The Returning Reign of Ugly Politics - Yates 4.0
by Jack McCurdy
Synopsis: Bill Yates is seeking a new nice-guy image as Morro Bay's mayor, but YouTube videos besmirching former City Council members Winholtz and DeMerritt show his supporters don't buy it.
The supposed reincarnation of Bill Yates as a new "nice guy" mayor of Morro Bay was unveiled with Yates' appearance on the Dave Congalton radio show December 2.
Calling himself a former "journalist" after writing an opinion column about the waterfront for the defunct weekly Sun Bulletin years ago, Yates said the most important things in dealing with citizens are "patience and calmness."
Asked what makes for a great mayor, Yates responded, "Responsiveness, honesty, operate on a high ethical plane, have an open ear, be respectful to everybody."
Yates said "if my staunchest opponent's house caught on fire, I will be there for them. I am here for you, no matter who you are."
He was interviewed by Jeff Eckles, a Morro Bay investment advisor, standing in for Congalton.
Then on December 8, after he was sworn in as mayor along with new City Council members Nancy Johnson and George Leage, Yates said, "We are all neighbors. There is no reason why we can't get along. We all want something and that is quality of life here. I'm there for my fellow citizens. If you need me, call me."
Leage said, "You hear about this side and that side. We all love Morro Bay. This is the best place in the world, and we're going to make it better." Johnson said she agreed with what Yates and Leage said, adding but that won't always be the case. Council member Noah Smukler said the Council "needs to build on community involvement. I hope you (the community) will step it up."
After praising outgoing mayor Janice Peters and council member Rick Grantham, Yates added, "Betty (Winholtz) was a great councilwoman, too."
But Yates' supporters sounded a much different, acerbic tune with two YouTube disparagements of Winholtz and her friend and former Council member, Melody DeMeritt, that were emailed around town. (See videos below.)
The video featuring Winholtz carried a screen title of "'Ugly Betty" Winholtz (Ex-Morro Bay City Council Embarrassment)" and showed her giving her closing remarks as a Council member on the December 8 meeting, with animated crows flying around her head—as in "eat crow." On the same YouTube page were links to a campaign video where Winholtz answered a queston during a campaign debate by saying "I don't have a clue."
Several pro-League and pro-Johnson videos, and the DeMeritt hit piece video were also linked from that same page.
In her closing remarks that night, Winholtz made the following predictions about the new City Council, adding that "should I prove to be wrong in my predictions, I would gladly eat crow, figuratively."
—The city Planning Commission will be fired.
—John Barta, who she said worked for Yates and Leage, will be appointed to the Planning Commission and will more than likely become its chair.
—The new council will speak out only for secondary treatment (of sewer effluent) by the proposed new wastewater treatment plant and will attempt to either postpone or get rid of tertiary treatment (a more advanced method that can produce purified recycled water).
—The tentative peace that has been forged between Yates and the staff will fall apart within a year.
—I suggest the RDA (the community redevelopment proposal voted down by the council last year) may be resurrected.
At the end of her comments, several large animated crows landed on her head in the video.
The YouTube film on DeMeritt shows her making comments to the Council from the speakers' podium, and as she begins, the picture of a donkey braying and the words "Sour Melody" are interposed on the screen. She talked about Morro Bay being split into "half and half" by the mayoral election which Yates won by .01 percent over Winholtz.
Then the words B*tch covers the screen as she speaks, showing Yates talking to a female on the video screen, apparently a police officer, behind DeMeritt in the back of the room.
DeMeritt tells the audience that "I am not happy about the new Council" because a Council expected to be divided along 4-1 lines is not good for the community, and as she does, the voice of a crying child is heard in the background. As she leaves the podium, the words "The new council voted 5-0 on every vote of their first meeting," which was on December 8 after being sworn in. The agenda had only a few items on it.
Next, a sign on a post with one panel saying "Democracy" and the other "Alternatives to Democracy" appearing damaged.
As icing on the derision cake, John Barta, a close ally of Yates who was prominent in the scornful Seagull Sentinel pro-Yates political flyer during the last days of the November 2 election (See Has the Tea Party Invaded Morro Bay?), appeared at the podium at the next meeting of the Council on December 13 and pulled out a fake crow from a bag as an obvious tie-in to the Winholtz "eat crow" comment.
Barta's performance can be viewed over Channel 20 through the city's website at posted times of the day.
Later, after the meeting, Winholtz commented on the YouTubes by asking, "What has a winner (Yates) to gain by continuing to keep a town divided? Internet bullying is a serious high school issue right now. Why are grown ups in Morro Bay doing it? What message does it provide a parent modeling about citizenship in a democracy?"
It would appear that even though Yates is back for his fourth term as mayor of Morro Bay seeking to project a new image of himself, his supporters are headed in the other direction, reaching a new low in Morro Bay politics with the YouTubes and much worse than the old days when Yates was known as a bully, especially toward women.
And there is no indication that Yates himself has raised a finger to try to pull his followers from the gutter, thereby making a mockery of his projected new image. In fact, he even laughed when Barta pulled out the fake crow, which served to make Yates eat his own words of reconciliation and harmony.