“Inglourious Baxter” on Rowe vs. Chaffee


Steve Baxter and Fullerton Council candidates Matt Rowe and Doug Chaffee.

From Stephan and Noele Baxter, liberal Fullerton activists:


As we continue to learn about new indignities which were forced upon a local homeless man named Kelly Thomas, whilst he was being beaten to death by up to six Fullerton police officers, we can no longer in good conscience support Doug Chaffee in his latest bid to become a Fullerton City Council Member. Instead we have decided to put all our energy and resources behind Matt Rowe.  Unlike Chaffee, Rowe has spoken up very eloquently at council meetings, and has taken clear positions in his candidacy regarding how city government and the police should have handled the aftermath of Kelly’s murder, while Doug Chaffee has remained mute on the subject.

We have supported Mr. Chaffee in his efforts to win a seat on the council on all previous occasions, and did so again at the beginning of this recall. The decision to switch to Matt Rowe was not an easy one, but we know it was the correct one. During a time of crisis, we cannot have our elected officials  motivated in their decisions not by what is right and wrong, but by what is most politically expedient and least controversial. We need someone like Matt Rowe, who shares many of our concerns on other local matters, including the preservation of Coyote Hills as open space through referendum, has taken a stand for Kelly Thomas, and who has demonstrated leadership under extreme stress in the past.

As a West Point graduate, who lead men under fire at the height of the Iraqi conflict, despite personally having reservations about our involvement in this war, Matt Rowe has the courage and the stamina to accomplish what we now know Doug Chaffee is incapable of, or unwilling to do himself: reform the police department.

It is inconceivable to us that Doug Chaffee, a man we once supported, has taken advantage of the recall election, a recall election which only exists because of the public outcry over Kelly’s murder, and has done so without addressing the very reason he was given the opportunity to run. Sometime after July 5th, 2011, Mr. Chaffee decided that it would be advantageous if he were to sidestep the entire incident. In fact, he seems to not even be willing to refer to Kelly Thomas by name, preferring instead to call him only “that homeless man”.  We knew and were fond of Kelly Thomas, as for several years we lived on the same block as Kelly, and we interacted with him on a daily basis.  We should also point out that Mr. Chaffee’s law offices were directly across from our apartment, and had he tried, he would also have known Kelly Thomas as we did.

Matt Rowe has answered candidate questions with specifics, while Chaffee laid down words and still managed not to communicate a single applicable thought.  We refer you to the May 1st issue of the Fullerton Obserer, and remind you that the DA has determined that Kelly was not committing any crime at the time that police began to attack him.

Observer: “How Would You have Handled The Kelly Thomas Situation?”

Chaffee: I am a strong advocate of community oriented policing. In a community oriented policing system, police officers partner with neighborhoods to build trust and positive community relationships. The system generates mutual respect between residents and police. Being pro-active, the focus is on preventing crime, as opposed to merely reacting to it, and results in a safer City.” (this response is shameful)

We believe that Chaffee’s campaign worried that being critical of the police, or of the current council, may offend former Police Chief Pat McKinley’s supporters, and these are votes Doug now hopes to attract in the recall. The need for truth and justice has consequently been overshadowed by his desire to finally win a seat on the Fullerton City Council. This is not the kind of man we want in office if we hope to hold Police and city officials accountable for their actions and bring about meaningful reform to ensure the safety of all Fullerton Residents and visitors. Mr. Chaffee did not foresee that the city videotape and audio recordings documenting the abuse and killing of Kelly Thomas would be released before the elections. If he had, he may have taken a different approach. Anyone that has seen parts or all of that tape, and knows how silent he has been, will not understand why he, a classical old Kennedy liberal, sat out the biggest injustice in Fullerton’s modern history. It’s shameful to those of us who once had such great affection for him, and frankly it’s shamed all the principles which progressives should hold close.

Now that the tape is out, and the Kelly Thomas murder is front page news again, Mr. Chaffee will most likely feel compelled to finally weigh in on this subject, and his previous silence. Fullerton Residents will do well to remember that he does so NOT out of concern for the man who was publicly tortured, humiliated and left to choke on his own blood, but for purely opportunistic reasons.

To say that we are disappointed in Chaffee is to truly understate what it feels like to find out that a person you respected, and actually got emotionally invested in, was a fraud. To say that we were punched in the stomach would be more accurate. Regardless of this, we wish the Chaffee Family well.  We know how important becoming a councilmen is to Doug, and under normal circumstances we may have continued to support him, but today we need courageous men and women on the Fullerton City Council. Men and women who will fight for us until Fullerton is free of corruption, and no citizen will ever again be murdered by those our taxes pay to protect us.

We are honored to put our support and our vote behind Matt Rowe. We simply cannot waste our vote on someone who appears to be more concerned in fulfilling his bucket list than he is in making Fullerton a better place to live.

Please vote for Matt Rowe for the Fullerton City Council, and please share this letter with other Chaffee supporters and ask them to join us in supporting Matt Rowe.

Most sincerely,

Stephan & Noele Baxter

Fullerton California

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