Saturday, December 8, 2007

Practice Your Vocabulary and Help End World Hunger is a quiz website that is part of 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 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

Thursday - Quick Hits

Hoffa rallies Teamsters at Otay border crossing to protest NAFTA rules allowing Mexican truck drivers. UT

Fire Chief asks the city for second fire fighting helicopter. UT

Mayor Sanders signed Alcohol Beach Ban. UT

City changes vendor for Red Light cameras. UT

Bomb threat at UCSD medical center deemed a hoax by authorities. UT

Sting nabs six unlicensed contractors in the RB area. UT

Economic downturn is starting to show some signs here in SD. UT

Hard hit Inland Empire face some job cuts now. NCTimes

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Prominent OC Republican headed to prison for Sex Crimes

Very interesting events just up the I-5 in Orange County. On Tuesday, Jeffrey Ray Nielsen a prominent OC Republican with close ties to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and OC Republican Chairman Scott Baugh pleaded guilty to "two felonies: committing lewd acts on a 12-year-old Virginia boy and 14-year-old Orange County boy."[Link]

Nielsen, who is the son of former Fountain Valley Mayor Ben Nielsen, went to Washington in 1994 to work as an aide for Congress Rohrabacher.
During this period, Nielsen befriended a seventh-grade Virginia boy he met as a church youth counselor. For years, Nielsen engaged in sexual conduct with the boy (including in public), tried to convince the boy he was homosexual, and wrote a series of love letters to the boy after he moved back to California to enter USC law school.[Link]
Upon his return to California to attend law school, Nielsen went to work for Orange County Republican Assemblyman Scott Baugh.

He socialized with Baugh. He derided liberals with Baugh. When Baugh left Sacramento and negotiated a job with the powerhouse law firm of Manatt Phelps
& Phillips in 2001, he convinced the firm to hire Nielsen with him. It was during this time that Nielsen found a Westminster high-school freshman in an online gay chat room. Prosecutors say Nielsen repeatedly picked the boy up from school for sex. . . . The boy shared his experiences with a classmate, who promptly told school counselors.

When police arrested Nielsen, a prominent GOP activist at the time, The Orange County Register failed to tell its readers. In fact, the paper—some of whose staffers enjoy cozy relationships with local GOP leaders, including Rohrabacher and Baugh—waited more than three years to mention Nielsen’s arrest. Worse, while Nielsen awaited trial for molesting the Westminster boy, the Register’s Richard Chang helped to bolster the accused pedophile’s reputation in the community. In an article, Chang didn’t mention the charges, but rather praised Nielsen for volunteering to help homeless puppies from the Katrina disaster in New Orleans.[Link]

It is interesting to note that much like the Orange County Register, both the Flash Report and Red County have failed to make mention of this story.

Democratic Consultants Fabiani and Lehane to work against Writers Union

This afternoon the LA Times reported that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have brought in three political consultants to assist them in the public relations battle with the striking Writers Guild of America.[Link] Democratic consultants Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane, together with Republican consultant Steve Schmidt were retained by the Alliance to shore up its public image.

The advisors will take over the role of Barbara Brogliatti, who has been guiding the group's public relations strategy for much of the last 25 years. The former Warner Bros. executive recently stepped down from her day-to-day role, though she will remain as senior advisor to the group, which has been locked in contentious contract negotiations with writers over pay for new media.

The move reflects a concerted push by the alliance to take a more aggressive approach in its public relations after polls conducted by Pepperdine University, Fox News and SurveyUSA showed widespread public support for the writers, now in their fifth week of a strike.[Link]

Republican Steve Schmidt, prior to working for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as his 2006 campaign manager, held a high position in the Bush White House, "including serving as the lead strategist on the confirmations of John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court."[Link]

Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane have a long history working for Democrats. They served as senior aides and advisors to both President Clinton and Vice President Gore. In 2004 they were both strategist to General Wesley Clark during his presidential campaign.

For the last several years Fabiani has been working for the San Diego Chargers in their attempt to convince taxpayers to pay for a new stadium for the team.[Link] Lehane on the other hand has played the role of "freelance political pundit" quoted occasionally in print and appearing on television. He has also played the unofficial attack dog role for Clinton campaign.[Link]

That two very prominent Democratic consultants are working against a labor union in a high profile strike is extremely troubling. The fact that both have close ties to the Clinton political machine, someone should ask the Clinton campaign if they support Fabiani and Lehane in their present efforts?

Wow! Is it the 1950s again?

