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 last year.
By Doug Porter
#1 Doug Manchester’s Two State Solution
The editorial board at UT-San Diego finally crossed the line from delusional to just flat out insane this weekend. After reading Sunday’s paper a rational human being might even be open to arguments suggesting that the satirical Onion website has surreptitiously taken over our Daily Fishwrap. But this weekend’s fare wasn’t funny…
Our city has many pressing issues, as the many debates leading up the special mayor election prove beyond a doubt. Now UT-SD is trying to frame the upcoming runoff in the context of our city’s desperate need for a new football stadium, saying they’ll step in from Day One to pressure our next mayor to “get it done”.
Forget those potholes, declining city services or neighborhood empowerment; a sports venue tops all those needs.
If that singularity of bad policy wasn’t enough, they’ve also come out full bore for secession. California, they reason, needs to be split in two to save us from the evils of the nanny state and excessive taxation. They’ve even published a wish list of conservative wet dreams they’d like to see included in a new constitution…
…Secession has always been the last refuge of sore losers in American politics. A contingent of liberals who mumbled the “S” word after GW Bush won the 2004 elections; and the War Between the States are two examples that come to mind.
Historically speaking nothing compares to the cry and hue for disassociation erupting after the election of a Black President in 2008. [Not that there’s a racial connection here]
Papa Doug’s idea differs from many of them in that he’s not asking to leave the country; he just wants to split its biggest economic engine in two.
From his Sunday sermon:
It may not be necessary to destroy California in order to fix it. But it may be necessary to cut it in two, carving out a 51st state of New California where taxes are low, regulations are few and where politicians are not the lap dogs of the public-employee labor unions…
….Since California became a state — part of the Compromise of 1850 that blocked the spread of slavery to the West Coast — there have been more than 220 recorded proposals to split it into two, three or even four separate states. Most of those efforts were nothing more than symbolic acts of protest. But a handful or so were deemed serious proposals, though none have gone so far as to be approved by both houses of the Legislature and sent to Congress.
In 2011, Riverside County
I could go on for days about the disconnect from reality at play here, but my Mama told me never to feed the trolls, so I’ll restrain myself. (bwahahahahahaha)…
#2 The GOP’s Fake Healthcare Site
After two months of regularly hijacking the 24 hour news cycle with horror stories about the Affordable Healthcare Act, Republicans here in California reached a new low this week. They rolled out a fake Covered California website via mailings to constituents (apparently paid for by taxpayers) from GOP Assembly members. Taxpayers also paid for creation of the faux website, registered with GoDaddy.com
Rather than inform users about their healthcare options, clicking on highlighted topics like “Don’t Have Insurance” leads to negative news stories, filled with misinformation or out of date data. The idea, of course, is to discourage people from signing up; part of the GOP strategy to make Obamacare collapse due to lack of interest.
This is shameless and breathtaking in the scope of its misdirection and misinformation. If you had any doubts about the fact that these people care for nobody but the rich, visiting this bit of Astroturf on the web should put your concerns to rest.
#3 Motive for Arrest of OB Hedgecutter: Revenge, Maybe?
It was all lovey-dovey earlier this week as the District Attorney’s office announced that felony charges against OB resident Vince Adame would be dismissed.
Adame (suitably attired in an OB Rag tee shirt) and Attorney Frank Gormlie (who moonlights as an editor for both SD Free Press and OB Rag) held a press conference yesterday in Ocean Beach.
From the OB Rag account of that presser, penned by Matthew Wood:
Whatever the case may be, the fight looks to be over. There is an official ending in a San Diego court room on Thursday, the 5th. It is a fitting end to an OB battle on Tuesday, in a scene that could only happen in our quirky part of town.
