The Starting Line – San Diego City Council to Celebrate National Voter Registration Day by Authorizing Secret Vote on Hotel Tax

Things that make you go hmmmm…Tuesday’s docket for the San Diego City Council features item number S500:

“A resolution authorizing the payment of outside counsel fees and associated costs incurred by the Mayor, City Councilmember, and present and former City employees in testifying before the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because the same resolution was considered and rejected by the City Council on June 26th, by a vote of 4-1.

The bottom line here is that the taxpayers are being asked to pay the legal fees (up to $50,000) for Mayor Sanders and Councilman Carl DeMaio (and City employees who did their bidding) in their efforts as “private citizens” to get Proposition B, the pension reform measure passed by the voters.

The problem here is that, if the initiative was, in fact, a measure sponsored and supported by the City of San Diego, the Mayor would have been legally obliged to attempt to negotiate with the labor unions representing employees impacted by the changes brought on by the new law.  Proposition B supporters, including Sanders and DeMaio, claimed that the measure was privately sponsored (‘wink, wink”).

So the questions that beg to be answered are

1.Why are these city officials asking for public tax dollars to pay the costs associated with their support of a ‘private’ initiative?

2. Why is the City Attorney’s office asking for the money again, after the Council already said no?

 The fact that this question is even being put up for consideration screams “under the table deal”. And does this deal have anything to do with the secret vote that the City Council be taking shortly that could authorize our local hotels to soak the public for another couple of  billion in taxes?

That would be the ‘Transient Occupancy Tax’, due to fade into the sunset in a few months.  Our local hoteliers, encouraged by  a move last spring that allowed them to raise funds for Convention Center expansion without voter approval (it is being challenged in court) , are seeking to extend this tariff for 40 years. Only the hotel owners get a vote. Read Donna Frye’s blistering letter about this at Voice of San Diego. Or Norma Damashek’s piece here in the San Diego Free Press.

Maybe there’s no connection. Maybe this is just an example of the City Council doing two stupid things in one day. Maybe pigs will fly….

Holiday That You Don’t Need To Buy a Card For… Just Register (to vote)!

Tomorrow is National Voter Registration Day, an event brought to you by a gaggle of groups (literally hundreds) to encourage the six million or so unregistered voters around the country to sign up and take the pledge to participate in the upcoming elections.  Volunteers, celebrities and community organizations will reach out via face to face encounters in public places and mouse to mouse via the internet and social media.

It’s a good time to take stock of your personal situation. Are you registered? Have you moved? Are you sure? You can find registration events taking place across the country by clicking here and plugging in your ZIP Code. And here in California you can now register on-line or check the status of your registration.

Another 30,000 voters flee the Republican Party

A report released by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Friday detailing statistics about voter registration trends in our state shows that overall voter registration has increased by more than one million people since September 2008.  The most obvious trend is that “Decline to State” voters are the fastest growing group, increasing from 19.49 to 21.28 percent (3,151,369 to 3,672,229) over the past four years.

While the Democratic Party increased its total number of voters (7,101,442 to7,478,915), its portion of the total electorate actually decreased slightly (43.91 to 43.33 percent). The really big decrease occurred with Republican party registration, which dropped both in total numbers (5,227,489 to 5,197,177) and percentages (32.32 to 30.11).

Are the Wheels Falling Off the Romney Campaign Wagon?

 Maybe, maybe not. Certainly there’s been a lot of polling published lately that indicates the GOP’s Presidential candidate isn’t doing too well with either the popular vote in “swing states” or the electoral vote.  NY Times wonkmeister Nate Silver has the incumbent leading in the electoral college 309 to 228 as of this morning, even as he cautions the reader that there’s a lot of ground to be covered prior to election day.  Intrade, the web site that allows people to vote with their dollars on predictable events, says that there is 70% chance that President will win come November.

But perhaps the most telling number is the poll saying that Obama leads with NASCAR fans, 48%-41%.

The Stop the Vote Campaign

While there has been quite a bit of attention focused on efforts by Republican legislators and elected officials to discourage voters under the banner of discouraging (virtually non-existent) fraud at the ballot box, not much ink/air time/bandwidth has focused on the “grassroots” efforts being funded by the assorted conservative big money donors.  The mega-millions being spent on propaganda films and TV ads aimed at implanting enough irrational fear in the populace to get them to vote against their basic economic interests are getting a fair amount of attention in the media.

