Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nancy Reagan, where art thou?

Picture a totem pole.  Now visualize our regional law enforcers -- the city attorney, police chief, sheriff, and district attorney -- stacked head-to-foot up the length of the pole.  Atop them all you'll find the U.S. Attorney.

The name of San Diego's U.S. Attorney is Laura Duffy.  Laura who?  As the U.S. Attorney for the San Diego region, Laura Duffy has the job of investigating and prosecuting violations of federal criminal law, such as political corruption, tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, organized crime, and so on.   


U.S. Attorneys are instructed to steer clear of partisan politics -- local, state, or national.  It's the law.

But last week, San Diego's U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy engaged in a series of activities that directly affected and advanced the political aspirations of mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, who boasted:

I'm supported by Mayor Jerry Sanders. I’m supported by the leading Democrat donor, Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs.  Laura Duffy, the U.S. Attorney, donated to my campaign and today commented about her displeasure with the congressman’s (i.e., Bob Filner's) temperament.
Why would U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy violate the ethical, moral, and even legal rules inherent in her prestigious Department of Justice appointment?  Why would she meddle in San Diego's mayoral politics, leaning her finger on the scales to try to manipulate the outcome of the Filner-DeMaio mayor's race?  For a fuller description of the story, click here.

While it's true that San Diego's long history of Ponzi schemers and income tax evaders, of racketeers and fast-talking land developers can seem like a quaint and colorful folktale, the fact is that San Diego's underside continues to be very dark and sinister.


Did you know that the FBI identifies San Diego as one of the nation's top sex-trafficking hubs?  Or that our reputation as the methamphetamine capital of America is still up and running?  Illicit drugs continue to snake like a river around our city, filtering into our schools, local bars, and neighborhood party houses.

So let's ask the question again: why would Laura Duffy go out on a limb to violate… meddle… manipulate… curry favor with Carl Demaio and the Republican Party when there's plenty of bona fide work in our town to keep any U.S. Attorney busy?

Frankly, I'm stymied by this one
.  Here is a list of 8 observations (in no special order) – maybe you can figure it out:

  1. We've got a Midwestern, lesbian, Republican* Democratic U.S. Attorney -- risking her career to align herself with Carl DeMaio.
  2. We've got Carl DeMaio, a shrink government Midwestern, gay, Republican candidate for mayor -- congenitally unable to distinguish truth from fiction.
  3. We've got a politically conservative, anti-gay, Catholic, control freak-multi-millionaire hotel and land developer, Doug Manchester -- beating the bushes and breathing fire down the necks of fellow-millionaires and developers to support the campaign of Carl DeMaio for mayor.  
  4. We've got John Lynch, Doug Manchester's mirror image partner-in-ownership at the San Diego U-T -- using their daily newspaper as a lethal weapon to mow down any and all opposition to Carl DeMaio for mayor.
  5. We've got a rabid leadership team at the Republican Party of San Diego -- exerting inordinate pressure, intimidation, and duress on San Diego's political and business establishment to bludgeon them into falling in line behind Carl DeMaio.
  6. We've got a totem pole (I'd call it a shame pole) of ambitious Republican law enforcers – swallowing their integrity and self respect to endorse Carl DeMaio, a person for whom they have expressed great contempt in the past (to her credit, Bonnie Dumanis remains a holdout).  
  7.  We've got Johnathan Hale, full-time live-in partner of the man who would be San Diego's first gay mayor -- a bullying, gay newspaper/ media/ events and parties maven, a mystery man who blew into town laden with a checkered past, tussles with the law, restraining orders, multiple name changes, porn-style online ventures, and a knack for throwing magic dust into the eyes of the person with whom he plans on sharing the mayor's office. 
  8. We've got the full faith and credit of the historically powerful, politically conservative San Diego establishment -- salivating at the thought of putting a zealous proponent of privatized government into the mayor's office.  Even the U.S. Attorney is willing to risk her career to jump on his bandwagon.  The promised rewards from San Diego's very own Candyman must be very great, indeed! 
Remember Nancy Reagan? Just say no!

* Duffy is registered as a Democrat -- which just goes to show you that succumbing to pressure from one's peers can linger long after graduating from high school.    

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lies? We don’t need no stinkin’ lies


Here's the 5th (maybe the last -- we'll wait and see) installment in the we don't need no stinkin' series.  This one is about lies.

Like fingerprints, no two lies are identical.  Same goes for liars.  
A)  Some liars lie for self-protection.  Consider political cover-ups.
B)  Some liars lie to whitewash things they say (or write) whenever they get loaded.  Consider the congenital lushes you've known.
C)  Some liars lie because of a pathological affliction that compels them to create false/ fabricated/ fallacious responses to just about everything.  Consider the manchurian (I have a friend who calls him manchesturian) candidate Carl DeMaio.   
            
Let's explore this more closely. 

A) Self-protection category: Five years ago I wrote about Mayor Sanders lying on the beach in Hawaii, in total denial of having participated in the scandalous Sunroad land-abuse episode (a high-rise development project across from Montgomery Field airport in Kearny Mesa that exceeded FAA height restrictions).  The scandal precipitated the departures of the mayor's respected COO Ronne Froman, the city’s respected city auditor John Torrell, and the deputy COO for land use and economic development Jim Waring.  

The Sunroad project was eventually scaled back and the mayor survived.  But the public lost big, in legal fees and bad publicity.  There are many more stories where that one came from but for now we'll let bygones be bygones and move on to more recent events. 

B) Loaded category: By now, everyone knows who Doug Manchester is.  But how familiar are you with his pal and partner at the U-T, John Lynch?  

John Lynch -- former CEO of the Broadcast Company of the Americas (BCA) and former president of Catholic Radio Network -- is unabashedly as unrepentant and pugnacious in his (ab)use of the U-T newspaper to promote his political and personal agendas as he was in his (ab)use of the public airwaves.  

“Over the course of his career,” touts a blurb from the San Diego Harvard Business School Club, “Lynch has raised hundreds of millions of equity and debt to build several companies.”  The blurb fails to address a long list of legal actions against Lynch for breach of contract, financial misappropriation, mortgage default, property foreclosure, reneging on debts, and other unsavory business practices.  Two years ago he was fired from BCA, the firm he founded.  Then he went into partnership with Doug Manchester.

