Monday, December 31, 2007

South Bay Summit

December 28, 2007

Dear Democrat:

We have a tremendous opportunity in 2008 to organize, win elections, and build a new generation of Democratic leadership in South San Diego County – if we are all united and working together to advance the values we share.

The four of us are writing to invite you to a South Bay Summit on Saturday, January 12, sponsored by the San Diego County Democratic Party.

At this event we plan to identify the significant work that needs to be done by Democrats in the South Bay, from voter registration and turnout to coalition-building and candidate development.

Most importantly, we hope to take full advantage of the energy coming out of this Presidential election year. With your help, we can unite and mobilize Democrats to make the South Bay a center of Democratic strength for San Diego County and all of California.

Invitations to the Summit are going out to elected officials, Party representatives, and other community leaders in the region. It will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Downtown Chula Vista Library (365 F Street, 91910[Map]). Light refreshments will be provided.

Please R.S.V.P. and direct any questions you might have to Julian Quinonez in the Party office at (858) 277-3367 or julian@sddemocrats.org. Thank you for joining us in this unprecedented effort.


Sincerely Yours,

Jess Durfee, Chair San Diego County Democratic Party

Hon. Bob Filner, Member of Congress 51st District-CA

Hon. Denise Moreno Ducheny, California State Senator District 40th

Hon. Mary Salas, California Assembly Member District 79th

When all Else Fail, Sue Your Customers!

Via TPM: The Recording Industry has decided that copying your own personal CDs onto your computer is considered illegal. As reported in the Washington Post this morning:

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.[Link]


The recording industry is desperately trying to hold onto their business model, that they have reaped billions of dollars in profit over the years. So instead of bracing the new technology and trying to build a new business model from it, they choose to sue their customer. Brilliant thinking.

Monday - Quick Hits

MTS fares are scheduled to rise with start of new year on Tuesday. UT

New lobbying rules go into effect tomorrow for city of San Diego. UT

Sweetwater Education Foundation executive director is stepping down in June. UT

Balboa Park's iconic California Tower will under go $1.25 million in renovation. UT

A former trash-recycling building in San Marcos to be recycled in to studio production center if entertainment industry veteran gets his way. UT

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday - Quick Hits

City supports state's position regarding medical marijuana, files amicus brief. UT

Shipyard failed to properly monitor atmospheric conditions aboard ship that led to explosion. UT

Encinitas $20 million new library is scheduled to open in February. UT

With start of new rail service in North County, focus is now on safety. UT

Gov Schwarzenegger's communications director and assistant chief of staff is leaving administration and is being replace by someone who worked for wingnut organization "Freedom Watch." UT

Escondido to undergo building boom in 2008. NCTimes

Vista considering expanding patchwork redevelopment area from 19% of city to 37% of the city. NCTimes

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday - Quick Hits

Decrease in the amount of garbage, sign of weakening local economy. UT

Former ACORN workers in Tijuana, claim that the US-based non-profit short changed them on pay and medical insurance coverage. UT

Chula Vista DMV office is offering self service terminal for vehicle registrations renewals. UT

Grossmont Union High School District has elected board trustee Larry Urdahl to be board president. UT

Sure sign of overbuilding, mountain lion traps set for Cal State, San Marcos area. UT

Effort to buy former school property in Del Mar, receives $500,000 gift. UT

Local home price drop, worst in nation. NCTimes

Statewide percentage of registered voters dropped, San Diego and Riverside counties lead the state. NCTimes

Vista Unified School District has seen a loss of 21% of administrators has some concerned. NCTimes

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some Post Xmas Humor

So what's the difference between Pirates and Emperors?


Wednesday - Quick Hits

Balboa Park to under process to become "green." UT

County ROV still needs 4500 poll workers for election day. UT

State Supreme court rules in favor of First Amendment rights regarding shopping malls. UT

North County Sprinter rail service grand opening scheduled for Friday. NCTimes

With new year, mayor heads to the negotiation table with city employee unions over pay and benefits. VOSD

Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday - Quick Hits

For the first time in 60 years, and after spending $442 million North County residents will be able to travel between Oceanside and Escondido by rail. UT

Cal Fire continues to draw critcism for it fire policies. UT

Seeking mortgage relief may not be as easy, as homeowners try to find help with their mortgages. UT

As February 5th primary draws near, battle over the ability to organize workers comes to the forefront. UT

Rancho Santa Fe considering incorporation. NCTimes

Saturday, December 22, 2007

War on Christmas Still Continues...

This picture is courtesy of Firedoglake, I wonder what the crazy wingnuts will do when the "War on Xmas" finally does end?

Top Three Dem Pres Candidates Looking at TV Buys in California

Via the California Majority Report:

The three top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are making inquiries of television stations to purchase commercial time -- yet another indication that the decision to move up the California Presidential Primary was a smart one for California voters.

Media buyers have confirmed to the California Majority Report that the Clinton and Obama camps have contacted cable networks throughout the state for rates and specs for television advertising. The Edwards campaign is looking at the bay area and sac media markets only, according to the buyers.[Link]

I'm actually suprised that they have waited this long to go on the air here in California. I know the state is very expensive, but the first absentee ballots go out in the mail two weeks from Monday.

It's Been Five Years Already!


I can't believe that is has already been five years since Joe Strummer's untimely death at the age of 50. For me Joe Strummer represented a passion and idealism that through rock 'n' roll, you could change the world. Strummer was the quintessential champion of the underdog. He fiercely believe that we all could get along with each other better, if we would only take the time to understand one another.

In the five years since his death, we could all have used Joe Strummer around for some commentary. I can only imagine the songs he would have written to help explain the era that we find ourselves living in and to inspire us to change it for the better. Joe, I speak for many, when I say "We miss you!"

For those interested, I highly recommend the documentary by Julien Temple Joe Strummer-The Future is Unwritten, and if you want to know more about the politics of Joe Strummer and their meaning, checkout the anthology Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer edited by Antonino D'Ambrosio. In the meantime, here is the video of Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros version of "Redemption Song".

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sheila Kuehl on the Speaker's and Governor's Healthcare Bill

So far, this appears to be the best explanation of what the bill is all about.

The Speaker's and Governor's Healthcare Bill: Part of a Series of Essays by Sheila Kuehl

This is my seventh and last essay for 2007. As I write, the Assembly has just passed Speaker Fabian Nunez's healthcare bill and it's on its way to the Senate and a hearing in the Senate Heath Committee in January. A number of people have called and emailed asking for my take on the bill and this essay will give some analysis.

Giant Leap for Health Coverage? Or for premiums...

The press has described the bill in breathless prose as a "giant leap" for health coverage. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case, depending on who you are and how and where you work. Each of the sections below will explain some of the provisions of the bill actually harmful to regular, working-class and middle-class families. And it provides less help than advertised for poor families, as well.

Coverage for everyone?

The press characterizes the bill as providing or extending coverage to all but a few Californians.

This is a mischaracterization, nothing is provided. Instead, all Californians would be required to buy insurance with no caps on premiums, no regulation of the cost of insurance or medical expense, no maximum deductibles, and no floor on how little coverage you can buy and satisfy the legal requirement. If you do not buy insurance within 62 days after the requirement kicks in, the Franchise Tax Board is authorized to collect premiums determined by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board by garnishment of wages or mortgage liens.

