North Park Mayoral Debate Tosses the Rulebook: Intelligent Questions Evoke More Informative Answers

startinglinelogoBy Doug Porter

I’ve listened to and watched a bunch of mayoral debates this year. Usually I come away from those things feeling like I’d wasted my time.

No other face-off featuring the major players even came close to what occurred last night at the North Park Theater.

I came away with a much better understanding of who the candidates are and what they stand for. Which is what’s supposed to happen.

A broad range of issues were covered. There were no opening statements, no mandated time for each candidate to rebut. Questions were submitted from the general public via electronic media and thoughtfully shaped by Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis.  There were no mouth-breather questions about traffic tickets, favorite colors or unicorns.  No candidate promised free ponies for everybody if they were elected.

Moderator Lewis kept it focused, with the help of the audience who were encouraged to stomp their feet when they felt candidates were droning on.

The wonk-centric format favored Mike Aguirre’s generally more meaty answers, except that he can’t really answer questions about what exactly he’d do to get the city out of the money pit that is pension funding. (Sorry, Rhode Island’s solution isn’t our answer.)

Nathan Fletcher overused the “we need to have a conversation about…” phrase and dominated the field when it came to time spent talking.  My take is those are code words for “let’s see what’s politically expedient.”

Kevin Faulconer sounded like the “moderate” Republican much of the time, until it came time to talk about the priorities of the moneyed downtown developer set.  That’s when the GOP talking points like “job tax” passed his lips.

David Alvararez’s answers were short, sweet and to the (progressive) point.  I thought he hit it out of the park when it came to talking about homeless solutions, pointing out the County’s lack of interest in the subject, given that most of the monies for social programs flow through their coffers.

My main criticism is of the event is that it should have been televised.  You can hear the KPBS audio here, although it may take a few moments to sort out who’s talking.  UPDATE: VOSD has a best and worst article about the debate posted that makes for interesting reading.

You Lie! (Needs to Go Viral)

One point raised by Alvarez last night was about the outright lies being told by signature gatherers for the industry sponsored initiative to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan.  And it just so happens that VOSD’s Scott Lewis (who’s now used up his quota on favorable mentions for the year) caught a little bit of that action on video outside a Trader Joe’s recently as a shill blocked his way in, demanding that he sign because the “Navy will leave town”.  Here’s the video:

‘Back Country Voices’ Talks About Drone Testing in San Diego

DroneTestArea_0Back in September the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an effort to make the airspace over a large portion of California (including the county) one of six proposed national Drone Test Sites.

In October all six members of the local Congressional delegation sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in support of the effort.  Here’s their reasoning as expressed in that letter:

The San Diego region is home to one of the most active UAS/UAV industries in the United States two of the largest manufacturers of DAS in the world are headquartered in the region, supported by many other companies in the supply chain. Small businesses related to UAS are flourishing. San Diego has not only the necessary ground infrastructure but also the human capital and research resources. Partnerships with academia are important to FAA’s ability to gather all the technical data needed. Our six major universities in the San Diego region are already taking steps to ensure they are providing the necessary research and education for the industry to thrive. A recent study by the San DiegoNorth Chamber of Commerce found that the VAS/VAV industries accounted for $1.3 billion of activity and 7,200 jobs in the region in 2011. By 2019, the activity will exceed $12 billion.

Meanwhile, nobody’s actually asked the people who might live under these test flight areas what they think.

The newly formed Back Country Voices is sponsoring two public meeting venues, to raise awareness, gather information, and express concerns about these plans and what they could mean regarding safety, privacy and environment considerations.

They’ve invited knowledgeable drone experts, politicians on both sides of the aisle, members of the FAA, ACLU, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, S.D. Veterans for Peace Foundation, Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, Sen. Boxer, firefighters, environmentalists and others to present the community with information on what’s at stake for San Diego being a national testing site for drones.’

The meetings are set for Veteran’s Day, November 11th (6-8pm, Julian County Library) and December 4th (6:30- 8pm, Julian Town Hall).

For more information, visit the Back Country Voices webpage or Facebook page.

National Elections: Mostly Good News

Note to Papa Doug: THIS is how it's done

Note to Papa Doug: THIS is how it’s done

There were off year elections around the country yesterday.

New York City overwhelmingly (74%) voted for an unabashedly progressive Democratic mayor. Virginia selected a creepy Democrat over a Tea Party Republican by 2%.  New Jersey solidly (60%) re-elected Republican Gov. Chris Christie while also approving a minimum wage hike that he’d vetoed.

