Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Campaign Mailers

We here at GHPALS are all registered as decline to state voters as our political leanings are no one's business. One consequence of that desire for privacy is we get the flyers from everyone.

So far we've received 80 mailers, more than the last big election 2 years ago. Of course, it helps that Costa Mesa has a proposed charter on the ballot, and out of city money is pouring into town to fund one side or the other. 

We are not here to talk politics. That's strictly verboten at society gatherings. But these mailers are literature in every sense of the word. They are designed to grab one's attention, to touch one's emotions, to persuade one to a certain point of view, as many writers attempt to do with their work. And they definitely reflect the society around us, as much literature does.

For statistical purposes, the mailers were sorted as follows:
  • 17 Vote NO on Measure V
  •   4 Vote YES on Measure V
  • 23 Support one or more Costa Mesa city council candidates
  •   7 Support one or more candidates for other local governments in town (water or san district)
  •   4 Vote YES on Measure M (bonds for the local community college district)
  • 16 Support Yes or No on one or more state-wide propositions
  •   9 slate mailers
Our hands-down favorites were the slate mailers. From what we've read, enterprising printers approach candidates and get them to contribute money to have their names endorsed in the mailer. Those paying to be in the mailers are marked with an asterix (*) under state laws (or maybe it's regulations.) But the printer can add other candidates or positions to fill out the space.

This makes for really interesting combinations. For example, Sandy Genis, Costa Mesa City Council candidate supported by labor unions, appears in 2 paid flyers alongside YES on 32 paid positions. She is not marked with an asterisk in these, indicating her campaign did not pay to appear in it. These two flyers are the "California Public Safety Newsletter and Voter Guide" and the Woman's Voice Newsletter. She paid to appear in two other paid slates, and one of them has NO on 32 (its supporters also paid for it to be on the slate.) All the slates with her name in it do say NO on Measure V.

The Cops Voter Guide was another hoot. It purports to support public safety, and those paying to appear in it include the 3-M's (McCarthy, Mesinger & Mathews). Two of these candidates (McCarthy & Mesinger) sent out a flyer "Meet Costa Mesa's $200,000 Club" that says "Costa Mesa's police officers are the highest paid officers in Orange County…"

By far the largest collection of mailers opposed the proposed Costa Mesa City Charter (see the picture to the left.) All were incredibly negative and seemed to be funded by labor unions.

There were 4 pro-V flyers, and these focused on the goals of the charter. We at the Society did not discuss the charter, only the flyers.

We got a good laugh from the photos that appear on some of them. Often they are meant to convey one message, but really send another. Like this one, funded by labor unions. It's supposed to make you think about politicians in smoke-filled rooms, but there isn't anything to make it clear the men are politicians. They might well be labor union officials. There's been as many scandals about them in the papers as there have politicians. Of course, the inside of this flyer makes the point stridently, as there's a big picture of the former City Manager of Bell in handcuffs, surrounded by police officers.

The Yes on V people used a more effective image, we thought. A simple graphic that shows a determined, focused individual ready to fight back.

And they had what we thought was the most effective graphic of all. A simple sign in a yard, indicating support by people in the community.

Another photo that amused us was on the flyer for Don Harper and Jeff Mathews, candidates for the Costa Mesa Sanitary District. The words on the flyer indicate the graphic is supposed to illustrate a close relationship between incumbent directors and the company that hauls the trash. But if you didn't read the stuff (and let's be real, who does?) you might think the photo is Harper and Mathews, and that they are really good golf buddies. But if you turn the mailer over, you find their photos, and they don't look anything like the guys playing golf. But since the mailer is huge, 11" by 14", and the address label is on the golf side, most people wouldn't even open it to see who the mailer is promoting.

Digging through the pile, we spotted another mailer that effectively conveyed its message: Vote NO on the Charter and vote for Stephens/Weitzburg/Genis slate. The message is very clear.

But underneath it was this one, and immediately the movie Scarface came to mind. Does the guy on the right have a prescription for that joint? And this one wasn't paid for by the candidate who supported medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

We all chose our personal favorites. Some of them have already been discussed, and we don't have room for them all. But we will mention a few that seem notable for one reason or another.

One member liked the simple letter from Colin McCarthy that had no pictures, came in an envelope like real letters do, and explained why he was running for city council and what he hoped to accomplish. The recipient of this letter said he actually read it.

Another liked the Costa Mesa Trivia Challenge that posed questions like "Which candidate tried to kill 2,500 high paying jobs in Costa Mesa?" and "What is the average annual compensation for Costa Mesa's city employees?" Who can resist a quiz?

Yet another member liked this one on Proposition 38 since it said how much money would go to schools in our area if the proposition passed. We all recognized the schools: Whittier Elementary, Wilson Elementary and Estancia High. But we laughed like crazy when the member who got this flyer pointed out that these schools were all on the west side of town and she lived on the east side. Whoever sent out these flyers didn't personalize them very effectively. We wanted to know how much Kaiser or Mariners Elementary would get.

And the last one we agreed we'd post on the blog was a simple, effective means of conveying information about Proposition 37 through a comparison chart. The graphics were clear and attractive.

GHPALS finds the art in everything, and encourages you to do the same.

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