San Leandro’s Fresh, Clean Slate of candidates advocating for rent control and just cause tenant protections have touted their “quick-strike” ability to respond to attacks with mailers and flyers because it does all its printing in-house.

Just days after being accused of a multitude of campaign finance violations by former San Leandro Councilmember Michael Gregory, comes a scathing flyer depicting Tom Silva, a prominent local landlord who was also behind the complaint, pulling the strings at City Hall.

Inspired by Stromboli, the sinister puppeteer from Pinocchio, the slate’s flyer depicts Silva as controlling San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter and Councilmembers Lee Thomas and Benny Lee–all opponents in races including Fresh, Clean Slate members.

The slate and its supporters intend to hand out the flyers while canvassing door-to-door this weekend, they said. They also will disseminate the flyer on social media through a Facebook ad buy.

The reverse side features a timeline of various San Leandro councilmembers accepting campaign contributions from Silva and suggesting a quid pro quo arrangement that led to Silva being appointed by Cutter to the city’s Rent Review Board, and later, the council approving amendments to the Rent Review Board ordinance and Tenant Relocation Assistance Program that is favorable to landlords.

“We won’t take this laying down” Shafer said Friday night. “San Leandro voters need to know that special favors and preferential treatment are how city hall is run. The people of San Leandro need a real change.” He called the FPPC complaint filed by Gregory and Silva on Oct. 19 “nit-picky and politically motivated.”

“But at the bottom of it is the fact that Tom Silva and Mike Gregory can’t believe that candidates that don’t accept contributions from corporations and special interests can run such a successful campaign,” said Shafer.

Silva said he is “deeply disturbed” by the nature of the slate’s latest piece. “The complaint does not contain any mention whatsoever about the Fresh Clean Slate’s political views or the views of any other candidates for any past or present San Leandro municipal election,” said Silva. “Instead of defending the merits of their actions and their campaign reporting’s today they are launching a desperate all out attack on the integrity of the whole of the San Leandro municipal government to deflect attention from the severity of their campaign violations.”

Silva added,  “I find it ironic that at first glance it appears that this new piece has a substantial number of FPPC  violations contained within it as well.”

The back-and-forth in just the last few days has awaken what had been a quite sleepy election season in San Leandro. Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter responded to the growing contention between the Fresh, Clean Slate and Silva on social media Saturday.

“I learned of the FPPC investigation today and am very disappointed to see this. I do not support this kind of politics-going after someone legally is a very serious matter,” said Cutter, whose re-election is being challenged next month by Shafer, Councilmember Benny Lee, and Bal Theatre owner Dan Dillman.

“Granted we all want every campaign to be run completely transparent and legal but the issues that are reported are not serious offences and are easily corrected. It seems this could have been a more ‘teachable moment’ than a legal challenge. I fear it is this kind of politics that prevents more people from getting involved.”