I have always suspected that the crazy wingnuts really wished the Cold War had never ended. The Global War on Terror, just doesn't arouse the same primordial emotions that the Cold War did. After all, there were duck and cover drills in school, and if your neighbor was incline to read novels from Dalton Trumbo and beleive in civil rights for African-americans, you could openly suspect him of harboring leftwing sympathies. Those were the good ole days for the wingnuts.

Apparently Mike Spence didn't get the memo that the Cold War is over. For the president of the California Republican Assembly, the Cold War is alive and well. In a post he wrote yesterday on the Flash Report, he discussed the efforts of human rights groups to protest a Chinese sponsored float in the upcoming Rose Parade.[Link] What struck me with his post was the use of outdated language. It has been a long time since I have seen terms like Red China and Chicoms thrown around so casually. Here is some advice Mike, take the your copy of Red Nightmare out the VCR and put it on the bookshelf before your blow a gasket.

Wednesday - Quick Hits

San Diego schools Superintendent Carl Cohn has found himself a new job at SDSU School of Education. UT

City of Chula Vista has decided to eliminate 112 jobs, through retirements, layoffs, and the elimination of vacant positions. UT

City Council denies community group an environmental review of Navy Broadway Complex Project. UT

A group of activists in Chula Vista submitted signatures to qualify initiative for electing City Attorney. UT

SANDAG and North County coastal communities move ahead with sand reclamation project. NCTimes

Much touted layoffs by Mayor Sanders didn't remove workers from from city rolls. VOSD

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stand up for livable wages in San Diego's future!

From Center on Policy Initiatives:

Action Alert: Stand up for livable wages in San Diego's future!

CPI will be at City Hall tomorrow to fight Mayor Sanders' attempt to remove living wage jobs as a goal of development and land use. This flagrant giveaway to the low-paying tourism industry must be stopped!

If you can't come to City Hall, please call or e-mail Councilmembers today!

In the 11th hour of updating San Diego's General Plan, Sanders has attacked the city's established living wage policy by deleting all mention of livable wages or "self-sufficiency wages" from the draft plan.

The General Plan sets guidelines for all land-use decisions, including what developers are allowed to build. It must be restored to promote living wage jobs with healthcare coverage!

In addition, the Mayor's changes pave the way for the city to begin providing incentive subsidies to hotel developers even when they're creating poverty wage jobs. Click here for more information and to see the wording Sanders slashed from the proposed update.

Please come to a special meeting of the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee tomorrow (Wednesday) at City Hall, 202 C Street, downtown.

Otherwise, please call the committee members listed below or send them an e-mail.
  • Councilmember Jim Madaffer, Chair: (619) 236-6677
  • Councilmember Toni Atkins: (619) 236-6633
  • Councilmember Tony Young: (619) 236-6644
  • Councilmember Ben Hueso: (619) 236-6688
Insist that our City's plan for future growth must combat the growing income gap in San Diego! We want economic prosperity for all working people, not just hotel developers!

San Diego City Council Grows Balls

So, it finally happened. The San Diego City Council actually overrode a mayoral veto yesterday. With a 5 to 3 super-majority, Councilmembers Atkins, Frye, Hueso, Madaffer and Peters showed Mayor Jerry Sanders that public policy is more important that public relations. The controversial "toilet to tap" study that the City Council approved earlier this month was vetoed by Sanders, partially because of the "yuck" factor. Well, wake up Sanders - you are already drinking treated sewage that is put into the Colorado River upstream. Cost may be an initial factor, but Sanders should realize the potential costs for our economy as we face another drought. Kudos to the City Council, for showing true leadership in this time of crisis. And where was Mayor Sanders? According to his spokesman Fred Sainz "at the movies". (This was written in the union tribune, and I refuse to link to that rag).

Without a viable Democrat in the race, Mayor Francis is sounding better and better to this progressive everyday.

Tuesday - Quick Hits

As circulation continues to fall, the UT cuts newsroom staff by another 12%. Another example of the failure of conservatism. VOSD

City Council rightly votes to override mayor's veto on water recycling. VOSD UT

Border Patrol agent finds tunnel and 15,000 pounds of chronic inside shipping container near Tecate. UT

County Supervisors to consider pay raises for D.A. Bonnie Dumanis and Sheriff Bill Kolender. UT

Silicon Valley business sentenced to prison for selling military grade night-vision googles to the Chinese. UT

County fire authority moves closer to being. Only problem, they need to come up with the money. UT NCTimes

Needing a new home, Children's Museum has decided not to house charter school that shares its name. UT