Lynch's erratic behavior made the news again the other day with some threatening emails he admits writing… no he didn’t… okay maybe he did… no, someone else used his computer to write it… fine! so what if he did write it... Lynch stands by his threat to use his newspaper to destroy the Port of San Diego (and anything else that gets in his way, I might add).   Click here to see what a loaded lie sounds like when Lynch, the perpetrator, has to cover his tracks because he doesn’t quite remember…

C) Pathological category: Click here to watch a mechanized mayoral candidate answer your questions -- it's an experience you won't forget.  It's what pathology looks like in real time.

Then scan the following list and take your pick -- lies come in all sizes.  
  • Carl DeMaio falsely announced that Democratic former-congresswoman Lyn Schenk endorsed him for mayor -- hardly his first spurious claim of support by people who didn't support him.
  • DeMaio claimed responsibility for numerous cost-saving reforms in the city budget.  You can click here to see Mayor Sanders laying into him for misrepresenting the facts with “political calculations” to distort and falsify the truth (the pot calling the kettle black? maybe not in this case).  
  • Then there were DeMaio's assertions of innocent ignorance about the midnight water-gun shooting spree in Balboa Park, coupled with his duplicitous defense of his boyfriend Johnathan Hale, who played a role in promoting the destructive, unlawful party.
  • Not content with his own practice of manipulating the truth, DeMaio gave City Auditor Eduardo Luna clear instructions this past summer on how to falsify an audit report: "I’d rather have you come back and say, ‘Your know, we looked at this department and they did a really good job...’ "  Lies are preferable to the truth.
  • What about DeMaio’s insistence that he supported the families of police officers killed in the line of duty when he actually voted against their continued benefits?  
  • Throw in DeMaio’s bald-faced public statements that he opposes Doug Manchester’s land-grab proposal on Port property at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal when the opposite is true.  
  • Or that he opposes plans for a bypass bridge and paid parking lot in Balboa Park – only to vote in favor of the plan.  
  • Or his smooth talk about government 'transparency' – and his vote for hefty fees for citizens when they request public documents.  
  • Or his trumpeted contempt for greedy downtown "insiders" and his welcoming  embrace of the same people as bosom buddies and partners.
  • Or that whopper that he had NO meetings or correspondence with his protectors and patrons Doug Manchester and John Lynch, despite published proof that he did? 
Finally, if you have the stomach for more, click here to see a KPBS synopsis of the scheming exploits of San Diego's three musketeers, DeMaio, Manchester, and Lynch.

Now consider these three final questions:

Does anyone out there disagree with syndicated columnist Amy Goodman when she says:
Journalism is the only profession explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, because journalists are supposed to be the check and balance on government.  We’re supposed to be holding those in power accountable.  We’re not supposed to be their megaphone.  That’s what the corporate media have become.
Does anyone find fault with the words of Joan Konner, former dean at Columbia University School of Journalism, when she says:
There is a civil war in our society today, a conflict between two American cultures, each holding very different values.  The adversaries are private profits versus public responsibility; personal ambition versus the community good; quantitative measures versus qualitative concerns.
Then ask yourselves, is this what we want for our city -- a future where the people in charge are self-enriching, pathological manipulators with no compunctions about selling the city to the highest bidders?

Your answers will be soon sealed at the ballot box.  Vote wisely.





Friday, October 5, 2012

Civility? we don’t need no stinkin’ civility

Remember when One Book, One San Diego was touted as a way to create community and pull all San Diegans together?  Now there’s a new communal project being broadcast over the airwaves, via editorial essays, and at public forums. The latest rage is called CIVILITY.

In San Diego we all know what civility means: play nice, be polite, don’t get hot under the collar about political issues, no matter how important.  Have strong feelings about the world around you?  Keep them to a whisper.  Better still, just keep your mouth shut.

At the risk of sounding uncivil, I’m going to come right out and tell you this: Mayor Jerry Sanders has betrayed the public.  How? by refusing to separate the communal public agenda from the private financial agendas of the people who brought him to power – the heavy-hitting fraternity of property developers, hoteliers, bankers, sports team owners, and financiers who took up residence in the mayor’s office 7 years ago and should have been evicted.  He never showed them the door. 

At the risk of sounding doubly uncivil I’ll tell you this: by climbing into bed with Carl DeMaio's campaign and supporters, our avuncular Mayor Sanders revealed one of  his least endearing charms – the broken ethical/moral compass he uses to justify a long history of political ineptitude, questionable judgment, and cover-ups.

Before we pursue this subject further, let’s take two steps backwards for some pertinent information about our city and mayor.

Before Jerry Sanders took office as the 30th (give or take) mayor of San Diego, our city was governed by a 9-member city council -- 8 council members plus the mayor.  Under that system the mayor was the leading member of the council but had only a single vote.  (Remember these former mayors? Dick Murphy, Susan Golding, Maureen O’Connor, Roger Hedgecock, Pete Wilson, Frank Curran – they all served as mayor under the previous ‘city manager’ system.)

 Under the old ‘city manager’ system a professional City Manager was appointed by the mayor and council to run day-to-day operations, oversee city departments, develop an annual budget, and be the city's all-around factotum.  During those days the city often scored high points in the category of efficiency and good management.

 In 2005 the city of San Diego switched to a ‘strong mayor’ system.   Under our new system the mayor is the city’s chief executive.  He no longer interfaces with the public at weekly meetings of the city council.  He no longer votes openly on city matters, but he does have a powerful veto (which can be overridden only with a ⅔ vote of the city council).  Under the new system the 'strong mayor' is the titular head of city departments, controls the flow of city information, and puts together the city budget.
 

Jerry Sanders is the first mayor to operate under the new 'strong mayor' form of government.  The way the fable is told, the buck stops at the ‘strong mayor' door.  But it hasn’t worked that way.  During his past 7 years in office, Mayor Sanders conducted the public's business through private deals behind the closed door of his city hall office – well out of reach of constituents who come down to city hall to air their concerns... well out of reach of ordinary residents whose points of view have been -- uncivilly -- ignored.

