For the twelve days of Christmas I give you: The madness of 2013, one month at a time-A month by month recap of stories that appeared in the Starting Line in the past year.
By Doug Porter
#1 Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire…
It was an “aha!” moment triggered by one sentence buried deep in the latest of an ongoing series of “news stories” published in the Daily Fishwrap that triggered a larger realization for me.
The purpose of the story and others like it was to propound upon the sore loser propaganda campaign promulgated by UT-San Diego publisher Papa Doc (that’s what his employees call him) and his like minded minions: With [insert disliked politician’s name] in power we are all doomed.
This latest essay by Craig Gustafson, ran with the headline (caps theirs)
“MAYOR’S ‘RUDE, CRUDE’ MANNER STIRS DISCORD AT CITY HALL.”
Here’s the lede:
Mayor Bob Filner’s aggressive and quarrelsome nature has brought sweeping change to the culture at City Hall, but several cringe-worthy moments have his own allies questioning whether an unbridled Filner is jeopardizing the good he could do for San Diego.
The rest of the story is essentially a rehash of the various controversies ginned up by the GOP’s Lincoln Log Club (I’ve decided they needed renaming, so as not to shame the great American they claim to be named after) and our city’s conservative media, filtered through the reactions of establishmentarian figureheads deemed to lend credibility to the underlying premise.
After a few dozen paragraphs we get down to the ‘balanced’ part of the story:
He also has a constituency — labor unions and residents south of Interstate 8 — that revel in his stick-it-to-the-establishment rabble.
By the writer’s own admission a vast and densely populated area of San Diego and organizations with tens of thousands of members might, indeed, approve of the Mayor’s ‘stick-it-to-the-establishment rabble’.
We’ll never know for sure, though. He could only actually find one person to interview on that point (Norma Damashek, who contributes here regularly).
Still, there are rumblings of a recall…
So if you live South of Interstate 8 or belong to a union, I hope you can figure out where you stand in the eyes of our Daily Fishwrap.
#2 – There Was That Other Thing About…Chalk
Any doubts remaining about City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s true allegiances should be resolved by reading Dorian Hargrove’s latest reporting in the San Diego Reader.
Following the news of ‘not guilty’ verdicts on all 13 counts leveled against BofA chalker/protestor Jeff Olson, the prosecution issued a press release intended to assure the citizenry that this case was never political.
“As with most graffiti cases, Mr. Olson was offered reduction to an infraction after completing volunteer work service cleaning up graffiti,” read the statement. “His refusal resulted in the trial and his successful defense.”
So, what was this deal offer Olson that he refused? From the Reader story:
On May 16, [City Attorney] Hazard told Olson the City would drop the case if he agreed to serve 32-hours of community service, attend an 8-hour seminar by the “Corrective Behavior Institute,” pay Bank of America $6,299 in restitution for the clean-up, waive all Fourth Amendment rights guarding against search and seizures, and surrender his driver’s license for three year period.”
So on June 18, as the June 25 trial date neared, Hazard offered Olson another deal.
Olson would plead guilty to one count of vandalism, agree to serve three-years probation, pay restitution –amount undetermined, spend 24-hours cleaning up graffiti, and surrender his driver’s license for 2-years.
Remind me to count my fingers if I’m ever forced to shake hands with that Hazard guy.
So now BoA hopes we’ll forget about their role in the case so they can go back to focusing on laundering…money for drug cartels, and racial discrimination in lending practices and bid-rigging on municipal bond contracts—the mafia-style schemes that systematically stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes from nearly every city, county and state in the United States.
#3 The Tension Builds (& I Don’t See It Coming)
One pattern that should be obvious to the astute reader/viewer is that, when there’s ‘bad news’ to be had Channel10News and UT-San Diego will be first out of the gate proclaiming it loudly from the rooftops—and then quietly scaling back the story once the local trolls are incited.
Remember a few weeks ago when we heard all about Mayor Filner having a City Attorney removed from a closed-to-the-public City Council hearing?
