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Supporters of the effort to extend term limits for council members and commissioners in Santa Ana, an election initiative for the Feb 5  primaries listed on the ballot as "Measure D" and "Measure E," have struck a comical and clever low in political rhetoric.

In an automated call that Gustavo Arellano first reported upon at the Notes from the Banana Republic blog, supporters of the measures claim it "is critically important to ensure ethical and accountable leadership in City Hall." Listen to the entire call at Arellano's blog entry on the topic.

How does it ensure "ethical leadership"? It doesn't, unless you believe that all the other possible candidates are by definition less ethical than current council members. It promises a new code of ethics but tells us nothing about what the new code will say. How does it enhance accountability? It doesn't, unless you believe that continuing to re-elect the same council members makes them accountable.

The call is meant to co-opt the message of the opposition to measures "D" and "E." The opponents'  website claims rejecting the measures' extensions of term limits will help ensure the development of new leadership and more open government.

The call is deceptive and pernicious on its face. But Thomas Gordon over at The Orange Juice! blog managed to learn that the claim the call makes that Santa Ana teachers support Measure "D" is a fabrication. According to Gordon's post, the head of the Santa Ana teachers union, David Barton, says that the union and the teachers have not even discussed the measures, and certainly have not taken a position on them. Says Barton in an email to Gordon: "if someone calls you and implies that we have [endorsed it], they are misleading the public. "

So ask yourself, is such a campaign really indicative of an effort to promote ethical and accountable leadership? Is it? It depends upon what the meaning of the word "is"... is.

The Orange Juice blog has posted a wickedly deceptive flier from the Yes on Measure D campaign. At the end there are a series of union endorsements. I wonder if the unions listed really support Measure D. I checked SEIU Local 721's website because the name "Santa Ana City Employee Union (SEIU 721)" sounded like an unlikely name for an SEIU local. It's acutal name, it turns out, is the "Southern California Public Employees Union." I find no evidence anywhere on their site that they have taken any position on Measure D. The chair of their Social and Economic Justice committee is Ron McMullen, 213-368-8660. I also suspected the "AFL-CIO Central Labor Council" name. It turns out the actual name is the "Orange County Central Labor Council." ( a regional branch of the national AFL-CIO). Their website also makes no mention of Measure D. Their number is 714-385-1534. I think calls to both organizations would be in order.