Gormlie, clad in a Hawaiian shirt and sports jacket, and Adame in his OB Rag t-shirt, spoke to the throng of media – four local television news stations were present, along with the U-T, Reader and other supporters. As they did, assorted locals strolled by. A man in a truck pulled up behind and stared at the cameras, hoping for his 15 seconds of fame. One of Adame’s cats even made an appearance, weaving its way between the legs of cameramen before jumping on the roof of his house just a few feet away.
San Diego Reader reporter Dave Rice went digging for a motive in this seemingly implausible miscarriage of justice.
Adame has indeed drawn the ire of many in the community, as he has lodged complaints against the handful of annual festivals that convert the pier parking lot into a concert venue. And Adame has taken an abrasive tone in his dealings with the city and police over the presence of a police trailer in the parking lot.
Adame contends that the trailer is there illegally — which is true, due to the fact that the California Coastal Commission has never permitted the trailer’s permanent installation; it has reportedly been in the parking lot since 1999.
“For years, I’ve been trying to move that trailer that’s blocking the view,” said Adame. “This [attempted prosecution] is about getting back at me,” he continued, naming two officers he believed were responsible for the charges.
#4 Up Next: A War on Solar Panels
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was in the news earlier this year for their role in fostering the “Stand Your Ground” laws made famous via the shooting of high school student Marvin Trayvon by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman.
According to internal ALEC documents published by The Guardian, ALEC estimates they’ve lost around 60 corporate members in the past two years, in the fallout over their role in promoting Stand Your Ground, voter ID, and other controversial legislation.
Eight hundred state legislators and business executive types are currently meeting in Washington DC for a policy summit. Up next is what The Guardian calls “ a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy.”
After hearing some inspirational words from government shutdown leader Senator Ted Cruz, they’re returning to state capitols around the country with pre-packaged legislative proposals with goals ranging from penalizing individual homeowners’ solar panels, weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from shutting down a polluting frack site or oil industry facility.
ALEC’s legislative analyst John Eick told The Guardian they’ll be looking closely in the coming year at how individual homeowners with solar panels are compensated for feeding surplus electricity back into the grid.
“This is an issue we are going to be exploring,” Eick said. He said Alec wanted to lower the rate electricity companies pay homeowners for direct power generation – and maybe even charge homeowners for feeding power into the grid.
Checkout this excellent example of Republi-Logic™ in action:
“As it stands now, those direct generation customers are essentially freeriders on the system. They are not paying for the infrastructure they are using. In effect, all the other non direct generation customers are being penalized,” he said.
#5 The iMayor Draws a Line in the Sand
Interim Mayor Todd Gloria has decided to draw a line in the sand against business interests seeking to overturn the Barrio Logan Community plan, telling KPBS yesterday he’s not in favor of reversing a City Council vote despite imminent referendums.
Should the rest of the Democrats on the City Council decide to stand firm on the subject this means voters citywide will weigh in on the community plan, opposed by shipbuilding interests who say a proposed nine block buffer zone is a threat to the future of their industry in San Diego.
The City Council will probably vote on whether to repeal the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update on Tuesday, Dec. 17. If the misinformation campaign waged by opponents in connection with gathering signatures for the two ballot measures is any indication, we can expect an all-out and very negative media blitz over the coming weeks.
The Barrio Logan situation also provides an excellent vehicle for understanding the differences between mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer. Alvarez grew up in the community and still suffers from asthma likely caused by industrial pollution. Faulconer used events featuring signature gatherers for the shipbuilding interests as campaign backdrops.
Among the claims made by signature gathers employed on behalf of the shipbuilders were completely fabricated tales about the Navy pulling out of the area, along with assertions the community plan was really a ploy by developers to build condominiums in Barrio Logan. In fact, no residential construction is allowed in the buffer zone.
#6 Republi-Math™ in Action
For those of you who may have missed it, the first public opinion poll of the second phase of San Diego mayoral contest was released over the weekend. It was originally embargoed for Sunday release so that sponsor UT-San Diego could benefit from the headline, but was popping up all over twitter on Saturday.
