By Doug Porter
Mayoral candidate David Alvarez isn’t taking the victory laps today on the morning talk shows. He can’t. He completely lost his voice talking to voters as the special election neared.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting this morning, Faulconer received 89,043 votes, Alvarez 52,283 votes, and Fletcher 49,645 votes. There remain as many as 34,500 mail and provisional ballots still to be counted. By shortly after 10pm last night Alvarez had moved into second place and his lead grew throughout the night.
What little life was left in his vocal chords was expended as he thanked supporters last night at a rally held in the old Weber bakery building in the heart of the neighborhood he came from. Back in the day the bakery marketed its white bread as the ideal food for the white bread leaders of the community.
From a 1931 Evening Tribune supplement:
“The big business man eats good white bread and milk because that food keeps him well fed, alert — able to cope with every problem quickly and efficiently.”
Today the 43,000 square foot structure has been repurposed as Bread & Salt, a multi-use office/workshop/gallery. The very mixed demographics of the overflow crowd last night were suggestive of the actual make up of a San Diego that has evolved away from its era of white bread dominance. Draft beer and Tecate in cans washed down the free tacos dispensed from the food truck adjacent to the building.
The election night parties of the three top candidates were an accurate reflection of their campaigns’ appeal. Former Assembly Nathan Fletcher’s campaign hosted an event at their campaign headquarters in a soul-less Mission Valley office building. The enthusiastic crowds were professionals; not too white collar and not too Caucasian.
The party wound down not long after election results came in suggesting a third place finish. One participant texted me wanting to know if they were serving up craft beer over at the Alvarez party.
City Councilman Kevin Faulconer’s event was at the historic US Grant Hotel, symbolic of an era when tycoons ruled the city and much of the riff-raff present at the other candidate’s parties knew their place (or went to jail, in the case of the unions). Business attire was the preferred costume. Cocktails were the beverage of choice.
Smug satisfaction permeated the air as the GOP’s consensus candidate coasted to a first place win. The Traitor (Fletcher) had been vanquished. Compromise with those pesky neighborhoods at the expense of downtown developers could be dispatched with mere lip service. As one tweet noted, “San Diego republicans way more excited to spike the football in Fletcher’s face than they are about Faulconer’s win.”
The plan for the next round is simple: Kevin smiles a lot, while his buddies “independently” gin up fear about Another Filner with a dash of (wink, wink) racism.
Rising from Relative Obscurity
Just three months ago City Councilman David Alvarez barely registered as a known political entity in San Diego. Outside of his council district, hardly anybody knew who he was. And the notion that he’d be seriously contending for Mayor of the nation’s eighth largest city would have been considered absurd.
All that changed when labor leader Mickey Kasparian refused to buy into the backroom consensus that Nathan Fletcher would be the guy to replace Bob Filner. One account suggests he was miffed at being informed after the fact. Another suggests he and others felt Fletcher had yet to prove his bona fides as a new-found friend of labor.
Other candidates names were floated and sunk in the weeks before the crucial labor council endorsement: Donna Frye, Todd Gloria, Lori Saldana and Toni Atkins are names I heard on the grapevine.
City Councilman David Alvarez emerged as the man in the plan. With his squeaky clean image, Latino heritage, work ethic and reputation as a straight shooter, he hit the campaign trail running hard.
Much has been made of the fundraising prowess that the labor council brought to the table. A million and a half plus dollars is nothing to sneeze at. But it wasn’t the TV ads the endorsements, or the slick mailers that won the day for the Alvarez campaign.
The (not-so) secret to his success was an army of volunteers going door-to-door. Incremental increases in voter turnout in areas of the city long neglected by ‘consensus’ politicians have changed the political landscape of this city. Add this to the generally leftward drift of the California electorate and smart technologies and you have a much higher probability of winning.
Kevin Faulconer’s busloads of Young Republicans imported from around California pale in comparison to the 500+ volunteers working door to door using the resources and infrastructure that labor’s networks and funding brought to the table for Alvarez.
