An Odd Year

Elections in odd-numbered council districts and an odd trio challenging an odd city attorney make for odd times Read the rest in CityBeat Online HERE.


Am I the only one mildly creeped out by Carl DeMaio? He shows up on the local political scene six years ago, fully formed but without any real history behind him, like he had just emerged from a pod cultivated at the Reagan Ranch and dispatched to infect San Diego with his conservative mantra: Government is bad, taxes are too high, downsize this, outsource that, reform government by taking it back to 19th-century laissez faire, etc. Every time I hear or see him, I wonder if little Carl DeMaio doppelgangers in smooth suits are peddling the same neo-con gospel in city councils and boards of supervisors from Klamath Falls, Ore., to Beaufort, S.C. Then I snap out of it and realize: Of course they are.

Poll Dance

The KGTV/Survey USA poll released yesterday adds a few glimpses of San Diego’s  politically undiscovered country.  According to the poll,  Gentleman Jerry “Jeez, could we have gotten back into the bonds market any closer to the election than this? And Stevo—another G+1/T-1 to you!” Sanders leads  St. Francis of the City by a five point margin.  Good news for Sanders who has barely rippled the media waters with campaign ads even as Francis has used his millions of media dollars to generate what has turned into a tempest in a San Diego teapot.  Bad news for Jerry: 43% of respondents said they were voting for one of the other candidates and seventeen percent are outright undecided.  That means Sanders hopes of knocking out Francis in the primary without need for a runoff may be a tad dimmed.  But Sanders is still the odds on favorite to put this to bed on the third.

In the City Attorney brawl, Maligned Mauling Mike Aguirre continues to sail on under his lucky star.  While Judge Jan, supported by the  local GOP, the “Damn the turpitude, full speed ahead” downtown business crew and their spokesrag in chief, the UT,  was supposed to wallop Mike in June and end his reign of misery.  But the unexpectedly crowded field of Mikey-replacement wannabes has drowned that dream.

The KGTV/Survey USA poll shows Aguirre cruising (for a bruising?) with 29% of the vote.  Councilmen Scott Peters (17%) and Brian Maienschein “Steamroller (15%),  meanwhile,  drown out Jan Goldsmith (15%).   If this trend holds, Aguirre goes on to the runoff against his City Council President and arch-nemesis Peters—two democrats fighting it out.  While I think Peters is probably the  best qualified  (Wizard of Oz Witch size warts and all) out of the pack of Aguirre opponents to take on the job of City Attorney , he would probably be a weaker opponent than Goldsmith, with his GOP base to float on, might be.

Wedding Bell Blues

Today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of gay marriage throws yet another twist into the 2008 Presidential campaign. A similar ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2004 helped to mobilize social conservatives-especially in the swing state of Ohio—to come out in election-winning droves to vote for George W. Bush. Bush and the GOP enticed conservative voters by dangling the prospects pushing through a marriage protection constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the second Bush term.

Alas, like many campaign promises, this one went unfulfilled. Disappointing, to be sure, for social conservatives but lack of action on Bush’s part meant the anti—gay marriage drum could be kept to beat on in the 2008 campaign (much as much touted anti-abortion, term limit and balanced budget constitutional amendments have been dangled by the GOP in front of conservative voters for decades.)

I wrote in April of 2004 that the Massachusetts gay marriage decision had probably handed the fall election to the GOP on a silver wedding platter. Turned out I was correct. This time, however, the impact of the California decision of the fall election will be more complicated. That’s because, of course, GOP standard bearer St. John The Moderate broke with his party in 2004 to vote against the Marriage Protection amendment. The California decision will agitate and invigorate social conservatives but, with McCain leading the GOP ticket, they have nowhere to electorally go. Sure, there may be a big proposition fight in California over a proposed anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment that may or may not make the November ballot. But this brouhaha will hurt McCain more than it helps him as it will soak up state and national political money that otherwise might have found its way into his campaign pockets. It won’t provide him with anything approaching the pro-Bush push the gay marriage issue provided the GOP in 2004.

Hillary Clinton supporters are increasingly saying they’d vote for John McCain over Barack Obama (up to almost 30% of the pro-Hillary voters in West Virginia, for instance.) If that happens Obama’s electability drops significantly.