Despite the fact that they’ve been sued as recently as April of this year for dragging their feet and obstructionist behavior when it comes to releasing public records, the City Attorney’s office miraculously released redacted transcripts of that confrontation in a mere two days. Who got those transcripts? Channel10News
As we should have learned with Darrell Issa’s redacted IRS transcripts, what constitutes confidential information is often in the eye of the politics of the beholder. As we learned on Wednesday, City Council President Todd Gloria said the vote necessary to legally release that transcript never took place.
Now attorney Cory Briggs is suing the City, looking to get an unredacted copy of that transcript. Dorian Hargrove quotes the lawsuit:
“[San Diegans for Open Government] brings this lawsuit under the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”). San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith are locked in what appears to many onlookers like a no-holds-barred political death spiral, with each trying to undermine or humiliate the other on practically every aspect of the other’s essential job functions. What they cannot seem to appreciate–or perhaps they hate each other so much that they just don’t care–is that they are taking the City down with them,” reads the lawsuit.
“Anyone who regularly seeks information from the City under the CPRA knows that a two-day response to a request for public records is about as rare as Halley’s Comet–even when the records already exist at the time the request is made. Furthermore, the redacted transcript omits numerous statements by other participants in the closed-session meeting, leaving the public able to do nothing more than speculate about those participants’ role in the Filner-Jones encounter.”
#4 LibraryGate: The Scandal That Wasn’t
It really is true that no stone can be left unturned in UT-San Diego’s quest to denigrate Mayor Bob Filner. This week’s “Watchdog” example involves a reporter with a questionable background, a moving company and an abysmal level of ignorance on the subject of libraries.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with such things, the main branch of San Diego’s Public Library is moving into a new building. Not only are collections and reference materials long-buried in the bowels of the old building being cleaned up and rediscovered, additional genealogy collections from archives throughout the region are being merged into the new facility.
Moving the contents of the old location into the new digs is a huge task, and it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a company specializing in such tasks was retained to handle the job. After all, you wouldn’t want two guys and a moving van moving a collection that includes thousands of rare resource materials, many of them unique to the region.
There are less than two dozen companies in the US recognized by the American Library Association for their expertise. The librarian’s internet resource, Libraryworks.com
So the UT-San Diego story, entitled “Library Move a $450K Haul for Chicago Firm”, starts off interviewing Valarie Brocato, employed by Hallett movers (Listed in all three guides) to oversee the relocation of 1.2 million items. She tries to explain to the reporter the value of the service her company provides and the need for such a specialized service.
And then we get to the heart of the matter. Hallett movers is from, gasp, Chicago. People flew in for the job.
About half their crew is staying at the Town and Country, a Mission Valley “Resort” with “swimming pools, a spa and a white linen restaurant”.
In reality it’s a sixty year old facility, rated 2 Stars on Yelp, 3 Stars on Google Hotels , and 3.5 Stars on Expedia that gets plenty of it’s business via last minute Priceline type bookings and the convention facilities it offers. Not a dump, but certainly not likely to be an overpriced burden on taxpayers, either.
“There’s no one in town involved with that move” says an executive of a local moving company (that didn’t bid on the job) in the UT story. “People are stunned”. The on-line (but not the print version) of the story goes on to inform us that his company didn’t bid on the job because “127 pages of bid specifications were onerous”.
Although the reporter didn’t have records of the bidding process for the story (they’ve asked) and Mayor Filner’s representatives did not answer questions about why the hired the company, it’s clearly inferred this whole moving deal is supposed to be an affront to taxpayers and a waste of money
The bidding was back in January. Here’s Matt Potter’s article. You’d think that a reporter would want to know that kind of stuff before publishing a story.
Lest there be any doubt about the intent of the story, there’s this Tweet from UT-SD:
Rather than hire locals, San Diego is hosting out-of-state workers (at the Town & Country) for move into new library
Waaay down in the story is also the inconvenient fact that 25 of the workers involved in the move are “local students and library experts”.