As the Fletcher campaign gets (which will probably happen shortly after I hit ‘publish’) around to conceding, it’s not about the vote count.
Deep rifts occurred during the dark days of the Filner saga. Fingers were pointed. Accusations were made. Feelings were hurt. And the Fletcher campaign ultimately ended up being the repository for those partisan activists who demanded Mayor Bob’s resignation. Those who stayed loyal or refused to enter the fray tended towards the Alvarez camp.
That rift needs to healed. It’s much deeper than many people are willing to acknowledge. And some people just won’t get over it.
Fortunately, the holidays should provide a break from the political mania that’s defined San Diego politics for the past six months. Both Democratic camps need each other in the face of the Republican onslaught that’s sure to come shortly after 2014 dawns.
FYI– The Registrar of Voters estimates turnout to have been at 33%.
About That $13 Billion JP Morgan Settlement
The news media been all agog over the “record setting” settlement with one of the big banks associated with the misdeeds leading up to the economic crisis caused by the collapse of the real estate market.
I hate to break it to you, but like most “deals” made with Wall Street types, they’re laughing all the way to their offshore depositories. Four billion dollars of that huge settlement was actually announced last month by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. As to the rest….
David Dayden at Salon.com breaks it down:
Almost none of this represents a real penalty for the bank. It performs anti-blight procedures annually in its normal course of business. Principal forbearance has minuscule long-term cost. Second liens that typically cannot be recouped are worthless to a bank, and it’s hard to say it “costs” anything to extinguish them.
The bank is even credited for writing down principal on loans owned by mortgage-backed securities investors, paying off their fine with other people’s money (the other people in this case being the very investors they defrauded!). And all the measures to help struggling homeowners actually help JPMorgan Chase in the long run, because it makes financial sense to modify loans rather than foreclose. It’s good to align financial incentives properly to force the bank to help homeowners now instead of kicking them out of their homes. But as a penalty for misconduct, it’s less than meets the eye, all told maybe 10 cents on the dollar to JPMorgan’s bottom line. Factor that in and you get a $5.4 billion deal.
As a side note, the principal reductions will actually hurt homeowners more than they help them, unless Congress extends the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act. If not, all principal reductions of this type will be taxable income for the homeowner. Poor people who need principal write-downs to save their house don’t typically have bags of cash lying around to pay off tax bills they didn’t think they’d get. The hardship exemptions for homeowners who cannot pay the tax require significant tax planning, the functional equivalent of declaring bankruptcy to the IRS. It will be a nightmare for homeowners who get blessed with this “gift.”
Meanwhile, almost all of the deal, save a $2 billion penalty to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento to settle a civil lawsuit, is tax deductible as a business expense. Assuming a 38 percent rate for deductions (as JPMorgan does) on $7 billion in business expenses, this knocks another $2.66 billion off the real cost to JPMorgan Chase. A ballyhooed $13 billion settlement winds up being closer to $2.74 billion. That’s less than what BP or GlaxoSmithKline paid in their Justice Department settlements.
Is Your Congressman on Drugs?
A measure earlier this year tying drug testing for food stamp recipients to tests for Congressmen was treated as a joke and pushed aside. Maybe they should rethink that idea.
From Huffington Post:
In September, Rep. Trey Radel voted for Republican legislation that would allow states to make food stamp recipients pee in cups to prove they’re not on drugs. In October, police busted the Florida Republican on a charge of cocaine possession.
“It’s really interesting it came on the heels of Republicans voting on everyone who had access to food stamps get drug tested,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told BuzzFeed Tuesday. “It’s like, what?”
On This Day: 1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis ended. The Soviet Union removed its missiles and bombers from Cuba and the U.S. ended its blockade of the island. 1962 – The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was released. 1969 – The Nixon administration announced a halt to residential use of the pesticide DDT as part of a total phase out of the substance.
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