Meanwhile the Koch brothers network is actively training Tea Partiers, via a partnership with True the Vote, to harass and intimidate voters on election day. And you won’t see their work on television, or through FEC disclosures (they refuse to register their grassroots electioneering as independent expenditures), but they are active right here in San Diego.  They are directly financing more than 200 organizers and paid political staff in thirty-one states.

And it’s probable that much of the money Koch now donates to the NRA and groups like the Faith and Freedom Coalition  will also be spent on organizers on the ground. Using the Wisconsin model, Koch hopes to partner with local conservative groups to build a rapid mobilization system that can compete on Election Day, in every critical state.

 Another Right Wing Conspiracy Theory Bites the Dust

 Over the past eighteen months the right’s favorite conspiracy theory has been the one about “Fast and Furious” the failed ATF program that allowed thousands of guns to be sold to operatives of Mexican drug gangs who then smuggled them across the border.  The loonie portion of the right openly proclaimed that the botched operation was part of a conspiracy by the Obama administration to take away guns from God-fearing Americans (so they wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against the dark skinned hordes).

The more ‘genteel’ portion of the right, led by Congressman Darryl Issa, extended their pinkies and held televised hearings, where they found Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, hoping to educate the public about just how incompetent the Obama administration is.

 It’s almost funny how quiet all those conspiracy freaks have been since the Inspector General’s office released its report on Fast and Furious last week. From Time Magazine’s Swampland blog:

 Yesterday, the Department of Justice Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, released his long awaited report on the scandal, meticulously detailing responsibility for the operation and the cause of false statements made to Congressional investigators by members of the administration, including Attorney General Eric Holder.

Horowitz destroys the conspiracy theories on both sides of the aisle over 471-pages, but it’s the right wing screamers who come out looking worst. Horowitz shows definitively that the Arizona ATF agents and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office there were responsible for the operation, not the White House or the Justice Department in Washington and that the primary source of the inaccurate testimony given to Congress was the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke.

 News That the DougChester Doesn’t Want You to Know About

Last Thursday’s speech by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan in front of the Association of American Retired People (AARP) didn’t go so well. But you wouldn’t know that if you read UT-San Diego, so in the best tradition of wanna-be spinmeisters everywhere, they just told another story. And left out a big part of it. Here’s the money quotes from their Associated Press story:

 Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who brought along his 78-year-old mother for his appearance before the AARP’s convention in New Orleans, reassured attendees that he and Romney care about senior citizens.

 “Mitt Romney and I share your concerns,” Ryan said. “And we respect you enough to level with you. We respect all the people of this country enough to talk about the clear choices we face on Medicare, Social Security, the economy, and the kind of country our children will inherit.”

 Ryan argued that Obama’s health care law has weakened Medicare, the popular federal entitlement program for seniors, and said the Republican ticket would give seniors more choice in their health care coverage if elected.

 Here’s another version of this story from the DC-based blog Think Progress, admittedly not a very favorable platform for the GOP campaign:

 The address didn’t go over well. Audience members called Ryan a “liar,” told him to “go home” and the repeatedly booed his critique of President Obama and health reform. Watch it:

Ryan also denied that his proposal would offer seniors a voucher, despite previously claiming, “you can call it a voucher.” He falsely compared it to the health care program enjoyed by federal employees — the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan or FEHBP — and sought to distance himself from some of the most extreme details of his budget.

 Tweet of the Day:

Today in 1869 greedy speculators sent market into panic and caused thousands financial ruin. Everything got fixed and is great now.

— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) September 24, 2012

On This Day: In 1957 President Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, AR, to enforce school integration.  In 1961“The Bullwinkle Show” premiered in prime time on NBC-TV. The show was originally on ABC in the afternoon as “Rocky and His Friends.” In 1963 The Senate ratified a treaty that limited nuclear testing. The treaty was between the U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union.

On This Day: Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Escondido (Welk Resort 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive) 1pm –Sunset

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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