Your employer would be required to spend from 1% to 6.5% of payroll (depending on the size of the payroll) to buy insurance policies for employees. Employees would be required to take the insurance and to pay whatever supplemental premiums, co-pays and out of pocket costs are not paid by the employer. There are no caps on what the employee would pay, only for the employer. There is a vague term about hardship letting people out of the mandate, but no definition is offered and, as in Massachusetts, if you are excused from the mandatory purchase of insurance, you simply have no insurance!

If your employer does not wish to spend 1% to 6.5% of payroll on your insurance, he or she must pay the same amount into a state fund, and employees of those employers will be required to buy their insurance through the state fund, again with no cap on premiums and no floor on coverage.

Is there at least minimum coverage required in the bill?

No. For the State Fund, for those employers who choose to pay into it, the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board will set the minimum coverage (what you get for your premiums, what conditions, services, treatments, are covered by your insurance), which will not appear in statute. For those who buy insurance on the open, private market, and those whose employers pay total or partial premiums for insurance chosen by the employer, as well as for self-employed folks, there is no minimum coverage in the bill. One woman reported to me that she had a bare-bones, catastrophic policy and, upon being rushed to the hospital, received the bill for the ambulance ride that got her there, placed on her chest, as she was carried into the hospital.

How is the bill to be financed?

There is no funding in the bill. Instead, there is the promise of an initiative, no language available yet, to tax cigarettes at an additional $1, $1.50 or $2 a pack, tax hospitals in order to draw down federal money which would then go back, to a great extent, to the public hospitals, and require employers to pay a portion of their employees' premiums, as indicated above. There is also a hope that the federal government will provide more money for children's insurance. Instead, of course, the federal government is cutting children's insurance such that the California Legislature will meet in emergency session in January to disenroll children from Healthy Families. Everything else would be paid for by premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

In addition, if the Director of Finance finds that the state cannot afford all the promises made in the bill, the bill goes away. Or does it? There needs to be clarification that, if the initiative fails, we're not still stuck with an individual mandate to buy insurance.

But how do poor people fare.....today's uninsured?

Better, but still a hardship. Healthy Families coverage for children would allow those whose families who earn up to $40,500 for one adult and one child to be covered (children only) by state or federal money. (Federal cuts mean we already have to kick kids off this program, see above). Since the bill allows all children, even those with undocumented parents, to be covered, but the feds won't pay for those children, there will be increased state costs in Healthy Families. (See budget discussion below)

Families whose income is at or less than $43,000 for a family of three would be subsidized for their premiums only. This means they would be required to pay an unspecified amount for premiums and receive an unspecified amount from the state budget to help. There is no subsidy for co-pays, deductibles or out of pocket (uninsured) expenses associated with their policies, which could be sizeable if they bought a minimal policy.

Families who earn between $43,000 and $68,680 for a family of three would be allowed to pay full boat for their uncapped premiums and then deduct any part of the premium that exceeds 5.5% of their income as a tax credit, refunded dollar for dollar by state money. (Again, see budget discussion, below). There is no tax credit for their required co-pays, deductibles or out of pocket (uninsured) expenses, which could be big if they purchased a minimal policy.

But insurance companies would be required to take everyone

That is correct. However, they are allowed to offer minimal coverage set by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (minimum coverage that may be offered is not specified in the bill) and there is no control over their premiums or deductibles.

In addition, they are allowed to adjust their premiums, not by medical condition, but by age and other demographic factors.

The companies are required to spend 85% of premiums on care, but they maintain they do that now, and count marketing, information technology and other kinds of administrative overhead as care. The bill would allow this characterization to continue.

Unions seem to like the bill, don't they?

Well, some of them. SEIU, who has organized and hopes to organize healthcare workers, is positively salivating over the bill, to the extent that their national leader, Andy Stern, is engineering moving out the current state leader, who has questioned the bill, in favor of a new leader who will go along with it. AFSCME has also come on board with the bill, thinking that public employees will benefit. (However, with all the hits the bill brings on the state budget, this may be short sighted). About half of the unions in the California Labor Federation are with it, and half are against it but not taking a firm position. The California Nurses, the California School Employees and the Teamsters, among others, are strongly in opposition.

Many other troubling sections in the bill.

Troubling (1) rescission
While we are struggling to keep insurance companies from rescinding policies of beneficiaries who do nothing wrong except try to use their insurance, the bill takes a step backward by applying the no retroactive rescission language only to HMO's and not to all insurers.

Troubling (2), no choice of doctors or hospitals
Your insurance company tells you who is in their provider network. Employers are not required to give a range of choices. The state fund would give a range of choices, as soon as they are determined by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board.

Troubling (3), more unsupervised healthcare workers
Nurse Practitioners and Physician's Assistants would be allowed, by the bill, to give written instructions (not personal supervision) to medical assistants in retail clinics, such as those proposed for Wal Mart, and the assistants would be allowed to give medication. Currently they can do so in specific clinic settings. The bill removes this requirement.

So, what's next?

The bill goes over to the Senate, into the Senate Rules Committee, which then refers it to the Senate Health Committee and any other committees that should hear it before it goes to the Floor. There may be a hearing on the bill in Senate Health on January 16th, but only if the language of the bill is in its final form according to its author, the Speaker, the requested analysis of the impact of the State Budget by the Legislative Analyst's Office is complete, and the Committee also has the language of the proposed initiative that will, supposedly, fund the bill. Any organizations wishing to support or oppose the bill may send their letters to the Senate Health Committee in Sacramento. The bill may be read online at www.leginfo.ca.gov. Press the button for Bill Information and type in ABX1 1 and click on what comes up. The author is Speaker Nunez

Friday - Quick Hits

List of developers to build new city hall down to two. UT

Caltrans loses suit over eminent domain case has to pay family $26.5 million. UT

Despite letter stating otherwise, National City asks developer to consider affordable housing in project. UT

Grossmont Union High School District and teacher's union have reached a contract settlement after 18-month dispute. UT

City of Oceanside has approved a 30-year deal to purchase desal water. NCTimes

Wal-Mart submits plans to expand Poway store into a Supercenter. NCTimes

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mitz Lee Out of the Running

It looks as though the race for City Council District 5 just became a solo venture. According to The Reader, current school board member Mitz Lee has decided to forgo a run for City Council. Instead, Lee intends to stay on as school board member and will run for re-election. Now, Carl DeMaio is the lone candidate in the District 5 race. Hopefully, someone will step up and give DeMaio a good run.

Jerry B for Mayor?

This was the popular shirt worn at the Tribute Luncheon for Jerry Bukiewicz this afternoon at the Convention Center.

San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council Unanimously Selects Lorena Gonzalez as Secretary-Treasurer

The delegate body of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council voted unanimously to appoint Lorena Gonzalez as its new secretary-treasurer and CEO last night.

The delegates, a representative body of members from all 119 local unions affiliated with the Labor Council, followed last week’s unanimous vote by the organization’s executive board. Gonzalez will become the first female to lead the Labor Council, since its charter in 1902.

Gonzalez, who has served as the Labor Council’s political director since September 2006, takes over for the retiring Jerry Butkiewicz effective January 2, 2008.

“I am humbled by the support I have received from our local unions,” Gonzalez said. “It's a privilege to be entrusted with the opportunity to work as hard for our members as they do for the families they support.”

Labor Council President Mickey Kasparian echoed the sentiments of the organization’s membership.

“No one is more qualified to take over for Jerry than Lorena,” said Kasparian. “Under her leadership, San Diego’s labor movement will continue to grow and thrive.”