The UT-San Diego/News 10 poll showed candidates Faulconer and Alvarez in a dead heat (47-46%). This wasn’t great news for GOP bossman Tony Krvaric and his Lincoln Club cronies after they’d dumped over a million dollars into a campaign disparaging Democrat Nathan Fletcher under the assumption that David Alvraez was a weaker candidate.
The real takeaway from the poll results was that since the mayoral primary Kevin Faulconer had gained 5% with voters while David Alvarez’s numbers had increased by 19%. It’s early in the campaign for polling numbers to be taken too seriously—after all early polling in the last contest showed Fletcher leading the pack—but this isn’t the kind of momentum that Walmart, Papa Doug Manchester and other big donors were hoping for.
Rubin Barrales, who now heads up the Republican GROW effort to scare up a few Latino voters for the Party, used in his experience in fighting losing battles to put a positive spin on the survey by adding those numbers together with Nov. 19th’s results and dividing by two to come up with an “average” number to Tweet out to loyalists:
— Ruben Barrales (@RubenBarrales) December 8, 2013
Ah, Republi-math… It’s always good for a laugh.
#7 “We Sincerely Wish Mr. Filner Well in His Rehabilitation”
The headline on today’s column is the language used by the UT-San Diego editorial board today in summing up what they called “the final chapter” of the Bob Filner saga. Today’s column will look at some of the coverage around the nation of former Mayor Bob Filner’s sentencing yesterday. And I’ll chime in with a few thoughts.
Between reading the coverage and today’s UT-San Diego editorial I’ve concluded San Diegans are expected to draw the following conclusions:
- San Diego just experienced a disaster. (Has the Red Cross been notified?)
- Bob Filner’s political supporters should to be exiled. (Will Siberia do?)
- The news media failed to print enough rumors. (Except about Carl DeMaio)
- The voters were stupid not to listen to Lynchester Logic™.
Just in case we, the public, haven’t “learned our lesson” from this squalid affair, our Daily Fishwrap featured Logan Jenkins warning us that the former mayor might indeed seek a role in local civic affairs in the future. Look for additional Filner Fearmongering in your mailbox in coming weeks as the Lincoln Club types desperation deepens in their quest to disparage Democrat David Alvarez’s mayoral campaign.
The lede on the front page coverage of the former Mayor’s sentencing at UT-San Diego went for maximum drama – “Bob Filner: Councilman. Congressman. Mayor. Felon.” There is an additional front page story from a victim saying he deserved more punishment, a sentiment reflected in areadership poll, wherein a plurality of respondents wanted Filner to publicly nail his scrotum to the sidewalk in Horton Plaza as penance. Or something.
In addition to Logan Jenkins’ warning about the side effects of the psychiatric drugs Filner’s been prescribed, there is a column from Diane Bell featuring another victim suggesting that leaving town would be a better solution.
And finally, we have Steve Breen’s editorial cartoon, suggesting locking attorney Gloria Allred in Filner’s apartment as part of the punishment. Not that the paper was stereotyping her as a bitch, or anything.
#8 If the Day Ends in ‘Y’, Darrell Issa’s Gonna Leak
Congressman Darrell Issa’s investigation into HealthCare.gov’s dismal performance during its first two months online has turned into a full-blown executive-congressional confrontation over concerns raised about the security of documents under subpoena.
On Wednesday acting in his role as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa accused Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of criminal obstruction. The administration has let the Republican Congressman know they won’t turn over documents related to the security of the Healthcare.gov website because they can’t trust him to keep secret information.
Congressman Darrell Issa’s game plan ought to be obvious by now. He announces a major investigation into an executive branch agency, holds a press conference or three implying this will be the scandal bringing down the Obama administration, leaks a bunch of partially redacted documents, holds hearings and… nothing ever happens because there is no scandal.
It’s happened with Solyndra, trade negotiations, the ATF Fast and Furious investigation, Benghaz
Now as Issa’s angling for way to bring down Obamacare, the Health and Human Services Department has drawn the line.
