By Jim Miller
If the environment matters to you and you had to choose between a candidate with a 48% lifetime voting record on environmental issues from the California League of Conservation Voters and a 38% lifetime voting record from the Sierra Club or a candidate with an 88% voting record on environmental issues, you’d think the choice would be clear.
That is, of course, unless this choice involves Nathan Fletcher, the magic environmentalist, whose husky whispers of promise and inside game voodoo can make uncomfortable facts disappear like dust in the wind.
Last week San Diego Politico posted an interesting piece on how the San Diego League of Conservation Voters’ endorsement process fell prey to the Fletcher fairy dust as they handed him their endorsement despite the horrible lifetime voting record of 48% he has earned from their own organization. And it’s only that high because of a few decent votes that Fletcher made when he was positioning himself for his first failed mayoral run. Before that, way back in the prehistoric era of 2011, Fletcher’s lifetime score with this group had been an even more dismal 35%. Combine that with his rotten Sierra Club score and any reasonable person would have to give him an F for his record on environmental issues.
Some of the lowlights of Fletcher’s environmental voting record include missing a vote on opposing offshore drilling, missing a vote on a groundwater monitoring program, missing a vote on funding state parks, voting no on marine oil shipping regulations, voting no on solar power energy credits, voting no on renewable energy requirements, and on and on. You put that record alongside his stellar 92% record with the Chamber of Commerce and you get the picture.
Who was the person with the 88% record? You guessed it, David Alvarez. So why did the San Diego League of Conservation Voters make this baffling endorsement? As San Diego Politico notes:
This should have been an easy endorsement for Alvarez had the decision been based on the facts about the environment. Instead, the San Diego League of Conservation Voters voted to endorse Fletcher based on speculation about electability. This decision, especially after giving Alvarez the highest environmental rating last year, immediately calls into question the legitimacy of the LCV.
Their website claims that they engage in election activities on behalf of the environment. The reality has been releasing an annual report card and maybe a single mailing per cycle. The chatter within the progressive communities is that the LCV has become a shell organization that exists to provide environmental credentials to candidates and campaigns that need it whether they deserve it or not.
And the odd thing is that the LCV doesn’t make its decision with the expectation of monies or favors. All it has is its brand. Which is why this de-legitimization is so baffling.
Ignoring their own research, as well as the environment, for political expediency makes sense when you look at who is on the board. Supporters of Fletcher were successful in adding the LCV name to his mayoral campaign even though his environmental record pales next to Alvarez.
Who were those supporters of Fletcher? When I contacted a board member for details I was told that they could not publically discuss deliberations or say exactly who was in on the vote, but if you check the website of the San Diego League of Conservation Voters you will find that the board includes (surprise!) leading Fletcher promoter Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez along with Evan McLaughlin and Humberto Peraza, both members of her legislative staff. Alonso Gonzalez, chief of staff of Fletcher supporter Assemblyman Ben Hueso, is also on the board. And LCV President Livia Borak is an attorney in the Coast Law Group, whose cofounder and Managing Partner is none other than Marco Gonzalez, Lorena’s brother and himself a Fletcher endorser.
According to KPBS, it appears that while the Alvarez supporters honorably recused themselves from the vote, the Fletcher crowd did not feel the same obligation: “Gabriel Solmer, an aide for Alvarez, said she quit her position on the league’s board over the endorsement process. She said while she recused herself from the vote because of her ties to Alvarez, board members who had publicly endorsed Fletcher or worked with him were allowed to vote.”
Once you know that, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how you can transform a mayoral candidate with a failing lifetime score on environmental issues into the second coming of John Muir. And while this is amusing fodder for the SD Rostra, it should be no laughing matter for those who want to think that conservationist groups care more about politicians’ actual records on the environment than their perceived electability.
After the vote, two of the board members not aligned with the Fletcher fix resigned immediately and the consequent endorsement now stands as a kind of sick joke on local environmentalists and just one more example of how the advocates for the magic Democrat are doing everything they can to split and bamboozle San Diego’s progressive movement from labor to rank and file Democrats, to community activists, to environmentalists.
But that’s just what you have to do when the only record you can run on doesn’t stand up in the clear light of day. Indeed if you used the San Diego League of Conservation Voters’ own ratings you’d find that Nathan Fletcher’s rotten record doesn’t just pale in comparison to David Alvarez who tops their list.
Even if we are generous and go with the California League of Conservation Voters’ lifetime score of 48% rather than the significantly lower score Fletcher earns from the Sierra Club, Nathan loses out to just about everyone. Kevin Faulconer, the dreaded Republican that Fletcher was anointed to save us from, comes in with a 70% record, a good 22% ahead of the magic environmentalist. Well, you say, at least he’s better than the evil Carl DeMaio, right? Think again: DeMaio comes in with a failing 59% rating that is still a good eleven points above Fletcher’s 48%.
Poof! There goes the fairy dust and all you’re left with is sick feeling and some toxic politics.
But, wait, there’s no need to hope a magic Democrat will save us, when there is a true environmentalist Democrat in the race named David Alvarez.
As I’ve written here before, the real choice in this election is which Democrat will make it to the run-off against Faulconer. We have a clear choice between a faux Democrat chosen by a small group of insiders to help establish a machine driven by loyalty to political power brokers and moneyed interests or a Democratic candidate that comes out of the same grassroots movement that won the last election and will actually represent its values not just pretend to do so.
The folks at the Sierra Club clearly see that as they are set to announce their endorsement of David Alvarez today. And as the momentum for Alvarez continues to build at the grassroots level it appears that, after November 19th, we might just have a run-off that means something more than choosing which green-washed wing of the business party you’d prefer to rule.