Barich cops to role in Cotati flyer
Officials, citizens claim former Cotati councilman uses false quotes in anti-Measure G flyer circulating the city
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By Dave Williams  May 9, 2014 12:00 am

You knew it was only a matter of time before political lunacy reared its head in Cotati over Measure G, the proposed half-cent sales tax on the June 3 ballot.

Some citizens have legitimate concerns about Measure G on the June 3 ballot. And those people – such as Cotati Jewelry owner Patty Minnis and Loud and Clear owner Neville Hormuz – are expressing their opposition and going about trying to beat Measure G in a manner that has been completely above board.

Minnis tried, unsuccessfully, to get arguments against Measure G on the ballot. She submitted arguments to Cotati Deputy City Clerk and Elections Officer Tami Taylor after the Cotati City Council unanimously approved placing the sales tax increase on the June 3 ballot. But her arguments were rejected because they exceeded the state-mandated word count limit of 300 words before the deadline, which was the close of the business day on March 10.

She resubmitted her arguments, which she said were under the 300-word limit, after the business day was over. Needless to say, Minnis was unhappy about the situation. She briefly considered legal action but opted to take her case directly to the people. She and others opposing the measure have mailed their arguments to citizens stating their arguments.

“The deadline passed. The city’s playing games and don’t want any arguments against it. I don’t have the time or energy to take them to court,” she said. “We decided the best, easiest and cheapest way was to mail it (the list of arguments) out to everyone individually.”

For her part, Taylor said she’s adhering strictly to state guidelines. 

“My job is to review the argument for compliance with the elections code,” Taylor said. “We reviewed the argument against and counted it according to word count standards that come from the elections code, so I don’t have a lot of flexibility. The election code says what I am required to do. I don’t have the option to change anything.”

Hormuz spoke before the Cotati City Council voicing his opposition, and he submitted letters to The Community Voice (his second letter will appear in next week’s edition).

Now for the political lunacy.

Another flyer, of which Minnis and Hormuz have no part, has a headline reading “Who’s behind Measure G, the massive one percent Cotati sales tax increase?” The author of the flyer, George Barich, when contacted Wednesday by The Voice, claims it is a newsletter, not flyer.

The document features pictures of Cotati Mayor John Dell’Osso, council members Mark Landman, Susan Harvey, John Moore, Cotati matriarch and historian Prue Draper, City Manager Dianne Thompson, Sally Tomatoes owner Gerard Giudice, Cotati Police Chief Michael Parish, Cotati Chamber of Commerce member Andre Morrow and Joan Simon. Underneath each picture is a quote attributed to each person pictured, vowing their support for higher taxes. There is no name attached to the document. It says it is “Paid for by local citizens and local businesses owners who want to publish what The Community Voice newspaper will not.”

The biggest problem is those supposedly quoted say the quotes are completely fabricated, and The Community Voice has obtained an email in which Barich, recalled from the council in 2009, admits his role in it.

Barich claims all the quotes are true and says those who deny them are lying.

Simon, who also says she was misquoted, sent Barich an email the morning of May 6, which read: “You are not nearly as clever as you think you are. The alleged “quote” from me in your current flyer being distributed  is totally bogus – especially since I was against the Smart train. You really are a sad, lonely and pathetic person to go to these lengths. I’m actually starting to feel sorry for you.”

Barich returned her email later that day. His response reads: “You haven't seen clever yet. Your bogus recall campaign, full of lies, never seemed to bother you? But to progressives, the end justifies the means.  You never were against the SMART train or you would have come out and condemned it at City Hall. I also thought the photo of you was quite flattering, considering it was taken 20 years ago. The least you could have done was thank me for not using the one I took of you walking around the neighborhood last year.”

Parish and Barich had an incident at the last city council meeting on April 22, where they had a discussion outside chambers. Parish is quoted in Barich’s document as saying, “If we don’t raise more taxes, I may have to take a pay cut. Furthermore, I can and will arrest anyone calling me or any city council member a liar during a city council meeting.”

When contacted about the accuracy of this quote, Parish said forcefully, “That is something I have never said.”

All those who were contacted denied the quotes attributed to them. Giudice was quoted in the document as saying, “I did what a lot of businesses have done, moved my business out of Cotati. So naturally, I support this higher tax.”

Landman said this document is a violation of city election laws, which state anyone who passes out political flyers must list whose responsible for the content and who is funding it. Giudice said he is the victim of libel and slander and plans on taking legal action against the culprit. 

“Anyone who knows me knows I love Cotati,” Giudice said. “We do a lot of things in Cotati with the city. The only reason I moved my business to Sonoma Mountain Village was because I needed a bigger place. That quote attributed to me is…silly.”

Landman agreed and said he’ll push for this matter to be sent to the district attorney.

“That flyer is slanderous, libelous and clearly intended to damage the reputation of Cotati,” Landman said.

 

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