By Doug Porter
As January draws to a close, political campaigns in San Diego are beginning to take shape.
San Diego’s Marty Block took to the state senate floor on Thursday to announce his decision not to run for re-election, clearing the way for Assemblywoman Toni Atkins to take his seat.
City Attorney candidate Rafael Castellano’s run of local club support came to an end last night when the influential Democrats for Equality failed to endorse any candidate, following a forum where a past lawsuit for sexual harassment emerged as an issue.
And, as expected, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña made her challenge to incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer official yesterday at a press conference in Old Town.
[Don’t forget! Friday’s Starting Line includes the Weekly Progressive Calendar]
Block v Atkins: $$$ Rules
A potentially nasty intraparty battle was averted yesterday when State Senator Marty Block announced he would not seek reelection.
Claiming he’d made a deal to step aside in 2016, termed out Assembly Leader Toni Atkins announced she’d run against Block last year, creating the potential for an expensive contest in a safe Democratic district.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Block said he decided not to run for re-election this year to avoid unnecessary intraparty fighting that would use up resources better put into competitive races against Republicans.
In an interview with the Times, Block said he reached the decision after he and Atkins squared off in three debates last week in San Diego.
“While we were debating, it became infinitely clear that we both believe in the same things, we both have the same progressive agenda,” Block said. “It just made it seem much smarter that we could do a much better job of moving ahead our agendas by working together than fighting.”
The hard, cold reality was that it came down to money. Despite promises of support from fellow senators, Block had been warned months ago by the leadership that backing was contingent on amassing a significant war chest prior to January 31st.
As to the future for Block, the Sacramento Bee dropped a big hint about what’s likely in store:
A former university professor and community college trustee, Block said he hopes to continue working on higher education policy, particularly the development of community college bachelor’s degrees, which California is now piloting because of a bill he authored in 2014. Block said he is looking at several potential career opportunities not in elected office, but could not yet discuss them publicly.
Note to Block and Gov. Jerry Brown: California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris is retiring in April.
Dems Fall Short on Endorsing City Atty Candidate
Four Democratic candidates for City Attorney ventured to Hillcrest on Thursday evening, seeking the endorsement of Democrats for Equality. Nobody left with the club’s blessing.
Mara Elliot, Gil Cabrera, Rafael Castellanos and Brian Pease all spoke, answered audience questions and generally showed themselves to be an impressive group of candidates. All received a 100% rating on the club’s questionnaire.
Elliot’s experience as a Deputy CA was pitched as a path to hitting the ground running and turning the city’s legal arm into an organization more oriented towards neighborhoods and implementing the Climate Action Plan.
Cabrera, a former ethics commission member, has the backing of many well known local politicos including Todd Gloria, Kevin Beiser, Lorena Gonzalez, Nathan Fletcher, Donna Frye, Cory Briggs and Toni Atkins.
Castellanos, a sitting Port Commissioner, also has strong local backing, including Shirley Weber, David Alvarez, Myrtle Cole and Ben Hueso. He’s also been garnering an impressive number of endorsements from Democratic clubs.
Pease is an activist attorney, whose involvement in civil rights, animal welfare, and Occupy cases causes has made him allies in many activist circles. He was, however, the only candidate who did not end up getting an ‘acceptable’ rating from the Democrats for Equality.
Voting for the endorsement was by secret ballot. No candidate reached the 60% member approval threshold after four rounds of voting.
Questions about of sexual harassment charges have dogged Rafael Castellanos. He responded to those claims in a Voice of San Diego article. Here’s what we know from that account:
In 2010, Kate McSpadden filed a lawsuit claiming that she was sexually harassed and retaliated against during her time as an attorney at local firm Solomon Ward. McSpadden alleged that Solomon Ward had an old-boys club atmosphere, and that Castellanos, whom she described as her supervisor at the firm, physically pressured her to have sex with him after a work party. When she said she told a superior about what happened, her work was cut and she eventually left the firm.
Both Solomon Ward and Castellanos, who was named individually in the suit as was a partner in the firm, defended themselves vigorously. They said McSpadden was a poor worker who was overwhelmed, Castellanos wasn’t her supervisor, the physical contact between the two was consensual and the firm appropriately responded to her concerns.
In March 2011, Solomon Ward filed a motion to get the case thrown out of court. A few months later, McSpadden’s attorney filed his own motion in opposition. But before a judge could decide, the case settled.,
Reporter Liam Dillon found that Castellanos paid nothing in the settlement and was released from all claims in the case.
But… there was a second settlement, which remains private. The insurance company paid something and the law firm admitted nothing, Dillon was told.
