votes in June 2010. Low information voters respond to the expensive direct mail from Allen and all those party insiders looking for jobs rally round Allen.

    The majority of Dems, independents, and Republicans reject the corrupt Allen machine.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7

  5. Follower says:

    @JL Anderson
    Thank you for noticing.

    @Mockingbird
    Thank you for being consistent.
    As with any good Liberal, Socialist you hold steadfast to you principals of never letting the facts get in the way of your agenda.

    For instance… the “FACT” is I posted this:
    “But… Unions ARE a necessary evil because without them, things would quickly return to the way it was and that is absolutely unacceptable.”

    And you responded with this:
    “Follower-the unions fought for those protection laws. If you think that things will remain the same when unions are gone you need a tune up.”

    Yet you believe you are informed enough to have a valid opinion on the subject. I assure you, you are NOT!

    Your ideas have NO HOPE of standing up to reality so you must twist the realities that your opponents use to formulate their opposing opinion in an attempt to even the playing field.

    And it WORKS… until somebody like ME comes along.

    There is a HUGE, GAPING difference between Public Employee Unions and Private Sector Unions just as there is a HUGE, GAPING difference between “Immigrants” and ILLEGAL Immigrants.

    Anybody with even the most basic understanding of American History MUST support Unions and Immigration, as do I… FULLY!

    But you libs will take every opportunity to muddy the waters in hopes of hiding the holes in your arguments.

    How can you not see the fact that your opinions are so clearly based on fantasy & false premises and not question your own beliefs?
    Is because of the “Agenda”?
    Is this a case of “the ends justifies the means”?
    ”I want it to be true so therefore it must be”?

    Doesn’t it even bother you just a little that Human History has tried your ideas over & over again and it almost always ends the same way… BLOODSHED?

    The people who immigrated to and built America into the worlds most powerful nation didn’t do so because they heard about all the great social programs.

    The people who desired social programs stayed in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, etc… and look at them now!

    Need more proof? Fine, you’ll get it sooner than you think.

    Just wait until Germany is forced to stifle their economic powerhouse with austerity measures when the bills come due for bailing out the Euro.

    You know… THE GERMANS! Remember them? Not exactly the most docile bunch.

    You think the riots in Greece, Spain, etc… are bad, wait till the Germans have had enough.
    It ain’t gonna be pretty folks.
    Lets NOT let that happen HERE!

    Lets get back to what made America great.

    “The Constitution”

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  6. J L Anderson says:

    The tea party, and people with common sense in general, have provided a genuine positive impact by focusing on key government corruption and spending problems that need to be addressed.

    In contrast, politicians like Michael Allen and his clueless supporters ARE the problem.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

  7. Sandy Robertson says:

    I am a proud Michael Allen supporter. The fact that he is attacked by the Press Democrat and vilified by the Tea Partiers on this website only makes me that much more certain that he deserves my support.
    Any Assemblyman that cares about the average working person and insists that the wineries pay fair wages to their farm workers is going to be criticized by the people on this website. Of course they will attack labor unions and defend the status quo. Luckily that is not how the district votes. Keep up the great work Michael Allen. I vote for people who care about our environment and the 99%!

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 27

  8. Money Grubber says:

    Paul Harris:

    Could you, uh, say that again? lol

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  9. Commonsense says:

    Frankly, as a marin county voter, neither candidate is perfect, but to vote for Allen (IMHO) would be to reward obvious carpetbagging. Of course I don’t agree with the majority of his politics so I wouldn’t vote for him anyway.
    However, I have found many of the posts related to this article interesting. The right/ability to unionize is not a constitutional right as one post indicated. It is a statutory right, both Federal and State.
    And, the history of unions and the reasons for their birth are very distinct from our current times. Unions were born in an age of agriculture and manufacturing, where there were not statutes protecting workers. Unions were born of blue collars.
    The U.S. has changed since then, the service sectors have exploded, while manufacturing and agriculture have gotten much smaller. The educational levels have increased. And, we could discuss the distinctions ad nauseum, but lets not. I support unions, in fact I belong to one, but the reality is they are now run much like a business (like an evil corporation), so many of the distinctions discussed are great history but not the current reality and until people understand that, they will keep voting for people like Allen, regardless of whether it’s actually in their best interest or not.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 6

  10. John says:

    @WOAH there Don….

    Please read the articel again:
    “State records show that unions representing health care workers at two North Bay hospitals paid Allen at least $20,000 last year for legal services.”

