The Repackaging of Kevin Faulconer, Wherein Barney Fife Gets Transformed into John Wayne: Looking Back at September 2013

For the twelve days of Christmas I give you: The madness of 2013, one month at a time-A month by month recap of stories that appeared in the Starting Line in the past year.

startinglinelogoBy Doug Porter

#1 Carl DeMaio Obeys Orders

It was a day to remember in San Diego’s political history.  Three high-profile politicians opted to decline the opportunity to enter the contest for the top spot in the eighth largest city in the United States.  That’s like three customers going into a Starbucks paying for a latte with a hundred dollar bill and saying “keep the change”…or a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

…DeMaio deferred to his Congressional ambitions, Todd Gloria said that the job of being interim mayor demanded his full attention and County Supervisor Ron Roberts opted out of the race.

On the surface anyway, this leaves Democratic convert Nathan Fletcher and the GOP’s District 2 Councilman Kevin Faulconer as front runners in the race. Both can be considered “safe” choices. It’s center-left vs center right.

The “everybody knows” crowd is already at it, as in [insert name of candidate here] is the obvious choice for [insert political leanings here].  And discussion or even mention of the other 15 already declared or or potential candidates is summarily dismissed, as in “everybody knows” they can’t win because [insert reason here].

Perhaps we should just call off the primary just to keep the “everybody knows” crowd happy. Why bother with campaigns, or platforms when we can have the wisdom of “everybody knows”?

Of course this consensus masks a larger, and some would say more sinister, picture.

Tweedle-deeTweedle-dumOn the Republican (Tweedle-dee) side the power plays were obvious.  Carl DeMaio, really, really wanted to be mayor. Word has it that he was strongly discouraged from pursuing that course by the “non-partisan” Lincoln Club with a push from UT-San Diego publisher “Papa” Doug Manchester.

From UT-San Diego’s reporting on DeMaio’s presser yesterday:

The decision by DeMaio comes after lengthy behind-the-scenes deliberations among Republican power brokers this past weekend in which they urged DeMaio to stay in the congressional race and unanimously agreed to back Councilman Kevin Faulconer in the mayor’s race. Faulconer is expected to announce his candidacy at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Lest DeMaio not get the message (and they were obviously worried that he wouldn’t), the UT-San Diego editorialized:

As this editorial page has said in the wake of Filner’s resignation, quality of character must be the hallmark of the new mayor — and the standard by which voters should judge the candidates. Never before have integrity, stability, long-standing core values and leadership style been so important.

 This election is a time for statesmen. There is no room for political opportunism…

 …DeMaio will announce Tuesday whether he will remain a candidate for Congress or demonstrate his own political opportunism by switching to the race for mayor. His decision will mark him as a future Republican star, or could end his political career. The U-T editorial board urges DeMaio to stick with his congressional candidacy; he can count on our editorial support if he does so.

So Carl DeMaio did the “right thing” and announced he was still running for Congress. He was rewarded with a very nice editorial today in the Daily Fishwrap.

…Not everybody was trilled with the GOP’s move to the center on Faulconer. As one commenter at the Daily Fishwrap put it:

Now get ready for the repackaging of Kevin Faulconer. Wherein Barney Fife gets transformed into John Wayne.

 While the GOP has cleared the deck of potential distractions, local Democrats (Tweedle-Dum) are still working on it.

City Councilman Todd Gloria’s announcement that he was not running was a step forward towards consolidating their package.  Nathan Fletcher’s candidacy got a big boost even as he was releasing the  official video saying he was in the race.

There are those pesky progressive types lurking in the shadows that have yet to be convinced that a figurative battle of the Titans (Manchester vs Jacobs) is the best way forward.  And then there’s labor.

While the Metropolitan Employees Association and the Firefighters have already endorsed Fletcher—and the Police Officers Association won’t be far behind—the rest of the Labor Council isn’t convinced of the former Assemblyman’s ideological conversion, especially given his legislative vote history.