“If we didn’t have someone like Lorena to step right in and continue to strengthen the foundation that has been laid, I wouldn’t feel so comfortable retiring,” said Butkiewicz. “This is a great and historic day for San Diego’s working families.”

The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council is a coalition of 119 local unions that represent 120,000 working families in the region. The Labor Council strives to ensure that all workers in the region earn a fair wage and health care for their families.

Race for San Diego is heating up!

For those interested the California Republican Party (CRP) they have issued a press release of a New Finance Director, Molly Parnell. It seems the former Finance Chair, Steven C. Francis, is no longer around, except on their website. As they said in Usual Suspects, "And like that, he's gone." The CRP update comes a day before Charles Gallagher made the call into Voice of San Diego that "if" Steve runs for mayor, then he will be his campaign manager.

I don't think Kris Mitchell and Fred Sainz feel these are good signs for their hope of a smooth re-election bid, because they probably don't see Jim Bell and Rocky Neptun as real heavy weight challengers.

Thursday - Quick Hits

San Diego School Board names an interim superintendent. UT

Move to add parking meters in La Jolla hits a road block. UT

Talks between Palomar College administration and non teaching employees union have soured. NCTimes

Overuse of groundwater to supply grow and golf courses in Palm Springs area has caused ground to sink. NCTimes

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in town yesterday to pimp for his health care reform plan. UT

Housing crisis is starting to have an impact on the commercial real estate sector. VOSD

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dolores Huerta in San Diego this Sunday Morning to Support Hillary Clinton

Holidays with Hillary

Featuring Special Guests: Dolores Huerta & Assemblymember Mary Salas

Join friends, family, and local community leaders to make phone calls on behalf of Hillary Clinton and enjoy food, drinks and the company of friends during the holidays.

Sunday, December 23, 2007
10:00am – 12:30pm
Home of Bea Fernandez
261 Twin Oaks Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910[Map]

Please consider bringing clothing, a book, or a gift card to be donated to a local charity.
RSVP to SanDiegoHRC@HillaryClinton.com or call 213-908-0190

Tribute to Jerry Butkiewicz

Via Local Jobs First: Below is tribute to Jerry Butkiewicz written by Tom Lemmon, Business Manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO.

The Legacy of a Leader

By Tom Lemmon Business Manager of the San Diego
County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO

Tomorrow the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council will host a tribute luncheon to Jerry Butkiewicz at the San Diego Convention Center. There are guaranteed to be tonsof great stories about how Jerry rose in the union ranks from a postal clerk to the president of the Labor Council and all the struggles in between, so we hope you can make it.

Frankly, it’s almost impossible to believe how much Jerry has accomplished since he took over the Labor Council in 1996. Not only has the Council’s annual budget grown more that 1,200 percent(!) and the staff from four full-time employees to 34, but Jerry earned labor a seat at the table for all major regional projects. Considering the strong anti-union sentiment among San Diego’s prominent Republican politicians and developers and in the media, this was no easy accomplishment. Before Jerry, San Diego business had its way without question; the working people were a secondary consideration for politicians.

It takes a tenacious pit bull like Jerry to fight for every union job and ounce of respect that labor deserves. Jerry knows how to take his message to the street and make people understand why they need to fight, and he’s never been afraid to work a week of 18-hour days, if that’s what’s needed.

But Jerry isn’t just a firebrand: When he needs to be articulate, Jerry can put down the bull horn and step right up to the bargaining table without missing a beat. It was totally unprecedented when Jerry got a seat at the Chamber of Commerce, and there was definitely some grumbling about that from both sides, but it really gave labor a broadened perspective on the business community’s thinking and motivation.

On a personal note, Jerry reached out to me when I took this position, and he made me recognize how important it is for everyone in labor to feel like part of a big team. That’s why the Labor Council is so crucial: It gives the individual unions power in the same way that fingers come together to form a fist.

Some people have asked me if I’m worried about Jerry’s departure. Obviously, there’s never a good time to lose someone like Jerry, but he’s leaving his position in a spot where labor is a serious force. … And labor’s power is much bigger than one person. Jerry has been a coalition-builder, not a “one man show,” so I’m optimistic about upcoming struggles, including the current campaign to make sure that the bayfront development is an environmentally-friendly project built by local workers.

More than anything else, I think Jerry will be remembered for his commitment to the workers. He has never stopped thinking about the folks he was fighting for, and that’s a legacy that I look forward to keeping alive with my brothers and sisters at the Labor Council.[Link]

San Diego Still Hates Clean Elections, Sues Bowen

Back in August, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced that she was disallowing the majority of DRE voting machines made by Diebold and Sequoia. Part of her move in August was to require that 10% of votes in a close election (less than one half of one percent) be counted by hand. As a result of the potential "logistical nightmare" of having to count so many votes by hand, San Diego County has been pushing hard for people to vote by mail. But apparently that wasn't going quite well enough. So now the Deborah Seiler, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, is suing Debra Bowen over the issue.

The suit claims that counting 10% of votes by hand would create delays and extra work (boo hoo) and threaten the registrar's ability to complete the tabulation during the 28-day canvass period after the February 5 election. San Diego County asserts that Secretary Bowen lacks the authority to mandate such a change without providing the funds to pay for it, although Bowen spokesperson Nicole Winger says the law "clearly" gives Bowen that authority.

So what, you may wonder, makes this a particularly big issue in San Diego County? Well, it could be that Ms. Seiler is a former Diebold saleswoman who participated in the sale of Diebold machines to San Diego in 2003? Her deputy is confirmed election corrupter Michael Vu, who presided over illegal practices during the 2004 Ohio elections. On top of that, once you start having to verify all these darn votes, you might have problems with letting volunteers take voting machines home overnight. Even though having random people be granted unfettered access to voting machines seems safe.

It's really gotta be embarrassing for folks like Deborah Seiler to be complaining about votes being counted. Given that her job is to count votes. Wait, you want me to potentially count more than 1% of the votes? Who do you think I am? The Registar of Voters or something?

Cross posted from Calitics

Duncan Hunter No Longer has Access to Private Hunting Ground


It is no secret that Duncan Hunter is an avid sport hunter. For years now Hunter has tried to use his perch atop the House Armed Services Committee to turn Santa Rosa Island into his own private hunting club, denying access for visitors to that part of the Channel Islands National Park.

In 2005 he authored legislation that would turn the island over to the Department of Defense with the intention of allowing military personnel and their guests be able to hunt the dear and elk that non-native to the island.[Link] The bill sought to reverse a Federal court settlement between the island's previous owners Vail & Vickers who had sold the island to the National Park Service in 1986, and the National Parks Conservation Association. The settlement had agreed to a time table for the final removal of the non-native species from the island by 2011.[Link]

In reality, the bill was never about military personnel and veterans being able to use the island for hunting. The bill was intended for Duncan Hunter to cozy up to his fat cat Defense contractor buddies, so they could have an exclusive hunting area off the coast of California.

When control of Congress changed hands last year, Representative Lois Capps whose district includes the Channel Islands authored language to reverse Hunter's 2005 legislation. Hunter tried to save his private hunting ground by once again playing the veteran card:

Hunter, ... wanted to allow herds of deer and elk to remain indefinitely on remote Santa Rosa Island, possibly so that disabled veterans could hunt them....

