By Doug Porter
There were developments aplenty yesterday in the San Diego’s Kabuki dance theater, also known as the Mayor Bob Filner scandal.
Attorney Harvey Berger filed a motion to move the legal venue for Irene McCormack’s lawsuit due to the media frenzy surrounding the case. The motion will be heard in San Diego County Superior Court on Sept. 16 and included the following:
“A change in venue is necessary because publication of the allegations of sexual harassment against Mayor Filner have been so widespread, unrelenting, intense, and outspoken that there is reason to believe that an impartial trial cannot be had in San Diego. Thus, Mayor Filner seeks to have venue transferred to nearby Imperial County.”
I’m told that because this lawsuit is filed in a State court, hizzoner’s only other choice was Orange County. That’s too bad because, IMO if there ever was a case being tried in the news media, this one fits the bill.
Attorney Gloria Allred, representing McCormack, says the trial should remain in San Diego where the alleged harassment occurred.
“We believe that the case should be heard and decided by a jury of Mayor Filner’s peers,” Allred said.
Yes or No Are the Only Options?
Here’s an interesting quote taken from localhistories.org about the Salem witch trials:
One of the most horrific aspects of the witch hysteria was that if you were accused and you confessed your life was spared. However if you were accused and you denied the charge but were then convicted you were hanged. Furthermore if you expressed skepticism about the witch trials you put yourself in danger. You might be accused to being a witch.
Politicos and union leaders from around the region were inundated with emails yesterday from the newspaper’s reporters yesterday demanding to know, as one union leader put it, “are you now or have you ever been a Filner supporter. And have you called for his resignation yet?”
No doubt inquiring vigilantes want to know… Like the folks who circulated links to old pro-Filner stories on social media, hoping that people would look past the dateline and send hate mail. And then there were the Trolls seeking to heap shame upon everybody who ever supported the Democratic candidate for Mayor in San Diego in 2012.
— Ryan Clumpner (@RyanClumpner) August 8, 2013
A Union Speaks Out
The influential local American Federation of Teachers (Guild 1931) sent a letter to its 5000+ local members yesterday strongly condemning the Mayor’s actions while at the same time refusing to join in calls for Filner’s resignation.
Given how the local media, especially 10News and UT-San Diego have spun their coverage of Mayor Filner, I’m republishing the entire letter below:
It is with great sadness that we begin a new academic year with the horrible news that not only has a mayor we supported disgraced his office with his unacceptable behavior towards women, but also that one of his victims is a co-worker, City College’s Dr. Lisa Curtin. We commend her courage in coming forward. At the same time, we urge government officials, attorneys for the various parties, the press, and the general public to treat Dr. Curtin—and all the other women who have made allegations about the mayor’s behavior—with the dignity and respect they deserve in their upcoming legal struggles.
Whatever the end result of the Filner sexual harassment scandal, it’s clear that even if the mayor survives the legal challenges, he has admitted to behavior that is unacceptable in any workplace. His credibility and ability to move a bold populist agenda has been fatally damaged. San Diego’s first truly progressive mayor has squandered the opportunity to be a transformative figure, the progressive fighter and game changer we had hoped he would be. Worst of all by engaging in abusive behavior towards women, Filner has betrayed the core principles of any progressive politics by failing to respect the civil rights and humanity of women. We don’t need to hear all of the details to know that this is true–he has admitted as much himself.
In addition to the women victimized by Filner’s behavior, the losers in all of this are the people who had never before had a real champion in the mayor’s office—taxi drivers, hotel workers, and the working poor struggling for a living wage; the homeless and forgotten; and the residents of neglected neighborhoods where many of our students live and all of us who never thought we would see a mayor who would challenge the shadow government of private interests that has run this city for its entire history. Of course, San Diego’s power elite hates Filner and was out for blood from the beginning, so his reckless behavior in his workplace is not just morally wrong but criminally stupid.
Despite our grave disappointment and anger over Filner’s behavior, on principle as unionists we believe in due process, both for the women making the charges in the legal arena and for the mayor. This position does not mean that we excuse or minimize sexual harassment and/or support the mayor. It simply means we support the process as we do in our own union for our own members, some of whom, in years past, have been accused of far worse behaviors. We realize this is not a politically popular position at present, but if we abandon it for political expediency, we surrender a core principle. Even scoundrels deserve due process and trial by press conference does not suffice.
It might be easier for all of us–the mayor’s constituents, those who had been friends, not to mention his family–if the mayor resigned and underwent bona-fide intensive treatment, while resolving legal questions his behavior has raised, but that’s not what’s happening presently. As of this writing, it is clear that the mayor has chosen not to resign despite losing most of his base and that it will likely take either a difficult successful recall election or felony conviction to remove him from office.
