By Doug Porter
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner remains in office after more than a month of non-stop accusations. A recall movement claims to be building up a head of steam. Calls for his resignation are being reported daily. Those who haven’t joined in the mania are being shamed both in the mainstream and social media. There’s even a protest march slated for Sunday.
What’s not being reported is anything current about hizzoner. Bob Filner -the man- hasn’t been seen in over two weeks. And while his minions are going through the motions of defending him and proclaiming everything is okie-dokie at City Hall, his absence speaks more loudly than any press release.
A news vacuum always needs to filled, and Carl DeMaio has stepped up to the plate this week with a media blitz, hoping to take advantage. He’s been featured at Roll Call, Yahoo News, 10News, KOGO radio and The Hill. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
He’s not running for Mayor. Yet.
Republican Carl DeMaio told a local news channel Tuesday that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s troubles have shifted his attention from his congressional bid to ousting his embattled former foe from office.
When asked by a reporter from San Diego’s local ABC affiliate whether he is “100 percent focused” on his congressional campaign, DeMaio responded, ”No I’m actually focused a lot more on removing Bob Filner from City Hall.”
From Yahoo News:
DeMaio told Yahoo News that he would “absolutely” sign a petition to recall Filner, but was coy when asked if he would seek the mayor’s office.
“There are benefits and liability in weighing into that question right now,”
DeMaio told Yahoo News. “I’m going to continue to focus on how we can rid our city of the cancer that is Bob Filner. Until he departs that office, our city will be held hostage and our people’s business will not get done.”
Right now the former City Councilman can have it both ways. He can continue his campaign for Democrat Scott Peters’ Congressional seat and wait to see if a recall effort succeeds at triggering a mayoral contest.
Should the top job at City Hall appear to be available via the recall, DeMaio is uniquely poised to win. He’s got a high profile, money in the bank and only needs a plurality of voters in a contest unlikely to draw large numbers at the polls.
If and when Bob Filner resigns, DeMaio would be more likely to stick with the Congressional contest, where he’s assured of large amounts of money and national political backing. The effort to unseat Scott Peters will be more of challenge and poses more risk.
Todd Gloria has a Sad
City Council Todd Gloria is also buffing up his image. Yesterday he fired a shot across the Mayor’s bow, vowing to usurp his intergovernmental relations responsibilities, saying that Filner has allowed the city to go without the services of lobbyists for eight months
San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria sent a memorandum to Filner on Wednesday requesting an update on the city’s representation at the state and federal level.
Gloria said that Filner, shortly after he took office, terminated the contracts with the firms hired to lobby state and federal officials on the city’s behalf. Members of the council have repeatedly asked the mayor’s staff about new representation and were told new contracts soon would be awarded.
“Sadly, eight months have passed without any substantive public action on your part, and the city remains without a voice in our state and national capitols, as far as I’m aware,” Gloria wrote.
Gloria held a press conference this morning to announce his office and Balboa Park Conservancy have joined forces to make WiFi available in much of the park.
Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña Tweeted : “Great news! Now we can fixate on small screens and ignore what’s going on around us in a beautiful, historic place!”
The UT-San Diego has strategically run a story or two lamenting the Mayor’s low-budget reconfiguring of the traffic flow in Balboa Park, trying to associate Filner’s moves with claims that museums and restaurants are suffering. Of course, there were no actual humans making actual claims, the tales of financial woes were all based on suppositions and anecdotes.
I learned this morning the tiny Timken Museum, located just off the Plaza de Panama, had its best month ever in June.
The Blame Game
For those of you unfamiliar with the story about California’s ex-governor, he went on to win in the 2003 special election triggered by a recall of Gov. Gray Davis, despite the women’s stories being published by the LA Times. We’re not just talking about ‘grabby-grabby’ by The Arnold.
As the Filner sage continues to unfold, I’m hearing the questions asked more and more: “Should the press have investigated more” and “Why wasn’t he stopped before the election?”
The sages of the local media scene gathered last night at a meeting room in the KPBS building near San Diego State to discuss these questions under the auspices of the local Society of Professional Journalists. I followed the event via Twitter, thanks to excellent coverage via the UT’s Matt Hall on the SDSPJ account.
The answer was… “We tried, honest.” (It was more nuanced that that; click on the links above for details.)