"This is disappointing news, when considering this proposal was solely intended to benefit our nation's wounded and disabled service personnel," Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said.[Link]

Support for Hunter's private hunting ground was thin at best;

Last year, representatives of the 21,000-member Paralyzed Veterans of America visited the island and were skeptical, saying rugged terrain and difficult access made it impractical for hunters in wheelchairs.[Link]
Yesterday, the House passed the half-trillion dollar Defense authorization bill, Representative Capps' language was included in the bill that now reverses Hunter's 2005 legislation and allows the Park Service to continue with the 1997 court settlement on the removal of the non-native species from the island.[Link]

Wednesday - Quick Hits

Where's the catch? Insurers voluntarily adopt reforms to speed up the paying of claims from the wildfires. UT

Hey Phil, how about putting a proposal together for a new stadium? Billionaire Philip Anschutz company AEG Live to build and host concerts at new venue on Qualcomm site. UT

The problem that never seems to end. Congress sets aside $66 million for Tijuana river sewage treatment. UT

Next time try an earmark! Congress doesn't approve $80 million for new downtown Federal courthouse. UT

Job opening at UCSD. Preuss school principal resigns amid grading scandal. UT VOSD

Citizens group submits petition for ballot iniative to place height and other land use restrictions on the ballot in Chula Vista. UT

Waste of taxpayers money, county to sue Secretary of State over restrictions placed on electronic voting machines. UT

Chula Vista grants permit for county's second High Tech High. UT

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One Stop Shopping for Housing Crisis Info

I learned of this very informative blog yesterday courtesy of DailyKos. It is called Dr. Housing Bubble and it seems to be the place to go on issues pertaining to the worsening real estate crisis. On note of caution, the post tend to be very long in length.

Tuesday - Quick Hits

On going real estate crisis, county posts bigger drop in median price of homes than during the 1990s real estate downturn. UT

National City says, need to worry about affordable housing to deleveloper, after a three year old letter is unearthed. UT

Mexican president offers temporary help to Mexicans citizens deported from U.S. UT

County ROV still needs 4200 poll workers for February 5th elections. UT

State appeals court upholds ruling keeping day-labor hirings private. UT NCTimes

Standing room only in Carlsbad last night to hear proposal to replace Encina Power Plant. UT NCTimes

In its ongoing attempt to plan for failure, the county's 2020 plan is now delayed until 2010. NCTimes

Monday, December 17, 2007

Public Hearings on Sunrise Powerlink

This coming February the California Public Utilities Commission(PUC) has scheduled to hold three hearings regarding the controversial SDG&E Sunrise Powerlink. The tentative dates and locations for the Public participation hearings are:

February 25
Mountain Empire High School
3305 Buckman Springs Rd., Pine Valley, 91906 [Map]
6:30 p.m.

February 26
Borrego Springs Resort
1112 Tilting T Drive, Borrego Springs, 92004[Map]
1:00 p.m.

Charles Nunn Performing Arts Center
1521 Hanson Lane, Ramona, 92065[Map]
7:00 p.m.

Union Busters Fabiani and Lehane Don't Come Cheap

According to San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane are making $100,000 per month for their union busting activities on behalf of the studios. The both of them have ties to the Clintons, and Hillary Clinton has supported the writers during the strike. I'm still waiting for someone to find out where she stands regarding the work both Fabiani and Lehane are doing. Or is she looking the other way, much like she has done with her chief strategist Mark Penn, who has his own history of anti-union work.

There is also a blog to keep track all of Chris Lehane's union busting activities.[Link]

Monday - Quick Hits

Whistleblower, not here in San Diego. Mayor still controls hotline despite advice to the contary. VOSD

Anthony Pico, former chairman of Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians to receive an adward from the Woodrow Wilson International Center. UT

Chula Vista will consider permanent location form High Tech High. UT

Chula Vista's ethics commission to look into ethics complaint on city's Redevelopment Advisory Board. UT

Hearings set for new power plant proposal for Carlsbad. UT

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rumblings from Los Angeles

Below is an article by Rosalio Munoz, describing the exciting activities that happened last weekend at Los Angeles County Federation of Labor 2nd Delegate Congress. Via Latino LA:

LA is Labor Territory
A report on the historic L.A. labor congress
By Rosalio Munoz

Next year labor contracts covering some 350,000 union members in 30 union locals in Los Angeles County will expire, while tens of thousands more are organizing for first contracts.

The area's labor movement is also its single most influential political force. In 2008 over 10 million county residents comprise 13 full Congressional Districts and parts of others. They can be decisive in determining the state's presidential electoral vote, and the balance of power in the legislature of the nation's largest state.

"In 2008 when it comes to contract fights, organizing and politics, L.A.'s workers are combining their resources in a single Fight for Good Jobs, "Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, declared Dec. 3 as she opened its historic 2nd Delegates Congress. The Congress included hundreds of key activists beyond its official federation delegates.

Over 1,000 union members from work sites and retiree groups, representing over 300 union locals, attended the Congress to unite on a common agenda. They roared their unanimous approval for the focus on "good jobs."

In keynoting the Congress, Durazo spelled out what is meant by good jobs. "Working people are sick and tired of hearing politicians boast about all the jobs they create," she said. "The working poor who are trying to organize know all about jobs. The jobs are so lousy they need two or three of them just to pay the bills. Creating jobs isn't the solution. The solution is creating good jobs."

Durazo pointed out that a "bare bones" budget for a single person in Los Angeles requires spending $843 a month on housing, $211 on food and $233 on health care with a $28,000 yearly income.

She took on L.A. media who criticized city water and power workers making $76,000 a year: "We should be proud the workers are earning $76,000 a year, a salary that allows them to raise their families and give back to the community. That is the standard we need to set and replicate in other jobs and industries...(what) ordinary workers need to live and survive in L.A. today."

Longshore workers, security guards, hotel workers, professors, firefighters, home healthcare workers, building trades, janitors and many others addressed the Congress, spelling out their issues, their need for support and their solidarity with their union sisters and brothers.

The delegates approved a platform for the Fight for Good Jobs campaign. A 28 mile mass march is planned next spring through the heart of the county from Hollywood, where entertainment industry contracts are on the line, to the LA/Long Beach port where workers handle 40 percent of the nation's imports, the longshore workers' contract is up and port drivers are organizing. Along the way the union marchers will address communities on key electoral races like the open District 2 County Supervisor race in South Los Angeles, whose winner will vote on the contracts of scores of thousands of government workers.

A resolution was passed to establish a countywide solidarity committee of all unions wanting to help coordinate resources and to join negotiating committees where asked. The County Supervisor District 2 race was made a priority. The delegates approved
support for L.A. City Proposition S, a telephone users' tax to fund city services, and opposition to the state's "Big 4" Indian gambling deals.

Durazo drew rousing cheers as she addressed national labor concerns. "L.A. Labor must, and will, do its part to end this wasteful and futile war in Iraq. L.A. Labor must, and will, help enact rational and humane immigration reform. L.A. Labor must, and will, help America elect a new President of the United States!"

Just before dusk, after the Congress adjourned, hundreds of delegates marched in support of SEIU's SOULA campaign organizing security guards. Boisterous chants swelled as marchers passed the offices of high rise real estate corporations: "One, Two, Three, Four, there should be no working poor," and "We tell the story, this is union territory!"

An original Chicano boomer, Munoz got active in the United Mexican American Students at UCLA in 1967, he is still active in Latino, peace, labor, socialist and other peoples movements. He lives in Highland Park, Lincoln Heights adjacent.