#5 A Hint of Trouble Via Team First Lady
Mayor Filner’s significant other Bronwyn Ingram made waves yesterday with an email to the “Team First Lady” volunteers working on homeless issues informing them that she and the Mayor were no longer a couple. From San Diego City Beat:
“I am extremely disappointed and heartbroken, both for what Team First Lady could have accomplished, and for me, personally; however, this is the only action I can take given the devolvement of our personal relationship. I wish Bob the best and sincerely hope those who have worked so hard on behalf of Team First Lady will continue their efforts in the same spirit of generosity for the communities of San Diego.”
# 6 Stop the Rumors, I Want to Get Off
[July 10th Note to Readers:] I’ll be taking a couple of days off to work on a side project. The Starting Line column will return Monday. And I haven’t yet decided whether or not to wear my blue fuzzy slippers to the Society of Professional Journalists dinner on Thursday. Cheers.
SIDE NOTE: I thought I was taking a few days off…then Donna Frye, et. al., held a press conference and the sh*t hit the fan for Bob Filner…
#7 The First Press Conference About Hizzonor’s Behavior
…I have no crystal ball. The actions (or lack thereof) by his publicly known accusers will decide how far the media feeding frenzy goes. One local TV station is even promising grainy black and white video shot by “private investigators” showing Filner “with women”.
My bet is that Mayor Filner’s statement came after a lot of negotiation with leaders on the Democratic side of the equation. Lori Saldaña is hardly the only woman in this city that supported Bob Filner through clenched teeth in the name of party unity despite hearing accounts of his behavior.
And if you say okay, “Bob Filner, go away”, what does that accomplish for the actual people of San Diego who aren’t walking around with a Carl DeMaio sized chip on their shoulders? What is the end game here?
I’ve received dozens of emails (thank you all) asking my opinion and asking for advice on this situation. I hate to sound like every athlete who’s ever been interviewed on ESPN, but “It is what it is”.
I do have some points I’d like to make to progressives:
- Don’t eat your own, progressives. Just because we don’t like what Donna Frye, et.al, are saying, there’s no excuse to attack them.
- Don’t let the media goad you into participating in “slut shaming”. Don’t feed the social media frenzy that will no doubt erupt when and if any of Filner’s accusers are identified. Just ignore it.
- No doubt the mighty righties downtown that have been whispering about a recall since the election results were counted will go public in the next couple of days. Whatever you think about Bob Filner and his actions, don’t give aid and comfort to the likes of Carl DeMeano and Snidely Whiplash (Tony Krvaric). If it comes to a recall, go vote your conscience.
- End game, end game, end game. What’s best for San Diego? Know any city that’s benefited from public floggings? Let us not forget that Mayor Filner is one (very deeply flawed) human being. Ideas and values about governance also count. And if we’re going to replace him, let’s make sure we get a winner for San Diego.
In closing I’d like to remind everybody just how effective the last recall in California was… oh, Arnold, can you take a bow now?
#8 The Accusations Pile Up; Carl DeMaio Makes a Funny
The ‘too many words…too few facts!’ phase of the allegations of sexual harassment aimed at San Diego’s Mayor Bob Filner is ending today, as more specifics are emerging.
Whether we like it not, whether it’s fair or not, it appears to me that hizzonor’s political career is ending.
Bob Filner, however, doesn’t think so. The Mayor released a statement this morning announcing that he would not resign and that Walt Ekard, former county administrator has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer for the City of San Diego.
“I’m not going to resign, and here’s why,” said Filner in a press release. “As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions. But as a citizen of this country, I also expect – and am entitled to – due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.”
The saga of Mayor Filner’s fall from grace has provided me with a lot of food for thought. Feelings of betrayal brought on by each new revelation/allegation are countered by anger at the smarmy triumphalism of evil people eager to exploit the failings of one human being in their quest for political and economic hegemony.
The hypocrisy of the local GOP establishment’s ‘due process’ stance is striking. Carl DeMaio’s Facebook page sported a ‘We Shall Overcome’ button, mocking the history of a fallen civil rights activist. The more Filner fails, the more government fails, the better it is for those whose utopian vision most closely matches Somalia.