Meanwhile conservatives are expressing increasing doubts about John McCain–especially after his remarks on global warming. (just listen to the talking heads of conservative talk radio lambast the fellow. You’d think McCain was Jimmy Carter’s long lost brother.) If McCain doesn’t come out against the California gay marriage decision (which he can’t do without looking like he’s doing what he’d be doing if he did it—pandering too the grossest extreme) social conservatives are liable to stay home come in election-losing droves. Worse for McCain, social conservative might vault the GOP to vote in protest for third party candidates yet unnamed, like former Republican representative and bane to Bill Clinton’s existence Bob Barr who’s trying to secure the Libertarian party nomination. Losing conservative voters makes McCain’s electability drops significantly.

Which leads to the interesting conclusion that, come November, neither Obama, McCain or anyone else can win! Constitutional Monarchy, anyone?

Just Say No

Mike Aguirre is, once again, probably right. Under the strong Mayor system of Government the Council will have to, today, vote yes, no, or defer on the Mayor’s strong-armed proposal to end the City’s defined benefit retirement plan for new City employees. The plan will save a paltry (and, in the Pension deficit scheme of things, $49 million over eleven years is small fiscal potatoes, indeed) at the expense of souring whatever sweetness is left in the municipal waters sipped by management and labor. It will drive any ambitious and qualified person seeking municipal employment to other municipalities within the county and state. And the two-tier pension system will bring even more discord to City Hall as animosity grows between old hands still covered by the defined-benefit plan (like Jerry Sanders) and the newbies. It’s bad policy, through and through.

Jerry Sanders has cast his lot against the much maligned municipal employees and their unions. He’s also cast his lot against good governance. The Council shouldn’t throw him a life preserver and try and modify (probably illegally) his labor plan. Jerry’s a strong mayor now. It’s time for him to swim or sink on his own.

Let’m sink, City Council.

Just Say No.

Where Oh Where Has Our Task Force Gone?

Last Sunday, May 4, the Marine Amphibious assault ship Peleliu and its Task Force departed San Diego for points unknown (or, at least, undisclosed) in support of the war on terror. Might someone have an idea where such points unknown in the war on terror might be? Perhaps a Place that is spelled like “Iraq” but for one critical ending consonant change? The Peleliu is the point at the end of the Marine spear. Where might it be inserted next?

And the Beat Goes On

Sorry I’ve been off line for a bit, my frequent reader. I’ve been battling migraines which leaves precious little time except to get my day job (which often extends into nights and weekends) done. I’ll try and post a few before the all important, probably won’t change much June Primary.

Change much like City Hall’s reaction to the latest shoe/minor atomic bombshell whichno-one seemed to notice dropped last month by the SEC. A month ago the SEC charged five former San Diego officials, including “Former-by-virtue-of-having-been-defenestrated-by-then-mayor-Dick-the-Murph-Murphy” Michael Uberuaga, for fraud in misleading Wall Street investors over the City’s finances while raising a quarter billion in bonds. Gee, isn’t that what Mike Aguirre’s been saying since the beginning of time: That a City the size of San Diego doesn’t go down the financial tubes merely due to incompetence, good intentions gone awry or lousy breaks? That it takes the determined, deliberate effort of a large number of people more willing to break laws and violate ethics than risk their jobs and careers by telling people the truth about how badly they’d screwed things up? Aguirre has been saying there is a culture of such corruption at the top reaches of San Diego government for years. And been pilloried for it. Usually by those in the top reaches of San Diego government—and those who benefit from them being there.

I’ve waited for the last month to see City leaders—on the Council, in the Mayor’s office—express the sort of outrage they should over these SEC charges. What the SEC is telling San Diego is that its body Bureaucracy and Politics is infected, diseased, corrupt. And the City has, in the last month, done nothing to bleed any of these noxious humours from its municipal blood, or even acknowledged just how damning the SEC action is.

Of course, this is the same City that has seen three councilmembers indicted for corruption, two convicted, and a Mayor resigning in failure and responded with a “business as usual,” put a nice, former cop in the figurehead position and life goes on.

Is it any wonder the City is still out of the bonds markets, months after Jerry Sanders announced he saw the light at the end of the bondless tunnel?