Issa has already had access to the documents he’s requesting “in camera” — meaning committee staff were able to review them in a room but not keep them — but that’s not good enough. Nobody in the news media is going to trust the Congressman without some kind of proof anymore, so he is seeking physical copies.
In a letter Thursday, Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea told Issa that “the committee’s unwillingness to commit to undertake measures to address the security risks associated with further disclosure is troubling, particularly in light of reports that sensitive materials were disclosed through various investigations.” Administration officials worry that Issa intends to put them in the public domain, which Esquea argues could compromise the security of the site.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the oversight committee, who’s been repeatedly clashed with Issa over past investigative failures, agreed.
“Some of these contractor documents have information that could give hackers a roadmap for destroying the Healthcare.gov website,” Cummings said in a statement. “The question is not whether the committee should have access to security information about the website — HHS has offered to provide full access to any committee member or staff.”
Stay tuned folks, this could get interesting.
As Paul Waldman, writing in the American Prospect, puts it:
…Issa has turned out to be a strikingly incompetent clown, screwing things up spectacularly every time he tries to embarrass the administration and being so transparently sleazy in the way he goes about his work that he never succeeds in pinning anything on Obama.
#9 Union Workers Switch Sides in Barrio Logan Dispute
Another day has gone by and another misrepresentation by opponents of the Barrio Logan Community Plan has been exposed. In a city with an honest daily paper these untruths unfolding would constitute a scandal; sadly we live in a city where the dominant storylines are manipulated or ignored.
Today’s UT-San Diego has not a word about yesterday’s dramatic press conference in Barrio Logan. KPBS, City Beat and NBC7News all did cover the story, which, in a nutshell, was that the union members used by the shipbuilding industry to pack City Council hearings last fall have switched sides.
Union leaders told the press they’d come to the realization they were simply pawns in a campaign of misinformation and misrepresentation, as the first stage in a hardball campaign to defeat five years worth of effort to create a community plan full of compromises that sought equitable treatment for all the stakeholders. The shipbuilders have decided they want a no compromise plan.
Mayoral candidate and City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer along with industry representatives and conservative politicians like Carl DeMaio, cheered on a campaign for signatures to put the plan to a city-wide vote. Proponents claimed the plan threatened 46,000 maritime jobs as the city’s shipyards were forced to relocate and that the Navy wouldn’t be far behind. All were lies, which seems to be the stock-in-trade for the downtown set as of late.
As we learned yesterday, those signing petitions weren’t the only ones being lied to. The workers used as window dressing for the city hall confrontations were in for a rude shock as implied promises of concessions in labor negotiations disappeared from the table in late September.
#10 Orwellian Wordplay in Action with Taxpayers Group
I understand that marketing is a big part of selling any idea or product. I get it that fuzzy feel good words are used by everybody making a pitch. But lately the Orwellian grammar-speak of the Right just makes me…
If you haven’t figured it out already, “Common Sense Reforms” is Republican marketing for programs that increase economic inequality while promising “trickle down” rewards in the future. Even the Pope is hip to that hypocrisy.
Today’s Words To Watch are “Job Creation” and “Jobs Tax”…as in this bit of falderal from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s economic policy analyst Sean Karafin via an op-ed in the San Diego Daily Transcript:
The San Diego City Council recently voted to increase the fees on commercial construction by as much as 900 percent. The idea behind the linkage fee or Jobs Tax is that new commercial buildings create the opportunity for new jobs, and some of those jobs won’t pay enough to live locally.
That is how subsidized housing advocates mistakenly conclude that job creation produces a need for additional subsidized housing. The logic is so backward and damaging to our economy that it inspired the Taxpayers Association to join local businesses and other nonprofits in forming the Jobs Coalition to fight the massive tax increase.
In the real world, creating jobs helps people afford housing. In other words, creating opportunity does not make it harder to afford housing. The twisted logic of advocates resulted in a policy of taxing job creation to pay for subsidized housing.