    I was completely unaware that health care workers at the two North Bay Hospitals were a part of SEIU….where do you get that out of that statement. Where in the world in the article do you find that SEIU and other Public Employee Unions had such a MAJOR role in this? As far as I see these are PRIVATE unions. Quit using the Public Employee Unions as a scapegoat!

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 22

  11. Don Quixote says:

    @ Larry

    Allen is Exhibit A in how SEIU and the other public sector unions put their people in office. He was picked, funded, supported and anointed by SEIU to represent THEIR interests in Sacramento. He is bought, paid for and there to vote the union line.

    Make no mistake, the public sector unions elect in a very large measure, the local and state politicans in this state. In effect, we voters have no say in the matter.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 13

  12. Paul Harris says:

    1) Last summer, in July and August, after Levine announced his run for Assembly in May, he campaigned for Assembly from a table set up by the city of San Rafael at the San Rafael Thursday night Farmer’s Market. That table is for the specific purpose of city council officeholders talking about city issues. But Levine was clearly heard telling many that he was running for Assembly. That is a misappropriation of city funds for private use, which is a felony here in California. The DA is holding open an investigation on this.

    2) Levine announced to a city council candidate from Novato and another individual at the Marin Sierra club dinner last year that he was “too busy running for Assembly to be concerned with the city of San Rafael.”

    3) He authorized the misfiling of state assembly campaign papers in June, 2011. The misfiling had to do with the requirement that he specify which donations were transferred from his re-election campaign for city council to his assembly coffers–he was not specific, as the law requires.

    4) Our current state senator advised Levine to stand down in the Assembly race in favor of Michael Allen. Levine’s reply was, “It’s my time.”

    5) Dick Spotswood of the I-J touted the fact that Levine was challenging the Latino caucus in Sacramento because Levine was thumbing his nose at Assembly Majority Whip John Perez by running for Assembly. Levine was very proud of this support from Spotswood. When it was pointed out to Levine by a Latina that this was a racist position, Levine’s response was that he did not understand why it was racist. Levine’s wife had to teach him why by saying, “How would you feel if someone were proud of going up against the Jewish Caucus?”

    6) It’s been documented that Levine told the volunteers of a fellow councilmember, Greg Brockbank, that he was voting for Brockbank for mayor last fall. But Levine then sent out an email saying the only two candidates he thought people should vote for were Brockbank’s opponent Gary Phillips and Andrew McCullough. Levine did not mention his fellow council-member, Damon Connolly, who was running for re-election.

    7) Levine is the San Rafael city council representative to the Marin Telecommunications Agency. Comcast still owes the Community Media Center $600,000 as compelled by law, and has refused to pay. Levine is the only rep to the MTA who has taken funds from Comcast, and he is recommending that Comcast not pay the funds.

    8) In February of 2011, over a year ago, Levine held a fundraiser held specifically for his re-election to city council. At that time, however, Levine was already soliciting endorsements for a run to the Assembly, in this case, an endorsement received from David Weinsoff, a Fairfax town council member now running for county supervisor.

    9) Two months later, in April of 2011, Levine voted for Target to come into San Rafael. In late 2011, Levine’s campaign for Assembly collected $500 from the landowner of the parcel on which Target is going to build and $500 from the landowner’s husband’s company. It can easily be argued that Levine arranged that donation before the Target vote.

    10) Target and Wal-Mart are well-known as big box stores which cannibalize sales tax receipts from local businesses because their high volume allows them to undercut the prices of local stores. This destroys local business. Yet Levine’s campaign claims he’ll be a local voice in Sacramento.

    11) Levine proudly announces on his web site that he “created the first requirement in California conditioning land use with meeting the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for clean energy.”

    Aside from Levine making a verb of the noun “conditioning,” Levine is attempting to require any user of land to get its energy supply from a utility which has an RPS. Well, all energy providers in California already DO have an RPS. That makes the “requirement” completely unnecessary. If Levine really wanted to be the local voice in Sacramento, he would have mandated that Target get its energy from Marin Clean Energy.

    12) In an interview where Levine was vying for an endorsement from the Marin Board of Realtors, Levine declared that he “personally helped 15,000 people with [his] vote on Target.” One must wonder why he feels it is his vote that was most important, amongst three.

