By Doug Porter
Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve officially entered the Twilight Zone in San Diego.
The Mayor of the second largest city in a State with the fastest GDP growth in the nation is exploring a run for Governor.
Which might seem unremarkable, except that poverty rates in the region anchored by San Diego have increased by more than 2% since the ‘recovery’ began, homelessness has nearly doubled, and he’s reportedly scheming to cough up $200 million for a football stadium concept soundly rejected by voters just two months ago.
Faulconer: Running, Not Running, Maybe
After promising to serve out his full term if re-elected as Mayor of San Diego, Politico reports Kevin Faulconer is actively exploring running for Governor of California in 2018.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan told POLITICO California that Faulconer visited him in Los Angeles last month and told him he plans to run. Riordan, a moderate Republican who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002, said Faulconer asked for his support but, “I don’t know him well enough to make that decision.”
Faulconer’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Faulconer traveled to the Silicon Valley about a week after the November election to meet with technology industry donors assembled by former Rep. Tom Campbell. Campbell said he organized the meeting of more than 100 of his political supporters to encourage them to support Faulconer if he runs.
The number of people in the region being served by the San Diego Food Bank has increased by 40,000 monthly since Faulconer took office, according to a story published by inewsource.
Data released last month by the Census Bureau supports that notion, showing that even as more San Diegans are finding work, more of them are falling into poverty.
An inewsource analysis of two Census Bureau surveys — one conducted between 2006-2010 and the other between 2011-2015 — shows that the countywide poverty rate grew from 12.3 to 14.5 percent. That’s an increase of 94,000 people living on incomes below the poverty line, enough to fill two Petco Parks.
The data suggests that between 2011-2015 more than 450,000 people were living below the federal poverty line (defined as $12,082 a year for an individual), more than during the five-year period encompassing the Great Recession of 2007-09 and the years that bookended it.
The Stadium That Would Not Die
Speaking of sports venues, reporting in both the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune points to renewed efforts by the Mayor’s office to facilitate the building of a football stadium for the Chargers.
From the Los Angeles Times:
The Chargers and NFL are willing to cover $650 million of a stadium that would cost at least $1.2 billion. That leaves a $550-million gap without public money.
A spokesman for San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts said the parties discussed “regional funding options” last month.
“At this point, we are waiting to hear back from the NFL and Chargers before talks can continue,” the spokesman said.
The Times story points out that, despite spending $10 million on a ballot initiative to raise hotel taxes to help pay for a combined stadium and convention center in downtown San Diego, only 43% of voters favored it. The Chargers had the second lowest attendance in the National Football League, averaging 57,024 fans per game.
From Union-Tribune sports columnist Kevin Acee:
San Diego officials recently extended an offer for money they are willing to put to a public vote. Including $100 million San Diego State has committed to fund raise toward a stadium, the total contribution from the city, county and SDSU would be $375 million. (The city is offering $200 million, same as it was in 2015, while the county is proposing a $75 million contribution, half its 2015 pledge.)
With $300 million from the NFL and the Chargers’ previous pledge of $350 million, there remains a gap of $100 million to $175 million between what appears available and what the Chargers say a stadium will cost.
Why would the Mayor of San Diego even be considering offering up $200 million to the Chargers?
Bill Geppert, former head of Cox Communications in San Diego, says the local Strategic Roundtable has a proposal to make in an op-ed published in the Union-Tribune.
What is possible, attainable and what is the next best solution? While many San Diegans believe the Chargers will choose to relocate to Los Angeles on Jan. 15 and some are ready to help them go, some business and civic leaders believe it is imminently “possible” to build a new stadium and keep the Chargers here. Following Bismarck’s notion of “the art of the next best,” it is clear that downtown is not possible and that the next best location is Mission Valley.
The Strategic Roundtable is a group of 36 retired and semiretired executives and longtime San Diego civic leaders. We feel that too often important decisions are framed as either/or propositions. Should we invest in our youth, have better beaches and bays, a vibrant symphony, and accessible parks or a new stadium? Great communities find a way to invest wisely in all of these important assets. Sports, like parks, beaches, libraries and the arts, bring communities together. Some members of the Roundtable are native San Diegans and most of us have lived here for decades. We want the Chargers to stay and for San Diego to remain a major league sports city. We believe it is possible to invest in a stadium and other important assets of our beloved community.
While the Mayor apparently has time to keep $200 million on the table for the San Diego Chargers, he was apparently too busy to meet with local activists presenting a petition signed by 1100 people concerned about the city’s criminalization of the homeless on Tuesday.
Faulconer has promised to say something about the city’s homeless crisis during his State of the City address, slated for the Balboa theater on January 12. Maybe he’ll offer season tickets for some ‘lucky’ homeless people in place of the fines currently being given out by police. Maybe he’ll apologize for the City’s role in the ‘mistake’ leaving homeless humans on the streets during inclement weather over the holidays. Somehow I doubt it.