In an equally destructive abuse of mayoral power, Sanders also ignored his responsibility to ensure honest and effective management of city business.  Instead, he surrounded himself with political operatives and flushed good city management down our faulty city drains by:

  • not knowing or caring enough to get a competent, professional city manager to oversee the city’s complex inner workings
  • looking the other way as the city’s day-to-day operations and city services fell into disarray from inadequate oversight of city departments, contracts, personnel, projects, and performance standards
  • deceiving the public with spurious budgets and fiscal forecasts to whitewash San Diego’s invasive financial and structural problems and keep downtown developers in business

So why did Jerry Sanders endorse Carl DeMaio? Is it because:
a) the mayor likes the councilman’s personality?
b) he believes DeMaio would do a better job as mayor than Bob Filner?
c) he approves of the dubious personal baggage DeMaio will lug into city hall?
d) he depends on DeMaio’s mastery of the art of falsification, prevarication, deception, and amoral glibness to protect his own failures during two terms as mayor?

Yes, you’re right.  It's d.


In exchange for the mayor’s endorsement of DeMaio, DeMaio will protect the mayor’s reputation by hiding the fact that Sanders is leaving the city in abysmal shape, worse than when he first took the oath of office.  DeMaio will guarantee safe passage for self-serving downtown power players and provide them with exclusive rights to occupy city hall.  Was this pact made in heaven or made with the devil? -- you decide. 

Back to civility.  If civility means a sweet smile while you repeatedly lie to the public… if civility means an amiable grin while you’re bullying your compatriots… if civility means fabricating facts to win at any cost... if civility looks like the calculating stage mask pasted on Carl DeMaio’s public face – you can count me out.

But when civility means saying what you mean and meaning what you say… respect for the public process and for tried and true good government principles… promoting public agendas over private agendas… electing a BETTER mayor to replace Jerry Sanders, not the incalculably worse one he cynically endorsed -- you know can count me in.  

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

City government? we don't need no stinkin' government

This is the 3rd installment in the stinkin’ series.  It's called City government? we don’t need no stinkin’ government.  

Before we gird our collective loins to confront a scam called “Tourism Marketing District” I will pose this question: Why do we need city government?

Here’s a straightforward answer: to provide us with safe and pleasant surroundings so we can pursue our daily lives with a minimum of hassle – activities that include making a living, developing our talents, safeguarding the next generation, trying to be happy….

The answer hold true in Barrio Logan, Point Loma, and Mira Mesa.  Del Cerro, Pacific Beach, and Paradise Hills.  Up north in Carmel Valley and Rancho Bernardo.  City Heights and Linda Vista.  All of us want to come home to a stable, good neighborhood. 

It should come as no surprise that it costs a lot money to provide neighborhood basics like adequate police protection, parks and playgrounds, street lights that work, clean water from our taps, swept-up streets, librarians, sewer pipes that don’t burst, and smooth roads.  So how are our San Diego neighborhoods doing?

Outgoing Mayor Sanders tells us everything is A-ok.  But that’s not true.  Since Sanders took office seven years ago neighborhood maintenance, environmental services, and community planning have deteriorated.  The city remains paralyzed by chronic budget deficits and a staggering pension debt.  

Mayor Sanders finagled a budget ‘surplus’ to coincide with his final term in office but it was a fake.  It fizzled before he could duck out of office.  Our city and neighborhood ‘quality of life’ continue to sink in deep red ink.

The mayor didn’t directly cause the city’s financial crisis.  He simply added his name to the top of the list of San Diego city officials castigated in the investigative 2005 Kroll Report for “non-transparency, obfuscation, and denial of fiscal reality.”  In plain English: fudging the facts, juggling the numbers, evasion, cover-up...In other words, he didn't do his job.

The following information leads up to the "Tourism Marketing District" scam.  In dealing with individuals -- once they pile up debt, run out money and can’t pay their bills their options are limited.  They can come clean with family and/or creditors and create a long-term plan to whittle down the problem and eventually emerge intact.  Or they can deny their fiscal reality and attempt to bail themselves out through antisocial mechanisms (rob a bank? put the squeeze on a relative? skip town? invent a Ponzi scheme?).

In the case of the city -- San Diego has piled up debt, run out of money, and no longer pays the bills that keep our neighborhoods in good working order.   City departments have been hollowed out and it’s only a matter of time before the cracks will widen and deepen in Carmel Valley and Rancho Bernardo, just like in Barrio Logan and Linda Vista. 

The city has chosen not to come clean.  It’s chosen the other alternative -- the creation of antisocial mechanisms that keep fooling the public… obfuscating... juggling the numbers… betraying the voters.  Yes, that’s precisely why the Tourism Marketing District was invented.

The Tourism Marketing District is the latest maneuver by San Diego's self-serving, tunnel-visioned tourism hustlers to undercut the General Fund and line their own pockets.  Over its proposed lifetime the TMD would divert more than $1 billion from San Diego's General Fund and transfer those riches directly into the pockets of the city’s hotel and tourism industry.  Hoteliers with the biggest pockets -- foreign as well as local -- reap the biggest reward.

Let’s go through this once more.  The General Fund is San Diego’s most important pot of money for keeping the entire city operating at acceptable levels.  To maintain a healthy and desirable city, basic taxes and fees go into the General Fund and are spent on daily civic and personal necessities like police, fire, parks, and libraries – services that create safe and pleasant neighborhoods for people throughout the city.

It's antisocial to rob a bank.  It's criminal to rob the city's General Fund. 

This Tuesday at 2pm the City Council will be making crucial decisions about the antisocial scam called the Tourism Marketing District -- a DEAD END for San Diego.

(“Limited Government” Paul Noth, The New Yorker)

By email and phone you can remind your elected representatives that starving our General Fund will ultimately destroy the ability of city government to meet the needs of our neighborhoods and residents.  

Here's how to reach your City Council members.  Do it today.

D1 Sherri Lightner 619-236-6611
D2 Kevin Faulconer 619-236-6622
D3 Todd Gloria 619-236-6633
D4 Tony Young 619-236-6644
D5 Carl DeMaio 619-236-6655
D6 Lori Zapf 619-236-6616
D7 Marti Emerald 619-236-6677
D8 David Alvarez 619-236-6688

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Newspaper? we don't need no stinkin' newspaper


Here's today’s top pick in the don't need no stinkin' category.  It's called we don’t need no stinkin’ newspaper!

Doug Manchester’s high-flying plan to convert the entire San Diego region to a super-conservative privately-held corporation is highlighted by his latest acquisition of the North County Times (and affiliated Daily Californian).  Manchester makes no secret of his intention to capture the market of major news outlets -- newspapers, TV, radio, and electronic/online.  Given his deep pockets, political objectives, and close-to-the-bursting-point super-sized ego and ambitions, Manchester will undoubtedly do whatever it takes to get where he wants to be.