    One implication could be that those people will benefit from Target’s low costs. Another could also be that he believes that 200 jobs will be available for those people in the Canal. Target cannot assure that will be the case. As a matter of fact, the city’s study on the impact of Target on city business, which Levine supposedly read, showed that in all cases, only ten per cent of the people who work at Target live within ten miles of Target.

    Moreover, those jobs will be minimum wage, part-time, unbenefited, non-unionized, and within a work environment subject to a 60 to 70% annual turnover. Yet his reason for voting for Target: “It’s OK for people to work retail.”

    But most importantly, because Levine feels it’s OK for Latinos to work retail in such poor conditions, his attitude is classist, if not insidiously racist. One wonders if, because Levine is unemployed and lives off his wife’s family’s money and job, whether he would go and get such a job at Target.

    13) He has been quoted as saying that Target will bring a pharmacy to the Canal. That is simply not true. Target’s pharmacy will be in their store which will be located further from the Canal than CVS and Rite-Aid are now at Montecito.

    14) Recently Levine telephoned the client of a local political consulting firm to get that client to demand that the political consulting firm not do an IE on Levine. I’ll repeat that: Levine telephoned the client of a local political consulting firm, and told that client–Marin General Hospital–that the local political consulting firm was going to run an independent expenditure against Levine. Levine said it would not look good for the hospital if that were the case. MGH’s reply was, of course, to brush off Levine.

    15) Several endorsers have now rescinded their endorsement of him–Ford Greene, David Weinsoff, Armando Quintero and but he has not removed their names from his web site endorsement list. And he has named certain individuals as endorsers who have not endorsed him.

    16) Right after the meeting where he voted for Target, late at night, he went around to those who opposed Target and asked a question of each person, one which says a lot about his character.

    “Will you still love me in the morning?” was the question. There was no explanation to his most ardent supporters of why he supported Target–just that question.

    To many, Levine’s understanding of the deeper issues surrounding big boxes and their deleterious effect on a local community was sorely lacking. One individual said it was like talking to his 6 year-old grand-daughter.

    To date has not explained his vote to any of his former supporters–rather, when approached and asked, Levine grows defensive and angry. A few times he imitated the sound of people whining. And he told one person that without Target there would be no police or fire protection.

    17) Levine’s running a dirty race against Michael Allen for Assembly. He’s spread untrue rumors about spousal abuse; accuses Allen of assaulting him; and every time Levine talks to someone about his race for Assembly, Levine always mentions ethics violations committed by Allen. He never mentions what his own campaign is about.

    18) This just a little bit of what’s out there on Levine.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 20

  13. Larry says:

    HOW WAS A MAN WHO CANNOT SPELL THE WORD “ETHICS” ELECTED TO SACRAMENTO IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 15

  14. Throwing Stones in a Glass House says:

    Does anyone else here find it odd that Allen’s supporters are raising questions about the family of an opponent?

    Let’s do a comparison:

    Allen: twice or thrice divorced and had to legally change his name during the last sorry chapter in his life.

    Levine: a happily married man with a lovely wife and adorable children.

    Levine must represent a serious threat to Allen if he and the North Bay Labor Council are already stooping to the nasty personal smears they routinely trot out anonymously online when their candidates stumble.

    But remember what they say about throwing stones when you live in a glass house…

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 18

  15. brenda says:

    Hello, Taxpayers,

    Have your water and sewer rates gone up in the last three years even though you’ve conserved water?

    Do you think the $95,000+ the Water Agency paid to Michael Allen to develop a plan for “work-force housing” (a plan that btw was plagiarised) had anything to do with it?

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 16

  16. Jack Taxpayer says:

    Anyone who thinks corporations give a hoot about what public sector unions do is naive. Corporations fight for their own narrow interests. Public sector unions are not necessary to “balance” corporate interests, because the agenda of public sector unions has nothing to do with corporations. Public sector unions and corporations are in detente, if not in cahoots. The agenda of public sector unions is to expand their memberships and increase their member’s pay and benefits. They control pretty much every local government in California, and they definitely control the state legislature. We are basically an occupied nation, where government workers enjoy pay and benefits that are literally twice what taxpayers earn. Public sector unions should be outlawed. They are a disgrace, and a perversion of democracy.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 18

  17. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Mike Bonham-trust me when I say the donations to the right are much more and HIDDEN as to who the donators are. They have lots of pac money to pour into deceptive hit ads and you won’t even know who is behind them. Unions are limited to what they can give directly to the candidate. The candidates can be endorsed and flyers can be sent out with a list of the endorsed candidates. These go to union members.

