The Starting Line –San Diego Mayoral Education Debate Fails to Advance USD Power Play on Schools

There have been so many debates between City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Congressman Bob Filner that even an earnest politico like myself has become inured to them. DeMaio and Filner have circled around each other like snarling cats, making lots of noise but not really inflicting much damage. One candidate sneers. The other becomes combative. And so forth.

So it comes as a real shocker that these aspirants actually agreed on something, rising above the partisan fray at a University of San Diego debate last night to concur that the job of Mayor in San Diego does Not include expanding the power of that office to oversee city schools. And the debate must have been a real disappointment for USD’s Center for Education and Law Policy (CEPAL) which has tried repeatedly to sell local policy makers and voters on the idea that undermining the power of an elected school board was the only way to ‘save’ San Diego Schools.

One local reporter Tweeted this characterization of the debate: “Moderator: Do you support mayoral control of schools? Candidates: No. Moderator: But c’mon, do you support mayoral control of schools?”

The debate must have been especially frustrating for CEPAL Director Scott Himelstein, who has campaigned non-stop against San Diego schools over the last decade, dating back to when he was dumped by the School Board as an assistant to controversial school superintendent Alan Bersin.

Himelstein has used USD’s academic prestige as cover for repeated ‘studies’ (funded by local right wing philanthropists) denigrating local academic achievement, despite steadily rising test results.  National issues reflective of challenges in education, especially with minority groups, have been recast as local failures. There has been nothing but a steady drumbeat of discouraging news from CEPAL, even as the group has failed to directly engage with any of the actual players on the local education scene.

An astro-turfed citizen’s ballot initiative aimed at adding appointed school board members last year failed to even garner enough signatures to make it on the ballot. An intensive lobbying campaign failed to persuade City Council members to even explore the possibility.

And a carefully worded poll (limited to non-public City of San Diego employees) conducted with the backing of Doug Manchester’s UT-San Diego showing “overwhelming” public support of increasing Mayoral involvement in city schools failed to convince either of the two finalists in the current mayoral contest to join CEPAL’s crusade.

The candidates did express other differences in their approaches to education, particularly on the role of teachers in crafting reforms.  Congressman Filner vigorously advocated for passage of Proposition Z, a local measure aimed at continuing construction/repairs funding for schools, while Councilman DeMaio claimed a neutral stance on the initiative.

Another Day, Another News-a-torial from UT-San Diego

A campaign consultant’s creative distortion of reality graduated from political junk mail to major news story yesterday, as UT Campaign Watch reporter Mark Walker recounted the tale of how County Supervisor candidate Dave Roberts, accidentally signed up with the American Independence Party.

The local Republican Party, on behalf of Steve Danon, sponsored a mailing in that race arguing that Roberts, who is a Democrat, political stances changed depending on “which way the wind is blowing”.

In reality, Roberts was ‘guilty’ of attempting to change his party status to unaffiliated back in 2004, an option then described in California registration politi-speak as ‘Decline to State’.  Accidentally registering with the American Independence Party, a right wing group dating back to Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s candidacies four decades ago, was among the most common mistakes made with state voter registrants.

So this ‘molehill’ becomes a ‘mountain’ as the local paper gives front page (local section) placement to the story.  Needless to say, publisher Doug Manchester is not supportive of Robert’s candidacy.

California Voter Registration to Hit Record Levels

State officials announced yesterday that more than one million Californians filed voter registration applications via California’s new online system prior to Monday night’s deadline for eligibility in the upcoming election.  County registrars are still verifying and processing online applicants, so final numbers won’t be released until just before the election.

Some of those who used the new system may have been ineligible to vote or were already registered and didn’t know it.  As of September 7th, the day that the new system was inaugurated, there were 17.25 million people registered to vote in California, while the previous record was 17.33 million.

Feds Study of Cancer Risks to Include San Onofre

The LA Times is reporting today that The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is undertaking a pilot epidemiological study of cancer risks near six nuclear power plants, including San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in north San Diego County.

The commission is acting out of growing concern that using uranium to produce electricity may be dangerous even without accidents at nuclear plants. In addition, recent epidemiological studies in Germany and France suggest that the children living near nuclear reactors are twice as likely to develop leukemia.

The U.S. study will be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, which will also help the commission determine whether to extend the study to all 65 U.S. nuclear power plants and certain nuclear fuel sites.

The pilot study will investigate cancer rates in each census tract within a 30-mile radius of the nuclear facilities, and assess cancers in children younger than 15 whose mothers lived near a nuclear facility during pregnancy. About 1 million people live within five miles of operating nuclear plants in the United States, and more than 45 million live within 30 miles, nuclear regulatory officials said.

What California Students’ Spelling Will Be Like
If Prop 30 Doesn’t Pass

A student from University of Alabama, one of the few states
with lower educational support than California.

I Voted Yesterday

You can now officially discount Doug Manchester’s ballot. If we vote, they lose. So vote and git ‘er done.  (h/t Meteor Blades for the phraseology.) And, yes, I put a stamp on it before dropping it in the mailbox.

