San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith Get Some Much Needed Scrutiny

startinglinelogoBy Doug Porter

The people’s prosecutors.

They’re chosen by voters in both San Diego City and County and charged with the responsibility of protecting our interests. Today we’ll look at recent news accounts suggesting there’s much to be desired in assessing the job performance of County DA Bonnie Dumanis and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

I’ll also recap developments in the mayoral race (new poll results!) including a young union organizer reading Nathan Fletcher the riot act, a high profile endorsement of David Alvarez that compares him to Jackie Robinson, and a gaggle of of young Republicans from around the state taking to the streets for “super candidate” Kevin Faulconer…

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ office made CBS/News8 on Friday. It seems as though an unusually high percentage (43%) of search warrants served in San Diego remain sealed, even after they are executed and/or the case goes to court.

California law requires such documents to be open for public inspection after service, with limited exceptions for situations that may endanger victims, an ongoing investigation and/or law enforcement officers.

From CBS/News8:

In San Diego County, judges usually seal search warrants in advance of the warrant being executed. Typically, a judge is contacted in chambers or over the telephone by an officer and/or prosecutor with a request to sign off on the search warrant’s probable cause statement, and to issue a sealing order.

As noted above, the search warrants remain sealed forever, unless a defense attorney, outside party, or news organization challenges the sealing order at a later date.

“We want to be transparent as possible, and so now we have become aware that there are a lot of cases that don’t ever get unsealed,” said DA Dumanis. “We have not, until you pointed it out, really realized that there was an issue.”

So let’s see, 57% of the documents were unsealed and the DA’s office somehow didn’t notice the others. Riiiight.

My bet is there’s a lot to learn in the 43% that got overlooked: Dirty Politics. Corruption. Incompetence. Cases that went nowhere because somebody called in favor.

I’ll let the News8 story conclusion from General Counsel Jim Ewert with the California Newspaper Publishers Association ( end this item.

“The systemic sealing of search warrants in San Diego County is yet another shameful example of law enforcement and the District Attorney evading accountability for their actions to the residents that they serve. The high percentage of search warrants that are automatically sealed violates existing law and should be particularly alarming to anyone that values the founding principles of our Democratic government.”

It’s not much of a secret around town that DA Dumanis has been the go-to person for keeping the lid on things the city’s power structure wants kept quiet.

Enter Robert Brewer, Hopeful Dragon Slayer

Brewer signThings have finally gotten to the point where some Dumanis’ traditional allies have lost their stomach for her brand of justice. And she has a credible contender who is already running hard against her for the 2014 elections.

Her declared opponent, Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr., is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a progressive white knight who’ll upset the city’s power structure. I won’t even hazard a guess about his political leanings. His campaign is based on ‘depoliticizing’ Dumanisland.

Brewer explored the idea of running against the City Attorney Mike Aguirre in 2007. Ultimately Jan Goldsmith was the challenger and victor in that race.

This time around Brewer got an early start.  No less than sixteen law enforcement related organizations in the country from Chula Vista to Oceanside have already stepped forward to endorse his candidacy.

There’s a gaggle of former (and one anonymous current) Deputy District DAs who have also lined up to support him.

Here’s Dave Stutz, who spent many years in the DA’s office after leaving the IRS. He was one of the lead investigators that brought down Mr. San Diego C. Arnholt Smith:

I served with the 2 previous DAs and, after she was elected, Dumanis appointed me to be in charge of all political violations.  In a short period of time it became apparent she was using the office for her own political gain and not the public good.  I retired rather than watch her destroy a great office and she has continued to abuse the office for her own personal benefit.  Bob Brewer will return the office to what it once was before she ruined it.”

DA Dumanis is in trouble and she knows it. Matt Potter at the Reader posted a story last week about her latest fundraising email.

The email offers a preview of the kind of take-no-prisoners campaign Dumanis, who came in fourth in last year’s race for San Diego mayor, is expected to wage to hold on to her job.

We’re going to do everything we can to hit our November goal because we can’t let all the progress we’ve made in the District Attorney’s Office be undone — especially by someone whose clients scammed taxpayers and investors out of tens of millions of dollars.

That jab is an apparent reference to Nancy Hoover, the onetime Del Mar mayor and close associate and financial backer of Republican Roger Hedgecock, forced to resign as mayor of San Diego in the mid-1980s money-laundering scandal that followed the collapse of J. David Dominelli’s Ponzi scheme.