This issue of how Castellanos has talked about the woman who sued was raised at last night’s meeting when Eva Posner took the floor during the endorsement discussion. (The candidates had left the room for the moment and the format of the meeting made it impossible or her to speak to them directly)
Standing the back of the room was at least one of the women who’d accused former mayor Bob Filner of harassment.
Here’s an abridged version of her speech:
First, I just want to say for the record that I no longer serve as the Communications Coordinator for the San Diego County Democratic Party. I stepped down this afternoon, because I needed the freedom to confront an issue that has been swept under the rug in this race.
I am very concerned about the safety and dignity of the city employees who come forward with sexual harassment claims.
The reason I ask is because I have found the behavior around this issue to be disturbing, and quite frankly maddening.
Rafael has repeatedly been quoted in the media discrediting the woman who made the claims against you, and not in a productive way.
Motivated by money
Sold a bunch of bologna.”
This bothers me because I have been there. I have been the girl that nobody believed….
At least one person yelled “point of order,” trying to interrupt the statement. It was an uncomfortable situation.
Posner went on to share a personal story where she’d been a victim at age 15 and was denied justice, concluding:
…And I am standing here tonight to tell you that this behavior has been damaging. You have contributed to a culture that makes women like me afraid to come forward. It’s disturbing, and anyone who has endorsed him without calling him out on this issue should be ashamed.
His war is not with this woman. She signed the settlement. She left town. And she has not been the one attacking you. You are trying to fight a political battle, but you are doing it wrong.
I belong to the Democratic Party because this is the party that wants to protect me. The women of San Diego deserve better. And the Democratic Party knows better.
After a few moments of awkward silence, City Councilman David Alvarez took to the floor to defend Castellanos, calling the speech inappropriate and saying this was “not the time to hold a trial.”
FYI–I will be providing more extensive coverage of the candidates for City Attorney in the coming weeks. I was at last night’s meeting as part of my research and felt this was worthy of an immediate report.
FULL DISCLOSURE–Eva Posner has contributed articles to the San Diego Free Press in the past. And I’m proud to call her a friend.
A Grassroots Campaign for Mayor
Former Assemblywoman (2004-2010) Lori Saldaña made it official yesterday.
From KUSI News:
Saldana enters the race as an independent. She left the Democratic Party in 2014 following disputes with local leaders and a growing antipathy for party politics.
Faulconer has been all but unopposed since Gretchen Newsom, political director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in San Diego, ended her campaign in early December for personal reasons.
At a news conference, Saldana called Faulconer “the Dean Spanos of San Diego government,” a reference to the unpopular chairman of the Chargers football team, and blasted the mayor’s record on infrastructure.
Unfortunately, misogyny has already raised its head in this contest, via a fake social media account with Saldaña’s face photo-shopped on to Sarah Palin’s body.
Weekly Progressive Calendar: Upcoming in San Diego
Protest Cattle Industry Convention NCBA Trade Show
Friday, January 29th 1-3pm
San Diego Convention Center
111 W. Harbor Dr.
Info & Updates
We will be standing up for the rights of the cattle at this convention where they learn and honor each other, never thinking about the slaughter of the innocent ones.
Beef is NOT what’s for dinner!
“The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest convention for the cattle business. The 2016 convention will be the 118th annual convention. The convention and trade show create a unique, fun environment for cattle industry members to come together to network, create policy for the industry and to have some fun! If you’re in the cattle business, then you need to be in San Diego.”
Homemade signs are welcome and cow costumes.
We will meet directly outside the convention center at the first set of stairs, before the first entrance door.
Film Screening: Broken Rainbow
Friday, January 29, 7-9pm
el metate, harvey milk & normal ave, hillcrest
Info & Updates:
A screening of the film Broken Rainbow, exploring the relocation of Navajo folks when federally owned land was privatized for mining exploration. Followed by a discussion of the continued resistance to displacement.
Free vegan pozole for dinner, Hosted by San Diego Indymedia
Bands for Bernie
Saturday, January 30th, 5pm
WorldBeat Cultural Center
2100 Park Blvd
Info & Updates
Come rock out at a Bands for Bernie event at the World Beat Center in Balboa Park on January 30th! This event is put on by grassroots volunteers and ALL proceeds go to the official Bernie Sanders campaign. We all know Bernie is running a people-powered campaign, and he’s already received a record-breaking 2.5 million contributions. Let’s continue to fuel this Political Revolution while supporting some of San Diego’s best local artists!
Doors open at 4:30. Bands start at 5:00.
To get in, either donate $10 through berniesanders.com at any time on January 30th and show us your emailed receipt, or donate $10 to the campaign at the door. If you’re looking to get particularly chafed, donate $20, $30, or even $100!
This is an all-ages event with a 21+ beer garden outside (alcohol must stay in the beer garden).
