Friday, April 27, 2012

eeny, meeny, miney, moe

Still can’t decide who to vote for in the upcoming mayoral primary?  One thing’s for sure – this race should not be decided by the eeny-meeny method.  

Why not? because this is not merely a titillating race among mayoral candidates with a range of personal values, lifestyles, and world-views.  It's a particularly pivotal one, given the wide span of political perspectives among our four choices.

So to take some of the guesswork out of making your choice for our next mayor I’m providing the following list of observations.  I hope they will be food for thought.  

1) It’s not just you who are confused about who and what our city needs to get the potholes fixed, resolve our pension debt, restore community clout, and so on.  Hardly anyone has digested the effects and repercussions of the city’s switch several years ago to a ‘strong mayor’ government (more about that in my next commentary). 

And almost everyone remains in the dark about what voters can and should expect from a first-class, full-blown, chief-executive mayor.   It does not help that our current mayor has set the bar very low for his successor. 

 2) The mayor's race is further complicated by the fact that politics in San Diego have gone crazy in this political season.  At the start of the campaign season the lineup included one life-long Democrat (Bob Filner) toward the left end of the spectrum and three mutually-antagonistic long-time Republicans (Bonnie Dumanis, Nathan Fletcher, and Carl DeMaio) clustered at the right.

But the ground recently shifted under our eenie, meeny, miney, and moe candidates, prompting them to reconfigure their seating arrangements.

3) The kink that set off the rumblings.  Nathan Fletcher was spurned by his Republican Party teammates, his fervent declarations of party faithfulness and loyalty notwithstanding.  Barely pausing to lick his wounds, he emerged from the closet as a political indeterminate…independent…decline to state candidate, raising the question: did miney become meeny?   

4) Hold on!  It gets even weirder.  In a town like ours -- historically under the thumb of a good-old-boys-network of not-always-upstanding-but traditionally MODERATE Republican bankers, hoteliers, newspaper and sports team owners, land developers, and downtown boosters -- the San Diego Republican Party went ape and endorsed the most right-leaning, polarizing, ideological, off-putting candidate of all, Carl DeMaio.  People are scratching their heads.  How come they picked moe and not meeney or miney?

5) Could it be because of money? LOTS of money?  Unlike the other candidates, DeMaio has the capability of pulling in untold piles of cash from ultra-wealthy, super-conservative billionaires and political groups from all over the country.  He’s the ticket for the San Diego Republican Party’s once in a lifetime opportunity to enrich their coffers and catapult party chairman Tony Krvaric into the big-shots league!

6) Now here’s the funny part of this story.  San Diego’s aforementioned good-old-boys-network (of bankers, hoteliers, newspaper and sports team owners, land developers, and downtown boosters) got themselves all tangled up right from the start of the mayor’s race.  Which Republican should they choose to be an utterly compliant, suitably compatible stand-in for the current mayor?   Their first choice was Bonnie Dumanis.  She got the endorsement of Mayor Sanders, Councilmember Faulconer, Sheriff Bill Gore, County officials, former city attorney Casey Gwinn, and a long list of other old friends.

Why not DeMaio? because most San Diego king-makers understood that DeMaio was a separate breed of Republican who answered to much different drummers.

7) OK, now for the punch line.  San Diego’s good-old-boys-network of bankers, hoteliers, king-makers, etc. got tripped up by none other than former mayor Pete Wilson -- who may be getting on in years but still has a healthy appetite for state and national politics.  And a sharp eye for malleable talent. 

 Pete Wilson adopted Nathan Fletcher as his protégée, plucking him from an already well-padded and protected position as a staffer to Duke Cunningham (of course no one in that office smelled the blatant corruption …certainly not Fletcher…) and Wilson anointed Fletcher as the next mayor of San Diego. 

8) Whoops! Now you know why you’re confused?  DeMaio’s got the US Mint backing him up, fortified by the iron fist of Doug Manchester.  Dumanis has the usual old-time-cronies shuffling nervously in her corner and stripping off the petals: will she or won’t she? will she pull the plug? should she throw in the towel? in whose direction?  what’s her consolation prize for getting everyone out of this jam? state attorney general?

9) Meantime, the band plays on. Along with his strawberry blond, Fletcher is now waltzing with wily mentors and consultants, who have turned this military team-player into an independent matinee idol. 

He’s lately been seen waltzing with another chorus line of San Diego business executives, who were also blinded by political affiliations in their past lives but are now free at last to be middle-of-the-roaders, beholden only to moderation and the public good. 

 10) There’s a French moral to this story: plus ca change... Translated it means: The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

 Think about it this way: the same old guys who have traditionally run our city suddenly find themselves screwed by their own Republican Party.  They’ll do what they have to do to stay in control.  If it means calling yourself by some other name, that’s okay.   Labels don’t matter.  Control matters.  So will it be meeny, miny, or mo?  Which team player will step aside for the good of the good-old-guys?  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Let's be honest. Let's be truthful. And let's be direct.

Nathan Fletcher comes across as an attractive, appealing, handsome candidate who -- after a bruising and losing fight for the endorsement of the local Republican Party -- made a calculated decision to rebrand himself as a political “independent.”  

His switch in party affiliation has led a number of Democratic and other voters to ask themselves whether they should consider supporting Fletcher for mayor.  Perhaps the following information will help you decide.

The most heated exchanges in recent mayoral debates have been between Fletcher and his Republican rival Carl DeMaio.  The friction between them is clearly a personality duel, since their views and political perspectives on city issues, proposals, and problems are practically identical. 

In fact, Fletcher and DeMaio can be called two peas in a pod.   Aside from the differential in charm and sex appeal, San Diegans will find little to distinguish one from the other, should either of them become our next mayor.  

Here’s a shorthand way to think about it: if you would feel comfortable voting for Carl DeMaio, you should have no trouble whatsoever voting for Nathan Fletcher.  Or vice versa.  

As I said, two peas in a pod...with one notable difference.  

Fletcher has what appears to be an uncontrolled compulsion to cite his military experience at the drop of a hat.  It is uncharacteristic for veterans of combat to repeatedly broadcast their wartime record as a campaign tool to enhance their manliness and voter appeal.  Can you even imagine wartime hero President Dwight D. Eisenhower trying to seduce Americans with his combat prowess?  Enough said.

  To read a superb analysis of Nathan Fletcher’s political persona, I implore you to click onto Jim Miller’s article in today’s OB Rag newspaper: . It will be well worth your time.

  To hear Fletcher in action as he solicits the Republican Party for their endorsement, click here:

  To read the full text of Fletcher’s letter in which he makes the statements listed below, click here:
*  Family values are very important to me…I take very seriously my commitment to my wife and children.  As a Christian of strong faith, I take seriously my commitment to God… 

*  I have never voted for a tax increase
*  I have consistently stood up to labor — I have one of the lowest labor scorecards

*  I have been endorsed by Governor Pete Wilson, Joel Anderson, Mark Wyland, Martin Garrick, and the California Small Business Administration

* I…have taken the no tax pledge (aka “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”…authored by Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.)

  To learn more about Fletcher family politics read the following autobiographical account about Fletcher’s wife Mindy.  For additional details click here:

*  Mindy Fletcher is a veteran of Republican political campaigns at the national and state level having been a spokesman for Governor George W. Bush, the Bush 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee as well as Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Campaign Manager for Governor Schwarzenegger… 

*  In 1999, she became Press Secretary for the Bush-Cheney 2000 effort, where she worked closely with national and regional media, managed the day-to-day operations of the communications division and appeared regularly on national television and radio programs.

*  During the Florida Recount she served as the senior spokesperson for the recount effort. After President Bush took office in 2001, she became the first woman appointed Director of Public Affairs at the United States Department of Justice...In January of 2002, she became the Party’s chief spokesperson as Director of Communications for the Republican National Committee before she moved to San Diego in 2003…

  To see Nathan Fletcher’s decidedly conservative voting record click here:

To sum up: I recommend we all heed the immortal words uttered by poor little Buttercup (courtesy of  Gilbert and Sullivan) to help us evaluate Nathan Fletcher's mayoral bid:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


You have got to see this animated spoof of San Diego.  This uncanny snapshot of our city’s identity is a stroke of perceptive genius.  I urge you to click here  and, while it's loading, get prepared for a shock of recognition.

Then you and I need to sit down for a serious talk.

OK, now for the serious part.  Let's deconstruct the dirty little ditty you just watched (keeping in mind that your fellow Americans and global counterparts have also had the pleasure of viewing it on Comedy Central). 

It’s hard to denyjackin-it-in-san-diego nails us on our sunburned heads with its spot-on depiction of our city as a picturesque, feel-good, simple-minded, trivial-pursuit vacation mecca -- exactly the branding painstakingly promoted by our high-powered hotel (aka “hospitality”) industry and ConVis (Convention and Visitors Bureau).  Think San Diego and up pops the zoo…palm trees…del Coronado (OK, not officially SD)…Gaslamp District…yachts and sail boats on an azure bay…Sea World…the clearest blue skies this side of heaven.  

And did you catch the scene with the priest?  He’s carrying a U-T newspaper and the headlines are screaming, Another beautiful week in San Diego!! Front-page news in paradise.  

Finally we meet the mayor, chief cheerleader of Oz.  Does he sell our city as a great place for business opportunities? diverse neighborhoods? university brain-power? ship-building industries? theater/art/music/dance? scientific research and development? green technology?  Nope.  His come-on is a titillating invitation for a sightseeing adventure to Old Town for warm tortillas...

Okay, I admit I’m putting an oversized squeeze on this crude, adolescent TV skit.  The South Park-Comedy Central crew is just having a good time with a recent spot on NBC news (to wit: A co-founder for Invisible Children was detained...for being drunk in public and masturbating, according to the San Diego Police Department*).

But guess what?  There’s actually a shocking moral to this story.  

Over the past decades and right up to today, people running San Diego (I’m referring to a lineup of weak-willed politicians, strategically-appointed officials, double-dealing lobbyists, self-serving newspaper owners, afraid-of-their-shadows board members, arrogant developers, lily-livered business owners, and so on) have indulged in ego-driven, happy-talking, short-lived, non-productive, under-the-cover, self-boosting, sneakily-abusive, publicly subversive activities.  They've dug a deep grave for ordinary San Diegans.   

Not that us ‘ordinary’ folk are off the hook.  We’ve been played, manipulated, lied to, and sucked dry by a long procession of city “leaders” and how do we respond? We turn a blind eye. We don't ask questions.  We comply.

Yesterday the mayor announced to the people of San Diego that he has finally solved the city’s horrendous budget problems.  Yesterday, the city council received the news and smiled in appreciation.  

It's a lie.  It’s a whopper.  San Diego is still jackin-it.  

* Corrected to provide a more accurate clue to the shenanigans in the video skit.  Still, in anyone's hands, it's hardly the most egregious act  ever witnessed in San Diego.