Manchester didn't invent the quest for political control.  We all remember the Copley Press and the way they owned city politics -- they were kingmakers for decades.  But who thought it could possibly get worse?  Then it did.  Now it is.

As a matter of fact, it’s downright humiliating that the public face of our cherished San Diego hometown is now delivered to the rest of the world via a jingoistic 4th rate (stinkin’) newspaper that makes no pretense of adhering to routine journalistic standards.  The person doing his best to make a laughingstock of San Diego is none other than our local SDSU graduate Doug Manchester.

In his other life, Manchester is a developer who has spent years on the prowl in our inland, coastal, and downtown regions, leaving his mark like a trail of scat throughout the greater San Diego Metropolitan Area.   And like other predatory opportunists, this new owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune treads where he has no business treading (ethically speaking).

Now he’s ready for the kill.  Aside from ownership of prime properties, newspapers of record, and the airwaves, Manchester’s most strategic acquisition occurred this past season with his official and financial sponsorship (purchase?) of Carl DeMaio for mayor.  The terms of this contract are blunt: Manchester crowns DeMaio king and Manchester finally becomes…god.  Okay, not god with a capital G.  More like the kind they used to have in the glory days of ancient Greece. 

A god like Zeus, maybe.  Ruler of the sky.  Feared.  Powerful.  Erratic. Erotic. Infuriating to his wife.  Coupling, screwing, seducing whatever takes his fancy -- goddesses, queens, princesses, even the Trojan prince Ganymede.  Fathering babies.  Deflowering the young.  Coming on as a bull, swan, satyr, eagle...in a shower of gold.

Doug Manchester is not the only modern-day would-be avatar of Zeus.  It appears that San Diego's Doug Manchester is linked in spirit to another notable (if foreign) personality through a set of common traits, professional interests, and hearty lust for the high life.  

I'm thinking of Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.  Yes, Manchester's lack of political credentials is a handicap but that's what makes Carl DeMaio so handy. 

Doug and Silvio also share strong Catholic principles deploring gay marriage.  Around the same time Manchester put $125,000 on the line to prevent same-sex marriage in California Berlusconi was explaining, “I have a grueling work schedule and if I happen to look pretty girls in the face now and then, well then, it’s better to be a fan of pretty women than to be gay.”   Of course when there are bigger fish to fry, religious scruples fly out the window.

If you’d like a better feel for the personality of Doug Manchester, you need go no further than the following fulsome description of the self-acclaimed Creator of modern-day San Diego -- the "Papa": 
Papa Doug is chairman of Manchester Financial Group. He is a true industrialist with accomplishments on a national and international scale in telecommunications, radio broadcast, medical instrumentation, publishing, and real estate development. Papa Doug is considered father of the San Diego Convention Center after his generous contribution of the property for its development. The completion of the second largest Marriott and Hyatt hotels in the world anchored its success and gave birth to the vast downtown redevelopment still continuing today. In addition to the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina and the Manchester Grand Hyatt, his investment and development projects include The Grand Del Mar Resort & Spa, Manchester Executive Center, Manchester Financial Building, and the Whitetail Lodge and Golf Club, and soon a convention center hotel in Austin, Texas. Papa Doug was the catalyst for the now famous Biotech cluster at Torrey Pines. Currently, Papa Doug is Chairman and Publisher of the San Diego Union Tribune.
For purposes of comparison take a look at the description of the other wannabe Zeus, Silvio Berlusconi:
Silvio Berlusconi an Italian politician and media tycoon who served three times as Prime Minister of Italy from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the controlling shareholder of Mediaset (an Italian-based mass media which is the largest commercial broadcaster) and owner of A.C.Milan (a professional Italian football club).  He has many nicknames, but the most commonly used are Silvio, Il Cavaliere: (The Knight) … Berlusconi was criticised for his dominance over the Italian media whilst he held political office.  His broadcasting company Mediaset is the largest in the country and one of the biggest in Europe.  Berlusconi never fulfilled his election promises to sell off his assets in the company to avoid a conflict of interest.  His leadership was also undermined by sex scandals. 
Mere mortals did not fare well under Zeus.  Sociopathic personalities (sociopath: a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience) when hooked up with delusions of grandeur are inevitably harmful to the public health.  

The DeMaio/Manchester duo is a toxic partnership and inevitably harmful to the public health.  Heed this warning: Carl DeMaio in office means Doug Manchester as mayor.  The only effective anti-venom lays in the hands of the voters.  

Equally toxic and harmful to the public health is a stinkin’ newspaper (more stinkin' than ever before) that distorts, manufactures, and hides the facts from the public and wantonly infuses editorial opinions into places that should be limited to strict objective reporting.  

How about this for the start of a good new myth: Once upon a time a beneficent philanthropist (looking for a tax shelter or a business loss, something like that) becomes a modern-day god(dess) of wisdom and enlightenment by raining down on San Diego a shower of gold to support a decent city newspaper, edited by fair-minded individuals and staffed by a crew of inquisitive, smart, and professional reporters.  

Combined with a responsible mayor in office, San Diego would stand a chance of becoming a coastal Olympus.

We already have an excellent choice for mayor.  It's Bob Filner.  Transforming the rest of the story into reality is still in the offing.  Anyone out there up for the challenge? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Audits? we don't need no stinkin' audits!

I’ve been working on a new informal series called WHAT SAN DIEGO DOESN'T NEED.  Here's the first installment, to be followed by short pieces on other things our city doesn’t need, like Newspaper? we don't need no stinkin’ newspaper…no stinkin’ pensions…stinkin’ lawsuits...scandals…moral terpitude...and so on.
Today it's audits.

My mother introduced me to audits when I was a child by way of specific instructions on how to deal with the outside world.  It was the ordinary dose of Be careful crossing the street and Don’t talk to strangers -- until one day she catapulted me into a grey zone of 'little white lies' with a new caveat: Honey, whenever anyone asks what daddy does for a living don’t say bookie. Say he’s an auditor…just say he does hotel audits.

Now it’s your turn for confession.  Raise your hand if you know what an audit actually is.  Double points if you can name San Diego’s City Auditor.  Jackpot if you have any idea how much trouble our city can/did get into when the City Auditor doesn't/didn't do his job.

