June 5th is here. It’s all over but the ballot counting. And since my subscription to the psychic hotline has lapsed, I can’t say who’ll win and who will lose. (If you haven’t voted and it’s before 8pm, read this.)
The emergence of competitive contests for usually overlooked and down ballot offices will have a lasting impact on San Diego. A new generation of electoral activists has emerged, and the passion they’ve shown has changed the way people view local government.
There are have been some hard-fought battles among the candidates running for office, along with some impressive get-out-the-vote efforts. For those reasons, I will predict a higher turnout in this election than San Diego has seen in recent off-year elections.
Our advocacy at the San Diego Free Press for causes and candidates we believed in has brought both praise and scorn.
Nothing makes the all-volunteer crew at SDFP happier than seeing our readership increase. And we’ve been smashing records all over the place.
Over ten thousand people have read our “Crib Sheet” for the election in the last week. This morning alone (as of 10am), more than 1300 people checked out our suggestions as they were preparing to vote. And some of the articles getting the most traffic are the ones focusing on the County of San Diego contests.
Yay! People are paying attention.
Since November 13, when I posted my first column about the importance of local primaries, we’ve published 82 articles on the subject. Our interviews with District 4 Board of Supervisors candidates, along with coverage of the District Attorney and Sheriff contests continue to draw substantial interest months after they were published.
And, now, a few of the people we didn’t make happy…
Being listed among the “biggest losers” at the anonymous @SDCriminalJustice Twitter account is a great honor. I’d like to thank Deputy District Attorney ‘Jimmy’ Koerber and the folks at the San Diegans Against Crime PAC for their kind thoughts.
I’m not sure, however, the individual campaign workers and the underage high school student they singled out for abuse feel the same way.
You have to give the gang at the County District Attorney’s office credit: they really did understand what was at stake in this election.
Appointed interim DA Summer Stephan touted her expertise in fighting human trafficking, promised she was moving to implement reforms and sold her tenure in the department as an asset.
What she was really running on was the promise of continuing to protect the concept of some people being more equal than others when it comes to execution of her duties. That’s why a police officer caught committing perjury by way of his own body-cam can walk free, while a homeless human ends up in jail.
Much has been made of her office’s blind eye towards possible criminality in officer-related shootings, and the racism bound up in that process. (It’s amazing how people never convicted of a violent crime all of a sudden become blood-thirsty wannabe cop-killing gang members.)
So let’s take a look at how Stephan handled a human trafficking case, via Attorney Dan Gilleon’s Facebook page:
San Diego County District Attorney candidate, Summer Stephan, claims to champion the plight of human trafficking victims in San Diego; however, that rhetoric belies the actual prosecution policy that occurred under her watch as the point person for human trafficking prosecutions.
For example, during the prosecution of a human trafficking case in 2016 in People v. James Edward Gary (case number SCD266372), Ms. Stephan’s “baby,” the human trafficking and sex crimes unit, prosecuted a 20 year old, indigent, African-American male for the human trafficking of a 15 year old and a 16 year old girl, one of whom Anna Yum and I represent in a statutory rape lawsuit.
The two girls both testified that they were friends of the defendant, and they worked as prostitutes before they even met the defendant. They both testified that the defendant was not their pimp.
They also testified that a 74 year old affluent, Ivy League educated, Caucasian male named Ronald Posner, who we’re suing, was a “John” of theirs who took them on “dates” and paid them for sexual intercourse with him on multiple occasions. Posner’s “grooming” and sexual encounters with these minors are felonies under California and federal law.
Nevertheless, the District Attorney’s Office did not prosecute or even investigate Posner. In fact, it did the exact opposite. The DA’s office actually granted Posner immunity from prosecution so Posner could testify in court against the 20 year old defendant.
In the end, the DA got their conviction, yet another African-American male defendant got 10 years in prison, the girls were used as human pawns for the DA’s purposes in “fighting trafficking,” and Posner got a pat on the back and a get out of jail free card from the DA’s office for his repulsive, illegal acts on these young girls.
The rich white guy goes free. The poor black guy goes to jail. The DA gets another notch in her belt for prosecuting human trafficking. See anything wrong with this picture?
The odds were stacked in Summer Stephan’s favor in this election: a free ride to ‘incumbent ‘status by virtue of a Board of Supervisors appointment, law enforcement officers suborning the placement of illegal signage throughout the city, and her employees paying to keep their jobs via donations to a PAC.
One thing has changed, however: the District Attorney and her sycophants are no longer operating in the dark. The “everybody knows” credibility of her office is gone.
A good example of how this will play out in the future was on the front page of the Union-Tribune today, with a story about 55-year-old Nigerian-born Vista resident Ike Iloputaife.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, which has been under scrutiny thanks to a significant challenger to incumbent Bill Gore, went public with a press release suggesting Iloputaife was a person of interest in a burglary.
He became a suspect by virtue of the fact he’d been waking his two exotic Borzoi dogs in on the morning of the crime. (Walking While Black!)
A woman who lived around the corner from the burglarized home had snapped the photo of Iloputaife that morning when he walked past her house because, she told investigators, he was “a stranger” on her street. It was taken from behind at a significant distance. After the burglary, the woman — whose identity is unavailable — shared the photo with investigators.
Although the still-unidentified Iloputaife was billed in the press release as looking “similar to Suspect 2 in the burglary,” their only similarity is skin color. Suspect 2 is listed in the release as 20 to 35 years old, 6 feet to 6 feet, 5 inches and weighing 260 pounds. Iloputaife is 5 feet, 9 inches, in his mid-50s and weighs 195 pounds.
This story in the UT would not have been on the front page of the paper were it not for the scrutiny this year’s electoral contests have brought to county offices. A few years ago it wouldn’t have made the paper at all.
I’ll be the first to tell you that electoral activism is not the be-all and end-all of making progressive change. It’s highly unlikely we’ll win most of our battles this time around.
Other forms of activism, be they engaging with elected officials or taking to the street, are important parts of the mix.
I’ll start on the articles about the general election in the next few weeks. Stay woke, my friends!
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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