San Diego to choose a new mayor - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

San Diego to choose a new mayor

San Diego mayors Roger Hedgecock and Dick Murphy both resigned due to scandals. (Photo by Tim Forkes)

Long time Democratic Congressman and short-lived San Diego Mayor Bob Filner — you broke our hearts.
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Long time Democratic Congressman and short-lived San Diego Mayor Bob Filner — you broke our hearts.
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Our great Democratic Hope here in San Diego had to step down, due entirely to his record of sexually harassment. Bob Filner is no more, relegated to the trash heap, not even the punchline for the jokes told in the late night by TV comedians.

My god, they still make Anthony Weiner jokes, and of course the Crack Smoking Mayor of Toronto — how can a relatively unknown pervert of a public official compete against that? Rob Ford is an international star, not afraid to admit he drives drunk and snorts cocaine and smokes its more powerful variant: crack.

Hell, he isn’t even afraid to talk about eating pussy in front of TV cameras with reporters recording his every word. Why the hell would Rob Ford consider resigning as mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s largest city?

He drinks to excess, uses illegal drugs and consorts with women not his wife—at least one of which claims to be a prostitute. Bill Clinton got a blowjob in the White House and didn’t lose his job, so why should Rob get fired for getting his pole polished in the mayor’s office?

At least that’s what Rob Ford is thinking.

So every pervert politician here in the U.S., from former Senators Larry Craig to John Ensign, to Mark Foley and Mark Sanford; Anthony Weiner and Bob Filner — they all have to be wondering, How does the crackhead rate?

Hell, Marion Barry lost his job as mayor of Washington, D.C. for engaging in the activities Rob Ford has admitted doing. It just ain’t fair.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford isn't stepping down. Take notes U.S. politicians.
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford isn’t stepping down. Take notes U.S. politicians.
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Which gets me to thinking: what’s Senator David Vitter of Louisiana thinking? He was able to skate out of his troubles after he was exposed as a frequent customer of the “D.C. Madame.” Maybe he’s watching all the news about Ford and taking notes — for next time. “I’m a happily married man! I get all the pussy I want at home.”

And poor old Bob Filner (emphasis on “old”) is sitting quietly in a secluded corner of San Diego County, building up resentment because he had to leave office and Rob Ford isn’t! If I were in Filner’s loafers I’d be feeling the same way … err … not that I would ever put myself in Filner’s loafers, sot to speak.

So, we have this special primary election November 19 to try and find a new mayor. I don’t know whom to choose. The kneejerk reaction for a leftwing reactionary like me would be to vote for the obvious Democrat, David Alvarez. He’s a San Diego City Councilman.

But — and there’s always a “but” when you find a candidate you like — he compromised on the shipyard expansion, brokering a deal that would allow more housing in Barrio Logan and expand the shipyard, without either encroaching on the buffer zone between the two.

This is where it gets tricky: NASSCO (National Steel and Shipbuilding Company), part of the General Dynamics Maritime Division, is the shipyard that wants to claim the buffer zone for development.

Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana got caught dipping his wick in prostitutes, but managed to keep his job in the Senate.
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana got caught dipping his wick in prostitutes, but managed to keep his job in the Senate.
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

They employ thousands of San Diego residents and their suppliers thousands more. With NASSCO’s contracts for the Navy (at least 10 ships) and commercial customers, they plan to have work to keep their employees busy for years and maybe add more jobs to the region. Everybody likes that idea — more jobs.

On the other hand … and if you’ve ever spent more than a few seconds in Barrio Logan you know this to be true … all the industrial activity makes Barrio Logan one of the smelliest neighborhoods in San Diego, i.e., a very polluted neighborhood.

Which was okay for a while because, lets be frank, these were poor people, Mexicans mostly, with no political clout so no need to give a damn about them.

But then some of “those people” started graduating from high school and going to college, learning about the world and the way things work, especially in San Diego were business and development trump everything, or at least everything and everyone in Barrio Logan — and the next thing you know they become community activists, like David Alvarez. What’s not to like about this guy so far?

Then he brokered the deal to keep the buffer zone in place; new housing would be built elsewhere and the suppliers for NASSCO would expand in other areas. His friends in the activist community were just a little disappointed.

Things change once an activist gets in office and becomes a politician. Just look at our president. Crazy Republicans think President Obama is the leftiest of all liberal presidents … seriously?

Nah, he ain’t left of Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson — or even Teddy Roosevelt. Barack Obama is an effin’ moderate at best. Ask any self-respecting liberal their opinion of President Obama: it’s only slightly, to moderately, better than their opinions of President Bush. Okay, some lefties think Obama is a great man.

Once hit with the grim realities of having to govern and then lead, well, you get the picture. Having the strength of one’s convictions … eh … that’s negotiable.

Sigh … I voted for Obama twice, without regret, but dammit man! Fix the damn website!

