By Doug Porter
We certainly have no reason to complain about being bored in San Diego during the dog days of August. In addition to not having to suffer through the heat and humidity plaguing much of the country, we have own political drama playing large at a time when others are limited to watching last winter’s episodes of House of Cards.
The latest developments include the official launch of the Recall Filner campaign, a slo-mo wanna-be palace coup and supporters of at least one well known politician taking steps to get in position for any imminent mayoral campaign.
Sunday saw organizers of the recall campaign ensconced in donated space at the Town and Country Hotel conducting training for signature gatherers. There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that UT-San Diego’s publisher Doug Manchester paid for the Chargers’ cheerleaders to appear. Those cheering on the volunteers from the sidelines were actually journalists, distracted from their role as chroniclers of history by the righteous indignation in the air.
There was no mention in the news media of the hotel owner’s vested interest in getting rid of Mayor Filner. Owner Terry Brown is chairman of the San Diego Tourism Marketing Association, the group Filner forced to sign an agreement protecting taxpayers from liability via the group’s “fee” tax collection system.
He and his cronies were among the first to suffer under the Mayor’s no-more-business-as-usual program. Now we’re asked to believe that, after a lifetime of supporting GOP policies and programs that reinforce the subordinate position of women in society, suddenly our city’s Republican businessman types are signed on to the “non-partisan” issue of fighting sexual harassment.
Later in the day the faithful traveled to city hall for the “Freedom From Filner” rally. Again, there were no UT-San Diego-sponsored cheerleaders, but they didn’t need any. I defy anybody to find another local political event in the last fifty years that received more pre- and post rally coverage.
The local fishwrap gushed:
At noon, they trained volunteers in the ballroom of a Mission Valley hotel. By midafternoon, about 800 started a rally outside City Hall, where celebrity attorney Gloria Allred led chants of “Bob Must Go!” They then marched through downtown San Diego, waving signs — “Bob Feel-Her Must Resign” — and stepping to a bagpipe’s whirling strains.
There did seem to be room for debate as to how successful the rally actually was. The 800 participants shrank to 400 in the LA Times, 300 at10News and 200 at Reuters.
I watched it live-streamed via the local NBC affiliate and believe the LA Times number to be the most accurate, if you include the small army of reporters on the scene. One thing struck me from the TV coverage, the pictures on Twitter and Instagram: I haven’t seen so many white people at a downtown rally since Carl DeMaio’s campaign for Mayor.
The rally got off to a shaky start:
Recall rally is seriously off the rails. Playing right into Filner supporters’ hand. Way off message.
— David Rolland (@drolland) August 18, 2013
From the fishwrap:
During the rally outside City Hall, the focus occasionally blurred.
On the edge of the crowd, Mystie Bollaert of Carlsbad offered petitions demanding Filner’s recall — plus repeal of the Affordable Care Act, removal of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and impeachment of President Barack Obama.
Cox, the Rancho Santa Fe lawyer, took the podium to urge Filner’s ouster “on behalf of my four daughters” — and to restructure the state Legislature.
Donors to the Filner mayoral campaign, unions and legislators were all tarred from the podium. But it didn’t matter. The local news media by-and-large followed the script and downplayed that part of the program.
Attorney Gloria Allred took the podium and restored the focus of the event. Her oratory channeling the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream speech” was the focus of local TV coverage.
The LA Times cast a skeptical eye on the momentum of the recall movement:
“Everyone wants things resolved in 42 minutes plus a commercial break, but real life doesn’t usually comply,” said Carl Luna, political science professor at San Diego Mesa College…
…All six recall movements against San Diego mayors have failed to reach the ballot. In addition, the city’s recall laws have legal problems, the city attorney has said, and could be challenged in court, potentially scuttling the recall movement against Filner even if sufficient signatures were gathered.
Jan Goldsmith Behind the Scenes, Wheeling and Dealing
Don Bauder over at the San Diego Reader was first out of the gate with a story that claimed Mayor Filner would be served with a restraining order Monday morning prohibiting him from working at city hall due to his creating a ‘hostile workplace’.
The LA Times also reported that story on Saturday, without giving an actual date. The story also quoted Gloria Allred, who offered to join forces with Goldsmith if he decided to seek a court order keeping Filner away from City Hall.
Filner should be kept away “unless and until an independent medical examiner appointed by the court declares under oath that the mayor is no longer a threat to females and no longer presents a risk of sex harassment to them,” Allred said.
Word from city hall as I write this is that Filner will be showing up today. There is one report (Bauder, again) that the mayor and city attorney will be meeting privately this morning to discuss the case(s) against him. His analysis from the Reader:
I have called this an “intergovernmental extra-legal coup attempt,” because I believe it clearly is. But Filner, looking at his financial ability to fight the various charges, whether valid or not, will have to decide on the merit of what Goldsmith has. (Of course, Goldsmith may only be discussing what his office plans to do — not the other governmental bodies.)