    Money comes to all candidates running. Michael Allen is a worker for the people of California because he is a labor candidate. I don’t even think there in another one in the legislature. And yet the people on this post resent even one worker representative in the legislature. Fair and balanced you are not. Michael is MY representative and I’m glad I have one.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 41

  18. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Follower-the unions fought for those protection laws. If you think that things will remain the same when unions are gone you need a tune up. Legislatures all over the country are taking away workers rights. There aren’t that many union members left. The unions are losing ground and the consequently the workers are too because of people who think like you do. Donations from union members are a matter of millions compared to BILLIONS from no face corporate pacs. These no face super pace are buying our local elections with big money.

    I was at the meeting last night too. Allen was great. He was clear. Anyone who couldn’t understand what he was saying should have just gone home. When your brain is blocked what’s the point. He was quite clear that the state is actively working on the pension problems. He said it over and over again and even changed his wording. He explained what they were doing as well and some of the problems they’ve encountered. I listened to all of the panelists. I had no trouble understanding any one of them.

    By the way, the private sector unions are on Michael Allen’s side. They worked for his campaign last time and they will be working again this time. The private sector unions know they are under attack by the Republicans and the rightwing as well. They know what happened in Wisconsin and it wasn’t just public employee unions that we hit hard by the legislature.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 39

  19. John Reed says:

    OK, better response than I expected.

    Here’s a quick reply. I am intimately familiar with the different challenges faced by public and private sector unions. The origin of the union movement was prompted by egregious exploitation of workers at the beginning of the Industrial Age, but the protection from exploitation is not the only purpose for unions. Public sector workers were also exploited by their employers, prior to the introduction of collective bargaining in the public sector.

    You won’t like this answer any better, but in the America of the 21st century,we want to see every worker belong to a union or association. Unions help build a necessary alternative to the overwhelming power of the corporate sector. In the small business sector, which has very low labor standards as well,work is now being done to create voluntary associations of workers in low-wage sectors like retail, services, and hospitality, to advocate for better standards and protections for employees.

    Unions help aggregate the political power of working people, and greatly assist the growth of social solidarity. We need more and stronger unions, not fewer. Probably not the answer you wanted to hear!

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 39

  20. Follower says:

    @John Reed
    If you can’t understand the difference between Private Sector Unions & Public Employee Unions then there’s no hope of you ever understanding the question.

    But thanks for taking a stab at an answer.

    I’m not just trying to be provocative, I would REALLY like to hear an explanation from someone with the intellect to tell the difference, WHY any Public Employee needs Union protection from their employer.

    17 thumbs down & 16 posts later I have yet to hear an answer which leaves me no choice but to draw the conclusion that Public Employee Unions have nothing to do with protection from an employer.

    It’s all about greed.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 15

  21. Jim Bennett says:

    No, really?
    Why, that would be less than honest.

    Much less.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 13

  22. ALLEN IS THE 90210 CANDIDATE says:

    Michael Allen defines “spoiled rich kid” in California politics. He graduated from Beverly Hills High, you know, the famous 90210 zip code. That’s Allen’s background.

    What a phony he is when he introduces himself to Democratric audiences and portrays himself as being “poor” with a widowed mother from Mexico. Right. He forgets about the mansion his Mining Executive father provided him.

    Maybe his insiders who get paid to trash other Democrats running for office don’t know much about their own candidate.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 16

  23. @audrey sanderson says:

    michael allen was raised in a mansion in beverly hills and went to beverly hills high school.

    his father was a mining executive. poor, poor michael allen.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 17

  24. Allen's Money And Conflicts says:

    @ Billy C and Jim

    Think about this…
    1. Since 2006 Michael Allen has had an SEIU pension. He doubled his own salary just before he retired to jack up that pension. Who’s paying for that rip off? The members of SEIU who are required to fork over a portion of their government salaries to their union which then pays the inflated pension to Allen. Ultimately, the money to pay Allen came from the taxpayers.

    2. In 2007 Allen came out of his weeks or months long retirement to become the District Director for Sen. Wiggins. He had a generous state salary for serving as her staffer until he took office as the representative of the 7th Assembly District in December 2010. During this much of this period her illness and obvious incompetence was covered up by her staff which included Michael Allen.

    3. In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and according to the PD in 2011 Allen was paid by two unions to do “legal work” on top of his government salary. The value of the legal work was estimated between $20,000 and $200,000.