Friday, December 14, 2007

L.A. Must Dump 600 Million Gallons of Water

Today, the Department of Power and Water, announced that it must drain the Silver Lake and Elysian reservoirs of all its water. In the middle of an ongoing drought this announcement seems crazy but both reservoirs are contaminated due to a chemical reaction.
Officials believe that intense sunlight, bromide in ground water and chlorine combined to produce bromate, a carcinogen that is dangerous through long-term
exposure.[Link]
Officials with DWP claim that the reservoirs amount to 1% of Los Angeles total annual water usage. The water will be drained into the Los Angeles river and will be carried out to sea.[Link]

Governor Declares Fiscal Emergency

SacBee has it that Governor Schwarzenegger has just declared a Fiscal Emergency for the state of California. So what does the heck does that mean? It means he's invoking Prop. 58 (passed in 2004):

It will mark the first time Schwarzenegger has used the "fiscal emergency" authority that he asked voters to create by passing Proposition 58 in 2004. The provision allows the governor to declare an emergency when revenues are "substantially below" what was anticipated when the budget was signed. Such an emergency would summon the Legislature into special session.

If lawmakers fail to send the governor legislation addressing the budget problem within 45 days, they cannot take action on any other bills or adjourn until they do so. (SacBee 12.14.07)
I guess that pretty much assures us that no endemic failings in the budget process will be explored or fixed. Not surprisingly, the Governor prefers quick and easy abdication of responsibility to substantive leadership. Thank goodness we dumped that fiscally reckless Gray Davis or we might find ourselves in some trouble right now.

Booze Ban as Bad Governance

On December 6, Mayor Jerry Sanders officially signed the San Diego Beach Booze Ban. On the same day, opponents announced they would organize a petition drive to put the ban on the ballot, where it has failed twice in the past (1991 and 2002). The group has dubbed itself Ban The Ban 3 and is current in the midst of a 30 day window to gather more than 30,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. I remain ambivalent about the virtues of the ban in itself- I think that the goal of reigning in drunken craziness is laudable but highly doubt that much can change without increased enforcement capacity- but am increasingly coming to support this ballot measure as a way to force into light the underlying issues that actually matter.

Like I discussed in my initial thoughts on the ban, I have a hard time imagining this having a significant effect. If police can't enforce public drunkenness now, then when people just load up at beachfront bars or friends houses then walk/bike/drive to the beach, they'll be just as obnoxious. If anything, it spreads the problem out and removes responsible drinkers from the equation. But that's ultimately beside the point.

Nobody seems interested in asking why these people have no concern about their behavior. Nobody is questioning how San Diego has ended up with a significant population that simply has no investment in their community. Nobody is questioning the develop-or-bust strategy that's turned San Diego into a boom town for young people with new money and no plans to stay beyond a few years of fun in the sun. What was once a community of villages has abandoned that mentality in favor of big corporate money. Neighborhood self-sufficiency has broken down, condo conversions have tightened the rental market has led to increased transience, and people don't develop connections to their neighbors or neighborhoods. I may sound like a Leave It To Beaver revivalist here, but there are tangible and practical concerns involved here. Specifically, that feeling like part of a community leads one to take responsibility for that community. Right now, with no sense of accountability, there's no compelling reason to not get drunk and tear things up. It's not "home," and everything breaks down from there.

California suddenly finds itself wrestling with similar issues at the state level. Senate leader Don Perata is set to block any health care reform because of a $14 billion budget gap next year. Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed 10% cuts across the board for all state agencies and services, a majority of Californians have a negative outlook on the direction of the state (pdf) and the Governor wants to raid local tax revenues to help cover the shortfall. In short, the state is facing a budgetary crisis and absolutely nobody is talking seriously about increasing revenue or re-examining the basics of budgeting. The same problem with different dressing is unfolding in San Diego.

The city has seen fights over unions, fair pay for police and firefighters, condos vs. apartments, living wage, big-box stores, the list goes on and on. Increasingly the arguments over the trees has abandoned any attention on the forest. How do we convince people that a viable community is worth their time and effort? The booze ban doesn't do it- it just increases tension and disenchantment. It blatantly sells out to the tourism industry and more sadly, it factionalizes the city at a time when exactly the opposite is necessary. Just as the state government is reaching a breaking point and must address the failings of its operational infrastructure, San Diego needs to stop reacting to symptoms and look at the root cause of the problems being faced collectively. Pointing fingers and ignoring the bigger picture doesn't help anything. As long as our city government won't tackle the big issues, it becomes incumbent on citizens to force the issue. The booze ban isn't simply about civil liberties or drunk yahoos at the beach. It's fundamentally about whether a piecemeal approach to city government is feasible. It hasn't seemed to be working so well lately if measures like this seem necessary.

There are 21 days remaining for signature gathering. Find a place near you to sign and let's stop talking about bandaids and start talking about solutions.

Power Grabs, Officially In During The Holiday Season

Something smells fishy. San Diegans for City Hall Reform, the group that helped Sanders campaign for outsourcing last year, has over $111,000 ready to go for apparently any cause that Sanders would like, as reported in a VOSD article back in August. The group stated yesterday that they found the cause that they want to use the funds for: a charter reform initiative; especially since Sanders' committee did not get their way with the charter reform recommendations that were presented to the City Council Rules Committee in November. Even though at the time perception lent a different idea that Sanders had another "change of heart" with a memo he released just before the committee went to council, when all along they had Plan B ready to go--they just held back on it because Plan A would not cost them as much money.

John Davies, who happens to be a member of the San Diegans for City Hall Reform and served as the Chair of the Mayor's Charter Review Committee (Sanders appointed Davies), said in today's VOSD article, "If the City Council subsequently agrees to place provisions substantially the same as those contained in our initiative on the ballot in 2008, we will terminate our initiative effort." It is now clear that Davies had ulterior motives when he chaired the Mayor's committee. Therefore, Davies lied to the public and represented another cause other than the people of San Diego.

Concerned citizens and local media should take notice. Apparently, power grabs are in during the holiday season. San Diegans for City Hall Reform has the machine set up and ready to change the city charter even if the public's representatives think that it is outrageous, along with countless community groups.

Friday - Quick Hits

Truly a stupid idea. Los Angeles county MTA proposal to turn carpool lanes into toll roads. LATimes

Continued racial problems in Poway. Swastika found at Westview High School. UT

Pointing out the merely obvious. UCR study finds fewer liquor stores in gang-infested area reduces violence. UT

The newly elected Potero Planning group was sworn in yesterday. UT

City supervisors distributed "cheat sheet" to employee for a disaster preparedness test. UT

Another sign of the ongoing housing crisis in the I.E. Hospital district that owns Sun City and Hemet hospitals files Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. NCTimes

Thursday, December 13, 2007

State Ethics Board Votes for New Disclosure Rules on Political Spending

The California Fair Political Practices Commission voted 5-0 today to tighten the disclosure rules for politicians who use their campaign funds on meals, gifts and travel. The rule changes are design to force politicians to justify their use of campaign funds for such activities that tied to official business. The rule changes will also force politicians to disclose gift recipients. Final action on the rule changes is expected on February 14.[Link]

In addition, the commission vote 5-0 to impose an emergency rule to require non-profits that engage in ballot measure campaigns to their donors.[Link]

Volunteers Needed for Sandbagging

Wildfire Recovery - Sandbagging in the City of Escondido

Escondido City Yard
475 N. Spruce Street
Escondido, CA 92025 [Map]

City of Escondido, the San Diego Democrats, and Democrats Work

Contact: info@democratswork.org

The City of Escondido and Volunteer San Diego have put out a call for volunteers who can help with sandbagging this weekend. Sandbagging teams will assemble on Saturday, December 15th from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. in Escondido.