So it looks like Dumanis’s strategy is to fight Brewer based on the fact he is defense attorney who’s had some high profile clients. Apparently her standard is; if you’ve represented somebody, you must share their outlook and values. This stance is so profoundly un-American I’m surprised she’s got the nerve to be flaunting it.

Does this mean that accused murders are only be represented by other accused murders?  What about corrupt politicians? And that’s before we get to the obvious civil liberties type cases.  Is a lawyer representing a communist un-American? Joe McCarthy thought so….Ugh, disgusting.

Never mind that her campaign contributor list has its fair share of high profile shady characters.

Here’s one example from Matt Potter’s story:

But even as she hits Brewer for ties to the local white-collar crime set, the D.A. herself has not been above collecting campaign cash from more than a few persons of interest to law enforcement here.

As reported in August, her campaign got $500 from National City car dealer Tony McCune, a key figure in so-called “Rolodex Madam” Karen Wilkening’s high-dollar prostitution case that Dumanis handled as a young assistant prosecutor in 1989.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times in June of that year, McCune admitted on the stand that he’d had sex with prostitutes provided by Wilkening and later helped fund her temporary escape to the Philippines. According to the story, “Deputy Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis declined comment when asked if McCune [was] going to be charged with a crime.”

He never was.

Maybe it’s time to start digging through all those soon-to-be-unsealed search warrants.

Stinky Stuff in the City Attorney’s Office

via lucas2012infos

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office appears to have screwed up and San Diego taxpayers are looking at having to pay tens of millions of dollars in unpaid judgments stemming from claims made about corroded sewer pipes stinking up downtown’s shiny new condo buildings.

Normally you’d expect the city’s insurance company to cover those costs. Alas, ‘somebody’ forgot to drop a dime to let them know what was going on, the city lost in court and now they’re saying they won’t pay.

How much is that going to cost? About $30 million to start with says San Diego Reader reporter Dorian Hargrove.

The City of San Diego will soon be shelling out tens of millions of dollars in claims over corroded sewage pipes leaking hydrogen sulfide gas into expensive condominiums downtown.

Last month, a New York state judge ruled that the city failed to submit three claims in a reasonable time frame to their insurer, Indian HarborInsurance. The delay violated a clause in the policy, leaving the city on the hook for damages expected to be more than $30 million.

And that might just be the start.

But, wait, there’s another case: In March 2012, as the City Attorney’s Office was defending the two other lawsuits and negotiating with the insurance company, another claim for corrosive pipes and seeping hydrogen sulfide gas was made to the Risk Management Department, this one at a building on 15th Street in East Village.

In an all-too-familiar summary: City denies claim. Residents file lawsuit. City waits two months to notify their insurance provider.

The City Council voted on October 28th to appeal the first judgment. I somehow doubt they were told about the mistake that ‘somebody’ made. Or that there’s more bad news coming down that smelly pipeline.

Mayoral Tidbits

Sarah Saez, Taxi Driver organizer and City Heights denizen, had a few unkind words on Facebook for candidate Nathan Fletcher after reading through his contributors’ lists:

 Disappointed to hear Nathan Fletcher took money from some of the most corrupt and exploitative taxi permit holders in the industry. Makes me sad that people who know about the taxi drivers struggle and the community they call home would vote for more of the same. Some of these permit holders have been gaming the system, drivers and tax payers for decades. These are the same people I go into battle with every time over things as basic as video cameras in taxicabs after two drivers were shot and killed a month apart. The same people who have been openly racist about our drivers saying “it’s just a bunch of African’s complaining” regarding poverty wages and horrible working conditions. I’m over “democrats” saying they care about neighborhoods and working people and then negotiate our rights away for campaign donations. People’s lives are not for sale and our issues cannot be bought!

Fletcher $$$

Polling Numbers

In case you missed Jim Miller’s column today, here’s the latest polling numbers from his side of the aisle:

…the most recent numbers from the AFT tracking poll over the weekend have Faulconer at 37.2%, Alvarez at 21.7%, and Fletcher trailing but still barely within the margin of error at 16.3%.  Mike Aguirre has 2.5% and a big 20.5 % are still undecided

Alvarez as Jackie Robinson

1955 topps 50 - jackie robinsonLaura Fink was the second woman to come forward in the scandal involving former Mayor Bob Filner. She’s also a big time public policy consultant (who’s not working with any of the current crop of candidates).