To start you off here’s a quick definition of the term audit: an official examination and verification of accounts and records, especially of financial accounts.  Big and small businesses, brokerage firms, banks, individual taxpayers, educational institutions, private and public corporations and yes...hotels, they are all subject to routine and/or special audits.  Cities are no exception.

Eduardo Luna has been San Diego’s City Auditor for the past five years.  You may have seen his name in the news recently when one of his audit reports was challenged by the mayor.  You may have read that he was chastised by mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio for bringing a negative report to public attention.  Maybe you came across his dissent from the city’s positive fiscal analysis on last June's “pension reform” measure (Proposition B).  Luna claimed that financial savings touted by the proposition were exaggerated and misleading.

But even if you’ve never noticed San Diego’s soft-spoken, non-confrontational City Auditor, you should be aware that his job responsibilities are crucial and far-reaching.

Here’s what the City Auditor is supposed to do for the city: 
  • conduct performance audits, management audits, compliance audits, and special investigations to determine how well the city is doing its job and how it could improve
  •  eliminate waste and fraud
  •  assess and report on city operations, services, and contracts
  •  examine and verify the city’s financial accounts and records
  •  open the city’s books to public view
  • be the taxpayers' watchdog, the people's advocate
It is painfully clear that many past City Auditors fell down on the job.  An objective assessment of San Diego history reveals a longstanding political culture that exalts the art of ‘little white lies’ and routinely squashes internal controls and public disclosure.  

The truth does and should matter in local politics.  But the San Diego complex has traditionally stifled attempts at open good government and excommunicated the occasional individual who ventures forward to challenge the status quo.  To this day, political fiction still trumps the truth.

You need look no further than the pass Mayor Sanders received when he announced that the city's financial problems were over.  Who would be so petty as to criticize a genial, termed-out mayor for falsifying financial information and deceiving the public?  After eight years of sweeping truth under the rug, a fella's entitled to a whopper before the door gets shut behind him, isn't he?

And you need look no further than the ease with which the person who wants to be the next mayor, Carl DeMaio, has mastered the art of misinformation and falsehoods from his seat at the city council to the campaign trail.  

Even when -- in a stunning betrayal of the public trust -- Carl DeMaio undermines public accountability, transparency, and open government by 'encouraging' the City Auditor to hide critical or negative information from the public and deliver only positive assessments in future audits, his hypocrisy goes unchallenged.  A fella running for mayor is entitled to be two-faced, isn't he?


Let me refresh your memory about what can happen when a City Auditor is coerced into hiding facts and deceiving the public.  In a 2006 report by a team of financial experts investigating corrupt practices surrounding San Diego’s pension debacle, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt laid the blame for the financial crisis that continues to destabilize our city on “San Diego officials (including a previous City Auditor, who) fell prey to the same type of corruption of financial management and reporting that afflicted municipalities such as Orange County, and such private sector companies as Enron...(and) demonstrated willful intent to deceive the public…”  Six years later, DeMaio is proposing to go down the same corrupt road.

You’ll be relieved to know that regulations governing our present-day City Auditor have been tightened with some new safeguards.  But the City Auditor remains an appointed position, subject to manipulation, pressure, and retribution from the mayor and city council and even from the city’s audit committee, to which the City Auditor now reports.  (Perhaps the public will consider transforming the City Auditor into an elected position answerable, accountable, and available to San Diego voters.  But that’s a conversation for another day.)

To conclude: we don’t need no stinkin’ audits!  What we do need are thorough, honest, and untainted reports from a respectable City Auditor like Eduardo Luna.  And public willingness to demand them.

What we do need is a strong and honest new mayor who demands thoroughness and integrity at all levels of city government.  And a public-minded city council to demand the same.

What we do need is a ban on political hypocrisy, simple-minded solutions, lies, and the liars who are so good at telling them.  And informed voters to demand a different future for San Diego.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bad boys with terrible judgment



Dog days of summer -- they’re scorchers.

So what do some people do when it’s too darn hot?  They organize a midnight fandango in the heart of Balboa Park.  They squirt water guns, hoot and holler, trash the gardens, befoul the waterlily pond, kill some fish, break the pipes, trample bushes, and booze and smoke themselves silly.  

Not quite like the old days when sweaty families uncapped the corner fire hydrants to cool off with communal dousings. 

If you haven’t seen it on TV news you can read about last Saturday night’s ‘happening’ in Balboa Park here.  This was no spontaneous event.  Rather, it was a vigorously-publicized invitational extravaganza to entice thousands of unchaperoned, unsupervised, unpermitted revelers to come on out and wreak some mindless havoc on a landmark piece of public property.  "Load your guns," broadcasts a Facebook page (now expunged) "and join us for the 2nd Annual Midnight Water Gun Fight in Balboa Park!"  (Anyone out there know who organized the first Annual Midnight Gun Fight?) 

Of course boys will be boys.  And even bad boys with miserable judgment, bullying tactics, and a recurrent pattern of irresponsible behavior have every right to parade around as fun guys when the agenda is a free-for-all-water-gun-battle.  But when boys grow up to be irresponsible men and develop delusions of grandeur about occupying the San Diego mayor's seat, the story becomes menacing.

As I wrote in my previous post, Carl DeMaio -- the man who would become San Diego’s next mayor -- is tightly enmeshed with businessman Johnathan Hale.  I suggest you reread Sex, Lies, and Videotape, specifically part II.  Why?  Because it happens that the squirt-rave in Balboa Park this past weekend was organized by associates of Johnathan Hale and promoted through his Hale Media outlets (www.sdgln.com and www.sdpix.com).  The connections are hard to miss.

Surely Carl DeMaio's right hand should be aware of and take responsibility for what his left hand is up to.

The initial response cited in the LGBT Weekly, “Neither officials at District 5 City Councilman Carl DeMaio’s council offices, nor at his campaign headquarters are commenting on the fact that DeMaio’s life partner’s media company helped publicize a midnight water-gun battle that became a crime scene in Balboa Park” has been superseded by vigorous protestations of innocence from both DeMaio and Hale.

But it seems no one is taking responsibility for much of anything connected to this much-publicized, officially unauthorized event.  Does anyone know why the SD Police Department went AWOL during the midnight festivities while a thousand-plus water gun squirters recreated on public park property?   And does anyone have a clue to the whereabouts of the private security guards, paid by the city to patrol Balboa Park, for the whole time that the funsters were roaming the Prado?

