Sunday, February 26, 2017

What would Nancy Drew do?






Calling all sleuths!  There's a murky mystery afoot in the city of San Diego that feels oddly familiar.  In theme… plot… cast of characters… it's nearly a dead ringer for a sordid drama that took center stage in our city a few seasons ago.  

This new case involves an attempt to bump off a local labor leader, someone most San Diegans probably wouldn't recognize if they saw him in a picket line.  

According to a description provided by his associates, the targeted individual is an unshaven, intimidating, middle-aged man with a budding paunch, contentious personality, rough temper, and not-such-great looks.  The perp (aka "dirt bag") is currently in the public square being scourged and pilloried.

His name is Mickey Kasparian.  He's the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 135 and board president of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. 

This past December two lawsuits were filed against Kasparian, one for sexual harassment that spanned a 15-year period, and the other for gender discrimination.  A third complaint has recently surfaced, this one alleging political retaliation.

The word on the street is that – when confronting a marauding menace – the good citizens of San Diego have the right to settle certain scores with frontier-style justice.  Never mind a person's constitutional right to due process.  Never mind tedious legal procedures.  

Borrowing freely from the Republican playbook (lock her up! lock her up!) some citizens want to see Kasparian lynched.  Other citizens would settle for immediate banishment from his union job.  Others call for excommunication from the ranks of the Democratic Party.   

I've never met the man.  I have no insider information about his behind-the-scenes conduct in the labor union universe, but I do have some questions:

Has Mickey Kasparian been doing a good job as labor leader?  I haven't heard, one way or another.

Does Mickey Kasparian engage in illegal or criminal activity?  He hasn't had his day in court yet so I wouldn't know. 

Is Mickey Kasparian so obnoxious, uncouth, arrogant, and ineffective that union members should vote him out of his top-dog position?  That's up to them, I would think.

Here's what I do know: there are ladders in the backrooms of union halls.  They interconnect with ladders in the backrooms of political parties.  That's where combatants clamber over one another to reach the top.  It's where political ambitions and party politics and personal grudges engage, mano a mano

Another thing I know is that Mr. Kasparian is no novice in the political chess game.  Maybe you've seen him at pro-labor events standing in unity alongside state assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.   


Maybe you've also seen him step down hard on her toes to block Nathan Fletcher's second attempt to replace Bob Filner as San Diego's mayor.

And maybe you noticed that Kasparian put his money on David Alvarez in that mayoral race.  

But did that prevent him from turning his back on councilmember Alvarez in the recent skirmish over who would become this year's city council president?   

One thing you can say about Kasparian– he's got an unusual way of making friends.  And unmaking them.  Do we detect more clues to what has put him center stage in the current well-orchestrated facsimile of a kangaroo court?

So tell me, what would Nancy Drew do with these clues?

  • First, she'd probably refrain from premature judgment about whether Mickey Kasparian is a scoundrel and/or a rat and encourage our good San Diego citizens to keep our own incisors in check.
  • Second, she might suggest that internecine dogfights within the local Democratic Party and within the local unions threaten to become a self-imposed death sentence.
  • Finally, she'd try to convince the good citizens of San Diego to cancel any and all reruns scripted by activist judge/ jury/ executioners.  She'd advise us to settle for the dry drama of lawful procedure, courtroom hearings, and election ballots to vote the bastards in or out.  And she'd plead with us to resist the addictive and very bad habit of frontier-style justice.  Too many wrongs won't make it right.




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