The city of Portland Maine legalized possession and recreational use of marijuana by a landslide (70%).  A cluster of counties symbolically voting to form a new state in northern Colorado as a protest over gun laws mostly (10 out of 11) failed to make their point.  And the Seattle suburb of SeaTac voted to enforce a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Nobody’s saying this year’s election really means much in a national sense. But the National Republican Senatorial Committee told Politico today that they’re now willing to invest heavily in the 2014 primary elections to make sure their candidates do well.  That’s bad news for the Tea Party types.

Columnist Rand Paul Calls Out Meddling Journos

You might know him as a US Senator with presidential ambitions. But to conservative-leaning newspapers around the country, Rand Paul is also a prolific writer of opinion.

The rightward leaning Washington Times announced yesterday that it would no longer be availing it self of Sen. Paul’s services in light of a mushrooming plagiarism scandal.  He’s issued a statement regretting the lack of attribution to his pilfered materials, and blaming unnamed aides for sloppy research…. And (wait for it…) also it’s the liberal media’s fault making a big deal out of nothing.

This leaves me no choice but to call upon the wiseacres at Wonkette for their incisive analysis:

In other words — which seem to be the only kind he has available to him — Paul is less the “author” of his “writing” than the general contractor, and he’s gotten stuck with some cheap knock-offs that he had no idea were shoddily manufactured. Poor thing. Maybe he should challenge them to a duel, too?

Still, Rand Paul is looking forward to putting all this past him so he can get back to sharing his important message that with hard work and individual initiative, anyone can be a success. Especially if they’re freed of the burdens of government regulation and intrusive journalists looking at them too closely.

Paranoia Strikes Deep

jfk zap filmOB Rag/ SD Free Press editor Frank Gormlie’s been taking a sabbatical over the last couple of weeks, hoping to complete one of his bucket list of projects (it’s impressive): a review of what we know and don’t know about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

A random factoid about myself that most people don’t know was that in my younger days I toured the country on a speaking tour armed with a pirated copy of the infamous Zapruder film, which has long been used by critics of the Warren Commission Report to question their findings. This thrust me into the world of conspiracy theorists, where paranoia reigns supreme.

The more you look into the Kennedy assassination, the creepier it gets. And it’s catching.

So it’s no wonder that Gormlie was more than a little freaked yesterday driving down Highway 94 when he saw US Attorney Laura Duffy cruising behind him obviously checking out the assorted subversive bumper stickers on his car.

We look forward to Frank’s overview and analysis, provided “they” don’t take him out first.

Quote of the Day (via Ezra Klein):

If education is a poor child’s best shot at rising up the ladder of prosperity, why do public resources devoted to education lean so decisively in favor of the better off?…The United States is one of few advanced nations where schools serving better-off children usually have more educational resources than those serving poor students, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among the 34 O.E.C.D. nations, only in the United StatesIsrael and Turkey do disadvantaged schools have lower teacher/student ratios than in those serving more privileged students.” 

Eduardo Porter (No relation) in The New York Times.

On This Day1860 – Abraham Lincoln was elected to be the sixteenth president of the United States. 1966 – Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium opened in San Francisco.  1986 – U.S. intelligence sources confirmed a story run by the Lebanese magazine Ash Shiraa that reported the U.S. had been secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of seven American hostages.

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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. avatarEva says

    Thanks for covering the drone issue, Doug. I’m surprised that in the day NSA revelations and concern for privacy, no one seems to be be approaching the issue from the vantage point of those living under the drone zone. And why is LA exempt? If there’s anyone fun to spy on it would be all the celebrities.

