Caner also acknowledged neglecting to report some expenditures as required under Berkeley law, which requires that campaign expenditures be made by check or credit card so that they can be traced.
Many of the workers, according to witnesses, had no idea that they were assisting the Measure S Campaign, an effort to make sitting down a crime which failed at the polls. The slate fliers did not identify the literature as the product of the Measure S Campaign. “They thought they were working for Obama,” stated one public speaker at the commission meeting.
Caner did not attend the packed commission meeting. The Measure S Campaign was represented by Roland Peterson, the executive director of the Telegraph Avenue BID, who dismissed the violations. Caner's letter, distributed at the commission meeting, claimed the $5,530 in cash payments was done because he assumed the people he was hiring would not have bank accounts.
The Commission voted unanimously to pursue an investigation.
Caner is described on the DBA's website as having “over twenty years business, non-profit, and community development experience,” as well as serving on the board of the Aurora Theatre and Berkeley Alliance, the fundraising committees for the South Branch Library and Berkeley City College, experience which would seem to make it unusual that his distribution of $5,530 in cash payments as a campaign manager could be characterized as accidental or due to inexperience.
Caner's letter stated that the violation was “inadvertent”, and that he promised to work closely with the Commission to remedy any violations.
Most of us aren't surprised when merchant associations lobby for anti-poor laws. They can be pretty predicable politically. They want storefronts and public spaces to look like theme parks. They favor buckets of flowers and nobody looking poor or hungry, so that shoppers are never forced to prioritize their spending between personal indulgences and community needs.
But we ought to object when the Director of the DBA doubles as the campaign manager for an anti-poor campaign, neglects to report campaign income, is willing to help distribute misleading campaign materials, and snookers vulnerable people he describes in his letter as people who “do not have bank accounts” to assist him.
Call for John Caner's resignation from the DBA. The business community is being forced, through the Business Improvement District's mandatory fees, to pay the salary of someone who committed serious campaign violations, violations which ran the risk of subverting the community's collective electoral will.
There is currently no oversight whatsoever for the DBA, an entirely unelected group dominated by out of town business interests. It will be interesting to see if the DBA's board of directors, in the light of John Caner's admission, takes any steps to find more appropriate leadership.