 #2  Neighborhood is the New Sustainable

neighborhoodwatchFaulcIt seems like ‘neighborhood’ is the new ‘sustainable’ for candidates in San Diego as the campaigns for the mayoral special election on November 19th get underway.  Yes, indeedy, it seems as though this buzzword is on everybody’s lips.

What the word ‘neighborhood’ actually means to the various candidates is what we’ll be looking to find out in the coming weeks. Both the effen (my new shorthand for the anointed candidates that “everybody knows” will win) brothers emphasized the new ‘n word’ in their initial pronouncements.

Meanwhile things are going on in San Diego’s neighborhoods and communities of interest that are symptomatic a return to the business as usual mentality that has dominated the local landscape for generations…

…I had a long chat with Bruce Coons, the mayoral candidate “everybody knows” can’t win yesterday.

He’s a smart guy. His heart’s in the right place. He’s totally NOT a one issue candidate.

And, no, this is not an endorsement.  It’s waaay too early yet. I can’t even name most of the candidates, much less understand what they all stand for.

My biggest takeaway from the meeting was that the strength and popularity of the “we’re pro-neighborhoods” argument being advanced by the big name candidates could turn out to be their biggest weakness.

If they want to define neighborhoods as the funding mechanism for future privatized city services, as in “sure, just pay a few fees and you can have [fill in the service]”, which is what I suspect they’ll end up endorsing, then this special election represents an opportunity to do some real work on exposing just how rotten the system is.

Coons’ arguments (which I interpreted as) building democracy through neighborhood empowerment struck me as a real antidote for our historical flavors of ‘business as usual.”

#3 David ‘Who?’

David-Vs-Goliath_crop_exactA mayoral contest best characterized thus far by the quantity of candidates took a turn towards being much more interesting yesterday as Democratic City Councilman David Alvarez entered the race.

Should he end up in the winner’s circle come February (which is when a final runoff will decide the victor), Alvarez will be the first mayor of Mexican descent since the city emerged from being ruled by trustees (bankruptcy) back in 1887.

This is no small thing in a city with a growing Hispanic (28.8%) population.  It wasn’t so long ago that brown-skinned people were prohibited from buying homes in many San Diego neighborhoods.

Alvarez is also popular with many on San Diego’s Labor Council, whose participation in get out the vote efforts in recent elections has boosted turnout in less affluent neighborhoods.  His electoral base is mostly south of Interstate 8, which changes the dynamics of an election many thought would be decided by mostly white, older voting blocs in other areas of the city…

…Kevin Faulconer was in Ocean Beach this morning touting his endorsement by the California Restaurant Association (CRA) San Diego County chapter.

The CRA has been active in opposing increases in minimum wage legislation and Obamacare, so this endorsement is telling for those wondering where Faulconer might stand on the local implications of such issues….

…And no, Mr. Faulconer, standing in front of the OB Noodle House for your press conference doesn’t qualify as campaigning for “ethnic” votes.

#4 Impoverished Downtown Developers Beg for Spare Change?

beggingUT-San Diego, the daily newspaper that went so far last fall as to rig a poll along with discounted ad rates for negative ads to gin up support for a Republican candidate, has proposed hosting a series of six debates for this fall’s mayoral primary.

This is the sort of “offer” is in keeping with right wing publisher Doug Manchester’s ongoing attempts to control the political narrative in San Diego.

You can be sure the questions will be tailored along the lines of whether or not the candidates support the publisher’s various schemes for our city.  I can envision Roger Hedgecock with probing inquiries like: “Do you favor a new Chargers stadium or do you beat your wife?- pick one”

From the Daily Fishwrap’s Sunday sermon:

The U-T San Diego ownership and its editorial board are proposing a series of six mayoral campaign debates before the Nov. 19 election. These debates would be co-sponsored by the U-T and a consortium of local universities and community groups. All would be televised, with varying formats and panelists. Key topics could include the candidates’ vision and leadership style, the $1 billion backlog in municipal infrastructure, implementing pension reform, revising the city charter, boosting the region’s economy, education and keeping the Chargers in San Diego. Each of the candidates who can demonstrate that they have a viable campaign will be invited to participate.