- Broken Stems (brokenstems.com)
- Tony Tig (youtube.com/watch?v=dzgBkpY-6mE)
- Jason French (facebook.com/iAmJasonFrench)
- Moves Collective (themovescalifornia.com)
- Neveready (facebook.com/sdneveready)
San Diego Free Press Contributors Gathering
Sunday, January 31st, 1-4pm
Ryan Brothers Coffee
1894 Main St. (Barrio Logan)
Info & Updates
Mingle and meet with SD Free Press editors and contributors. Early birds can come for 1 hour tour of Chicano Park (1-2) led by editor Brent Beltran. RSVP for tour at firstname.lastname@example.org. NOTE: In case of rain, the tour will be canceled. The rest of the day will proceed as planned.
Then, starting at 2pm SDFP will run a tab for coffee, tea, H2O for those with a name tag at Ryan Bros. We’ll also be doing a book exchange (max 2 books per person). If you haven’t written for us, but think you might want to, come and chat.
Panel Discussion: Political Imprisonment,
The Prison Industrial Complex and Radical Resistance
The African American Studies Minor at UC San Diego is thrilled with the opportunity to host a panel featuring recently released Black political prisoner, Sekou Abdullah Odinga and Dr. Johanna Fernández, Professor in the Department of Black and Latino Studies at Baruch College in New York City. The panel will also feature special guests Aaron Harvey and Brandon Duncan, two men from Southeast San Diego who were jailed under California Penal Code 182.5, a racist statute that has been used to arrest a number of young Black men for crimes committed by supposed “gang members.” Since their exoneration, Harvey and Duncan have been leading a local grassroots campaign against Penal Code 182.5, gang injunctions, and the prison industrial complex.
State Minimum Wage Campaign Kickoff
Saturday, January 30, 9am
ACCE San Diego Office
384 H Street # 102, Chula Vista
Info and Updates
The Raise California’s Wage and Paid Sick Days Act of 2016 is the only statewide initiative that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 and guarantee that every full-time worker will receive at least six days per year to care for themselves and their families. We need your help collecting signatures.
We will have an update on the campaign, a training on the rules and best practices for signature gathering, and then collect the first local pile of signatures for the initiative. Bring a comfortable pair of shoes!
Young Workers for Sarah Saez
Tuesday, February 2nd, 7pm
Border X Brewing
2181 Logan Ave, San Diego
Info & Updates [Donation rquired]
Please join Co-hosts and labor brothers Nate Fairman and Will Johnson for a fundraising event at Border X Brewing to support our Labor Council endorsed candidate Sarah Saez for City Council!
There will be food, music, and craft beer!
The Way Home – Film & Conversation on Race
Saturday, February 6th, 9:30am-12:30pm
Peace Resource Center of San Diego
3850 Westgate Pl, San Diego
Info & Updates
Films & Conversations on RACE ** NOTE: This is the first of 2 sessions! (Different films) You are encouraged to attend both sessions, but not required.
Each 3-hour program includes one film showing and group dialogue. Together, we will examine our embedded assumptions around race and systems of oppression, discover new questions, and explore avenues for change.
Film Description: Over the course of 8 months, 64 women, representing a cross-section of cultures in the U.S. (African-American, Arab, Asian, European-American, Indigenous, Jewish, Latina, and Multi-Racial), came together to share their experiences and explore their stories of identity, oppression, and resistance. Their candid conversations offer rare access into multi-dimensional cultural worlds invisible to outsiders. The stories are strands that weave together perspectives of how we are the same and how we are unique.
RSVP appreciated. Refreshments provided. For Feb 20th, go towww.facebook.com/events/1394884777479693/
Gabriela & La Buena Onda @ The GO!
The Grassroots Oasis (GO) is excited to have Gabriela & La Buena Onda join us to celebrate Carnival! Carnival is a rite of passage from darkness to light, from winter to summer: the first spring festival of the new year. The World/Latin Soul of Gabriela & La Buena Onda: “Connecting thru Love, Truth and Higher Consciousness”
Listen to Gabriela & La Buena Onda here: http://www.gabrielamusic.com/#listen
Get your event listed: I try to list the next 10 days or so of mostly non-commercial events I think our readers might find of interest. I source my material from social media listings and press releases. In cases where there are competing but similar events or campaigns of the progressive persuasion, I do my best to list everything. (Hint, hint Hillary fans.) Unfortunately, my subscription to the psychic hotline has lapsed so if you don’t tell me or Facebook, etc., about your event it won’t get listed. See my email address below.
On This Day: 1834 – Responding to unrest among Irish laborers building the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, President Andrew Jackson orders first use of American troops to suppress a labor dispute. 1850 – Henry Clay introduced in the Senate a compromise bill on slavery that included the admission of California into the Union as a free state. 2009 – Newly-elected President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women and minorities to win pay discrimination suits
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I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.