I conclude this strange tale with an observation and a warning:
          *  Something really screwy is going on in our city; and
          *  HEADS UP, EVERYONE! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sex, lies, and videotape


Readers take note:  Sex, lies, and videotape is a 3-part commentary.  If you’re short on time, consider reading PART I today and PART II and III tomorrow. 
PART I
Lies and Videotape 
Does anyone out there remember the doomsday cult called Heaven’s Gate -- UFO-believers led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, aka “The Two,” aka “Te and Do,” aka “Bo and Peep”?  Heaven's Gate cult members were ascetic “vehicles” on a journey to the “next level.”  Their shared delusions and willing submission to authoritarian leaders came to a shocking end in a tragic group suicide.  This happened in 1996.  Only videotapes remain, documenting their stay in and departure from San Diego. 
Yes, truth can be stranger than fiction.  But if you think it can’t get even stranger, consider this: we’ve got another Hale Bopp scenario on our hands.  This time it involves billionaire corporate investors with an anointed “vehicle” who happens to be running for mayor of San Diego.  This could be the plot for a 3rd rate horror film but I'm afraid it's real.  Here's what's going on: 
A group of of multi-million/billionaires -- well-known for their anti-tax, anti-government, anti-labor, anti-regulation, anti-pension, anti-public, anti-environmental, pro-privatization proclivities -- have targeted the city of San Diego for political takeover.  Their goal is not greater efficiency or raising the standard of living.  Their goal is to transfer the control, ownership, and wealth embedded in the city's valuable public assets straight into private corporate hands.  Their goal is a new world order.  Their goal is to use San Diego as a launching pad. 
This radical group includes familiar names in the national news -- Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, Newt Gringrich, Virginia Thomas (wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), Karl Rove, Dick Armey, the Heritage Foundation, Reason Foundation, CATO Institute, and Americans for Prosperity.  Bringing up the rear is our very own Doug Manchester. 
Their shared philosophy is part anarchist, part Machiavellian, part domino-theory, and weirdly-Maoist: conquer the countryside (San Diego) and watch cities across the nations tumble.  To echo Carl DeMaio, “If we can show ‘reform’ in San Diego, it becomes a model nationwide." 
That, in a nutshell, is what’s at stake in the Carl DeMaio / Bob Filner race for mayor. 
Sex and Videotape
San Diego leaders are a conservative but non-radical group of entrepreneurs (I’m referring to the tightly-held inbred consortium of bankers, real-estate developers, hoteliers, law firms, lobbyists, and other political intimates who have historically ruled the city’s roost).  They’re sophisticated when it comes to running home town politics, but when it comes to the tantalizing, reckless, greed-fulfilling bag of tricks offered by big-time billionaire investors, they’re goners.  
Even the bunch of up-and-coming San Diegans who swear they’ve seen the light and moved to the middle (the next level?swoon when they get a glimpse of billionaire fantasy videos with titles like: Private control over public property. New ways to screw city employees.  Corporate dominance.  Voter submission.  Retooled performance standards.  Hands in the public pocket.  Pay to play… 
 Lies
About ten years ago Carl DeMaio was sent to San Diego to implement a right-wing takeover.  A stand-in for Bo, he was programmed early in his career to believe that government is the enemy and should be shrunk small enough to “drown it in a bathtub.”  Under the guise of cleaning up city government he went to work dismantling San Diego employees’ labor unions and privatizing city government services.  He called his plan Roadmap to Recovery.
Carl DeMaio is relentless and talented at capturing public attention.  His ambitions and abilities must have looked like promising qualities to his Washington D.C. and radical right-wing mentors.  Even his personality quirks (robotic demeanor, evasive responses, dexterity at conflating truth and fiction, bullying threats to people who cross him, volatile temper) may once have been considered ammunition to speed along his takeover assignment.  Financial backing from superPAC funders, on top of his considerable personal wealth (by the age of thirty DeMaio could boast, "Don't people know I'm a man of means now? I drive a BMW!") have been greasing the skids in his run for mayor of the nation’s 8th biggest city.
But the fickle finger of fate, aka mischievous cupid, pointed its arrow in the direction of Carl DeMaio.  And here’s where the story takes a sharp downward turn.  Here’s where the sex, lies, and videotape get personal.
 PART II
 Sex, Lies, and Videotape 
For the past few years the man who would be San Diego’s highest elected official has been leading a bifurcated life.  
In public, Carl DeMaio remains a populist avatar of fiscal rectitude and righteous tea-party values.   In private, DeMaio is now the live-in mate of the publisher of San Diego Gay and Lesbian News and SD Pix magazine.  This partner is a controversial and successful videographer and photo cataloguer of social and party events in the gay community, a go-to man. 
This is not a casual relationship.  Carl DeMaio and his partner have shared ‘promise rings.’  They share DeMaio’s home in Rancho Bernardo.
It’s fair to ask whether the domestic details, background, and activities of a candidate and his/her live-in mate should be revealed to voters.  If they are public figures the answer is clearly Yes.  History tells us that domestic partners of politicians often have significant influence over their mates’ decisions and careers.  Consider Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver.  Mindy and Nathan Fletcher.  George W and Laura Bush.  The Clintons.  Ike and Mamie Eisenhower.  Nancy Reagan and Ronald.  Standards apply to gay and straight couples alike, in national, state, or local office.
In a Facebook photo, DeMaio’s partner is shown lounging in a city council office while the council member is upstairs at a council meeting.  The LGBT Weekly asks an important question: “In addition to what role Johnathan Hale would play as San Diego’s first “first gentleman” to a gay mayor, is the question of how sound are Councilman DeMaio’s powers of judgment?"  The article points out that the "photo...depicts Hale seated at a table in the councilman’s conference room. On the table is a folder labeled ‘confidential.’ It’s impossible to know what the envelope contains. But it is possible to ask how appropriate it is for a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend of an elected official to have easy access to sensitive information in the official’s office.”
A May 24th article in the LGBT Weekly discloses other equivocal information about the checkered past of DeMaio’s live-in partner: “As LGBT Weekly has confirmed, it is a story that includes alleged violence, admitted theft, burglary, as well as multiple name changes and restraining orders against Hale (filed against him by former “roommates” for domestic violence).”
If his troubled past were cleanly behind him, that might be the end of it.  But current public accounts tell a different story of  DeMaio’s partner, who has been called out by Nicole Murray-Ramirez, a well-known leader in the gay community, as a “pit bull of negativity, ugliness and pettiness…a snake.” 
PART III
6 Lessons of Heaven’s Gate 