See any mention of neighborhood vs. downtown development, prevailing wages, bike infrastructure, or minority issues?  Nope. That’s why they want to host the debates.

After all, the city “was broken in important ways by the nine months of Filner”.  All those poor developers on street corners with plastic cups begging for spare change are all the proof the UT-San Diego needs.

#5 A New Stadium is Suggested as The Cure

greed-trustThe Daily Fishwrap has hammered home the meme that ours is a city teetering on the edge of ruin following nine months of bullying and grabbing on the eleventh floor of city hall. Hotel executives are metaphorically scattered throughout the Gaslamp District with tin cups in hand trying stave off the looming economic disaster brought on by the former Mayor’s insistence that taxpayers be protected.

Into this power vacuum have stepped the San Diego Chargers, a professional football team owned by an ultra-wealthy family that believes it’s entitled to taxpayer assistance in building a new football stadium.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a full court media press on over the last few days extolling the virtues of a recycled proposal for a downtown venue that would turn San Diego into a world class city overnight.  Former Mayor Jerry Sanders was on KUSI TV this morning saying, “We’ll find the Chargers a new stadium in the not-too-distant future, I predict.”

Yes indeedy, a new stadium will make everything okay.  Our long regional nightmare will be over.

Gone would be our collective horror at the antics of the masher Mayor.  Gone would be the need to mar our city’s waterfront with an expanded Convention Center build expressly to serve the needs of those freaks of nature otherwise known as Comic-Con. Gone would be poverty, as the economic miracles trickling down from this behemoth would miraculously restore neighborhoods, eliminate racism and end homelessness.

#6 Heaping Helpings of Civic Shame

garbage-pile-trashThe Monday Morning Quarterback blog on Sports trotted out a stadium horror story so scary it should have been prefaced with a warning against letting small children near any screen displaying it.

Entitled “An Insult to Dumps Everywhere”, the SI account ladles up heaping helpings of civic shame:

Actually, calling Qualcomm a dump really is an insult to dumps. The JumboTron is so old that some replacement parts can only be found on eBay. There’s no capacity for a hi-definition video board or for new electronic signage. In an era in which the NFL is trying to heighten the stadium experience to allow fans to keep up with scores and stats from other games via their smartphones, connectivity is limited in part by structural issues within the stadium. (At the preseason opener this year, one Chargers exec could not communicate via email with his staff during the game because of poor wifi.) White trash bags cover large electrical connectors that hang from a lower wall, and cracks are visible in the concrete in various places. Heavy rains often cause the drainage systems to back up, which is why the team has rubber boots on hand for fans whose seats are flooded. It’s not uncommon for sewage to leak onto the field and into the visiting locker room. According to an independent audit performed for the city, the stadium needs $70 million in maintenance and repairs.

Whereupon the writer follows up with the eminent reasonableness of the Spanos family’s ideas for building a new facility. A mere $300 million in public funding is needed for the $1 billion project, monies that could easily be raised if it wasn’t for the FACT we’ve had the “most dysfunctional city government in the country” for the past God-only-knows-how-long.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is quoted : “The city needs mayoral leadership for big projects, and right now it is not there. But, we will get through this turmoil.”

…The Chargers repackaged an old stadium plan and rolled it out last week via a “selfie” interview on their own website.  Contrary to rumors spread via social media, they did not promise a free pony for everybody in San Diego.

Last night on ESPN Monday Night Football we got The Lecture on what a great city San Diego could be if we only had a football field. Then, as if to prove the point about what a bunch of losers we collectively are, the Chargers went into full dis-function mode.

