Barrio Logan Split Really About Business as Usual (Or Not)

By Doug Porter

startinglinelogoIf you want to see a critical difference between Democrats Nathan Fletcher and David Alvarez, look beyond the article posted in today’s Voice of San Diego.

Reporter Liam Dillon does a good job of exploring the opposition to Alavrez’s mayoral ambitions from within his Barrio Logan, starting with Rachael Ortiz’s long standing opposition to the District 8 Councilman.

Her current issue with Alvarez is the contention that he sold out Barrio Logan’s interests by proposing a compromise solution with the maritime industry regarding the Community Plan approved by the City Council.

The headline on the VOSD article suggests this deal could come back to haunt him. After all, the industry’s representatives refused accept the compromise and are working the suburbs collecting signatures for an initiative that will override the plan.

Ortiz held a press conference denouncing Alvarez. She’s endorsed Nathan Fletcher, who has no discernable position on the Community Plan issue, which underwent five years of meetings, hearings and research.

It’s my opinion that she’s acting as proxy for Fletcher supporter Sen. Ben Hueso.  It’s a reflection of a larger battle of the community’s efforts for self determination.

From VOSD:

At a recent debate in Barrio Logan, Fletcher suggested that not enough work went into the plan’s development, and that he could strike a deal that made everyone happy.

Alvarez got angry. He grew up here, Alvarez told the crowd. Barrio Logan, he said, had been left behind, neglected and mistreated, and just because shipbuilders have a lot of money doesn’t mean they know what’s best for the neighborhood. Alvarez said he’d spent endless hours trying to reach a compromise.

“Nobody,” Alvarez said, “knows this community better than I do.”

The article traces the connections between Alvarez’s most vocal opponent and Ben Hueso, now ensconced in the State Senate and long-time political enemy of the mayoral candidate. His run for that seat was part of the seemingly choreographed shuffle following Congressman Bob Filner’s decision to run for Mayor.  Juan Vargas moved from Sacramento to take Filner’s spot, Hueso moved from Assembly to State Senate and Lorena Gonzalez moved from the Labor Council into the State Assembly.

Hueso’s rise through San Diego politics includes a stint on the City Council and the persistent taint of “wink, wink”, “nod, nod”, “business as usual”, “almost corrupt but never provable” dealings.

His attempt to replace himself on the City Council with brother Felipe in 2010 failed as Alvarez garnered 60% of the vote.  Shortly thereafter Ben Hueso came under fire for hiring three former campaign workers (associated with either his Assembly race or his brother’s candidacy) to work for the City Council for the last three weeks of his tenure, a move costing San Diego taxpayers $13,000.

Two of the newly ensconced “employees” were owed money by the political campaigns.  Ben Hueso denied that there was any connection, saying “that would be illegal” if the debts were forgiven.

In 2006 Hueso was fined $17,000 by the Ethics Commission for raising money for a November election even though he wasn’t on the ballot. In 2010 he got caught illegally transferring $25,000 from his state Assembly campaign to a political-action committee formed to support his brother’s council bid.  The money was returned after the story was published and he paid a $2,000 fine following an investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Hueso was at the heart of another questionable deal involving legislation introduced by the then-Assemblyman that would have benefited his brother Antonio, owner of USA Cab, one of the largest cab companies in San Diego.

AB 1243 would have stipulated that divers were “independent contractors” rather than company employees.  In addition to providing cover for lawsuits filed against Taxi Company owners, organizers for the United Tax Drivers said it was intended to head off unionization of cab drivers anywhere in California.

I could go on about Hueso (like his endorsement of Republican Jan Goldsmith), but the point here is he’s got a track record of playing nice with the “business as usual” set.

And that gets to the root of his opposition to David Alvarez and, I think, Hueso/Ortiz’s endorsement of Nathan Fletcher.

The New Majority: Poor Students in Public Schools

low income school kidsA new study by the Southern Education Foundation, the nation’s oldest education philanthropy finds that a majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are now low-income.

These children dominated classrooms in 13 states in the South and the four Western states with the largest populations in 2011, researchers found. In 2001, a mere four states reported poor children as a majority of the student population in their public schools.

Nationwide 48% of the nation’s 50 million public-school students are qualifying for free or reduced-price meals. These victims of increasing economic inequality enter kindergarten already behind their more privileged peers, often who lack the support at home to succeed and are more than likely to drop out of school or never attend college

From the Washington Post:

National efforts to improve public education — from the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind to President Obama’s Race to the Top — have been focused on the wrong problems, said Richard Rothstein, a senior fellow at the Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Most of those changes, including the rise of standardized testing, holding teachers accountable for their students’ academic performance and rewriting math and reading standards don’t address poverty, Rothstein said.