Clearly, there are behind-the-scenes negotiations going on. From what I can tell, they’re mostly between forces seeking a quicker way out of this political crisis.
From NBC7 News:
[Todd] Gloria, Councilmember Scott Sherman and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said they are working on a legal alternative to the recall campaign currently underway. A section of the City Charter may be used to remove Filner from office amid allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of city funds…
…Municipal government expert Erik Bruvold from National University says it will be a tough sell to a judge.
“As I read Section 108 on its face, it’s designed for a situation of a city manager coming in and using the city treasury to buy a Maserati. Or a deputy director coming in and writing a check to support his personal business – clear cases of misuse of funds. Is charging a lunch on the company credit card, that type of action?” said Bruvold.
Bruvold doesn’t think it rises to that level…
Multiple sources are reporting that the Goldsmith’s proposing to present the City Council the case for Filner’s removal in closed session on August 28. The next step after that meeting would be a “due process” hearing before the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court.
Odds and Ends in the Filner Story…
**Carl DeMaio is promising a major development in the recall story later today. . My bet is he’s going to provide or assist in providing major funding for the campaign. Some wags on Twitter are thinking he may announce his candidacy for mayor…After all, DeMaio did cancel a ‘Fix Congress Town Hall’ in Rancho Bernardo on Sunday.
UPDATE: He huffed and he puffed and he held his breath till his face turned blue. Okay, what he really said was that it’s time for the pro-recall people to start going after anybody who’s not on the bandwagon. Mostly this was about an attack on organized labor.
Supporters of Mayor Filner are holding a noontime press conference at city hall today. (I’ll update ASAP) The press release, which calls the event “Time to Heal, Forgive & Get Back to Moving City Forward with Mayor Filner” promises the following speakers:
Kathleen Harmon (Bob Filner campaign volunteer); Suzie Ditmars (Committee on Status of Women); Terri Valladolid (Governing Board Member, Southwestern Community College District); Nancy Casady (Business Woman); Helen Bourne(Woman’s International League of Peace & Freedom) ; Anita W Turner (Lifelong Democrat); Linda Legrette (President of San Diego Unity League)
Also expected at the press conference will be: Dr Carol Wayman (Civil Rights); Bishop A.J. Currin (Faith); David Valladolid (Vietnam Veteran); Nicole Murray Ramirez (Activist); Ken S Msemaji (Organizer); Vera Moldt (Community Member); Rose Davis (Native American Rights); Floyd Morrow (Former Councilman & Korean War Veteran); Bryan Pease (Civil Rights and Environmental Attorney); Ted & Nelisse Muga (San Diego Residents and voters); Scott Andrews (Voter); Ann Hoiberg (Activist); Dereck Casady (Organizer); Phillip Liburd (NAACP) and many more…
**And fans of Assemblywoman Atkins have started up a “Draft Toni Atkins for Mayor” Facebook page (463 ‘likes’ as of 7am Monday), saying:
Only one woman can bring us out of this mess and restore San Diego to the national prestige we deserve– and that woman has done it before. In 2005, when Mayor Dick Murphy had to resign, Toni Atkins’ colleagues unanimously elected her as Acting Mayor.
The Assemblywoman has not endorsed the effort. Yet.
Giving the Coastal Commission Some Dentures
To hear some people tell it, the California Coastal Commission is part of an oppressive State bureaucracy standing in the way of valuable economic development and “jobs”.
While the Commission has powers in advance of development, once bad things occur along 1,100 mile coastline it’s charged with overseeing, the agency is essentially powerless to halt individual or companies violating the state Coastal Act by damaging coastal habitat, building without permission or blocking public access to the beach.
Because the agency must go through the process of filing suit against violators, there are 1,944 open cases that are likely to drag on for years or even decades.
The State Senate is expected to vote on a bill shortly (already passed by the Assembly) that will place the Coastal Commission on equal footing with more than 20 other state regulatory agencies with the power to levy fines.
From the LA Times story:
Backers of the bill including its sponsor, Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), have pointed to several high-profile cases that highlight the limits of the commission, including the extravagant June wedding of Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder and former president of Facebook. His nuptials violated the Coastal Act because he built without a permit a faux cottage, artificial pond, stone bridge, elevated dance floor and other structures in the redwood forest of Big Sur.
Parker settled with the agency voluntarily for $2.5 million.
“He stepped forward,” Atkins said. “Many people don’t.”
(Nice segue, huh?)
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrain, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day 1848 – The discovery of gold in California was reported by the New York Herald. 1940 – The new Civil Aeronautics Administration awarded honorary license #1 to Orville Wright. 1964 – The first American tour by the Beatles began in San Francisco. The tour would cover 26 cities.
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