#9 Speculation About a Replacement Begins…
As it became increasingly clear over the weekend that specifics were soon coming in to buttress the general allegations against Mayor Filner, the behind the scenes posturing over his successor reached a feverish pitch. Of course, these stories are all unsubstantiated for the most part; nobody wants to jump the gun.
Heir apparent among the Republicans is Kevin Faulconer, unless Carl DeMaio decides to step back from his already well funded campaign for the Congressional seat currently occupied by Scott Peters.
On the Democratic side of the equation, the SD Reader posted a story about a rainbow-ized placard made by a Hillcrest Realtor: “Todd Gloria For Mayor 2013 – Let’s Make San Diego Fabulous”. It suggested this was evidence of a set up or plot to take down Filner. Katie Keach, Deputy Chief of Staff for Gloria wrote in to deny that her boss had anything to do with the sign. And the realtor (Don Cassidy) chimed in, saying, “We made this poster to be silly.”
None-the-less, the conspiracy theorists continue to prattle on. I’d be real surprised if Gloria did anything to get in the way of his pre-destined course for Susan Davis’ Congressional seat.
Rumors about Nathan’s Fletcher’s willingness to take San Diego’s top spot saw the light of day with a posting in SDRostra, the local conserv blog.
According to conversations downtown today, former Republican, former independent, current Democrat Nathan Fletcher was all over the phones today calling potential donor types. The message: “Filner is done, Lorena won’t challenge me, Kehoe and Saldana are too liberal to win, Frye is nuts, and I have labor support no matter what other Democrat is in the race.”
My own sources in organized labor tell me that any presumption of support for Fletcher is simply not true. Not to be deterred, the conspiracy set of at SDRostra is also claiming that Christine Kehoe is the front runner for the post by virtue of her ability to draw upon the rivers of gold flowing through Sacramento
#10 Tony Kvaric Becomes a Feminist
…Virtually nobody is publicly defending the behaviors Mayor Filner is accused of. To my knowledge there is no “We like to grope and we’re proud” lobby. Although it is kind of weird seeing just how ardent GOP top dog Tony Krvarik has been on Twitter in defending women. One could only wish that passion would extend to the Republican positions on a variety of other issues concerning that gender.
Still, it’s made me feel kind of unclean, appearing to dismiss Bob Filner’s aberrant conduct. How could I NOT want him gone?
Then I had an epiphany yesterday at the “Due Process for Filner” press conference.
As I looked over the crowd I was struck by the number of people I recognized who’d been involved in grass roots community organizing and civil rights struggles in some of San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods. Some of them I remembered from four decades back. They hailed from Black, Brown, Filipino constituencies.
These were people who’ve spent their whole life fighting for racial and economic justice.
These were the people who have traditionally been given crumbs from the table of plenty dished up to the downtown development (often) funded via the public treasury.
Bob Filner may be all those things that his accusers say he his. But these folks don’t see anybody else on the horizon that will give them a fighting chance at a fair shake for their communities.
They don’t have to be told about the kingmaker meetings at Congressman Juan Varga’s house. Or the behind-the-scenes big money effort to draft Nathan Fletcher. They know it’s likely none of the schemes include their interests.
That’s why they’re supporting Bob Filner. Successfully make the argument that his policies will continue without him and the game could change. And that ain’t gonna happen.
#11 When Did I Stop Beating My Wife?
The pressure for all opionistas/public persons to join the call for Mayor Filner’s resignation is continual and unrelenting. But can you equate this pressure (figuratively) to an old fashioned lynch mob?
Upon reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘vigilante’ is a better term.
It’s more in keeping with San Diego’s long history of tar and feathering/ running people out of town on a rail/or dumping them in the desert to waste away. In more recent history we’ve had threats and actions taken against college professors Herbert Marcuse and Peter Bohmer, the actions of pro and anti animal rights groups, and the rebirth of the Minutemen as a an anti-immigrant group.
Today’s vigilantes live in the world of social media. It’s not a problem unique to the debate about Mayor Filner or San Diego.