    4. In 2007, 2008, and 2009 Allen was paid by the Sonoma County Water Agency (to produce an employee housing plan, lobby the City of Santa Rosa to change its general plan and to influence a vote on the City Planning Commission) while he was also working as Wiggins District Director and doing “legal work” for two unions.

    5. So Allen had five sources of income during recent years: a pension, a government job, “consulting” for another government agency in an area he had no experience and special knowledge of, and part time legal work with two unions.

    6. During that same period Allen had these multiple sources of income, Allen simultaneously held the title of President of the North Bay Labor Council and was a candidate for Santa Rosa City Council and a candidate for the State Assembly. He also served on an advisory board for the SMART train and in 2009 on the City of Santa Rosa’s Planning Commission.

    Anyone see more than one potential conflict of interest with any of this?

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 17

  25. Audrey Sanderson says:

    Marc Levine is a big box developers dream and it’s easy to see he created this story so he can use it in his self serving campaign against Allen. Levine is a spoiled rich kid, living off his wife who thinks he can buy his way into the Assembly with money from Target and big business interests who used to run this county. Levine has spent his whole first year as a San Rafael City Councilman running for a higher office and throwing trash at Michael Allen. I guess that’s easier than actually working and since Levine has no experience, no ideas and no vision, that’s the only way he thinks he can get ahead. Why doesn’t Derek Moore ask Mr Levine about his donors and how they got him to change his vote to allow the building of a big box store after giving him a large donation? Perhaps he can ask Levine, who seems to have no visible job and is living off his wife’s inheritance what makes him competent to run for public office?

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 26

  26. GAJ says:

    Mr. Allen was a key advocate of over the top benefit increases for Public Safety in the early 2000′s.

    The direct result of that will be continued and increasing sacrifices by members of the Union he used to (and still does politically) represent; SEIU.

    That is the Union taking it on the chin in order to keep Public Safety in the cat bird seat.

    So what we have, essentially, is one Union repressing another thanks to “advocates” who thought somehow, magically, unsustainable benefits would “trickle down” to less powerful Unions.

    History has proven the folly of his over the top advocacy.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 14

  27. John Reed says:

    OK, against my better judgment, I’ll take the bait and “ANSWER THE QUESTION”. My general rule of thumb is to avoid engaging in discussions with the Tea Party dead-enders on this site. OK, here it is:

    We have public sector unions because U.S. law regards the right to form unions as a constitutional right. Unions defend the wages, benefits and working conditions of employees. The reason that Michael Allen gets the bi-annual hazing from the corporatists at the PD/Chamber is that he defends the right of working people to form unions, wherever they work, to protect their dignity and to have a say in how the workplace is governed. Employers will always behave better when they have to negotiate, rather than dictate the terms of the relationship with their workers.

    The right-wing has never accepted that workers have that basic human right, and they have sought to destroy unions since FDR created the National Labor Relations Board. Anyone who stands up for worker’s rights, like Mr. Allen, will be subjected to attack by the billion-dollar a year union suppression industry. We know that, and we know that they will do this number every time he runs for office. You can set your watch by it.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 31

  28. Andy Swenson says:

    I was at the pension panel last night and Mr Allen did not “walk away” from the question at all. He gave a clear common sense answer to all questions and explained pretty carefully the legal restrictions and economic concerns and complexities facing the Governor’s pension committee and the county. He advocated a pension cap and an end to pension spiking and was a thoughtful and insightful participant. I went without a favorable opinion and came away impressed. I agree with the posters here that this non story is an unfair attack on a man who has apparently committed the unforgiveable sin of defending farm workers in a county that is owned by the wineries and vinyard owners. Too bad they apparently own the Press Democrat as well.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 34

  29. Billy C says:

    What is the the biggest financial problem
    with the City? With the County? With the State? What problem is so big that It has
    and will cause problems if not complete failure of our local governments?
    Its the cost of our “public servants”.
    The people who where supposed to serve us now own us. That’s what happens when the Unions pick (elect)there own bosses.
    The Unions have amazing control from city councils to the governors office.
    Mr Allen Is a perfect picture of what
    is wrong with our system. If we cant see that now we are in for more of the same.

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  30. Jim says:

    I love the post about the “1%” being the cause of the decline in “job security” and the reason “unemployment is so high”. That is a Democrat talking point.

    The “1%” is a phantom the left loves to attack. They use “wealthy”, “rich”, “millionaires’, etc as scapegoats for failed policies, and to redirect blame form themselves.