Kill Da Wabbit
Congressman Duncan Hunter paid $600 in campaign funds for airfare for the family rabbit. He’s since paid back the money as part of a $62,000 settlement following inquiries from the Federal Election Commission.
In response to the potential and imagined injustices created by such disclosures, House Republicans bravely met in secret on Monday to vote on reining in the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Despite having not having the power to actually punish malfeasance, the public recommendations of the independent group were just too much for 119 GOP caucus members to stomach.
Here’s a little background, via the Washington Post:
And shortly after embarrassing and politically costly scandals (the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal; the conviction of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for violating election law; the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) amid allegations that he sent sexually explicit messages to congressional pages; bribery scandals involving former congressmen Randy “Duke” Cunningham and William J. Jefferson, just to name a few), lawmakers decided they needed more oversight than themselves.
After all that came the 2006 midterm elections, when Republicans lost control of the House for the first time in 12 years.
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared her party wanted to “drain the swamp” (sound familiar?). She and then-Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) set up a task force to decide how to best do that, and they came up with the idea of an independent office to investigate lawmakers.
House Republicans backed down on the scheme after tens of thousands of phone calls to Congressional offices triggered by press reports. That didn’t stop Hunter’s office from continuing to cry the blues.
From Talking Points Memo:
…In the aftermath of the ethics vote debacle, the spokesman for one member of Congress, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), discussed his boss’s victimization with the local paper, The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Hunter, who inherited his seat from his father and voted in favor of gutting the oversight office, was victimized when the Office questioned tens of thousands of dollars worth of campaign spending. Spokesman Joe Kasper noted one particularly egregious case of investigative overreach in which the Office questioned Hunter’s use of $600 of campaign funds for airline tickets for the family rabbit.
Hunter’s spokesman Joe Kasper called the rabbit travel and other personal expenses “nothing more than an oversight. In fact, it’s such an obvious example of a mistake being made but (the office) wants to view it through a lens of possible intent. The same goes for many other expenditures. Many of Rep. Hunter’s repayments had to do with mistakes under specific circumstances, and in other cases there were bona fide campaign activities connected to expenditures that (the office) was not aware of and didn’t account for.”
A video interlude, dedicated to Congressman Hunter’s ‘mistakes’, riffing on Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries:
Legal Messes, Featuring Bonnie Dumanis and Jan Goldsmith
Speaking of sleazy politicians, San Diego’s current and former prosecutors are in the news.
County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has a succession plan ready, according to a report in the Union-Tribune. Since the DA position is an elected one, you’d think voters might want a say on her replacement, but Dumanis apparently thinks otherwise.
In the event of her resignation a replacement appointed by the County Board of Supervisors would have all the advantages of incumbency. Dumanis is widely rumored to seeking a position with Supes, several of whom are termed in coming elections.
From the Union-Tribune:
In October, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she was undecided about her future plans. She said she might run for another term in 2018, retire earlier or finish out this term and not seek re-election after serving as the county’s top prosecutor for 16 years.
Then three weeks ago, Dumanis told top administrators in her office that she has a definite succession plan in mind: She wants Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan to succeed her and David Greenberg, another chief deputy, to take over as the top assistant.
That is what Dumanis said at a meeting of division chiefs, according to a Dec. 15 summary of the meeting provided to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The County’s DA was apparently blissfully unaware of illegal campaign contributions flowing into her failed race for Mayor of San Diego. José Susumo Azano Matsura was found guilty of 36 counts including conspiracy to make political contributions by a foreign national during the 2012 campaign.
Evidence presented during the trial indicated more the $500,000 was illegally funneled into the campaigns of Republican District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Democratic Congressman Bob Filner. Dumanis was called to testify and said she had little memory of her interactions with Azano, but believed he was a legal resident and allowed to contribute to her campaign.
Former City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is being sued by former prosecutor Marlea Dell’Anno who claims she was thrown under the bus for failing to follow orders to file charges against a political rival when she discovered a lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
The former assistant city attorney claims she was reassigned and then fired. Dell’Anno sent a memo to Goldsmith following her demotion, claiming it was clearly retaliation for her, “refusal to engage in HIS on-going pattern of illegal, unethical and fraudulent conduct.”
It was then, she said, Goldsmith claimed she mishandled 98 domestic violence cases, allowing the statute of limitations to run out.
But Dell’Anno said those cases had been reviewed and rejected by attorneys in the office and were never going to be prosecuted.
I really, really hope this goes to trial.
Friday: Activist events, including the latest on Inaugural Protests in San Diego
Monday: The 800-pound gorilla in San Diego politics.
Activism du Jour: Alliance San Diego has announced of RISE TOGETHER, a campaign that aims to empower Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients and those who might qualify for the program in San Diego County with the information they need to make the right decisions before inauguration day.
- Dedicated online resources
- Weekly informational forums (English, Spanish, Tagalog)
- General assessments provided by trusted immigration attorneys
- A 24-hour hotline to make appointments (619-363-3423)
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