  • Becoming a follower of Carl DeMaio is akin to political suicide.  It is not an acceptable option.  Billionaire puppeteers on the national scene groomed  DeMaio to be their "vehicle," their instrument for a right-wing takeover of San Diego.  The Koch brothers are alter egos of Te and Do...Bo and Peep...The Two.... As they say in my birthplace, fuggedaboudit.
  • There are big-business/ downtown San Diego interests who believe they can keep Carl DeMaio in check... reined in... serving their interests... doing their bidding.  It’s a delusional fantasy.  He’s got richer, more powerful masters to please.
  • There are sincere and good people in San Diego who cry out for meaningful pension reform and mistakenly believe that Carl DeMaio can take them to the “next level.”  His message is untrue.  His true agenda is not reforming but dismantling public institutions of government.  It's a new-age form of anarchy.
  • There are voters throughout our city who understand that city government is in deep financial trouble but have no wish to dismantle San Diego by outsourcing city services and privatizing city resources.  They don’t share the dog-eat-dog mentality promoted by DeMaio and his mentors.
  • Judging from unprecedented boos and shouts of “liar” hurled at him at a mayoral debate in Hillcrest earlier this year, as well as from mounting opposition among people who have known and worked alongside Carl DeMaio in the gay community, it’s apparent that DeMaio’s reputation and standing have diminished considerably among people who know him best. How much excess baggage are we willing to tolerate in City Hall? 
  • I'll say it again.  Political suicide is not an acceptable option.  This is no ordinary election.  What happens in San Diego in this mayoral election will be either a deathblow to our city or the start of a difficult but exciting era of rebuilding.   Whichever way it goes, it will be the handwriting on the wall for other major cities around the nation.
Forget Heaven’s Gate.  Never mind Hale Bopp.  Real history is in the making with this year’s mayoral election in the city of San Diego.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cats, birds, and bridges

I don’t know how the City Council hearing on the Balboa Park/Jacobs bypass bridge, scheduled for Monday afternoon, will end up.

I don’t know how many people will show up to support the Jacobs plan and how many will be there to condemn it.

I don’t know what the final vote will be if, indeed, there is a final vote.

But this I do know.  We’re getting exactly what we should expect to get when private business is brought in to solve a public problem.

Irwin Jacobs has been at the receiving end of criticism, potshots, and denunciation since he stepped in to take care of traffic and parking problems at the Laurel Street entrance to Balboa Park.  But it’s misplaced fury.

It reminds me of the first time the cat deposited a dead bird on my kitchen floor.  The kids yelled at poor pussy, berated her, told her she was bad.  

But I picked up little puss (after I got rid of the feathered remains) and explained to my appalled kids that our cat was just being a cat.  That’s what cats do.  They catch birds.  They’re so proud of themselves when they catch a bird.  Our puss was being true to her nature.  She was a cat.

So it is with businessmen.  The successful ones (and who can question the business acumen of Irwin Jacobs?) are good at solving problems.  They solve problems not your way, not my way.  They do it their way.  Nothing wrong with that.

Do you want to know what’s wrong?  The mayor, or some big kahuna in the mayor’s office, took a public problem and put it in the hands of a private businessman.  The mayor, or whichever kahuna it was, had no right to do that. 

The mayor is a publicly-elected official who has the responsibility and obligation to take care of public issues through well-established public processes.  That’s what the city charter, the municipal code, and state law say.  That’s what regularly-scheduled official public meetings are for.  That’s why we call elected officials public officials...public representatives.  

Private businessmen don’t have to ask the public how to solve their problems.  They should not be asked to solve our (the public's) problems.

Mayor Sanders and whichever underling had the temerity to invent a last-minute legacy project to memorialize the mayor's wasted terms in office are the ones who deserve a hearty round of catcalls and hisses.  

They bear sole responsibility for privatizing what should have been kept in the public realm and resolved through a public process. 

The moral of this story?  Public is public and private is private.  Don’t get them mixed up.  Government belongs in public hands.  Business belongs in private hands.  It works best when we stay true to our natures.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A painless civics lesson


Take a break, friends and fellow voters.  We could all use a brief respite from campaign-season frenzy.  Soon enough San Diego's two heavyweight contenders for mayor will be climbing back into the ring for what’s guaranteed to be a nationally-publicized, brutal battle for the heart and destiny the 8th largest city in the USA.  Our town.

So sniff the flowers while you can and begin preparing yourself for the Filner-DeMaio race for mayor.  It's no ordinary contest.  The stakes are at an all-time high, not just for San Diego but for cities across the nation.  If this sounds dramatic, you can bet it is.

That's why we ought to use this short time-out to reflect on how our city got to this political point.  To provide some context and fill in some of the blanks about San Diego’s quixotic and freighted mayorship history, here’s a quick and painless civics lesson.

We can start with a few questions: What’s the basic purpose of city government? The answer is simple: to provide services and protection to city residents.  Is there a magic formula, a best way to run a city?  The answer is, No.  What if our goal is to foster livable communities, good jobs, and a healthy quality of life?  Then we should choose politicians who (we hope and pray) place high value on public accountability, openness, and accessibility.  

Now for some history: Step back to 1930, when San Diego reformers focused on a very specific objective: to prevent the bossism and corruption plaguing many eastern and midwestern cities from spreading to our western shores.  Local voters agreed to create a new city charter and adopt a "progressive" city manager form of government for San Diego.

Over the ensuing 75 years the city was run and managed by an appointed, professionally-trained city manager -- think COO (chief operating officer) or CAO (chief administrative officer).   

Here’s how I recently described the job of San Diego city manager: he (it has always been a he) was responsible for organizing, coordinating, and overseeing city affairs.  Also for executing the policies, legislation, regulations, and directives of the mayor and council members.  Also for hiring and firing department directors.  Also for creating and managing the city budget.  Not a job description for amateurs or the faint of heart.

Under our city manager system, elected council members and the mayor were city legislators, sitting side by side at regularly-scheduled public meetings to establish city policies and laws.  Yet despite the numerous benefits of a well-run city under a competent city manager, the lure of a “strong mayor” system proved to be an irresistible siren call to San Diego's elected officials.  

