Electoral contests in San Diego County government are coming into the final stretch. Mail-in voting is just a month away. A politics column and editorial board interviews at the Union-Tribune, along with the release of depositions from the now-settled lawsuits against labor leader Mickey Kasparian, have all contributed knowledge to what I’ll share today.
First up: a column by Michael Smolens on the race for District Attorney. He describes the contest as insider/reformer (Summer Stephan) versus outsider/advocate (Geneviéve Jones-Wright.
Smollens accurately describes Jone-Wright’s candidacy as the local manifestation of a national movement seeking to address the race and class bias of U.S. criminal justice system and notes the differences in style between the candidates.
Stephan, as the anointed replacement to former DA Bonnie Dumanis, is the candidate ‘movers and shakers’ want in place to protect their interests.
The article portrays a spirited back and forth between the candidates. And then Summer Stephan stumbles:
She points to her 15 years of management experience, and contends Jones-Wright has none. She suggested a “Kardashian effect” was in play, questioning whether Jones-Wright had the accomplishments to match her rising profile as a DA candidate.
I’ll share (Jones-Wright’s) campaign consultant Eva Posner’s response on Facebook:
Stephan is referring to the video of Geneviéve being pulled over and racially profiled by SDPD. She thinks that video of a black woman terrified for her life is an attention-getting mechanism.
Let’s be clear: Stephan and her supporters have equated the fact that people of color film themselves to increase their chances of surviving a police encounter to a sex tape.
That’s one of the most racist things I have ever seen. I can’t get over it. Summer Stephan does not understand the communities she serves. She does not deserve to hold the office of District Attorney.
Speaking of racism, how about this, Democratic leaders?
All over Facebook is the news that leadership in the local San Diego Democratic Party put @MLKDemsSD in the back of the room (bus) cuz they were protesting w signs at the Annual Roosevelt Dinner. Let’s just call it what it is…DISCRIMINATION! #WeWillNotBeSilent https://t.co/CA3kYnorql
— Laurie Black (@LaurieBlackSD) April 8, 2018
Next up: Transcripts of the Union-Tribune editorial board interviews with the five candidates running for Board of Supervisors. They are a long read, and I know most people won’t bother to take the time. But you, really, really, should.
I got interested because of something I saw on Twitter:
So @jcroe just called to complain his clients — @BonnieDumanis @SDSheriff Bill Gore and @SummerStephan — are all upset we’re posting transcripts and audios. I told him “on the record” means “on the record” and he’s doing a disservice to his clients if he doesn’t tell them that.
— Matthew Thoreau Hall (@SDuncovered) April 6, 2018
And the response was something right out of Trump’s Media Playbook.
— Jason Cabel Roe (@jcroe) April 7, 2018
Here’s my grading on the interviews as published. Note that these marks are not necessarily the same as my opinions on the candidacies:
Omar Passons: A.
He speaks directly and shows an understanding of the process. Shortest transcript of the five. Best elevator speech:
I am running first and foremost to protect and ensure every child’s right to a strong start. Having grown up in San Diego’s foster care system to go on to professional careers in public health and land use law, I have seen in my own life what a difference that strong support can make. Professor James Heckman won a Nobel Prize in economics for demonstrating that there is a 13-to-1 return on investment (ROI) of public dollars invested in early childhood and that ROI never gets higher throughout a child’s life. The smart money is invested early. We will experience lower crime, reduce homelessness, and have a stronger regional economy in the long-term with better support for our children and youth.
I didn’t disagree with anything he said. But, boy, can he ramble. Had to re-read several passages because I got lost. Still, he made the case for why an ex-Republican has a place in this race. And his approach to coalition building does make sense, especially since whoever takes the seat will be outnumbered, at least for a few years.
I think that there is a clear and consistent record that I wasn’t a very good Republican and I’ve acknowledged. You know everyone else when they change parties, they just say, well I didn’t change, the parties changed. I didn’t do that. I said, no, I changed. I changed on things and it’s only in politics where having said, hey, I was wrong and I got new information and I looked at new facts and I met with a new group. It’s only in politics that that is the unforgivable sin.