Writer Hamilton Nolan, who’s never at loss for words on any subject he tackles over at, is sure to rankle the “reform” set with this conclusion:

No one who believes in the concept of universal free public education should have any illusions about this: if this trend continues (and it will, unless something powerful is done to stop it), public schools will become politically irrelevant and further neglected and less cared for in larger and larger portions of America, until the entire national public school system is threatened with destruction. This is why we need to outlaw private school.

NFL Pink for What?

Business Insider ChartIf you’ve watched a pro football game over the past couple of weeks, the vast swatches of pink have been hard to miss.

There are pink socks, pink towels & pink penalty flags on the field, all meant to encourage us consumers to break away from the nachos long enough to drop some cash on some merchandise…and it’s all for cancer research, so we’re told.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell looked into the business model involved and came up with some numbers showing there’s a lot of fingers dipping into that pink pie.

Via Business Insider:

For every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 goes to the NFL. Of that, $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the NFL keeps the rest. The remaining money is then divided up by the company that makes the merchandise (37.5%) and the company that sells the merchandise (50.0%), which is often the NFL and the individual teams.

Then consider that only 71.2% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs.

Just Call Him Lieutenant Legalize…

marijuana_leaf_picThe American Civil Liberties Union, according to a story at SF, is sponsoring a “blue ribbon panel” to study cannabis legalization in California, and the panel will be chaired by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom.

They quote a statement from ACLU California, saying the group will be comprised of “leading legal, academic and policy experts from across the state and nation” who will “engage in a multi-year research effort to help voters and policy makers as they consider proposals to enact a strict tax and regulation scheme that will enable California to benefit from billions of dollars of potential revenue annually while protecting the health and safety of our children and communities.”

The ACLU sees this as the most sophisticated effort ever undertaken to seriously study the issue of pot legalization in the massive state. Lt. Gov. Newsom said the panel will provide some much-needed data to activists and the public to potentially shape future law. He said 2016 would be the ideal year to run an initiative.

“We have to be thoughtful here,” he said. “Do it right. Do it smart. Take a little more time.”

“Real people are suffering, Real lives are impacted. This is serious,” he said.

According to a poll from Tulchin Research released Wednesday, Californians support taxing and regulating pot by a wide margin of 65-32 percent. Ben Tulchin said at the conference this morning that Californians are frustrated with current failed marijuana policy.

Lt. Gov. Newsom will chair the panel and is an outspoken advocate for marijuana reform. He is highest ranking elected official in CA on record calling for legalizing marijuana and was recently quoted in the NY Times calling on other elected officials to say publicly what they say privately on this issue.

KPBS with a Union Label?

union shopCity Beat’s Joshua Emerson Smith is up with a story about an organizing effort underway at KPBS.

The union known as SAG-AFTRA, born after a 2012 merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced via a press release that an overwhelming majority of KPBS employees have signed a petition in favor of representation.

KPBS management responded by bringing in labor negotiator Gregg Newstrand, who’s efforts in Oregon made him less than popular with employees.  He’s reportedly been talking with leaders of the organizing effort.

City Beat quotes a letter to employees issued by management:

After careful deliberation, we believe KPBS employees need more information before making the very serious decision to unionize. Just like a complicated news story, we believe everyone will benefit from thorough education on both sides of the issue so that in the event of a vote, staff will have all the facts to make their own informed decision.

SAG-AFTRA represents employees at National Public Radio and several of the better known public radion stations in California.

On This Day1867 – The U.S. took formal possession of Alaska from Russia. The land was purchased of a total of $7 million dollars (2 cents per acre).1968 – Two black athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, were suspended by the U.S. Olympic Committee for giving a “black power” salute during a ceremony in Mexico City  1990 – The City of Los Angeles declared “Rocky Horror Picture Show Day.”

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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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  1. avatarBrent Beltran says

    Spot on analysis regarding the Hueso/Ortiz/Fletcher connection. They are willing to support Fletcher knowing full well that he will compromise more with maritime industry than Alvarez. Hueso is one shady character who looks out for his own interests above the interests he’s supposed to serve: his constituents.

  2. avatarDana Levy says

    I wonder how he (Ben) even manages to get elected using your analysis. Must not be so many pissed constituents as you imagine. Apparently Fletcher does have some kind of following in (and out) the Barrio. And the other analysis is that Alvarez must have done a not so good job of representing that segment of his own Didtrict 8. Who would know better than Rachael, et. al.?

