Politics in Prescott are definitely changing. Ten years ago, most local candidates didn't have an email address, much less a website. Even though Jim Lamerson chose not to bother with a website, and got elected anyway, others weren't so fortunate. Lora Lopas has had a website for quite some time. And, Steve Blair recently set up one for himself. Of course, they both have email addresses.
And it's the emails that are playing a larger role in the last week of this campaign for the only open Prescott City Council seat. This morning, as a guest on the KYCA Morning Report , Blair was asked by J.P. Mulligan about some emails apparently being circulated by his opponent, Lora Lopas.
Prescott eNews has obtained a copy of the emails in question, and here is what they said. Personal names, except for candidates, have been removed:
To: Lora Lopas
"Lora, I sent two pictures (to Jack) of migrants working in Blair's yard yesterday after I got the shirts from you. Unfortunately, only the two came out that you have. There were a total of 5 workers laying sod in his yard. A good friend of mine informed me of what was going on over there after I gave him a info sheet on your credentials. When he told me how Blair had guys laying sod as we spoke I jetted right over there. When and where do you speak again? You may want to inform Joe public as to the hypocrite Blair is. In one breath he calls them "Taco Filppers" and the next breath they are working in his yard. The picture with the American woman talking to the Mexican worker must be his mom, she looked too old to be his wife. Anyway, good luck and don't let all the crap they throw at you get you down, just consider the source. Poppa"
"This is the response I got from Lora when I asked her about any more formum's [sic] she may be speaking so she could show the pictures I took of the Mexican laborers putting sod in Blair's yard yesterday (as we all know, Mr. Blair is pro deporting all the laborers out of our city). Looks like he will get his job done first. How hypocritical can a person be. FYI, please read the whole sequence of e mails. Thanks for reading, xxxxx PS The pictures aren't attached to this e mail. If anyone wants to see them I would be happy to show them to anyone."
From: Lora Lopas
Subject: RE: pics
"I have driven by his home several times trying to "catch" him, but no luck so far. There are no more forums or debates scheduled at this time. I was offered the one-sided debate on KYCA with Daiton Rutowski as the moderator, and besides the fact that I was already busy with a real engagement, I would not walk into the lion's den with Blair and Daiton anyway. Yes, Blair is a hypocrite to the extent I have never seen, and his followers are jsut as bad (birds of a feather...). The fact that it is that same group calling me a "wetback" is infuriating, especially since I am Italian, not Hispanic, but it just shows that you don't have to be a nice person or even have a brain to get along in our society. I hope that "good" prevails in the election! I think enough people are new to the community and can think on their own and enough of the people have been around long enough to see the Good Old Boy network ruin our town, that the votes will hopefully reflect the difference. Thank you so much for your support and taking the photos!
When Mulligan noted the emails claimed that there were Mexican workers working in his yard, Blair admitted it. "That is very true."
Blair then explained, "I have hired a very bona fide company in the City of Prescott, called Landcraft, which is run by my good friend Joe Baines, and is also a very big supporter of Little League, and also president of Little League. He owns the company, I checked with the company, and made references to the people who were going to be working in my yard and made sure they were legal. He produced me with documentation all the gentlemen that were working in my yard had Social Security numbers as well as Green Cards, and they're as legal as the law calls for. The gentleman that was running the crew as well is a dual-citizenship gentleman who lives in Paulden, who is married to a white lady here in the City of Prescott, he's a very gracious young man. I do not have a racist bone in my body... my comment has always been, if they're here illegally, they should be deported. I stand behind that, and I will say it over and over again. If you're here legally, and you have a Green Card, or dual-citizenship, welcome to America, and God bless you for being here."
Mulligan went on to express regret that Lopas felt that she wouldn't be given a fair opportunity in a debate hosted by KYCA. Mulligan noted that he had personally interviewed her himself, and believed that he had been very respectful and would be in the future.
Later on, Prescott eNews caught up with Blair. Blair was asked how many times he had driven by Lopas' house. Although Blair was not expecting the question, he immediately replied, "I don't even know where she lives."
Prescott eNews then asked Blair how many times he had asked his 'followers' to drive by and photograph the Lopas house, and he replied firmly, "I just said, I don't know where she lives, and even if I did, I wouldn't ask anyone to do that. I don't believe in playing that way."
Blair went on to explain that, other than meeting with Lopas in debates, he had never had a real conversation with her, and that he would rather focus on the issues, rather than criticize Lopas.
Lopas Also Responds
Prescott eNews also spoke with Lopas, and asked her about the emails. She wanted to know which emails were being referred to, and upon being read the last email, did not deny that she had written it, but went on to explain, "I only drove by his house once, and didn't see anything happening."
At that point, this Prescott eNews reporter asked, "But, Lora, the email says, 'I have driven by his home several times trying to "catch" him, but no luck so far,' and that certainly sounds like you went by more than once." Lopas replied that she had only driven by once, "on purpose" and the other couple of times she just drove by on her way to other business.
(While that answer might seem a bit questionable, seeing that Blair's house isn't exactly on a well-traveled road - it's not even paved - since Lopas is a realtor, it's always possible.)
Again, she was asked about the sentence, "I have driven by his home several times," and this time Lopas admitted that she hadn't worded it very well, but insisted that she had only driven by once 'on purpose.'