#7 I Return from Vacation…And Unclutter my Inbox

too-much-emailI’ve been “unplugged” from events outside the CNN/USAToday/Faux news horizon over the past week as I vacationed in the great Midwestern region of the US. (It was a swell trip!)…

Here are the greatest hits:

  • District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has a challenger for the coming election cycle and he’s picking up steam. Lawyer Bob Brewer picked up key endorsements from a coalition of unions representing law enforcement officers. CBS/8 News has the story here.
  • Mayoral Candidate David Alvarez is on a hot streak. Yesterday he was endorsed by former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña. Today Donna Frye is giving him a thumbs up.
  • It’s looking like several Mayoral Debates will be conducted under the auspices of Doug Manchester’s Mission Valley minions. The first will be taped Friday afternoon and rebroadcast on UT-TV that evening, so expect to see any gaffs committed by the UT’s anointed favorite Kevin Faulconer edited out for time considerations.  A second tape-delayed event featuring only Alvarez, Fletcher and Faulconer will be broadcast on September 27th.  It would appear that Bruce Coons and Mike Aguirre have both been excluded from participating.
  • Mike Aguirre has released an Open Letter to Voters via his website, just in case you’re curious.
  • San Diego’s City Beat is a virtual fountainhead of insight this week into Marco Gonzalez/Donna Frye/Cory Briggs involvement in calling out former Mayor Bob Filner’s transgressions. Do read all about it. Do read Donna Frye’s letter of resignation from last April.  And understand that this is only one part of the sordid saga, one that existed in addition to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s nine month long effort, among other things.
  • Meanwhile I’ll assume the effin brothers (Faulconer/Fletcher) are busy counting up their big bucks campaign donations. You can watch their piles of big money ($1000 plus donations) grow on a daily basis by clicking through to’s Follow the Money page. As of yesterday Faulconer was over $140,000 and Fletcher was just past $80,000.

 #8 Lest We Forget…

cpi_header_finalThe Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI) released its annual number crunching report for San Diego yesterday based on 2012 Census data, and picture painted within isn’t pretty.

Despite media reports about how “things are getting better”, CPI’s data point to the reality that the economic recovery has passed by most households and employees in the San Diego region.

“People have less money to spend, even those working full-time,” said CPI Research Director Peter Brownell in a press release. “The wealthiest saw their incomes increase in 2012, but when we hear talk of economic recovery, it hasn’t reached most people in our region.”

 #9 UT-TV Sexist, Much?

feminism-gone-awryPapa Doug Manchester’s UT-TV (which thus far has the franchise on mayoral debates) continues to prove there is no low to which they won’t sink.

This morning’s “news chatter” included an interview with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who’s proven her ability to walk out of the Mission Valley lion’s den unscathed many times.  But this particular visit was over-the-top stupid…

Host Scott Kaplan (paraphrased, via Evan McLaughlin): “Did Filner ever ask you out? Because he should’ve: You’re hot.”

 #10 Alvarez Gets the Nod, Sweet Tweets Get Traded

sweet tweets boyTuesday night’s vote by the San Diego Democratic Central Committee was a clear victory for backers of Councilman David Alvarez’s mayoral aspirations.  If for no other reason, the endorsement was important in raising the councilman’s name recognition, both for the headlines it produced and the cash that will now flow from Democratic Party coffers boosting his candidacy.

Others with skin in this game reacted in differing ways.

A much heralded spat between United Food and Commercial Workers President Mickey Kasparian (who supports Alvarez) and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (Nathan Fletcher’s booster), appears to have passed.  After all, the vote is over, and the party did vote to support whichever of those candidates wins the November 19th primary.

Kasparian and Gonzalez traded Sweet Tweets yesterday, agreeing to disagree on their candidates but vowing support for each others’ causes, even as Voice of San Diego published an article talking about how their relationship had devolved into “insults and strange maneuvering.”

 #11 Countdown for the Government Shutdown

countdowntoshutdown400x225There’s only one story that counts today: the confrontation on Capitol Hill over passing a continuing budget resolution allowing the government to function for another 45 days.

