The 2014 primary elections in California are just a week away. I’ll go out on a limb here and predict victories for well-funded incumbents and many causes supported by a minority of the public. The reason is simple. People aren’t voting. When people don’t vote, bad things can and do happen.
It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. The “top-two” primary system opening the ballot to all voters, reformers told us, would increase turnout as decline-to-state voters, once excluded from partisan races, became more engaged.
What the experts haven’t taken into account is the collateral damage from increasingly cynical and factually challenged campaign advertising. Now that restrictions on campaign funding are largely absent, the noise level is rising and the bullshit is getting deeper. People are getting more conditioned to swallow the lies; it’s less work that figuring out the truth. And the course of least resistance is to do nothing, as in not vote.
A recent (May 8-15) Public Policy Institute of California survey of 901 likely primary voters indicates a historic lack of interest in the upcoming June 3rd election. A long decline in voter interest going back to 1980 eventually brought the state to an all-time low in the 2010 primary, with only a third of registered voters casting ballots.
California ranks 45th nationally in voter registration and 48th in voter turnout, according to The Census Report on Registration and Voting for the 2012 Election. By most polling measures, a majority of California voters in big cities including San Diego are environmentally conscious, socially liberal and not particularly interested in shrinking government to the point where it can be drowned in a bathtub.
Those few who are likely to vote in a primary like this year’s generally are “older, wealthier, whiter, more likely to be homeowners, more educated … and more ideological true believers,” said Corey Cook, director of the University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. “Not at all reflecting the population of the state.”
Disappearing Billboards Mystery Solved, Maybe
On May 9th, four billboards purchased by Carla Keehn in support of her candidacy for San Diego County Superior Court Seat 20 were summarily removed by the Clear Channel Outdoor corporation just two days after being erected.
From my May 12th coverage:
The candidate says the company “received pressure to take the billboards down and they would not tell me from whom the pressure came.” This action is consistent with earlierassertions made by Keehn about surreptitious efforts by incumbent Judge Lisa Schall and/or her supporters to deny or withdraw endorsements for the challenger.
The outdoor advertising panels were reserved five months ago by Keehn’s campaign. Payment was made and artwork for the billboards was delivered in April. The billboards went up at four locations on Wednesday, May 7th. They were removed Friday, May 9th.
Later in the day, Clear Channel responded:
“Unfortunately our protocol for political ads was not followed and we took the ad down. We have offered the client a variety of resolutions, including the fullest refund allowable under the laws governing political contributions.”
Now the Keehn campaign has located information shedding some light on the backroom politics involved, and they are pointing the finger at District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
On page 20 of Dumanis’ disclosure report the third listed contributor is Melissa Forrest. Forrest just happens to be President/Market Manager of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment-San Diego.
Ms. Forrest also just happens to be Erin Brophy’s boss. Brophy was the account executive at Clear Channel working with the Keehn campaign.
The $250 contribution to the Dumanis campaign occurred the day after the billboards came down.
Spinning the Education Vote
When I surveyed the 2014 statewide primary contests I passed over the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, figuring Tom Torlakson’s high profile and his solid support among Democrats would make this contest a no-brainer.
But I underestimated the drive, cash flow and persistence of the so-called education reformers in California. They’re doing everything they can to try and turn this into a contest.
Newspaper editorial writers in particular have shown a fondness over the years for the weak tea served up as policy ideas by these “reformer” types, despite mounting evidence that those ideas put into practice produce negligible results.
The foundation for their arguments–public education is a failure and choice is the solution– are simply not true. Our educational challenges have more to do with poverty and rural cultural legacies than alleged failings of public K-12.
And the road to any of these free market “reforms” always goes through busting the unions.
From the Union-Bully-Tracking-Bureau at UT-San Diego:
Now the CTA is flexing its muscles ahead of the June 3 primary in an attempt to protect the re-election bid of its slavish ally, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. The CTA is the primary funder of both a $2 million-plus radio ad campaign touting Torlakson and trashing challenger Marshall Tuck and a $1.95 million ad buy purportedly unrelated to the campaign that effusively praises Torlakson.