She took to the Huffington Post over the weekend to announce her support for candidate David Alvarez, comparing to him baseball’s color barrier breaker Jackie Robinson. It’s quite the endorsement. A snippet:

When Brooklyn took a chance on Jackie Robinson, he took the team to a World Series victory. More importantly, his example had an impact far beyond his play.

David Alvarez is San Diego’s Jackie Robinson — a paragon of character and integrity, whose quiet leadership of deeds rather than words seeks neither credit nor acclaim. He could be San Diego‘s first Latino mayor — a barrier long overdue to be broken. More than that, his talent and courage have the potential to make him a transcendent leader. San Diego, long weary of political scandal and impropriety needs a leader like David — and he needs your vote.

Faulconer’s Youth Movement

CR.YR-WalkYoung college Republicans from all over California descended upon San Diego this weekend to canvass for Kevin Faulconer’s mayoral campaign. It was a smackdown: Young Republicans vs College Republicans.

Local clubs earned $50 for every 10 people who turned up and the club fielding the most volunteers was promised free pizza for a year. The local party promised hotel accommodations and meals.

Here’s the call to arms from the California Young Republican Federation Facebook page:

Time to put your YR Money where your mouth is and sign up for this upcoming 3 fold extravaganza:

Mission One – GOTV to Elect Republican Kevin Faulconer for Mayor

Mission Two – Annihilation of a traitor’s political aspirations. NO NATHAN FLETCHER!

Mission Three – We Work Hard Therefor We Play Hard. See you all at the finish line. 

If you watched KUSI news you might have been left with the impression that young people of no political persuasion were coming off the streets to support his candidacy.  And if you weren’t paying attention to his San Diego millennials’ video contest, you might have missed this most excellent (LOL) winning submission:

GOTV is Not a New Cable Network

If you’d like to remind/shame/nag your social media acquaintances to vote in the November 19th special election, sign up for the Thunderclap Get Out The Vote gizmo.  Your fans and followers will get the message on their fav social media platform just in time to do the deed.

Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar

Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line:

On This Day: 1918 – World War I came to an end when the Allies and Germany signed an armistice. This day became recognized as Veteran’s Day in the United States.  1984 – President Ronald Reagan accepted the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a gift to the nation from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  1993 – In Washington DC, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated to honor the more than 11,000 women who had served in the Vietnam War.

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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. avatarDana Levy says

    I have long been anti Dumanis as she seems to love power and hate freedom. Don’t remember the last time she thought the police didn’t need some increased scrutiny more or less a charge of over use of force. Then Goldsmith, somewhat newer but just as self-serving, does quite the lousy job of serving the city and the interests of the common citizen. I am glad that I get to vote against both of them shortly and intend to do just that.

  2. avatardave stutz says

    Dumanis places politics and her ego before justice and runs her office by fear and intimidation. She has destroyed what once was one of the best prosecutors office in the nation. She must go and Brewer has the background to restore the office to where it belongs.

  3. avatarAlice West says

    “Ultimately Jan Goldsmith was the challenger and victor in that race.”
    – and San Diego the loser. BIG.Time.

    • avatarDana Levy says

      Sadly, it was the fault of “big ego/low reality and common sense stifled awareness” Aguirre that caused us to all have to suffer Goldsmith. He (Aguirre) still doesn’t realize what a lousy position he put us all in and feels both completely blameless and, the more recently, energized by the encouragement of the slight following he has garnered to which he has convinced them of his worthiness in that he is THE MAN. As the saying goes a leopard can’t change it’s spots, and in this particular case Aguirre can’t seem to help himself more or less put forward a new persona to fit the occasion. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me (seems like a good axiom, but then how did we get W twice?). Now he sits, seeming himself to be the pontificator of all knowledge of all things San Diego, but in actuality his essence is that of a delusional egomaniac who is setting the stage to be a spoiler of all that he proclaims to represent. Can’t even imagine that he would drop out of the race to further the greater good as he has a need to be “in charge” and thought of as the sentimental hard working favorite, both of which are disingenuous and patently false.

  4. avatarmicaela porte says

    super bad vibes at the downtown courthouse during recent jury duty, waste of public resources and time… really not an inspiring civic moment…