He made a strong argument for having deep roots in the community. At the same time acknowledged the importance of the bigger picture, even when it leads to decisions that might be unpopular:
I’m not going to hide and make a decision and then hide from the community. I am going to face them and I am going to put it out how I think about that and I won’t go against them unless I have the data and metrics to support what I’m trying to say, but I can tell you that will be very rare because that’s how I’ve been trained and how I’ve learned, the mistakes that I have made, we have made in the past on not listening to people, only telling them what they need to know and that’s not right.
Lori Saldaña: D
I’ve made no secret of my disappointment in her candidacy, so take that into consideration with this scoring. She without a doubt has the most progressive positions on many issues. I just wonder if she’s actually running for the job or out to settle old scores with the Democratic Party because those issues dominate this interview. And her embrace of the endorsement from Mickey Kardasian’s rogue labor group is indefensible.
Don’t drink the Kasparian Kool-Aid that people are trying to pour for you because they attack people on their strengths and I’ve been very clear where I am on sexual assault and harassment, it’s why I signed that letter a year ago. Those women got justice. They settled their cases. It’s time to move on.
We’ll come back to the “Those women got justice” part later on in this story.
She hates Trump’s tweets but can’t say anything more because she’s non-partisan. And thinks she’s entitled to the job.
I know all the players in the community, and I am truly a nonpartisan person. I’ve never run for a nonpartisan office and like I said people don’t bleed, you know, Democrat or Republican, peoples’ mental health are determined by that and I think that you get me and the 35 years of experience and something no one else will give you and that is I’m giving it to you because I care and I don’t need this job, I’m not going up anywhere and I know the issues, I know them well.
Dumanis gets two excerpts, just because this one pissed me off so much:
…my culture as the D.A. has been to open up the D.A.’s Office to the public. I have had people outreach in all communities. You know I’ve had Jesse Navarro and the Latino community and they just honored him yesterday in the Latino community because we reached out to the media, that’s one of the first things I did. We had somebody reaching out in the African American community. We had a senior citizen, Midge Costanza, who when I hired her was 72 and she was terrific. She was the first woman in the Oval Office with Jimmy Carter and she worked on elder issues and they went out, you know, into the community. I went out into the community. I spent most of my time in my district actually in… mostly in Southeast San Diego and the Barrio because they’re the underserved communities.
Aside from the obvious pandering in this statement, there’s the little matter of all the controversies involving Jesse Navarro. Dumanis allegedly tried to get him appointed to a city council seat on Chula Vista. Investigations, which everybody swears have no connection to the refusal to grant that request, of the Chula Vista government followed.
And then there’s the little matter of the retired police officers association’s attempted invite of –drum roll– Genevieve Jones-Wright to a black history month event. I’m told it was Navarro’s objections to the invitation that led to the cancellation of the event.
Here’s the point: everything Bonnie Dumanis does is political.
Finally, we come to my other long reads from the weekend: transcripts from the depositions in the now-settled lawsuits against Mickey Kasparian. Brent Beltran has posted links to them in another story here at San Diego Free Press.
I know the process of deposing witnesses in a civil case involves tough questions, often based on a worst-case scenario for whomever they are witnesses against.
I have to say though, based on what I read, that even if Mickey Kasparian never sexually harassed or discriminated against an employee, the picture painted of his management style is anything but progressive.
I truly believe that good politics and good behavior are ultimately linked. And I honestly felt sorry for what his employees at UFCW 135 were put through.
Mickey Kasparian’s troubles aren’t over. As the United Foodservice and Commercial Workers convention in Las Vegas approaches, I’m told his past behavior is about to get to some national attention, via a major media outlet.
I recently had occasion to review some of the correspondence leading up to Kasparian’s decision to leave the San Diego County Labor Council and then form the breakaway Working People’s Council.
It’s a lot of inside baseball, but here’s the bottom line: he ran rather than face his accusers.
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