No special skills are specified for this project, just come ready to help. Water and snacks will be provided.

Please RSVP in the box above or send an email to rsvp@democratswork.org.

SD Ethics Commission Hearing on Public Financing

Issue: Clean Elections
Action: Show your support by attending the Ethics Commission Meeting
Date / Location: Today, December 13th, 5pm at 202 C Street, 12th Floor

Today, December 13th, Neighborhoods for Clean Elections will be participating in the monthly San Diego Ethics Commission hearing. This public session will focus on Public Financing, and the group will be presenting their initiative and supporting information, and answering questions posed by the Commissioners. In coalition with California Common Cause, a long-term Clean Elections partner, they will explain how Clean Elections will work in San Diego and why the Ethics Commission should recommend it to the City Council. Join Neighborhoods for Clean Elections today at 5pm.

Beware of Toxic Toys

The United Steel Workers have put out a video to remind people of the danger from lead tainted toys made in China this holiday season.

Thursday - Quick Hits

With their arrogance showing, Blackwater claims vote results doesn't change their plans one bit. UT

Victory for the environmental community. Sea World becomes the first group in the United States to apply for a water-quality discharge permit for conducting fireworks over water. UT

La Mesa has hired a consultant to try to attract more business for city. UT

Solana Beach and developer are at odds over train station project. UT

Stepping up and trying to do something that is right, an addiction treatment center is offering free services for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. UT

The Coastal Commission kills the extra per room fee for controversial Oceanside beach resort. NCTimes

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Katherine Nakamura elected San Diego School Board President

After four votes the San Diego Unified trustees elected Katherine Nakamura as president of the San Diego Unified School Board and John de Beck as vice president this evening. The vote replaces Luis Acle as president and Shelia Jackson as vice president of the school board.[Link]

Nakamura who had at one time expressed interested in possibility seeking another office, easily won reelection last year over crazy wingnut Micheal McSweeney. Earlier this year her name surfaced as a potential candidate for district 7 city council seat. It will be interesting to see if she using her position as school board president to increase her profile for a run at another office.

Labor Council Searching for Political and Legislative Director

The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council (SDICLC) seeks a hard working, responsible individual to coordinate our political and legislative activities. The Labor Council, which represents 118 affiliated unions, is active in political and legislative advocacy, public relations, strike support, community services, outreach and labor to neighbor voter education on behalf of our local affiliated labor unions.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

1. Serving as principal researcher / writer for SDICLC legislative and lobbying activities.

2. Serving as primary spokesperson for the SDICLC when the Secretary Treasurer is unavailable, participating in community forums, testifying at government hearings, and lobbying elected and appointed officials on labor issues.

3. Overseeing the Committee on Political Education (COPE) program, which includes coordinating candidate recruitment and endorsements, targeting key races, supervising labor to neighbor voter education efforts, managing independent expenditure campaigns in coordination with outside consultants, and overseeing budget for all political activities.

4. Working with the Labor to Neighbor Coordinator to ensure an internal organizing program that achieves the goal of 1% involvement from members. This includes overseeing the Coordinator's efforts to recruit and train volunteers, coordinate phone banks, letter writing campaigns, precinct walks and the precinct leader program.

5. Working with the Communications Director to ensure a cohesive external and internal public relations and media strategy. This includes overseeing the Communications Director's work with print and electronic media, writing and editing articles for the Labor Leader, and updating and maintaining the Labor Council's website.

This position requires attention to detail, the ability to multi-task, creativity, flexibility, and the willingness to sometimes work long hours and weekends.

Ideal candidate will have excellent written and verbal communication skills, experience with computers, databases and websites, broad political knowledge, and an understanding of local labor issues, political reporting requirements, and lobbying rules.

Ability to work independently and effectively under strict timelines; ability to
work with union leaders, staff and members, elected officials and the broader community and ability to fully embrace the mission of the San Diego - Imperial Counties Labor Council are required.

Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to Gessie Perez at GPerez@unionyes.org or fax it to her attention at (619)281-1296. Resumes must be received by Friday, December 21st.

Working the Fringe with Duncan Hunter


Over at The New Republic, editor Eve Fairbanks spends some time on the road with Duncan Hunter as he campaigns for the Republican Nomination. It has been a difficult time for the Hunter campaign as it tries to crack into the mainstream of the GOP presidential race. But in his case even cracking into the fringe appears to be a high hurdle for the campaign overcome. In the article titled "Plain Nuts" she portrays the campaign as:

traditionally ... people running for president with no support in the polls "vanity candidates." The Duncan Hunter campaign for the Republican nomination, though, feels more like the antidote to vanity.[Link]
She describes Hunter riding in a white convertible Corvette in a Veterans Day parade in Reno.

The parade's organizers have assigned him a slot at the end of the march, putting him behind Dennis Kucinich supporters, people banging saucepans in memory of Molly Ivins, a hayride truck filled with senior citizens labeled MARTIANS FOR PEACE, and, worst of all, a troupe of five cavalry re-enactors on horseback. Hunter, a military equipment nut, enjoyed hanging out with the cavalrymen before the parade, but, once they set off, their horses begin pooping profusely along the route. As Hunter's convertible starts to roll, it streaks piles of hot yellow horse dung under its wheels. "Eeewie!" a child screams.[Link]
Hunter isn't your typical fringe candidate. He does have an affable personality but has struggled to gain traction in the race.

A friend of Hunter once described him as "Pat Buchanan with a smile." Hunter has struggled just to break into the fringe. He has raised half as much money as Tom Tancredo and netted half the major-paper mentions of Dennis Kucinich over the past year. Apparently, becoming a successful marginal presidential candidate is harder than it looks.

* * *

But Hunter is not only too fringe to be mainstream; with his mild manner and good cheer, he is also too mainstream to be fringe.[Link]
With the California less 60-days away, I suspect that Duncan Hunter will be withdrawing from the presidential race the day after the primary. Maybe, he can make his concession speech from in front of the Midway aircraft carrier much like he did his announcement to run.

And Bill Gentry?

I’m not one to cry for Republicans, but this is too obvious to pass up. It appears that someone with the balls to step up when no one else would is about to be sacrificed for expediency's sake by a latecomer.

Bill Gentry. Republican. War hero. Great civil servant from Dumanis’s office.running against Mike Aguirre.

Enter Jan Goldsmith. Republican. Former Judge and State Assemblyman. A known commodity running against Mike Aguirre.

Now, I’m on the outside of this inter-party dust up, but it would appear that a good man is about to be abandoned by his stalwarts for a more seasoned politician in the name of party unity.

This is politics and nothing is ever fair but I think we should take a moment to reflect on just how desperate times have become on the “red” side

Some facts:
1) Bill got in the race first and, from what I’ve been told, isn’t the most compelling guy in the room but he seemed sincere in his desire to take on Mike even if he had to talked into it.

2) Then comes Goldsmith, whom it seems had to be talked into it as well.

3) Because these guys had to be “talked” into it doesn’t bode well for an Aguirre take down in that there are enough dissatisfied Dems to make it happen, but these guys appear to lack the fire in the belly that Aguirre has to win cross over votes.

As such, the weaker of the two must go and that will be Gentry because:

1) The Reps need a unified front to take out Aguirre because, and let be honest here, he appeals to both sides of the aisle in pointing out the endemic corruption that is San Diego City government

2) Bonnie has ambitions to be the next attorney general for California so she’s not going to save the guy from her office lest she cross her future supporters in the Rep establishment.

3) Gentry has little real support and is, therefore, expendable.

So the Republicans continue their grand tradition of eating their young, or at least their farm team, to appear unified in the face of a major challenge that, as of this writing, they don’t seem committed to.

This says something about the local rep establishment, what Bonnie is willing to do for her career, and the hapless state of the local GOP.

Wednesday - Quick Hits

Plan to buy 50 more fire engines moves forward. UT

Barona Valley Casino granted limited liquor license by the ABC. UT

UCSD Preuss Charter School has grading irregularities according to audit. UT VOSD

Poway Unified School District hate behavior plan doesn't go far enough to its critics. UT

How about a telethon? City to raise private funds for second firefighting copter. UT

SEC slaps the wrist of City's former private auditor. UT VOSD

City of Vista votes to double the size of its downtown redevelopment area. UT

Blackwater 5 Recalled!!

Rarely does an election for a planning group make the news. But yesterday anticipated recall election of the Potero Planning Group had been a national story for some time. The planning group's decision last December to recommend to the County Board of Supervisors for approval a proposal that would allow the mercenary outfit Blackwater USA to build a 400+ acre training facility out near the Mexican border attracted protests almost immediately. The ensuing debate over what was dubbed Blackwater West became framed in the overall political debate over the role of mercenary outfits in the war in Iraq.

Yesterday, all five incumbent members of the planning group were recall. The vote wasn't even close, most of the members lost by a margin of 2 to 1 in the mail only ballot.
“It should send a loud and clear message that Potrero does not want Blackwater in the community,” said Carl Meyer, a leader in the recall campaign and an anti-Blackwater candidate.[Link]
In their typical arrogant manor, Blackwater USA vice president Brian Bonfiglio was quoted in the UT that the recall election outcome doesn't effect the company's plans to build in Potero. “I don't care one way or the other,” Bonfiglio said.[Link]

The activists who worked hard in the recall effort must continue to remain vigilant in their efforts. Blackwater USA has deep political connections and will still try to force their way into developing the facility out in East County.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chris You're Fired!!

Via Daily Kos:
We found out this morning that major league asshole Chris Lehane had been fired by SEIU. I just got confirmation from Change to Win -- the coalition of seven top unions(including SEIU, Teamsters, and the Laborers) has also kicked Lehane to the curb. I was given this statement by a CtW spokesman:
Change to Win had a general consulting contract with Chris Lehane. That contract was terminated upon discovery of his role supporting the studios in the writers guild strike. As you know, Change to Win and its affiliates stand solidly behind the writers in their struggle for fairness, so we did not think twice about this decision.

Nice.

Lehane may have a great future helping corporate America bust unions, but as long as he never works in progressive politics, it'll be a net win for our side.

Now that SEIU and Change to Win have fired Chris Lehane when is Cal Labor Fed going to step up and show him the door?

Recall Election in Potrero: Ballot Due Today

As written about in this mornings UT, the ballots for the election to recall five of the members of the planning group are due today. The reason for the recall is because five of the members of the planning board gave early approval for a military training camp proposed by Blackwater. As of this morning more than half of the registered voters in Potrero have turned in ballots.

Blackwater has been making a big marketing push during the last couple of weeks, one of which included the "stunts" performed at a recent local university game, as reported in SD Politico. At the same time, Blackwater has found itself on the bad side of some national news, so it is hard to tell who will win out in the minds of residents.

Hopefully, the citizens of Potrero will take another symbolic stand against the private mercenary corporation and the supporters.

Tuesday - Quick Hits

UCSD hoax bomber has bail set at $100K. UT

As water crisis worsen, regional officials continue with half-hearted measures. UT

Supporters of new downtown library have riased only $18 million in private donations far short of their $50 million goal for this year. UT

Today is the final day to turn in ballots for Potero recall election. UT

Chula Vista Elementary School District has to pay $1 million to teacher who was dismissed after becoming pregnant. UT

City Fire Chief blasts the county at a hearing on Monday over the lack of fire equipment to deal with wildfires. NCTimes

Increase in human smuggling see off the coast of San Diego. VOSD

Chris Lehane Fired from Union Contract!

Via FireDogLake:

SEIU Local 99 in Los Angeles -- education workers who include teacher's aids, cafeteria workers and crossing guards -- have fired former Clinton spokesman Chris Lehane from a consulting contract in support of the WGA.

"By the end of the week, I believe Chris Lehane will have no union clients because of his work for the AMPTP," says SEIU President Andy Stern, who confirms that all Change to Win Unions are severing ties with Lehane. "His days are numbered in the labor movement."[Link]

I'm glad to see some retribution taken against Chris Lehane. We need to hold Democratic consultants accountable when they go to work against progressive organization.

Cross posted at Calitics

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jefferson Attack Ad

Via The Plank: For those of you who think that negative ads are new to the political discourse. Here is an attack ad at Thomas Jefferson based on some of the pamphlet attacks directed at him during the election of 1800.


Monday - Quick Hits

Another sign of compassion here in San Diego. Important homeless shelter in East Village closes and it loses its lease. UT

Fired UCSD employee behind bomb scare last week. UT

SANDAG joins list of groups who are suing SDSU over expansion plans. UT

Halfway through completion coastal wetlands show signs of progress. UT

City can't keep track of its outside legal costs. VOSD

Another example of NIMBYism. Community rallies against freeway ramps. NCTimes

County's top administrator to get 10% pay raise. UT

School board weighs plan to keep failing student back. UT

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Practice Your Vocabulary and Help End World Hunger

FreeRice.com is a quiz website that is part of Poverty.com. For every vocabulary word you get word, 20 grains of rice are donate to the United Nations World Food Program. Here is your chance to improve your vocabulary and help end world hunger. [Click Here]

Hey Mark and Chris: See The People You're Working Against

Earlier this week, LA Times reported that Democratic consultants Mark Fabaini and Chris Lehane have signed on to work against the Writers Guild of America in the ongoing strike. Here is a great video put together by FireLakeDog on what this strike is really about.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Supporters of OC Toll Road Dealt Major Blow

Congresswoman Susan Davis, has inserted a "rider" in the upcoming defense authorization bill. The rider "would require the Foothill/South Toll Road project to adhere to state environmental laws."[Link] This requirement would mean that the project would have to obtain a permit from the state Coastal Commission. In September, the commission issued a report that recommended the project be denied a permit.[Link]

Davis' rider has passed the last of the procedural hurdles and is now part of the full defense authorization bill that is head to the full House for consideration probably next week. The rider effectively reverses another rider from 2000 "by three Republican Congressmen – Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa and Ken Calvert – who used the same mechanism to specifically exempt the toll road project from state and federal environmental laws."[Link]

Props go out to the Congresswoman for taking this important step in trying to save Trestles.

Some End of the Week Reflections

Last night at the San Diego County Democratic Party - Central Region meeting, Both Marti Emerald in city council district 7 and Sherri Lightner in city council district 1 were recommended for early endorsement to the Central Committee meeting in January.

With the announcement earlier this week that TaxpayersAdvocate.org Scott Barnett is dropping out of the race for Mitz Lee school board seat, leaves John Lee Evans as the only announced candidate to fill the seat. The word on the street is that Barnett is going to be involved in one of the Republican campaigns for City Attorney?