‘Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda’ is a tough game. And it’s even tougher when harassment is the issue. The Atlantic Magazine has a good read up about the dynamics of how the local Democratic Party dealt with (or didn’t) allegations and suspicions about Mayor Filner. And, for those who think reporting on a story like this is easy, I suggest reading this account penned by then-LA Times editor John S. Carroll about the difficulties involved in airing this kind of dirty laundry.
Business as Usual: Downtown Group Accused of Mismanagement
The downtown non-profit group responsible for administering that Property and Business Improvement District, also known as the Clean and Safe Program is facing a lawsuit alleging mismanagement and misuse of taxpayer funds.
Asserting that, “Any agreement between City and Partnership or anyone else that purports to authorize or ratify the expenditure of PBID monies in a manner that violates California Streets and Highways Code…is illegal and unenforceable”, San Diegans for Open Government is asking for a court order directing the non-profit to refund residents for all illegal expenditures.
From Dorian Hargrove’s story at the San Diego Reader:
The lawsuit alleges that the non-profit, run by former Chief of Staff for ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, Kris Michell, has used the the $5.5 million in annual assessments with little or no oversight, spending as it sees fit on high-priced consultants and non-permitted services.
Established in 2000, Clean and Safe is funded by assessments levied on downtown property owners. The assessments pay for a variety of enhanced services such as tree-trimming, sidewalk cleaning, security patrols, and maintenance of water fountains and neighborhood parks.
Over the course of the past decade however, the non-profit Downtown San Diego Partnership has expanded the list of services in an attempt to turn downtown into the economic engine that drives the City and County.
It has done so by funneling hundreds of thousands in assessments to programs meant to cut down on “street disorder.” In other words, spending money to rid downtown of panhandlers, people sleeping in entrances and on city sidewalks, public intoxication and public urination; issues that “detract from the business being conducted” in downtown.
The problem, as the lawsuit points out, is those services aren’t anywhere in the state law that regulates assessment districts.
Free Munchies for “Hempfest”
In case you missed it, voters in Washington State legalized the personal consumption and possession of marijuana last fall.
The 85,000 people attending each day of the three day “Hempfest”, a more than two decade old gathering that started out as a legalization protest and free concert might be shocked at this year’s event to see the ‘man’ out in force.
From Talking Points Memo:
…the Seattle police — who have long turned a lenient eye on Hempfest tokers — don’t plan to be writing tickets or making arrests. They’ll be busy handing out Doritos.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, department spokesman and junk-food-dispenser-in-chief. “It’s meant to be ironic. The idea of police passing out Doritos at a festival that celebrates pot, we’re sure, is going to generate some buzz.”
The idea isn’t just to satisfy some munchies. The department has affixed labels to 1,000 bags of Doritos urging people to check out a question-and-answer post on its website, titled “Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle.” It explains some of the nuances of Washington’s law: that adults can possess up to an ounce but can’t sell it or give it away, that driving under the influence of pot is illegal, and that — festivals aside — public use is illegal.
Keeping the GOP Circus Atmosphere Alive
The next sets of Presidential primary contests are merely a glimmer in CNN’s eye, but that hasn’t stopped the early rounds of quibbling and silliness in the news media.
From the Washington Examiner:
The Republican National Committee, already threatening to block CNN and NBC from hosting 2016 primary debates if they air planned features on Hillary Clinton, is also looking to scrap the old model of having reporters and news personalities ask the questions at candidate forums.
Miffed that their candidates were singled out for personal questions or CNN John King’s “This or That,” when he asked candidates quirky questions like “Elvis or Johnny Cash,” GOP insiders tell Secrets that they are considering other choices, even a heavyweight panel of radio bigs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.
What could possibly go wrong?
On This Day: 1877 – Thomas Edison wrote to the president of the Telegraph Company in Pittsburgh, PA. The letter stated that the word, “hello” would be a more appropriate greeting than “ahoy” when answering the telephone. 1969 – The Woodstock Music and Art Fair began inBethel, NY. The three-day concert featured 24 bands and drew over 400,000 people. 1986 – The U.S. Senate approved a package of economic sanctions against South Africa. The ban included the importing of steel, uranium, textiles, coal, and produce from South Africa.
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