Back in the old days, Mayor Frank Curran (who perspicaciously commented on a proposal to bring the 1972 Republican Party national convention to San Diego, “We need this like a hole in the head”) attempted to increase the clout of the mayor’s position but the public resisted.  

Four years later Mayor Pete Wilson attempted a switch to a “strong mayor” government and was also voted down.  

Mayor Maureen O’Connor’s subsequent attempts to strengthen the mayor’s office were thwarted by the city council.  

Then there was a petition drive in the early days of Mayor Susan Golding’s tenure to place a "strong mayor" charter change on the ballot.  It fizzled.  But come the millennium (2000) a familiar group of heavy-duty development, financial, and lobbying interests (mainly the major promoters of the downtown ballpark project -- Malin Burnham, Peter Q. Davis, John Moores, Scott Barnett, Scott Peters, George Mitrovich, Kris Michell, Richard Ledford…you get the picture) rallied once again in the cause of a “strong mayor” government.  Still, no one was biting…until…

Mayor Dick Murphy bit.  In 2004, public disclosure of gross financial malpractice by the city of San Diego hit the fan.  Fingers were pointed at a wide swath of past and present city officials.  Around the same time, three city councilmembers were indicted in legal action involving exotic dancers and the city's "no-touch" laws.  The chaotic confluence of humiliating notoriety, public resentment, and citizen consternation were artfully transformed into voter support for a change in San Diego’s form of government to a “strong mayor” system.  Mayor Murphy took the lead.

Here's the funny (as in ironic) part: the switch to a "strong mayor" system was triggered through the actions of a  politically strong mayor.  Mayor Golding was never hesitant to put her personal ambitions ahead of the public good by depleting public funds on politically-loaded projects (Convention Center expansion, downtown baseball stadium, Republican Party national convention, Naval Training Center giveaway, Charger’s ticket guarantee) and balancing the budget by underfunding the city pension system.  The witch's brew she and subsequent city leaders created by simultaneously hiking pension benefits for union leaders, city employees, and elected officials has brought San Diego to its financial knees.  And you oughtn't let our present lame-duck mayor fool you with happy-talk.  We are still in the throes of a severe budgetary and ethical crisis. 

Here’s another irony: Mayor Dick Murphy, after leading the successful charge for a “strong mayor” government, bit the dust before he could assume the "strong mayor" post.  

His replacement as San Diego’s first “strong mayor” was ex-police chief Jerry Sanders, a particularly weak and uninspired leader who spent close to eight years in office withholding vital public information from the city council, the city’s independent budget analyst, and the public at large, sweeping the truth under the rug, and neglecting to install a competent, experienced, well-trained, professional city manager to keep the city running efficiently, effectively, and in the public interest.

Which brings us to the battle for our next mayor.  Believe it or not, the story gets much more complex and convoluted.  So try to enjoy sniffing the flowers for just a little while longer.  While we can.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Parable of the little buggers


Confession: I get a daily dose of viruses, bacteria, parasites, protozoa, ticks... little buggers that like to lurk in raw milk, sexual escapades, other people’s sneezes.... Okay, I don’t get these infections, I get to talk about them (mostly with my infectious disease-expert husband).

But even he was stumped when I described a mysterious epidemic sweeping through San Diego.  I said it was targeting unsuspecting voters.  Very unusual...he said.

To me the diagnosis is clear: San Diegans have been exposed to a politically-motivated disease, spread along the campaign trail by a pair of genetically-modified-look-alike-mosquito-bots.  They're zeroing in for the big bite come the June 5 mayoral primary.

Who are these twin buggers? none other than candidates Nathan Fletcher and Carl DeMaio. They're the active agents transmitting perilous pathology, namely intimidation… manipulation… political sociopathy…

If you're concerned about the health and well-being of your loved ones, here’s what you need to watch out for:

The Peril of Intimidation
* Nathan Fletcher's bullying threats to city workers: "I interrogated al-Qaeda…I can negotiate a labor deal" are overkill.  His contempt for ordinary civilians who live what he calls a "climate-controlled life" is way out of line.

Skills in the martial arts have little to do with the qualities and qualifications citizens deserve in their elected officials.  You might remember that Fletcher’s former employer Duke Cunningham also used his military record as a weapon to win election -- then the Duke engaged in bribery and fraud and ended up in prison for abusing the public trust.

* Carl DeMaio is no novice when it comes to bullying and aggressive behavior but here’s the difference: DeMaio doesn't glad hand.  He's not a chameleon.  What you see is what you get...whatever that's worth.  
  
The Peril of Manipulation
* Nathan Fletcher is no shirker when it comes to manipulating the public.  He delivers feel-good declarations of political independence but marches in lockstep with conservative mentors like Newt Gingrich, Pete Wilson, and Karl Rove.  

To advance his political career he maneuvers behind the backs of the public at the behest of downtown redevelopers.  He aggrandizes himself in public appearances as a lion in combat.  He capitalizes on the brutal deaths of two north county girls -- a callous exploitation of the grief and misfortune of others.

* Carl DeMaio has a knack for turning ordinary words inside-out.  He zeroes in on commonplace democratic (as in small d democracy) snags and hitches and attributes them to “out of control government bureaucracy.”  He twists the word reform to try to crush city unions and eliminate living wage protections.

Out of his mouth, reform means outsourcing government services to private monopolies.  His mission is to “shrink government to the size where we can drown  it in the bathtub,” in lockstep with the ideals of his guru, Grover Norquist.

The Peril of Political Sociopathy
* Nathan Fletcher and Carl DeMaio are running neck and neck in this category.  The two of them share a common history.  Both, at a young age, were scooped up, tutored, and polished by powerful upper-echelon masters in the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Both have a knack for manipulating public discontent to promote ideological, political, and personal agendas. They exemplify a brave new world of millennial confidence men masquerading as populists.

Both candidates exhibit strikingly similar idiosyncracies: repetitive, tightly-drilled speech patterns...oddly-robotic responses…unblinking, vacant eye contact.... It's possible that San Diego will go down in history as the first American city where not one but two manchurian candidates ran against one another for the office of mayor.
****************************
The moral of this parable? Physician, heal thyself.  It means that the cure must come from our own actions.  It's as simple as that.  Don't forget to vote on June 5.