Mini-Mayor Todd Gloria, along with members of the City Council and a Chamber of Commerce delegation headed by former Mayor Jerry Sanders are on the Hill this week “to advocate for policies vital to the region.”  This trip has been on the books for some time—in fact it’s the same outing that former Mayor Bob Filner was uninvited from by Sanders back when reports of bad behavior surfaced.

A proposal by House Speaker John Boehner to push back the deadline for GOP demands to coincide with legislation allowing the debt ceiling to rise was rejected by Tea Party elements last week.

Although there are enough Republican votes in the House to pass a “clean”, (i.e., unencumbered by conditions tied to defunding the Affordable Healthcare Act) continuing budget resolution, the Speaker will be committing political suicide by even allowing such legislation to be considered.

#12 Weasel Words on Obamacare

The pitchCongressman Scott Peters sent out a press release saying that, while he was against shutting down the government, he wanted everybody to know he was willing to leave a $30 billion dollar hole in funding healthcare reform by repealing the medical device tax.

“I voted for the amendment to repeal the medical device tax because I strongly support its repeal. This excise tax hinders innovation in health care that leads to cost savings in the long run and hurts a significant sector of San Diego‘s economy. I would much prefer if we would be able to vote for this repeal separate from the continuing resolution. Attaching amendments that threaten the shutdown ofAmerica’s government is a lousy way to pass good laws. I’ll continue to fight to keep America at work and to support a bipartisan plan to fix pieces of the ACA that need fixing, including the repeal of this nonsensical tax.”

…GOP Congressional candidate [DeMaio] issued a press release Thursday afternoon, trying to seem “reasonable” about the impending government shutdown and hoping to shift the “blame” on Congressman Scott Peters.  Using his usual mealy mouthed approach, any mention of the Affordable Health Care Act was omitted by DeMaio in favor of calling for “reform of wasteful spending.”

Via Dave Rice at the San Diego Reader:

 “Hey – We just learned that Scott Peters is backing a permanent rule for “automatic” increases in the debt limit. Yes, he wants it to be “automatic.”

 On top of that, Peters sent a letter to Barack Obama urging him to reject any conditions for reforming wasteful spending as part of a larger compromise package for addressing our ballooning debt.”

Tomorrow – October The Light at the End of the Shutdown  Yesterday-

On This Day1892 – Ellis Island opened as America’s first federal immigration center. Annie Moore, at age 15, became the first person to pass through.  1974 – President Nixon signed a bill requiring all states to lower the maximum speed limit to 55 MPH. The law was intended to conserve gasoline supplies during an embargo imposed by Arab oil-producing countries. Federal speed limits were abolished in 1995. 1979 – The trial of ex-Sex Pistol, Sid Vicious for the October 1978 murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, opened in New York City. Vicious died of a heroin overdose, thereby not living to hear the verdict.

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Here’s the rest of this series:

August * All Filner, All The Time
July * San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s World Starts to Fall Apart
June *Issa’s Joe McCarthy Imitation, DeMaio’s Koch Connection and #filnereverywhere
May * Bigger Than Watergate, Dumber Than Obamacare and More Dangerous Than a Leftist Bagman
April * Cochella (Twice), Taxes, Terrorists, and Testing
March *Sequestration, Taxifornication, Misinformation, and the Great Tourism Recession in San Diego
February * Guns, Governors, God and the Gipper
January * Ted Nugent’s Guns, Obama’s Gays, Manchester’s Minions and Huffpost’s Sideboobs


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. avatar says

    “sewage seeped into the visitors’ locker room” Thank God it wasn’t the home team’s locker room or we would have had to switch locker rooms.
    Seriously though, may I suggest that the Spanos family go public and raise money that way by giving rich investors the opportunity to own equity in the Chargers rather than have the taxpayers foot the bill in order to subsidize the Spanos family’s profits