David Alvarez is the only San Diego-born and bred candidate running for mayor. He was a community activist before he was elected to the city council. Can the left trust him?
(Photo from his Facebook page)

David Alvarez is the only San Diego-born and bred candidate running for mayor. He was a community activist before he was elected to the city council. Can the left trust him?
(Photo from his Facebook page)

Sorry, sometimes the tangents just carry me out to sea.

Anyway there are three other major contenders for the title: City Attorney Mike Aguirre, City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and former state legislator Nathan Fletcher.

In the 2012 primaries I gave Nathan Fletcher a look, even though he was a Republican at the time. He was pragmatic and definitely not an ideologue. And he was a Marine. I seriously considered ditching Filner for Fletcher ’cause just maybe Nathan was an actual, dyed-in-the-wool RINO (Republican In Name Only).

Except for one thing: Fletcher was on the bandwagon to cut city employee wages and benefits. That was the big issue from 2010-2012. The anti-worker coalition kept harping on this librarian that was collecting nearly a quarter mil a year in pension and benefits, so the obvious solution was: “Screw all the city employees!”

Okay, it was slightly more complicated than that, but the millionaire librarian was the only account of alleged pension abuse the anti-worker crowd could find. Oh, they mentioned “double-dippers,” people who were already collecting pensions from the military for instance. Why should they be allowed to get a second pension from the city?

Well, for starters, if they work for the city long enough to be eligible for a pension, that means they’ve earned it. It’s called fairness.

Yep, you may have dodged the draft during Vietnam or skipped the military after the draft ended because you didn’t have to enlist, but those “double dippers” earned their military pensions by putting their lives in harm’s way so you didn’t have to. Taking away any city employment pension would just put a penalty on them for having joined the military.

That wasn’t Nathan Fletcher’s argument though. They city’s employment package was seriously under-funded and that was Fletcher’s point.

Nathan Fletcher appears to be a very decent, sincere guy who would do an honorable job as mayor, but is that enough qualification for the office?
Photo from Fletcher Facebook page)

Nathan Fletcher appears to be a very decent, sincere guy who would do an honorable job as mayor, but is that enough qualification for the office?
Photo from Fletcher Facebook page)

Here’s the thing: military and City of San Diego retirees are not eligible for Social Security. When they retire all they have are their pensions and whatever savings plans (IRA’s, 401k’s, etc. they might have accrued. The men and women of the military and city employees do not pay the same FICA the rest of us pay.

Back in the 1980’s city officials, in a deal with the public employee unions, brokered a contract that would remove the city workers — and the city — from the Social Security rolls. City workers and the city would get a much better deal with the proposed pension program. So everyone went along, the deal was struck and everyone lived happily ever after … for nearly two decades.

And then in 2003 scandal broke out about the city employees’ pay and benefits package; mainly that the city hadn’t fully funded it.

Then the 2008 bank crash occurred and those pay and benefits packages started to lose key sources of their funding: tax revenues. So it was the workers’ fault the city was running a deficit. It stands to reason …

  • Just a reminder: anytime you hear someone use the phrase, “it stands to reason …” be prepared for their opinions masquerading as fact.

City of San Diego employees were getting paid better, had better health benefits than most American workers and dammit! They have pensions! Most American workers don’t get pensions anymore! They get 401k’s and other “savings’ plans that disappear every time the banks crash, and they take a dive with increasing regularity.

It’s not fair. The working conditions for city employees should suck just as much as everyone else’s.

That was pretty much the main argument for screwing the City of San Diego employees. The only 2012 mayoral candidate who didn’t agree with that was our now disgraced senior pervert Bob Filner.

So I voted for Bob. But Nathan was my second choice!

No one is really talking about the city employee pay and benefits issue anymore. It was a political issue for the 2012 elections so, it’s old news. It won’t do any good to try and tie Fletcher or Alvarez to Filner, just because they are Democrats … oh yeah. Nathan Fletcher changed political affiliations — twice.

He went from being a Republican, to an Independent to a Democrat. All within the past 15 months or so. He really doesn’t give a damn what people think of him, something you have to like in a politician.

Kevin Faulconer is a respected member of the City Council and the only Republican of the four major contenders. He also leads in the polls by wide margins. Will he get 50 percent plus 1 in Tuesday's election?
He could be San Diego's next mayor. One question: is this photo, from Faulconer’s Facebook page, Photoshopped? Just asking.

Kevin Faulconer is a respected member of the City Council and the only Republican of the four major contenders. He also leads in the polls by wide margins. Will he get 50 percent plus 1 in Tuesday’s election?
He could be San Diego’s next mayor. One question: is this photo, from Faulconer’s Facebook page, Photoshopped? Just asking.

Instead of careening off the cliff with the rest of the GOP, Fletcher said, “I’m outa here!”