    Do some research on the “1%” and you’ll find that this is a constantly changing group. I know a few people who were in the 1% income group 4-5 years ago while their construction company flourished. They employed about 220 people. They made a lot of money. Now they employ 2, barely make $40,000/year (total), will soon layoff the last two workers and are preparing to declare bankruptcy. So 4 years ago they were the devil (the demonized 1%!!) but now should be part of the OWS group and railing against the very group they were part of?? It makes no sense.

    What is hilarious about the attack on the high earners is that the group with the most job security, the group with the highest guaranteed money are GOVERNMENT WORKERS, who are paid by the taxpayer. A government worker who retires with a lifetime pension is a “millionaire”. The left NEVER attacks them, only those who make it in the private sector.

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  31. Fancy Mixed says:

    WE NEED PUBLIC FINANCING OF ALL LEVELS OF POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS

    “Republic Lost” by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig http://tinyurl.com/3mdlcrd 

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 6

  32. Vote Levine says:

    How nice there’s an alternative to Allen. Thank you Marc Levine for hanging in there. The Allen team bullies (see below) but Democrats and Independants need a choice.

    Allen moved to San Rafael a few months’ ago and tried to shove local candidates aside.

    The Allen supporters have no class and do not respect their rivals or other Democrats. Toxic comments and innuendo won’t win their any supporters.

    From what I’ve seen, Marc Levine certainly does.

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  33. Eric Cartman says:

    Michael Allen single handedly caused the great depression.

    Or not. I’m not saying he did. I’m just asking the question.

    Life (Press Democrat) imitating art (South Park) imitating life (Fox News)

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  34. Mike Bonham says:

    Allen is in debt to SEIU and his public sector union pals. In fact, one might say they have bought and paid for him. Anything he does in Sacramento has the union stamp of approval on it.

    This story is no surprise to anyone who follows democrat poltics in Sacramento.

    If you think Allen represents you, the poor working stiff, think again. He represents union interested, not the working man or woman’s interests which are not the same.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 18

  35. brenda says:

    Moore didn’t even mention Allen’s carpetbagging and whether he’s really living in that “apartment in San Rafael.”

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 18

  36. The question says:

    Do everyone a favor and ask Michael Allen about pension reform. Trust me, he walks away from the question.

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 18

  37. Follower says:

    Unions began out of necessity to protect workers from the abuses of greedy capitalists who owned the politicians and made sure there were no laws to get in the way of their exploitation.

    Things have changed.

    Now we HAVE laws to protect workers and the tables have turned. Now it’s the greedy UNIONS who own the politicians.

    But… Unions ARE a necessary evil because without them, things would quickly return to the way it was and that is absolutely unacceptable.

    However… The Government has never abused it’s employees on any level even approaching that of the days of the Robber Barons and sweat shops.

    So WHY do we NEED Public Employee Unions?

    Don’t just click “thumbs down” coward… ANSWER THE QUESTION!

    Thumb up 45 Thumb down 31

  38. PD Ethics Committee says:

    I would not be surprised if Derek Moore finds that no progressive politician in the county will return his calls.I know of several already who have already come to that conclusion. He is the spear carrier for his corporate bosses. His specialty is the hack job, full of innuendo, half truths, selective facts, and downright deception. I don’t how he can stand to shave in the morning.

    Mark Levine has lost any residue of respect we may have had for him. He’s piling on with a tweet questioning Michael’s refusal to call Moore back. Nice work. Set up the hit, then demand that he give the hitman another shot at him. No thanks.

    I’m waiting for the investigative work by the PD on Levine’s relationship with Target, after he reversed his vote on the San Rafael council. I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 33

  39. Rydin Shotgun says:

    Another example of the unethical “do as I say not as I do” politician.

    This one cut his teeth running unions which have hand in hand with corporate greed destroyed this country economically and politically.

    Its hard to say who’s the cop and who’s the criminal now a days since both sides have run amok.

    Thumb up 42 Thumb down 17

  40. Rick says:

    Chris Snyder’s comment has it right. This is a non-story except that it offers the opportunity to trot out the double-standard which holds those representing corporate interests above such questions and paints those supported by unions with the same old tired feints and tar brush attacks.

    John Reed’s conclusion is on target: neutral observers have pointed out there is no conflict and yet the PD runs innuendo.

    Allen and all legislators have pluses and minuses – they need to be judged by their actions not by trumped up intimation.