Lopas also offered to send copies of other emails that would clarify the situation, which she did. And, she explained, that the emails would also show that she had been called a "wetback" by Blair's followers. Although she did send the emails, they did not offer any direct quotes or evidence of someone from Blair's campaign calling her a "wetback".
Nonetheless, Tammy Linn, who is Blair's Campaign Co-Chair, said, "We do not support any negative comments about any opponent; we have an exceptional candidate, and are focused on his positive issues."
Here are the emails that Lopas forwarded to Prescott eNews today. References to other subjects have been deleted:
"Here is the email I just sent out yesterday. I only have edited who it was to. As you can see, I do say it is probably the workers are illegal (as it is really hard for proof otherwise without violating rights), and I know many people in town who have employed someone for landscape work and did not know that the workers were illegal, but they found out yesterday. You can check this email against your sources, hopefully they will also show you the other side of the emails. I feel that some of these emails are sent to you without you knowing the conversation that lead up to those emails, so it is severely slanted. If someone is doing something wrong, they should be stopped, I don't care who they are. If there is nothing wrong, then they should be left alone. This applies to everyone at all times. I do find it amusing that those folks who are busy calling me a "wet-back" are also the ones who are thinking I am trying to prove he is hiring illegals. If I was Hispanic (which I am not, I am Italian, German, Polish, Scotch-Irish, French), why would I be going after this? It makes no sense. Typical political games. If the Minutemen want to go around trying to prove who is or isn't hiring illegals, then fine, but I have no time to waste on this, I have more important things to take care of that will benefit this city. I will forward you some other emails as well.
From: Lora Lopas
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 11:04 AM
Subject: photos of blair's home
"I got a call from KYCA, they are getting people emailing them who are upset that "my campaign" is taking photos of Blair's workers. Since this is not part of my campaign plan, and there is nothing I can even do if his workers are illegal, I think it best to let this drop and no more photos should be taken from anyone with my signs on their cars. I don't know how many people are out there taking photos, but if we can get the message out to drop it (until the new law is in effect), I think that would be good. I cannot afford to lose votes right now over something like this. I am not going to start slinging mud now and without any proof of him hiring illegals this looks bad on me to be assuming they are illegal. Taking photos is not something I have requested to be done. Yes, I think it is probable these workers are illegal, but other than being ethically wrong to employ illegals (in my opinion) there is nothing that benefits my campaign to try and prove otherwise. His supporters are looking for ANYTHING they can to smear me and I will do not want to give them something to use against me. If anyone takes photos, it should be the Minutemen.
Another email from Lopas said, "I did NOT authorize the "sulking" around Steve's home... Just know that it is NOT MY CAMPAIGN that is doing this and what other people do, I cannot control. Which is why I drove past Steve's house myself (once one the way to a neighbor and once on purpose) and I did not see anything wrong or reason to think that anyone was illegal...I do not know why these people are assuming they are illegal. I have another email on my other computer that says they should not be judging a book by it's cover."
"Here is another email from me and from a supporter of mine. Again, the only thing I have changed/deleted is the names and email as I don't feel that is anyone's business. As you note in his email he states "None of this was done at your asking for sure". That should clarify this a bit. And this is from the man who took some photos that were eventually sent to me."
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 9:59 PM
Subject: Re: photos of blair's home
"Lora, This campaign has been a smear from the gate.People aren't dumb.I'm sure they can read a book by it's cover.He is so afraid the same thing is coming down on him that has came down on Rolle.He will reach out and cry about anything.After all is said and done I think you are going to wash out a winner in this crap politics.A guy stopped me today and asked me after seeing my shirt to say " How well do you know her".I said well enough to wear this shirt.His reply was GOOD,it's about someone stands up against these guys..I said have you voted yet and he said yes just today and he voted for you.He said I voted for her not knowing her but simply for a change.I think this is the general attitude around town.Thanks for keeping me in touch, I will speak with Jack tomorrow and see what his feelings are.I don't see where anything was done wrong.None of this was done at your asking for sure.Evidently there were a bunch of people doing the same thing with cameras and the like.The people who have done this are people who were hurt at the statements he has made in the past about the laborers and then to show up with them in his yard Illegal or not.This isn't an orchestrated political doing,this is just people trying to call him at his own words. I am confident you can win this without using any smear crap."
And the Winner Is - Nobody
When Prescott eNews called the person reported to have taken the photographs and sent the email, he admitted that his email address was the same as in the emails being reviewed, and that he had taken the photos, but only to compare Blair's yard with his. He vehemently denied, however, that he had sent the photos to mayor-elect Jack Wilson, or that he had written the emails in this article. And at that point, he said he did not want to discuss the matter any further and hung up.
"I did not put people up to staking out his house," Lopas said firmly in a KYCA news report. "There's no plan to use these photos. I won't play ugly, I'm not going to go there. I didn't think that this type of politics would be played at this level. I'm disappointed. What Mr. Blair does on his property, is his own business. Workers are workers."
What do voters, those who matter the most, think about this kind of thing?"I'm amazed that people would stoop to this level, and it makes me just not want to vote," said a local voter, who preferred to remain anonymous. "It would be much better if the candidates just focused on the issues."