Thus we may be in for a long civic drama. This will certainly become a classic lesson about the abuse of power by men in positions of authority. However, we should not despair and abandon all hope that there will ever be another future progressive champion for San Diego‘s working class. We hope that voters do not conclude that all Democrats or progressives are cut from the same cloth as Filner.
Filner’s election was a reflection of the strong and growing base for a bold populist agenda in San Diego. There will be those who say that Filner has hurt the opportunities for future progressive candidates. We don’t think so. This unfortunate circumstance may even have the positive effect of helping us find even stronger candidates. The hunger our constituents have for a living wage, a greener SD, immigrant and woman’s rights reforms, etc., have not been abated by virtue of Filner’s inappropriate actions.
Our hopes for change sooner rather than later may have been temporarily sidelined. But they have not been derailed and this does not change the fact that San Diego has a strong and growing progressive base that we need to continue to lead. We need to remind our friends, neighbors, and family members to fight against the temptation to capitulate to the cynicism that some will try to foster as a result of this singular episode.
I have no doubt the UT and its ilk will be listing the AFT as ‘naughty’.
Racism with a Capital R
President Obama was out and about in our part of the world yesterday, speaking to Marines at Camp Pendleton about sequestration, sexual harassment issues in the military and the war in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday he stopped off at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, delivering one of a series of speeches about housing and the economy. Outside the school things turned Arizona-ugly, with hundreds of supporters and opponents wielding signs, chanting slogans and arguing with each other.
A contingent of anti-Obama demonstrators on the east side of the street leading to the school took things to another level.
From The Arizona Republic:
Obama foes at one point sang, “Bye Bye Black Sheep,” a derogatory reference to the president’s skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!
“He’s 47 percent Negro,” 77-year-old Ron Enderle shouted at one point, later telling the Republic that he was “ashamed” to have Obama as Commander-in-Chief.
Okay, I know you’re probably thinking, “That’s just those crazy Zonies, nobody pays attention to them”, but I’ve got more bad news today…
Paula Deen vs. Martin Luther King
From Talking Points Memo:
Paula Deen was roundly criticized earlier this summer for her past use of the N-word, but among Georgia Republicans, the embattled celebrity evidently has more fans than America‘s most beloved civil rights icon.
Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling tweeted out a striking nugget on Wednesday from its survey of the Peach State. According to the pollster, Deen is more popular among Republican voters in Georgia than Martin Luther King:
Although she faced plenty of criticism for her use of racial epithets, Deen also drew her share of defenders. A Fox News contributor claimed Deen, a Georgia native, was being mistreated by the “liberal, anti-South media.” Following the controversy, her forthcoming cookbook, “Paula Deen’s New Testament,” surged to the top of Amazon’s best-sellers list.
The score (Approval/Disapproval) Paula Deen 78/11, Martin Luther King 59/28
And in New York…
From Raw Story:
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) hate crimes task force launched an investigation on Wednesday after a statue of African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson was vandalized with a racial slur and other graffiti.
According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the statue of teammate Pee Wee Reese with arm around Robinson was defaced sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
“It commemorates an incident in Robinson’s rookie year, 1947, when Reese, who was Robinson’s teammate on the Brooklyn Dodgers, walked onto the infield and put his arm around Robinson in a gesture of friendship,” the Daily Eagle noted. “At the time, Robinson was being subjected to racist catcalls and threats on a regular basis.”
WNBC reported that the graffiti included the words “die n*gger,” a swastika and the word “Hitler.”
But Wait! There’s More!
Ebony magazine released a preview of its upcoming September issue earlier this week, featuring four photos dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin and an in-depth examination of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws.
It didn’t take long for the “I’m not a racist” types to take to the interwebs to roundly condemn the coverage. There’s even been serious discussion about a boycott. Really? Really!
I really love the Tweet the magazine put out in response:
We have so many Tea Party readers and followers. To lose all zero of them due to our September cover would be devastating.
— EBONY (@EBONYMag) August 7, 2013
White Privilege on TV
Since I’m ranting about racism today, I may as well share this wonderful clip from the Daily Show, examining the subject. Made up or not, it certainly nails the question.
On This Day: 1899 – The refrigerator was patented by A.T. Marshall. 1970 – Janis Joplin bought a headstone for the grave of blues singer Bessie Smith. Smith was one of Joplin’s idols. 1974 – U.S. President Nixon announced that he would resign the following day. (True fact: I was among those drinking bubbly in the street outside the White House that night)
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