Another Reason Why You Should Vote

From Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Indiana:

The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen.

Paul Ryan, Vice Presidential Candidate, donated $5000 from his PAC to support this guy.  He really likes him:

 Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan Monday used his first campaign stop in Indiana to do some fundraising and delivered a ringing endorsement of Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.

 “Please, please send us Richard Mourdock. We need this man in the United States Senate,” Ryan told a midday crowd of more than 100 people who had paid at least $1,000 per ticket to hear him speak at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is waffling on the candidate, meaning he doesn’t like what was said, but will continue to air a TV ad endorsing Mourdock. From Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

 While Mitt Romney is rightly distancing himself from Richard Mourdock today, his ad endorsing Mourdock’s extreme candidacy continues to air in Indiana. If Mitt Romney is serious about repudiating these heinous views on rape, he will take down this ad immediately. National Republicans cannot paper over Richard Mourdock’s heinous views on rape. Enough is enough. The Republican Party needs to stop the coddling and take a stand against the horribly offensive and dangerous views of the Tea Party and their extreme candidates. 

 The Definitive Guide to the Voter Fraud Meme

 The art of in-depth journalism still lives, despite news accounts and marketing campaigns that would have us believe that Everything That Matters has been reduced to 140 characters or less.  With that in mind, I heartily suggest that you make the time and effort to read this New Yorker magazine account on voter fraud.  Teaser quote:

 Teresa Sharp is fifty-three years old and has lived in a modest single-family house on Millsdale Street, in a suburb of Cincinnati, for nearly thirty-three years. A lifelong Democrat, she has voted in every Presidential election since she turned eighteen. So she was agitated when an official summons from the Hamilton County Board of Elections arrived in the mail last month. Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, is one of the most populous regions of the most fiercely contested state in the 2012 election.

The letter, which cited arcane legal statutes and was printed on government letterhead, was dated September 4th. “You are hereby notified that your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector,” it said. “The Hamilton County Board of Elections has scheduled a hearing regarding your right to vote on Monday, September 10th, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. . . . You have the right to appear and testify, call witnesses and be represented by counsel.”  “My first thought was, Oh, no!” Sharp, who is African-American, said. “They ain’t messing with us poor black folks! Who is challenging my right to vote?”

The answer to Sharp’s question is that a new watchdog group, the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, which polices voter-registration rolls in search of “electoral irregularities,” raised questions about her eligibility after consulting a government-compiled list of local properties and mistakenly identifying her house as a vacant lot

Just so you don’t think that this sort of thing is happening somewhere else, this “Voter Integrity Project” has been organizing in San Diego for several months now, led by local “Tea Party” types and represented legally by Gary Kreep, the birther who snuck past voters last June and got himself elected as a judge locally.

From the British newspaper, the Guardian:

American civil rights groups have appealed to the world’s biggest election monitoring organisation over concerns about controversial changes in voter registration ahead of the November 6 White House poll. The eight civil rights group expressed their worry that millions, including those on low income as well as minorities, could be excluded from the vote for the presidency and for members of Congress.

They raised the issues during a meeting on Tuesday in Washington with representatives from the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which represents 56 states in EuropeCentral Asia and North AmericaThe eight civil rights groups, who include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the NAACP, asked the OSCE to send election monitors to the states most affected by voter restrictions.

 They cited new restrictions on voting periods and voter ID laws aimed at disenfranchising women, the young, the elderly and disabled, as well as minorities and those on low income.

 Tweet of the Day:

Food trucks: The new terrorist threat. Taco truck fans practically material supporters of terrorism. via @gwschulzcir

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) October 24, 2012

On This Day: In 1940 the 40-hour workweek went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. military forces went on the highest alert in the postwar era in preparation for a possible full-scale war with the Soviet Union. The U.S. blockade of Cuba officially began on this day. In 1962 James Brown recorded “Live at the Apollo, Volume I.”

Eat Fresh!  Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills  (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead  (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach  (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos  (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm,Santee  (10445 Mission Gorge Rd. abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s) 9 am – 1 pm

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!

I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.


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.
Subscribe to "The Starting Line" and get an email every time a new article is posted!


  1. avatar says

    Thanks, Doug Porter, for covering the USD-hosted mayoral debate and reminding us just how bogus that institution’s “Center for Education Policy and Law” really is.

    CEPAL director Scott Himelstein has turned heaven and earth to gain traction for a peculiar privatized form of public education in this town favored by corporate masters Irwin Jacobs, Malin Burnham, the Walmart Waltons, Rancho Santa Fe’s Bill Lynch and Del Mar’s Rob Dammeyer. Himelstein even bought the time and attention of City Council President Tony Young (Democrat) and then-Republican mayoral hopeful Nathan Fletcher who embarked on a public schools’ “listening tour” together last year. Well, Young just endorsed Bob Filner for Mayor and Fletcher’s gone off into Independent limbo.