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Campbell--City council candidate Bud Alne didn't think he was violating protocol when he posed for a campaign-brochure photo next to a Campbell patrol car. But city attorney William Seligmann, who told Alne that he could not use a police vehicle for his political ads, says the photo violates the California Political Reform Act. Now, Alne is invoking the First Amendment, and Seligmann is going to let the violation pass.

According to Seligmann, the prohibition against candidates using city resources for campaign purposes applies to images of city vehicles, uniforms, logos, seals or anything else that identifies the city. In a letter to Alne dated October 6, he writes, "misappropriation of the image of a police car that identifies the City of Campbell ... would be improper in a commercial advertisement."

Rich Robinson, Alne's campaign consultant, opines that Seligmann is confusing commercial speech with political speech. "If we were hawking bubble gum, it would be one thing," he says. "But this is political speech, and it's protected. To me it was offensive because it has a chilling effect on free speech."

Besides, Robinson gripes, "The city seal doesn't belong to the city manager, it belongs to the people." Robinson responded to Seligmann's letter with one of his own stating his disregard for Seligmann's opinion. The photo of Alne next to a Campbell patrol car ran in the brochure, and as Alne says, "We haven't heard boo about it."

But Sgt. Greg Finch, president of the Peace Officers Association in Campbell, is miffed that Alne took the picture even after Finch refused to endorse him. "I think it's somewhat deceptive," Finch says. "People might look at a picture like that and think the police department supports him. But we didn't endorse him when he asked."

Thursday afternoon brought further bad news for Alne, who supported a referendum to halt the construction of office buildings on the 24-acre Winchester Drive-In site. People For Open Space, the business plan's most vocal opponent, appealed to the state supreme court after a technical flaw in the referendum process rendered it invalid. Thursday they learned that the state's highest court was refusing to hear the case.

But People For Open Space aren't giving up just yet. Says Don Hebard, a longtime open space advocate, "We're disappointed, but there may be things the council can do." That is, he says, if Alne is elected.
Traci Hukill

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Web extra to the October 29-November 4, 1998 issue of Metro.

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