    • avatarDoug Porter says

      Wonder away Dana.
      I wasn’t saying he was unelectable, although his coat tails weren’t long enough to get his brother on the City Council even with the support of the Labor Council.
      I’m saying Hueso’s part of the problem of politicians who have historically sold out their community’s interests for their own political ambitions.
      For Nathan Fletcher to say “not enough work” went into the Barrio Logan Community Plan, which went through five years of hearings, meetings and public scrutiny is just plain wrong. If he had principles he’d stand up one way or the other and people could respect that even if they disagreed with him.

      • avatarDana Levy says

        It must be really satisfying that from your vantage point you can proclaim that Hueso has sold out his community and should never dare to have political ambitions (or why else say it?). Why would anyone run for any of these jobs if they didn’t think they could make a difference and were the correct choice to represent their sector better than others? And to pile on, you exclaim that Fletcher has no principles and I say that he does and his proof of it is that he has come around and joined the Democratic way of thinking and isn’t ashamed to admit it. Fletcher has made the statement that he is a big boy and can take criticism. Your comment about me “wondering away”seems to shrink from that likened stance.

        • avatarBrent Beltran says

          From my vantage point in Barrio Logan I say that Hueso HAS sold us out. And Fletcher will sell us out as well if he gets the opportunity to renegotiate with the maritime polluters.

        • avatarDoug Porter says

          Hey, I didn’t have to make that impression of Hueso up. I heard it from plenty of community activists back when we were showcasing the Golden Hill and Barrio Logan communities.

          If Fletcher’s such a big boy why won’t his campaign respond to the questionnaire we sent him? We’d let his verbatim answers for our virtual mayoral forum speak for themselves.

          Imagine what it’s going to be like trying to communicate with “Mayor Fletcher” after he’s elected… “check the database, Rachel (Laing) and if they didn’t support me, delete the message…”

          PS- Brent Beltran correctly pointed out via email that I may be jumping the gun here, since in theory the deadline for those responses is Oct 21st. But, given that Judi Curry has reached out and heard nothing back and Fletcher and his staff haven’t reacted to messages sent their way by me (and others), I’m assuming they’ve chosen to ignore. I will gladly eat crow and apologize if this assumption proves to be wrong….

          • avatarDana Levy says

            The next time I have tea with Fletcher I will ask him about the perceived reluctance. I still have high hopes for Hueso too. Only time will tell and an electable alternative is always a solution. I try not to let personal observations that seem to only be the result of getting one’s ox gored sway my optimistic although somewhat naive hopes. I too am rone to eating the “foul” when I am wrong but the night of the 19th will tell it all. I am going to slow down now on any more insider partisan posturing and hope we are all duly rewarded in the end.

    • avatarKatherine Lopez says

      Hueso got elected using the old Barrio system: the Catholic church, family ties, and the Inzunza machine. There was no love lost for the Huesos, there never has been. But like a lot of things that go wrong down here, once they get into the system, there is no getting them out.

  3. avatarbob dorn says

    So hard to understand these assaults by Democrats on Alvarez as anything beyond personal conflicts. The endorsements of Fletcher I could almost see if Alvarez wasn’t so seriously qualified for the office. The Gonzalez’s and Hueso’s have proved so oriented around their own careers that they might abandon the people who made their rise possible in favor of Downtown Inc. and these endorsements of the Recent Republican. But Ortiz?
    There’s more to know here; much might be revealed when Hueso and Lorena Gonzalez next report money contributions to their respective campaigns. Rachel Ortiz will have to invent her own reasons for backing Fletcher Nathan, the Republican escapee.

    • avatarKatherine Lopez says

      It’s very simple, really. David sees Rachael for who she really is> Rachael doesn’t like it when people cross her> David crossed her. David has taken a lot of unpopular stands and positions, but so do a lot of politicians. That isn’t really the question, the question is, does David have what it takes to make his stands and positions viable, acceptable to his colleagues/allies/constituents? The answer so far, judging by his very limited but telling record on the council, seems to be No.

      • avatarbob dorn says

        Very misterioso. Alvarez has taken what unpopular stands? Are you speaking of that buffer zone between Toxics Inc. and the casitas and carnicerias? That’s been upheld twice now by the council, 5-4, so it seems to me he walked the line just right. Viably, and acceptably, with his allies on the council. I can see that his record so far has been very limited, as you say, but Fletcher Nathan’s has been more lengthy and, much more telling, as in Karl Rove, Top Gun Cunningham and Assembly Republican.