Mike Dunbar

Response to our critique of bogus letters was (wait for it) bogus

This sticker, given away at a school in Ceres, is only available for those who vote.
This sticker, given away at a school in Ceres, is only available for those who vote. jlee@modbee.com

We got well over 100 letters to the editor this week, but one writer in particular sounded angry, outraged, even wounded. After reading my column about shady tactics we believe are being used by the campaign to re-elect Jeff Denham, she wrote we had “crossed the line.”

In the column, I had described the unusually large number of bogus letters to the editor we’ve received this campaign season. The names on those bogus letters belong to real people, but when we tried to verify that they had written the letter, they said they hadn’t. All of the bogus letters have been in support of Denham or have bashed Harder.

That kind of reporting was “grasping at straws” said the new letter writer. We obviously “had axe to grind” and our reporting “put to shame the word journalism.” Strong words coming from a self-described “easy going” Hughson resident named Felicia Martinez.

Except Martinez never wrote those words. She didn’t email us the letter, even though it included her name, P.O. box and phone number.

When I read it to her, her reaction was: “Oh wow. I did not write that letter.”

Did it bother Martinez that a letter was sent to The Bee making such charges using her name? “Of course. Of course it bothers me. … It’s wrong.”

Martinez supports Denham and even having her name misappropriated won’t change that. “In every area of life there are bad people who like to cause chaos,” she said. “Someone is playing dirty,” but she doesn’t blame the candidate. As we mentioned, she’s easy going.

This is almost comic. We criticize the Denham campaign over a bogus letter-writing campaign, then we get a bogus letter ripping us for pointing out there are bogus letters. Seriously? Are they trying to punk us?

Martinez is right, Jeff Denham didn’t send us those bogus letters. But we’re betting he knows the people who did.

THERE’S BIPARTISANSHIP, then there’s friendship. Adam Gray has made some friends during his time in the Assembly – and not all are Democrats.

Gray, whose 21st Assembly District includes all of Merced and a large portion of Stanislaus counties, hosted his annual fundraiser last weekend. The master of ceremonies was Stanislaus Supervisor Vito Chiesa – an upstanding Republican. The two have grown close in their battles on behalf of people of this region – battles over water, roads and killing the utterly unfair negative bailout that had been costing Stanislaus County millions of dollars every year for 40 years. The victories we’ve seen (and hope to see) wouldn’t be possible without Republicans and Democrats working together.

When you’re doing the right things, politics shouldn’t matter – and apparently they don’t to Gray and Chiesa.

But Chiesa wasn’t the only Republican at the party. State Sen. Anthony Cannella told the story of how years ago he and Gray both authored similar bills to help Merced Irrigation District. Usually when that happens, a Democrat governor signs the Democrat’s bill so he gets the credit. But Gray held back his bill so Cannella’s would be signed. It wasn’t the credit that counted, it was getting something done.

These three, and a few others from this region, get it. They’ll toss aside party politics to get results. That’s not how politics works, usually. But it’s how friendships works. And where there’s friendship, there’s hope for better politics.