    It is sad that the PD continues to criticize government and elected officials with tripe such as this – there’s plenty of grist for the mill without such stooping.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 53

  41. Lisa Maldonado says:

    The PD’s anti-union crusade continues. As does Derek Moore’s slipshod writing and yellow journalism. Talk about “burying the lead”! This non story ENDS with with a quote from someone who (literally) wrote the book on ethics saying there is no conflict of interest. It raises the hypothetical possibility of an appearance of something that both experts agree is not a conflict. Did Mr. Levine’s campaign manager pitch this story? I’d like to remind the PD if they reported on every politician who had “ties” to business or real estate or development interests with the same zealousness that they follow people like Michael Allen who stands up for working families, they might have to actually hire more reporters. I won’t hold my breath waiting for Mr Moore to investigate Mark Levine’s campaign donations from Target and whether they had any role in his switching his swing vote to allow a Target in San Rafael.

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  42. Michael Allen: Throw the Bum Out! says:

    He deserves jail more than your vote. This is a good year to throw the bums out.

    Thumb up 54 Thumb down 21

  43. taxpayer says:

    This guy is Dirty.

    Thumb up 58 Thumb down 21

  44. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    John Reed-Allen is running again this year hence the hatchet job. PD’s motto is to get started early before the primaries and keep it up to the day of the November election. I’ve been expecting it.

    Since he’s new to Marin county politics we need to educate Marin County on how effective he’s been in the legislature for workers and their families. He’ll work for all of California’s families.

    It’s really funny about most of the people on this blog. They don’t see anything wrong with Republicans at all who support the corporations over their voters. They don’t seem to have any problem with the financial corporations that caused this economic collapse. They seem to be quite happy for the corporations to keep up the status quo-to continue to gamble away our money and are likely pleased with with this new “jobs” bill that is really more deregulation for coporations. Anything that has Cantor’s hands on it is a disaster for the middleclass. They blame public employees, unions and progressives in general not those at the top who took the money out of all of our pockets for themselves. They have no problem with most of the wealth concentrated at the top 1%percent. As far as I’m concerned, THE 1% IS WHERE THE MIDDLECLASS PENSIONS AND BENEFITS WENT. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE SENT OUR JOB SECURITY DOWN THE TOILET. THEY ARE THE CAUSE OF UNEMPLOYMENT BEING SO HIGH AND PEOPLE LOSING THEIR HOMES.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 47

  45. Patronage & Pay Offs says:

    Here’s a prediction:

    The Executive Director of the North Bay Labor Council Lisa Maldonado will be here posting numerous comments under numerous fake names trying to change the subject, blame others, and complain about the media. The NBLC pays Lisa Maldonado to spend her time covering up and campaigning for Michael Allen. The value of her time is never reported as a campaign contribution to the variety of political campaigns for City Counci and the Assembly Allen has engaged in or all the other candidates the NBLC recruits and funds. Everything she and other paid labor lobbyists do should be labeled by the moderator of this website as a paid political ad because that’s exactly what it is. Derek Moore just scratches the surface with this story.

    Moore states Allen “previously ran afoul” of state political conflict of interest laws because of his work”. That is a serious understatement. The primary “work” Allen was supposedly doing for the Sonoma County Water Agency was to write a “employee housing plan”. Allen supposedly “worked” on this for three years but if Derek Moore or any reader of the Press Democrat or water agency customer were to call the Sonoma County Water Agency and ask for a copy of their “employee housing plan” you’ll fine it does not exist. Allen didn’t submit one. He got paid. But the agency has no “plan”. As a first step to completing his “plan” Allen was supposed to submit a report and that turned out to be something he plagiarized.

    This is what is known as old-fashioned political patronage “work”. It is an evasion of the campaign reporting law because the Water Agency or Union organizations funnel money into a politician like Allen’s pocket without reporting the gift or campaign contribution. After Allen failed to produce a plan he was contracted to produce for the SCWA, he convinced Gary Wysocky to appoint him to Santa Rosa’s Planning Commission and then hit up the SCWA for $25,000 more to influence the vote on a change the Agendy wanted. That’s pure old fashioned quid pro quo corruption.

    So the question Mr. Moore should be asking is “what legal work”? Were these organizations involved in lawsuits? Allen isn’t a litigator. Did they need a contract reviewed? The number of hours it would take to add up to a $20,000 legal bill would suggest that Allen took 2 to 4 weeks off from his “day” job in Sacramento to work on whatever the “legal” work was for these two organization. What do the public records show? Did Allen take time off from his job to preform legal work or was he getting paid by the taxpayers while he was billing for his services for legal work?

    Just to underscore the problem with this, last year was not the first year Allen reported on a disclosure form that he performed legal work for these two labor organiations. When he was appointed to the Santa Rosa Planning Commission, he also completed a similar disclosure which listed work between $10,000 and $100,000 for the same organizations. But at the time he was on the state payroll as Sen. Wiggins District Director AND a paid “housing consultant” and lobbyist for the Sonoma County Water Agency. So again, did he take a month off from his tax supported day job or did he perform “legal services” while he was supposed to be performing services for the taxpayer?

    It’s a pattern. It”s illegal. He’s as corrupt as they come. The Press Democrat needs to dig a little deeper.

    Thumb up 59 Thumb down 18

  46. John Lennon says:

    In every other country in the world this is called Bribery and corruption

    Thumb up 61 Thumb down 23

  47. Brad says:

    So what else is new? Governor Moonbeam is owned by the unions too. Politics as usual on the Left Coast of Californicate.

    Thumb up 42 Thumb down 23

  48. Grapevines says:

    Allen and Evans are bought and paid for by the labor and prison guards unions. And neither one of them is ashamed of that fact. They have no more likely to have an original thought of their own than the common housefly has. They will do what they are told to do and plead “innocent mistake”every time.

    Why anyone would vote for either of these two losers is beyond me.

    Thumb up 56 Thumb down 23

  49. Chris Snyder says:

    This is a non-story. If this tells us anything it is that Labor Unions continue to be discriminated against. A politician like Darly Issa can make millions in the private corperate world with no questions rasied. But if a Union is paying someone for services rendered suddenly their is and air of corruption with no proof to offer up. This is again no story. There is a double standard being applied in this story in an effort to gin up a controvesy.

    Labor Unions function within the confines of law and have a positive role to play in society. Assemblyman Allen has been a champion of the Middle Class and working people throughout his career and I am proud to have him as a representative.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 49

  50. homegirl says:

    Why am I surprised, the leopard doesn’t change its spots!

    Thumb up 45 Thumb down 19

  51. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I am sick and tired of the PD bashing Michael Allen. His time in the legislature has been spent making things better for the middleclass at large, not just for union members. He represents families. We union member are proud of his performance. I don’t see anything wrong in what he did. He isn’t the first to continue to work outside of work. The only reason the PD is on it is because of his union affiliations. It’s union bashing AGAIN.

    I for one am happy that we have AT LEAST ONE labor person in our California legislature. The workers in this country are suffering and we need ALL THE VOICES WE CAN GET. I fear that Michael is spitting in the wind of corporate greed, but I hope
    he manages to make some headway for we the workers.

    The time is getting close where I won’t be buying this paper. I pretty much buy it for the funnies anyway. That progressive liberal local “Pearls Before Swine” is my favorite.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 53

  52. John Reed says:

    Another hatchet job by the PD on one of the best Assemblymen who have served the North Bay, a man who has spent his whole career defending the interests of working people, first as the president of the North Bay Labor Council and now as our representative. That service is why he has been targeted by the PD and the Chamber-backed business interests that pay their bills. He represents an alternative center of power to entrenched business interests who like their labor cheap, subservient, and non-union. The right-wing forces that hate labor have been gunning for him from Day One, and they will keep on trying to take him down. I just wish the PD weren’t their accomplice.

    This story looks like it was pitched by Marc Levine’s campaign manager, with the intent of seeing if they can get some more mileage out of the last hit piece the PD did in the prior electoral cycle. What’s really infuriating about this piece of gutter journalism, is that it opens with the lurid headline and concludes with a statement from the guy who literally wrote the state conflict of interest law: “Those efforts don’t appear to conflict from a legal standpoint with Allen’s paid work for the two North Bay labor unions, said Bob Stern, the former president of the Center for Governmental Studies and an author of the state’s political conflict-of-interest laws.” So what we’re seeing is a puff of smoke with a mirror behind it.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 57

  53. Jim says:

    So what? Every Democrat in the state is paid under the table by the unions. If this is a shock to someone I’d be surprised. The issue is that the voters continue to re-elect the same corrupt legislature over and over.

    Heck, I’ve said it many times, the US political system and government is the most corrupt in the world. This is an epidemic that won’t go away.

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