Speaking of the City Attorney, I have heard this week that Mike Aguirre has retained the services of Al Ducheny, the husband of State Senator Denise Ducheny, to manager his re-election campaign.

Finally, Auday Arabo will get to face Democratic activists for the first time in January. The Chicano Democratic Association has scheduled their 78th Assembly candidate interviews for January 9th.

Kehoe, Atkins Among Members of Hillary Clinton's California LGBT Steering Committee

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton announced the formation of her California LGBT Steering Committee. It's Chaired by Senator Sheila Kuehl and includes among its 100+ members San Diego Senator Christine Kehoe and Councilwoman Toni Atkins. The press release touts:
Hillary has been a longtime ally of the LGBT community. She fought against the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) both times and has worked on legislation that would promote equality for LGBT Americans.
It also goes on to note that she has publicly stated she would repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and other positions. But as Paul Hogarth found out at YearlyKos, Clinton remains a fan of the Defense Of Marriage Act:
Defense of Marriage: DOMA, passed in 1996 when Bill Clinton wanted to deprive Bob Dole of a campaign issue, allows states not to recognize an out-of-state gay marriage. "DOMA served a very important purpose," she said. "I was one of the architects in the strategy of fighting the 2004 Marriage Amendment, and DOMA gave us a bright line to be able to pull back the votes."
So color me still perplexed by the LGBT support for Clinton, which certainly appears to be widespread. I can appreciate that Bill Clinton was the closest thing to an ally that the community has had in the White House in more than 25 years, so there's some (admirable) loyalty involved. And she is (thankfully) in favor of changing DOMA to allow federal recognition of state unions. But when she spoke to the Human Rights Campaign earlier this year, she wanted as little publicity as possible, and she still isn't budging on DOMA. So what makes her a better potential champion for LGBT issues as compared to other candidates?

Barack Obama caused a major kerfluffle a month ago by inviting popular homophobe and gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to perform at a campaign event. Big flag there. But he then turned around and condemned Rev. McLurkin's beliefs on homosexuality in no uncertain terms and spoke strongly about supporting the same LGBT issues that Hillary Clinton's press release mentions while also calling for the full repeal of DOMA. That part, at least, seems better.

John Edwards, like Clinton, supports repealing the part of DOMA "that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships." He voices strong opposition to any discrimination based on sexual orientation and while he's still not sure about marriage, is all for civil unions just like Clinton and Obama.

So I guess that I don't see all that much daylight between the three leading contenders. Or at least, not enough that would spark a stampede towards Hillary Clinton's corner. I'm more than willing to have this explained to me and would actually appreciate some sort of explanation now that two of San Diego's leading LGBT political figures have joined up with team Hillary. It just seems like an oddly un-progressive choice for a generally very progressive community with generally very progressive issue priorities.

Like Lane Hudson said at HuffPo a few months ago, if the value of DOMA was as a tool to defeat the Federal Marraige Amendment, and the FMA is now dead, then hasn't DOMA run its course? Why would anyone- within the LGBT community or not- even accept this as something for debate? And why would they so overwhelmingly and enthusiastically line up for someone who isn't even on the correct side of that debate?

What is Cal Labor Fed's Position on Chris Lehane?

In light Chris Lehane's recent hiring the Film and TV Producers to work against the WGA, does anyone know the official position of the California Labor Federation on this? Back in October Lehane was brought on board to fight against Gov. Schwarzenegger's health care plan. According to the SacBee:
the campaign is being directed by a prominent Democratic political consultant, Chris Lehane, who was hired by the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. The effort also includes the Service Employees International Union as well as consumer and faith-based groups.[Link]
Somebody should ask Cal Fed Chief Art Pulaski if they are still using Lehane's services?

Cross posted at Calitics

Friday - Quick Hits

In a blow against working families, judge favors city of Vista in prevailing wage suit. NCTimes

How ironic, city council challenges SDSU on its environmental report, a few day after it ignores the environmetal report for the Navy Broadway complex. UT

Another sign of impact of real estate crisis. Over 15,000 homeowners seek tax relief from county. UT

Alcohol ban opponents launch petition drive to overturn the band. Need to collect 30,209 signatures in 30 days. UT VOSD

Feds ask for help in IDing hoax UCSD bomber. UT

Following to incidents on campus, 250 students and staff rally at USD to speakout against hate. UT

County Water Authority has formally moved to stage II of its drought plan. VOSD

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Blackwater Parachutes into San Diego State's Halftime



On Saturday night, the San Diego State Aztecs hosted BYU to close out their regular football season. The game was the 3rd Annual Fleet Week-sponsored game, rescheduled from October 27 because of wildfires. The Fleet Week Foundation describes the game like this:

San Diego State University plays in this third annual Fleet Week Football Classic. Pregame and half-time shows will feature flyovers, parachutists, the Navy Region South West and SDSU bands, and a tribute to our wounded warriors at Balboa Hospital and Camp Pendleton as well as a tribute to members of the Legion of Valor.
The festivities have a wide range of public and private sponsors and it's fun for the whole family right? Well, for at least the second year in a row (probably all three), the halftime show included an American flag being parachuted onto the field by members of a nation parachutist team...who happen to work for Blackwater and use parachutes emblazoned with the Blackwater logo.

Attached is the promotional video from last year's (2006) Fleet Week. You can skip ahead to the 2:43 mark to see the Blackwater parachutist bringing in the giant American flag. If you want, you can also zip over to about the 3:09 mark to see the flag being dragged across the field during landing.

Fleet Week events, which go on year round, are to honor veterans. I've attended several of them and in my experience they've been good opportunities to pay tribute to veterans. So I have a hard time understanding how Blackwater fits into the puzzle. They consistently undermine the work being done by our armed forces around the world and especially in Iraq. It seems a particularly unfortunate inclusion in the festivities; made all the more uncomfortable given that the Blackwater recall election culminates on Tuesday (12/11).

I spoke with Steve Becvar of the SDSU Athletic Foundation, which was involved in planning the event. He explained that this is the third year that Blackwater-affiliated parachutists had played a role in the Fleet Week game. He emphasized that the school was not seeking to make any sort of political point, simply to partner with the Fleet Week Foundation to honor veterans.

But despite what may well have been the best intentions of event organizers, Blackwater has NO business honoring veterans. Blackwater profits from war and has a vested interest in prolonging any military struggle as long as it increases revenue. They are, in fact, naturally at odds with everything that our veterans should be honored for. They dishonor the flag and all the people who have bled for it whenever they or their representatives try to wrap themselves or the Blackwater logo in the American flag.

Blackwater knows what it does. And they know that they're nothing next to the members of the actual military. Past that, they know that their only hope for success or survival is to blur the distinction between their criminal behavior and the valor of American servicemen and women. As the Potrero vote peaks, I hope San Diegans and Americans everywhere refuse to be tricked. Blackwater is hoping for honor by osmosis, but they end up literally and figuratively dragging the reputations of our soldiers through the mud.

If people wanted yet ANOTHER reason to resist at every opportunity Blackwater's plans for a training facility in Potrero, here you go. They've taken advantage of SDSU and the Fleet Week Foundation to undermine what otherwise could have been a wonderful evening for veterans. But Blackwater doesn't serve the United States or its ideals. Blackwater serves the dollar. And they have no business being remotely affiliated with veterans or current servicemembers.

So from San Diego to Blackwater: Get out and stay out.

Cross posted from Calitics