This kind of thinking ignores the fact that most of the employment created in the current economy are low wage jobs. I guess we’re supposed to hear “jobs” and assume it means “prosperity”. These folks apparently don’t realize that, if someone works full-time yet still needs government assistance to make ends meet, it’s their employer who is getting the handout. Or maybe they do.
They also ignores studies by economists with mainstream think tanks like the Brookings Institution that conclude impact fees like the one passed by the City Council do not slow job growth.
Having dealt with the desecration of the English language, let me go to say I remain skeptical about the manner in which linkage fees (aka jobs taxes) are utilized to address housing needs. But given that the proponents of this Republi-speak have yet to propose any solutions beyond getting pissed on by the corporate wannabe-oligarchs that fund them, it will have to do for now.
#11 Tax Scams Are Everywhere! Be Very Afraid!
Paper, Plastic or Save The Planet? It’s about time we had that discussion in San Diego.
Apparently the approved strategy for the right wing in opposing just about anything these days is to call the thing that you’re opposing a “tax”. And, as is the case with the Neighborhood Market Association’s opposition to a proposed ban on plastic bags, any time the word “tax” is used is a good time to manifest a sudden concern for working class families.
It was this deep concern for the lives of “taxpayers, mothers, fathers, brothers and working class San Diegans” that prompted “community leaders, including Mark Arabo, president of the Neighborhood Market Association” to call a press conference yesterday in front of Rainbow Market in the Chollas Creek neighborhood.
Arabo called the proposed plastic bag ban a “tax scam”. Rev. George D. McKinney told the assembled reporters, “In essence, it’s a tax – a multi-million-dollar tax a year – on San Diegans.”
…By the way, revenue streams for programs right wingers like are called “fees.”
#12 A Big Fat Lie for Christmas From Jerry Saunders
Former Mayor Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, sent a holiday letter out this week to all Chamber members and partner organizations urging them to get on board with the latest campaign to overturn the City Council by referendum.
Their “friendly” signature gatherers will be blocking your entrance into shopping malls around the region starting the day after Christmas urging people to sign the Stop the Jobs-Killing Tax petition. (I’ll gladly publish videos of their “sales” techniques if you’d like to email them in.)
The council’s decision to end a linkage fee (with plenty of exceptions) for bigger developers is being cast by Saunders and his cronies as a “massive tax increase” and a “jobs tax”.
And here’s the real zinger:
This jobs tax could easily push us back into an economic recession. It will certainly cause some businesses to scale back or eliminate expansion plans, which will reduce job growth. Other companies will take their business – and local jobs – elsewhere and many more simply won’t consider moving to San Diego. At a time when our economy remains fragile, we cannot afford to put jobs at risk.
This “massive jobs tax” is nothing more than a linkage fee of the same sort used by big cities around the country to offset the impacts on infrastructure caused by development.
In San Diego’s case, the City Council has decided to apply the funds towards the supply of affordable housing. This “massive jobs tax” magically transforms itself into “minimal impact” once the monies are collected.
This is Voodoo Economics 101. Studies by the Brookings Institute and others show very clearly that the sort of linkage fees involved here have no impact on employment.
Please don’t sign this petition. I have no illusions about the actual impact on this fee on the affordable housing crisis in San Diego. I just can’t abide by people telling lies to overturn the decision of a majority of our elected representatives.
On This Day: 1914 – Ford Motor Company announced that there would be a new daily minimum wage of $5 and an eight-hour workday. 1933 –Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began. 1978 – The Sex Pistols’ U.S. concert debut took place.
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Other months in this series:
November * The Phone Calls Stop When You Vote
October * The Light at the End of the Shutdown
September * The Repackaging of Kevin Faulconer, Wherein Barney Fife Gets Transformed into John Wayne
August * All Filner, All The Time
July * San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s World Starts to Fall Apart
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