Tuck, whom we endorsed, is a Democratic education reformer who worked effectively for a decade in Los Angeles to improve both public schools and charter schools. That’s why he has the strong support of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Here’s the real deal on Marshall Tuck, via the LA Progressive:
Many of us hoped that when right-wing business banker Marshall Tuck was ignominiously forced to step down as the “CEO” of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS), that we might have heard the last of Tuck altogether. Tragically, the Eli Broad-trained neoliberal operative was preparing for a run for California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction seat.
Despite never having taught a day in his life, nor having any background in pedagogy or child development, Tuck entered the race knowing that he could count on mountains of cash from the corporate education plutocracy aiming to — in words of Tuck’s fellow arch-reactionary Grover Norquist — “drown [public education] in the bathtub”.
The social justice case against Tuck is strong. His racist decision to eliminate Ethnic Studies at Santee High School alone is enough to condemn and convict him from a progressive standpoint. Tuck’s bigoted ethnocentrism was also on full display when he shuttered all the heritage language academic programs, and most of the dual language immersion programs in PLAS. His seemingly maniacal hatred of working class people and their labor organizations finds its highest expression in his unabashed support for the Vergara lawsuit, funded by reactionary Silicon Valley millionaire David F. Welch, which is intended to strip teachers of all their hard won rights as workers.
Only in a low-turnout election would such a poor candidate even be considered to have a chance of winning.
So make sure you vote for Tom Torlakson.
Parting the Curtain on the Scam Minimum Wage Initiative
Matt Potter at the Reader took a gander at the PAC called “Families Working Toward Financial Freedom” which just happens to be behind the fake minimum wage initiative signature gathering campaign currently under way.
He points out that, due to a “gaping loophole in San Diego’s campaign disclosure law,” we won’t know much about this shadowy groups funding until the end of July. All signs point to the Lincoln Club’s TJ Zane, the past master of dirty and deceptive campaigns, as the real point man for this effort.
From the Reader article:
Zane didn’t return repeated phone calls regarding the matter. An opponent of the Lopez-Brown measure, Peter Brownell of the Center for Policy Initiatives, was not as reticent, dispatching a statement in which he blasted the initiative as a “sham.”
“This measure clearly exists to create confusion about the real minimum wage initiative and split the vote. Even with strong voter support, two competing ballot measures usually both fail, subverting the will of the voters.
“The backers of this signature drive are hoping that by deceiving signers and buying their way onto the ballot, they can defeat the movement for an increased minimum wage in San Diego that helps hard-working families meet the area’s high cost of living.”
A statement filed by the San Diego Lodging Industry Association’s political action committee indicates that on May 8 it was the source of $9900 to promote an “Ordinance to Increase Minimum Wage; Jurisdiction: City of San Diego.”
And, as Potter points out, that money came from the usual coalition of wealthy hotel owners, including Bartell Hotels ($20,000), Atlas Hotels ($5000), Downtown’s Hard Rock Hotel ($2500), La Jolla Torrey Pines Hilton ($3940) and the Bahia Hotel ($5000).
The committee also kicked in $30,000 to the county Republican Party likely in support of D2 candidate Lorie Zapf and D6 candidate Chris Cate.
Corporations Are People, Barrio Logan Edition
Via the Times of San Diego:
An organization called “Protect Our Jobs, No on B & C, Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association, Major Funding by NASSCO and BAE Systems,” reported Thursday that it raised nearly $393,000 between March 18 and May 17.
The group has received more than $918,000 since Jan. 1, according to its filing.
Among the major donors were the group’s main sponsors, General Dynamics NASSCO, with $457,000 this year, and BAE Systems, $150,000. The Ship Repair Association added $25,000 and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce gave $20,000.
The anti-B and C group reported that it has spent almost $717,000 since the beginning of the year on media, public relations and legal representation.
Supporters of the Barrio Logan Community Plan have raised $44,000, according to the Times article.
On This Day: 1647 – Achsah Young, a resident of Windsor, CT, was executed for being a “witch.” It was the first recorded American execution of a “witch.” 1919 – A Navy seaplane completed the first transatlantic flight. 1987 – During a show in Rome’s Flaminio Stadio, U2’s sound system set off earthquake alarms in two neighborhoods.
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