Saturday, October 22, 2016

Atwater council members must find new way to address unwanted political mailers

By Tony Cella

The Atwater Village Neighborhood Council put on hold an idea to provide voters relief from  unwanted political mailers after some members questioned  the dubious legality of the measure  and its potential for degrading the council’s credibility.

In the wake of the huge amount of political mailers sent out during the recent city elections,  the Atwater resolution called on the City Council to create an opt-out mechanism allowing residents to elect not to receive political mailings from organizations other than candidates or no political mailings at all because of the environmental impact. After debate, the issue was sent back to the Community Greening Committee.

“There are better ways to address the issue,” said council treasurer Lara Pranger during last Thursday night’s meeting.

The measure, similar to the Do Not Call Registry, raised First Amendment concerns because the vetting of mail was based on the content delivered, according to board member Alex Ventura. The definition of political mailer came into question because the resolution didn’t state whether the halt only took place during elections or if it covered other issues as well.

The board member said the move had the potential to “disenfranchise” candidates without the organizational strength to conduct door to door outreach, the technical knowledge to manage effective internet campaigns or felt like running an election the old fashioned way.

“As much as we dislike mailers, they do work or they wouldn’t do them,” said Ventura.
Pranger described the resolution as a “hollow request” because the council had no jurisdiction over the delivery of mail, although she and many other members supported the spirit of the idea.
“I would like it expanded to all unsolicited mail,” she said.

Sorting through mail to determine if it was political in nature would also heap dollars onto the cost of non-political mail, the board hypothesized.

Co-chair Torin Dunnavant, whose committee brought the resolution to the board, continued to urge the passing of the resolution, while acknowledging its pitfalls, throughout the debate.
“This request is more resounding than saying, ‘Hey y’all. We don’t like this,’” said the board member.

Unlike a general declaration of opposition to the reviled mailers, Dunnavant believed the stance was more substantial because it articulated reasons behind the stance. The resolution, supported based on research by Mar Vista’s neighborhood council, pointed out the practice was very wasteful and offered a specific solution to the problem that “flooded stakeholders mail boxes and living room floors.”

“It’s important to send a message to our politicians that we don’t like the waste of resources,” he said.

Stakeholder Patrick Terrill thought it made more sense to urge environmental groups to only support candidates who promised not to use mailers. Other Atwater Village residents criticized the resolution because calling for an impractical vetting mechanism with dubious legality damaged the credibility of the council.

“We’re imposing something we know won’t go through,” said Secretary Mario Cardenas.
Each member of the board and stakeholder confirmed their opposition to the mailings, employing phrases like “completely out of hand” and “really excessive.” Dunnavant described the mailers as arms in a “turf war” to gain support.

Tony Cella is a freelance reporter who has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.

Eastsider Advertising


  1. Simple tactics to use to help are…

    1. re register to vote, leave out our phone number for those annoying robo calls and nix your email.
    2. vote early, become a permanent absentee voter..then when your ballot arrives 30 days prior to election, vote and turn it in, campaigns will not waste their time on voters that have voted.
    3. And last but not least, do not vote. As your propensity in voting diminishes so will the attention of campaigns.

    For more information please refer to H.A.V.A. Help America Vote Act, thank you George H.W.Bush

    • This is why I did not vote due to those annoying phone calls and mailers that hopfully were recycled and not thrown into the landfill. I took voting very seriously but this last election was the last straw for me. Thanks for your suggestions though as I do plan on just not voiting anymore in the future.

  2. Sadly, many people are using the only method available to them to opt out of the deluge of junk mail and robo calls – they are not registering to vote. We can change that! This won’t happen over night but it is really a simple matter of catching up with current technology and campaigning more effectively with less waste. The First Amendment doesn’t give us the right to shout fire in a theater. We are not suggesting that candidates and special interest lose the opportunity to communicate with us – merely that we retain the right to select how they do it. Our miserable level of participation reflects that the methods being used are not effective.

    • Ironically, its term limits that have caused this. If for what ever reason people are tired of mailers, its because of voter fatigue as well. Too many special elections, Too many mid term elections involving municipalities.

  3. NOT VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VOTING is an almost SACRED right which people globally have died to obtain.
    Think of the implications of YOUR REPRESENTATIVES being chosen by a diminishing few. And there is NO impact on stopping the mailers by your anonymously not voting-no one knows WHY you didn’t vote-or even if you are still exist.
    THIS is how you get those mailers to stop: batch them up by candidate and send them back with a note telling them you object to the wastefulness and huge carbon footprint their campagn is having and you will decline to vote for a candidate who has such little regard for the environment.
    Believe me, they take your communications seriously.
    PLEASE PLEASE VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *