Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 27, 2006

WWAMD? What Would Allen Michaan Do?

Filed under: Alameda, Election — Lauren Do @ 8:47 am


Don Roberts posted this tidbit last night for his Wednesday edition.  Which says:

Five days ago, Mark Haskett did what he has done at every election campaign since he opened his Central Cinema at 842 Central Avenue – he allowed any candidate who asked him for permission to put up a campaign sign outside of the theater. This year, he allowed campaign signs to be up for Mayoral candidate Doug de Haan, and Council candidates Pat Bail, Eugenie Thomson and Mike Rich. This year, he was deluged with almost 20 e-mails, many of which falsely accused him of being a bigot because he “allowed bigots’ signs” on his property. Most of the e-mails threatened that the writers and their families would not attend the theater any more. Haskett had enough of the abuse and, yesterday, had all of the campaign signs removed from his theater property. He had been asked to put up a sign for council Candidate Frank Matarrese and was going to do that until the egregious e-mails began flooding his computer.

Haskett said today, “I had no intention to offend anyone. All I wanted to do was to support the democratic election process by allowing any candidate who asked, to put up a sign outside of the theater.”

And of course, Don Roberts (who has been “editorializing” a lot lately) gave everyone a wag of his finger and scolded:

Dirty politics reached a new low in this year’s political campaign when e-mail writers to Mark Haskett falsely accused him of being a bigot and made the same false assertion about the candidates who placed their signs on the property of Central Cinema. Those letter writers should be ashamed of themselves.

Shame shame shame, does Don Roberts know your names? 

Disclaimer, I was not one of the people that sent a letter, I have been waging my own boycott of sorts against Central Cinema.  Oh, not because I disagree with Mark Haskett’s politics, it’s just that I find seeing a movie in an old mortuary a little creepy.  Call me weird that way.

Reading about this reminded me of Allen Michaan, another theater owner doing his part in furtherance of democracy.  When faced with letters threatening protests and name calling, what did Michaan do?  He didn’t back down. 

…It began with the 2000 Florida election debacle. “I was absolutely outraged,” he recalled. “My wife Sandra said, ‘so do something about it.’ She suggested we put something on the high-traffic side of the marquee.” They did: This Is America — Every Vote Should Be Counted. And the public responded. “People went crazy,” he said. “We got tons of mail. People thanked us. We hit a real nerve.”

Michaan’s marquee messages are not universally loved. After last December’s Peace on Earth: Goodwill to All, someone posted anti-Michaan rants on Craig’s list. They accused him of “communism” and supporting Osama bin Laden, and they called for protests outside the Grand Lake. Michaan (being Michaan) put up a message: The First Amendment Is Not Lost: True American Patriots Speak Out and Stand Against Corrupt Government. Did any protesters appear? Michaan laughed and said, “Not a one.”

So, while I sympathize with Mark Haskett, being called a “bigot,” or any name, is never a pleasant experience.  However, if you are going to play with politics, you have to be willing to take a punch in the jaw now and then, but you need to get up and stand your ground.  Like Allen Michaan. 



  1. Don Roberts is certainly qualified to define dirty politics, as he has been practicing it quite a bit lately. Amazing how as a “news” site he can endorse candidates without at least making an informed decision by at least interviewing the other candidates. Other news sources that of course never get as many scoops as Don are doing features on each candidate. The politics of the slate are politics of polarization, and Don Roberts has been their biggest cheerleader (ugh, what a picture) in many ways. He has helped tremendously to bring the level of discourse down to where he wants it, but when the other side speaks up, shame!

    Both Doug DeHaan and Pat Bail have made very public remarks that at the very least are culturally inappropriate (tar baby for example) and are felt by many to be strong indications of racism and bigotry and many people in Alameda felt very insulted by those remarks. The fact that neither candidate realizes just how hurtful those remarks are, shows how unqualified they are to lead a diverse community.

    As for Mark. Interesting that “he was going to” put up signs for other candidates, but didn’t get around to it. Instead of appearing to endorse all candidates, he would have been much smarter to just put up signs saying vote!

    Comment by Jason — September 27, 2006 @ 9:26 am

  2. Central Cinema used to be a mortuary (which isn’t quite as weird as I used to think since I started watching “Six Feet Under”) but more recently it was the Alameda Multicultural Center. We used to go there with the family for sing-alongs with the toddlers, Hawaiian Hula Dancing lessons and performances, etc. So it’s not THAT bad. It’s much cooler to watch movies there than one of those corporate theaters that shows commercials before the movies!

    Note regarding Don Roberts’ site: Notice the color of the headlines. YELLOW. As in “journalism.” 🙂

    Comment by Dan Wood — September 27, 2006 @ 2:30 pm

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