By Doug Porter
Things are looking iffy for two of San Diego’s elected Democratic officials.
San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts has gone on the offensive, responding to allegations about inappropriate behavior and misuse of public resources made by former employees.
Congressman Scott Peters may well be about to incur the wrath of organizations that worked hard to elected him in a close contest last year. Although he says he remains undecided about his vote on an upcoming trade bill, there are serious concerns from environmental and labor groups.
Roberts Emerges From His Bunker
Eight people have resigned from his District 3 office during Roberts first term. Three of those quitting have shared stories with media. Two of them have filed claims against the County after settlements were rejected by the entire board of supervisors. Roberts came out swinging yesterday following two weeks worth of damaging stories in the media.
Three local media outlets have interviews with Roberts, who maintains he has done nothing wrong. At 10News the story started with the supervisor refuting charges of an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. The Union-Tribune story led with the county’s sole Democrat on the board saying the allegations were motivated by hopes of financial gain.
Last week, Roberts’ spokesman held a press conference to question the validity and motivation of the allegations, calling it all lies. However, Roberts did not attend the press conference to respond in person.
On Wednesday, Roberts broke his silence, explaining to Atkinson why he has taken so long to respond in his own words.
“There have been two claims against the county. One claim was made two weeks ago today; one claim was made a week ago tomorrow. It takes time to review these claims to see what the accusations are. I wanted to make sure I knew the facts before I responded. Now that I have reviewed both claims, I know that they’re both false and I’m ready to tell everybody the facts of what really happened.”
From the Union-Tribune:
Roberts flatly denied the allegations and said the turmoil in his office was caused by personality conflicts between former chief of staff Glynnis Vaughan and former scheduler Diane Porter.
“I can’t get into the minds of these women, but I can look at the facts, I can look at their claims, and both of them, Diane Porter and Glynnis (Vaughan) are completely false,” he said in an interview. ”And if you go to the bottom line, I think people can see what this is all about. One is requesting $250,000 and one is requesting $475,000. And as the fiscally responsible supervisor I am, I just think that the taxpayers should never pay claims on false statements such as shown in these two claims.”
Vaughan filed a claim on May 21 that said Roberts had staff do political work on county time, had an inappropriate relationship with one of his staff members, treated his female employees poorly compared to men, and misused county resources. Porter made similar accusations.
NBC7 San Diego revealed how some in the county government are trying to put the genie back in the bottle:
The County of San Diego is asking a former employee of Supervisor Dave Roberts to return the personalized baseball cards with the supervisor’s face on them to the county.
County Spokesman Mike Workman confirmed to NBC 7 Investigates that county counsel asked Roberts’ former scheduler Diane Porter to return the cards to the county.
“Since they were paid for with county funds, we asked for them back,” Workman said in an email to NBC 7 Investigates.
Porter filed a wrongful termination claim against San Diego County earlier this month. In it she alleges, among other things, the Roberts used county funds to buy 10,000 ‘Dave Roberts baseball cards.'” According to the claim, when the cards arrived, some staff in the office expressed concern over whether they were an appropriate expenditure.
KUSI brought in Republican consultant John Dadian to say Supervisor Roberts was in danger of losing his job and to taint him with the “Bob Filner” brush:
…four staffers have resigned as the scandal widened and took on an air of the scandal that drove Bob Filner from office.
“One similarity is there’s a new shoe dropping every day for the past couple of weeks, a new allegation or a new leak comes out, and that’s very damaging, and when that starts happening you need to address one by one and they haven’t been doing that,” Dadian said.
The legal complaints filed with the county will move forward and others may be filed moving the legal process into the campaign season and threatening Robert’s tenure.
“That’s why I say resignation probably would, if not in the next few months, then next year before reelection because that process is not going to stop,” Dadian added.
Earlier in the week, the Union-Tribune’s Logan Jenkins reviewed the list of Republicans eyeing Roberts’ seat, starting with Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, who apparently plays tennis quite well from the right side of the court.
Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar is wondering if a moderate Republican woman (an updated Pam Slater-Price?) might end up being the right fit. Mark Kersey, a first-term San Diego councilman, is viewed as a strong contender so long as a certain someone doesn’t run.
Assemblyman Brian Maienschein is noncommital for now, but he’s widely considered the automatic Republican front-runner, the field clearer, if he wants to leave Sacramento and settle into the County Administration Building.
Meanwhile, local Democrats are hoping this scandal blows over, because their bench isn’t nearly as deep as the GOP’s in this district. I keep hearing from credible sources that Roberts’ troubles are far from over.
Parsing Peters Vote on the TPP
Environmental groups from around San Diego gathered outside the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla on Wednesday hoping to draw Congressman Scott Peters’ attention to concerns about the impact of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership as it relates to climate change.
“Lobbyists for Exxon and Shell helped write this terrible trade deal,” said Laurie Sterling Jensen, a local resident and parent in Rep. Peters’ district, “and it shows – the TPP is nothing less than a love letter to fossil fuel companies, and will make it harder for governments around the world to regulate them. Rep. Scott Peters needs to do right by his constituents and vote against the TPP.”
Labor and environmental organizations have waged a relentless campaign to get Rep. Peters to commit to voting against the TPP, with several protests occurring at his local offices.
I would say things are not looking too good for those groups’ wishes.
Washington DC’s Politico published an article yesterday focusing on organized labor’s push against the TPP on Capitol Hill. Here’s the lede, accompanied by a serious looking photograph of Congressman Peters:
The AFL-CIO was blunt in the call that went out to Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat who represents San Diego: Vote yes on fast-track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, people familiar with the conversation recall, and they’d spend a million dollars to knock him out in next year’s primary. If he managed to win, they’d drop another million against him in the general election.
The real fight over the trade agenda has always been in the House, and that’s where organized labor has been focusing for months. The aggressive effort has left even members who’ll be voting labor’s way bruised, and others who’ll be supporting President Barack Obama anxious enough that many won’t discuss their experiences publicly, instead dispatching staffers to speak on their behalf.
While the piece was lacking in substantive quotes from those at the center of this dust-up and short on a fact or two (redistricting in California is, pending a Supreme court decision, not so easily influenced), the underlying assumption–that center-right Democrats like Peters will vote with the administration on TPP– seems to be the point.
The San Diego Labor Council announced via Twitter Wednesday night that they’ve formed a search committee to seek out candidates to run against Peters “if he votes wrong on #TPP.”
Did the Mayor Double Cross Lifeguards?
Former City Councilman Ed Harris, now returned to his real job as spokesperson for the lifeguards union, is crying foul following moves by the city to back out of a council-approved assessment made last year making it easier to qualify for workers’ compensation.
From Joshua Emerson Smith at City Beat:
Embroiled in labor negotiations with the city, Harris said the mayor’s office is specifically targeting him for his political actions as a former councilmember. Harris said he made enemies at City Hall last September after he led council Democrats to reject the terms of a lease extension for Belmont Park, the oceanfront amusement park in Mission Beach.
“I believe that my relationship with the mayor’s office after that deal has a lot to do with it,” he said. “I can tell you that when I opposed the Belmont Park deal, the relationship with me and the Republicans changed overnight.
When you don’t go along with the program, they stop even looking at you or saying ‘hi’ to you.” After Harris left office, the council approved a lease extension with operator Pacifica Enterprises. However, the political row caught the attention of public-interest attorney Cory Briggs, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the deal.
Adding credence to these assumptions about the mayor’s motivation was the shutdown of staff access for the City Beat reporter even on basic questions. The people involved with the Belmont Park deal include those who worked with the corporate-funded pack-of-lies campaign to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan.
If You Thought Barack Obama Was Bad…
On This Day: 1912 – Fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia for dancing the Turkey Trot. They were on their lunch break, but management thought the dance too racy. 1957 – National League club owners voted to allow the Brooklyn Dodgers to move to Los Angeles and that the New York Giants could move to San Francisco. 1979 – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund held a news conference to announce plans for a memorial honoring those who served in the war.
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