Then, just over a week ago a phone solicitor working for Fletcher called to get me in the Fletcher camp. I was intrigued and decided to listen. After the usual inconsequential spiel, I asked the youngster on the phone about Fletcher’s stand on the city employee pay and benefits package, just to see if it had changed when Fletcher changed political affiliation.

The young caller didn’t know but he would have someone who did know give me a call and talk about it. As of this writing that call has not come.

Which is too bad because once again I’m considering Nathan Fletcher as my choice for mayor. He appears to be a pretty decent, sincere guy and he doesn’t bow to pressure from any political party, at least not publicly.

Last week Fletcher did a very public interview in which he talked about his young life growing up with an abusive parent. It wasn’t a pity piece either. He talked about how it had formed him as an adult, with a family of his own and his commitment to his standards and ideals.

My friend and I were out for dinner at Islands and one of Fletcher’s commercials came on the tube. So my bud, Eric Effin’ Louie, says, “I’d vote for Aguirre if he wasn’t such a dick.”

Yep, that’s the knock on Mike Aguirre. He got into office as the City Attorney but left office when the electorate decided to fire him and elect someone to take his place.

Aguirre is the guy who first exposed the crazy deal between the City of San Diego and the NFL team, the San Diego Chargers. The deal that included the infamous “ticket guarantee;” the deal former San Diego Mayor Susan Golding called, “felony stupid.”

  • We soon found out the former mayor had helped broker the deal. Oops. Maybe it wasn’t quite felony-level stupid after all.

So, Mike Aguirre exposes the deal, city residents go crazy, Susan Golding ends her political career without so much as a “Seeya in the funny papers!” and ba-boom: Aguirre is elected City Attorney.

And then his egomania pisses off everyone, especially the voters and after one term that can only be described as … filled with turmoil, he loses to a Republican, Jan Goldsmith, by 20 points. In other words: even some of the reliably Democratic votes went to the Republican. That’s gotta hurt.

In Aguirre’s defense: pundits and editorial boards outside of San Diego praised Aguirre for his reformist ways and consider him to be one f the nation’s best elected municipal officials.

The good money is betting on the election going to a run off, with the top two vote-getters squaring off in another election, the date yet to be named. The two contenders: Mike Aguirre and Kevin Faulconer.

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre gained a reputation as a bomb thrower, but how much of that was just perception spun up by his adversaries in (and out of) the news media?
(Photo from Aguirre Facebook page)

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre gained a reputation as a bomb thrower, but how much of that was just perception spun up by his adversaries in (and out of) the news media?
(Photo from Aguirre Facebook page)

The latter leads in all the polls so the big question is: who will be his opponent in the run off? Many pundits are predicting Aguirre, due to his name recognition. But I’m putting my money on Fletcher.

What comes with Aguirre’s name recognition are the memories of his brash, oft-perceived offensive personality. Yes, he has a reputation for getting things done, but he was often alleged to have gotten things wrong.

There was a California Bar Association investigation of Aguirre. That was big news; the City Attorney was allegedly abusing his powers, had ethics violations with conflict of interest issues.

But the Bar cleared Aguirre of any violations; he hadn’t done anything illegal or wrong. That wasn’t really big news because it didn’t fit into the narrative created by the local news media.

It seems Aguirre’s biggest fault was being opposed by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Very conservative owners have always owned the newspaper, currently Doug Manchester and John Lynch, through MLIM Holdings.

Manchester bought the paper and all it’s holdings in 2011 from Platinum Equity who bought it from the Copleys in 2009.

Aguirre was and is all about reforming the way the public’s business is done in the city and that means shaking up — and even breaking up — the status quo.

San Diego public officials have a long history of being in bed with the business community, especially the developers. Doug Manchester is one of those developers and he has done his financial best to influence public policy in favor of development, especially when it directly benefits him, as in developments in Downtown San Diego.

When Manchester and Lynch bought the U-T, they quite publicly stated their intention to be champions of downtown development and politically conservative agendas.

And that puts them on the opposite end of the spectrum from Mike Aguirre. That might be the best reason to elect Mike Aguirre mayor of San Diego. He pisses off all the right people.

An aerial photo of San Diego by Rafael Rivera for the City of San Diego.

An aerial photo of San Diego by Rafael Rivera for the City of San Diego.

It’s interesting that in the debate on Friday between the mayoral candidates, Aguirre was the only one opposing big raises in police department salaries and benefits. Is that the right decision?

It’s hard to keep police officers if they can get better-paying jobs, but San Diego has had a budget crisis for the past ten-plus years, the same crisis that swept Aguirre into office as the City Attorney.

Yep, Nathan Fletcher looks good, but Mike Aguirre, he’s the pit bull guarding the door. He just has a perception problem.

And as far as we know, neither one is guilty of sexual harassment … but we could have said that about Bob Filner a year ago.

 


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
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