  2. avatarthoughtfulbear says

    Yep, I’ll just bet those inland Valley and Eastern Sierra folks are just tickled pink at the very prospect of drones possibly coming soon to a sky above them. Can’t imagine that they’re not already feeling rather disrespected by the more populous coast (being an ex-Valley-ite myself, I can say that)…

    So, forget north-south – California’s major fault line in fact lies along an east-west axis (with apology to the better-known San Andreas)…

  3. avatarDana Levy says

    I agree and address the Frank Gormlie concern. I was a high school senior sitting in Chemistry class in 1963 when over the load speaker came the news that MY president, JFK, had been shot and killed. OK, I was young and naive (maybe not so young now but somewhat naive still) but it distressed me greatly and still does today. It was November 22, 1963 that changed the course of the USA forever and we have yet to recover. The killing of RFK and MLK didn’t help much either (and the untimely death of John JR. left us even more empty of hope and any pending residual optimism). The worst part is the lack of forthright truthfulness from our own government about what happened and by whom it was perpetrated. LBJ did his best to fix things but didn’t address the Warren report, and it killed him too, in a way. (still not sure if he was involved in either the shooting or coverup). Then there was Nixon who really set us on the course to all out (limited) war in Viet Nam from which I and the country will never heal (in my lifetime at least). The lack of candor from all departments on this issue is still an itch that doesn’t get scratched. Easier to hope for forgetfulness from all us old people and hope that the younger ones don’t get riled up and actually discover the coverup too and then have to think of a new strategy to placate them. 50 years is a long time and things get duller with time but this event has yet to see the entire light of day and needs reexamination that leads to complete disclosure and finality. Until then we are less of a nation and society wanting for better but mired down buy lies and half truths that limit and restrain any and all our actions towards peace of mind and ease of conscience. Just like 9/11, we should never forget the assassination of JFK and what happened afterwards, and strive and struggle mightily for better.

  4. avatar says

    It’s what makes “Rashomon” eternally interesting — different takes from different witnesses of the same event.I too went to the VOSD mayoral forum in North Park last night and was differently affected: I was amazed at the format and the setting, annoyed by the execution, bored by the content and finally judged it mostly a huge waste of time and gasoline.

    Doug neglects to mention the “free” event was used as a fundraiser for the online VOSD journal that is heavily funded by FletcherNathan’s backer Irwin Jacobs. (VOSD scored about $15,000 from the audience.) Maybe that’s why there was not one mention of the CityCouncil-approved attempted Jacobs takeover of Plaza de Panama or the fate of Balboa Park now. No mention either candidates’ views on Irwin Jacobs’ failed attempt to use the initiative process to pad and control the elected Board of Education.

    Scott Lewis is intelligent enough, as Barack once grudgingly opined about Hillary, but his uber-hipster encouragement of the crowd to stamp its feet in protest of too-long answers (or answers people didn’t like or want heard) frequently drowned out candidate responses. The crowd in the hall was awash in its brightly-lit i-phones and busier tweeting than listening. There was also way too much joking, teasing and insider-skewering from Lewis toward the candidates. He was supposed to moderate/control the proceedings instead of being one of the boys.

    And speaking of “the boys,” someone asked why there were no women up onstage and what about women after the summer saga of Mayor Filner and his line of female detractors? David Alvarez hit that one out of the park too, noting that he was supported by three excellent women — Lori Saldana, Toni Atkins and Donna Frye — any one of whom were mayoral material.

    In fact, Faulconer, FletcherNathan, Alvarez and Aguirre and Scott Lewis all looked as silly as they frequently sounded, perched as they were on spotlit pieces of white upholstered furniture. No unifying coffee table, no shielding palms.

    I did learn one new thing, however: David Alvarez , a native son of San Diego’s Barrio Logan, worked for several years at the estimable Barrio Logan College Institute as an educator, helping first-in-their-family high school kids prepare for college. I wrote in SDFP about this wonderful place earlier this year.

  5. avatarjudi says

    If you want to know anything about the drones over San Diego, check with Dave Patterson, one of the SDFP occasional writers. He is Mr. Knowledge even to the model drone he takes to different events.

    Dave – if you see this you might want to give us your contact info. Judi

    • avatarDave Patterson says

      I have a great presentation on drones, with our 1/5 scale reaper in tow. 15 minute video, talk for 20 minutes and answer questions. 1 hour normally. I’ll be at the Julian library at 6PM on Monday giving the same.

  6. avatarbob dorn says

    I know that feigned heartiness, those unfunny jokes that all the boys eagerly laugh at to prove they’re more fun than the other ones… and presumably the smart phones in the closer seats are tweeting the smart jokes… dreary. So many times it’s like being back in college. Ya don’t wanna seem too serious, right? If it was like that I’m glad I wasn’t there.

  7. avatar says

    Hey Doug, US Attorney Laura Duffy was reading my bumperstickers – only 2 – the SD Free Press and the OB Rag. If she gets me, dude, she’ll be coming for you. She was really “tailing” me.