Here in San Diego the position has emerged that, if you’re not willing to call for Mayor Bob’s resignation, you’re fair game. Thus one line gets lifted out of context from an analysis posted at the Site That Can NOT Be Named (that’s us) yesterday (before the latest press conference) and gets broadcast via the Voice of San Diego Morning Report implying that (SDFP Columnist) Jim Miller is somehow the enemy of women and friend of groping politicians…
On the other hand if you ARE calling for the mayor to quit, you’re also fair game. Hizzoner’s defenders are out of hand. So much I won’t even offer up a link. I’ve seen the posts attacking Irene McCormack and Gloria Allred. Those people need to take their meds…or meditate…or something.
Individuals in both groups seem to lack the mental acumen to understand nuance. In their world it’s “For or Against”. That’s all there is…An inability to discern between the causes and implications also seems to be a shared trait.
The mayor’s alleged actions caused this crisis in San Diego, not some rightwing/secret/racist downtown cabal. But his removal has consequences that need to be considered. There are NOT just two sides here. I refuse to be placed in either of those boxes.
It’s those consequences that I (we) keep talking about. I won’t be cajoled into joining the Filner should resign crowd. I know ultimately he’s finished as an elected official, a fate he’s earned in a big time and disgusting way. But I see no benefit from standing on the virtual street corners of the city demanding that he quit.
The world won’t end if the mayor goes through the legal processes that got underway yesterday. All the puffery about negative effects for the city should he stay in office is just that, puffery.
#12 The Recall Gets Rolling
…KUSI actually got the Mayor on tape at an earlier function, talking about things other than the turmoil surrounding him, and recording hizzoner urging everybody to “take a deep breath” about the scandal.
That deep breath turned into a deep gasp for many later in the day as KPBS rolled out four very prominent San Diego women talking about unwanted advances.
Last night San Diego’s Democratic Party voted 34-6 for a resolution calling upon Bob Filner to resign. Those hoping for a recall vote have announced that, unless the Mayor resigns by 5pm they’re ready to proceed with collecting signatures.
This morning Delores Jacobs, head of The San Diego LGBT Community Center, announced via Facebook that The Center’s board of directors has called for the resignation of Mayor Bob Filner, who has been accused by a number of women of sexual harassment.
And the collateral damage from the ‘scandal by the sea’ continues to mount. People are resigning. Communities and constituencies are (often) bitterly divided.
Local Republicans are doing their best to deepen these divisions, publicly telling former Filner supporters they still “own” last fall’s electoral victory.
“They got him elected, just as guilty.” tweeted one GOP sock-puppet account.
To hear them tell it, every Democrat in San Diego should be branded with an “F” on their forehead. GOP alpha dog Tony Krvarik says that the San Diego Free Press gets a “K” as in ‘#kooks’. (We’re exploring the marketing possibilities of that endorsement.)
Former mayor candidate and Republican-turned-Independent-
And yet the Mayor, the man in the center of all this chaos, remains unmoved.
I repeat what I said last Friday: “Those hoping to shame hizzoner with sordid details and finger wagging have failed to comprehend his obstinacy.”
I doubt his announcement today will stem the tide of denunciation sweeping over City Hall, but Filner’s move [ed- going to rehab] will put the political ball squarely in the camp of those seeking a recall.
Tomorrow: August’s Greatest Hits from The Starting Line
On This Day: 1929 – Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played “Auld Lang Syne” as a New Year’s Eve song for the first time. 1967 – The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game is known as the Ice Bowl since it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero. 1969 – Jimi Hendrix introduced his new Band of Gypsys at a show that was recorded and later released as the live album “Band of Gypsys.”
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Here’s the rest of this series:
June *Issa’s Joe McCarthy Imitation, DeMaio’s Koch Connection and #filnereverywhere
May * Bigger Than Watergate, Dumber Than Obamacare and More Dangerous Than a Leftist Bagman
April * Cochella (Twice), Taxes, Terrorists, and Testing
March *Sequestration, Taxifornication, Misinformation, and the Great Tourism Recession in San Diego
February * Guns, Governors, God and the Gipper
January * Ted Nugent’s Guns, Obama’s Gays, Manchester’s Minions and Huffpost’s Sideboobs