Under performing charter schools, leave financial burden upon SDUSD. VOSD

Monday, December 3, 2007

Electoral College Initiative is Running out of Time

The SacBee is reporting tonight that State Election officials are saying that backers of the California electoral college initiative are at risk of missing the June ballot. Election officials said it will be difficult to finish counting the signatures in time for the January 24th state deadline.[Link]

Despite a recommendation from Secretary of State Debra Bowen that the proponents submit the signatures to the counties three weeks ago, they have yet to submit the necessary signatures. Supporters of the initiative need 433,971 signatures to qualify for the ballot. They are aiming at collecting 700,000 signature to ensure that they have enough to qualify for the ballot.[Link]

Supporters originally the aimed at turning the in the signatures by Friday December 1st. They received a late infusion of cash when the Orange County Lincoln Club made a $100,000 contribution to the initiative effort.[Link] The Republican political consultant Dave Gilliard, who is heading up the effort to qualify the initiative for the ballot, didn't return phones repeated phones calls to the SacBee on Monday.[Link]

Cross posted on Calitics

Call it the Núñez Rule

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Fair Political Practices Commission is considering a proposal at its December 13th meeting that would require politicians who use their campaign funds for dining, gifts, and traveling "to prove those expenditures are related to governmental or political business." The FPPC also is going to consider a proposal requiring nonprofit groups that get involved in political campaigns to reveal their donors.[Link]

"Together, the proposed reforms aim to better inform voters about who is bankrolling ballot measure campaigns and tighten vague laws under which some politicians." Over the past couple of months Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles), has come under fire for lavishly spending campaign funds on travel, meals and gifts.[Link]

If the proposals are adopted by the FPPC, "politicians would have to attach a memo to their spending reports that shows the nature and recipient of gifts, details about who partook of meals and how travel related to governmental or political purposes."[Link]

The Aguirre Dilemma

When City Attorney Mike Aguirre failed to get the San Diego County Democratic Party early incumbent endorsement last month, many of local Democratic activists were surprised by the result. Among grassroots activists, Aguirre is viewed as something of a mythic figure, akin to the status enjoyed by councilmember Donna Fyre circa 2004 & 2005. Aguirre’s appeal among these Democratic activist is understandable, he is their Jesus, turning over the tables of “downtown establishment” moneychangers outside the temple of city hall.

Mike Aguirre plays the martyr role quite well to his audience of supporters. These supporters attraction to Aguirre comes out of sense of frustration. Since Pete Wilson was elected mayor in 1971, the voters of San Diego have elected only one Democrat as mayor in the intervening 35+ years and she left office in 1992. Unless something dramatically changes between now and the close on the filing period next March, the drought at holding the mayor office will continue at least until 2012.

Notwithstanding, Mike Aguirre creates a bit of a dilemma for the county Democratic Party. He is after all the only Democratic office holder elected citywide. He has, however, alienated certain sectors of the Democratic coalition, in particular labor. But that is not his only the problem. His disconcerting forays as City Attorney into areas not traditional part of the office’s purview, such as his investigation of KPBS, have added to the loose-cannon caricature portrayed in the pages of the local establishment paper. Many people in this town who consider themselves staunch Democrats, but are not activist types, they find Aguirre’s tenure as City Attorney embarrassing.

Last week, when Democratic Party Chair, Jess Durfee was guest posting at Voice of San Diego it was interesting to read the comments to his posts. Most of the comments, once you got past the token Republicans, didn’t want to discuss what Jess Durfee was posting about. Instead many of the comments were from Democrats wanting to comment on Mike Aguirre and if the party should endorse him. The vast majority of these comments, expressed the opinion that Aguirre doesn’t deserve the local party’s endorsement. Of course, there is no way to tell how representative, these commenters are to the public at large. That being the case, since the vote last month, I have heard from a friend who is Central Committee member that Mike Aguirre and some of his staff have been meeting with members of the Central Committee to make their case for endorsement. My friend also tells me that he thinks, the early endorsement will be put back on the agenda for the January Central Committee meeting.

There is no doubt that the downtown Republican establishment is gunning after Mike Aguirre. All you need to do, is just pickup a copy of the UT to see their slanted coverage. Does that warrant the local party to throw its prestige and weight behind Aguirre’s reelection? To the grassroots activists the answer is “yes.” He is, however, not the only announced Democrat who is seeking the office of City Attorney. Since the party has once already denied him the early incumbent endorsement, maybe they should hold off the endorsement until all announced Democrats for City Attorney can present themselves before the Central Committee to be considered for endorsement. -TQ

Monday - Quick Hits

Wingnuts get your tinfoil hats ready. County to start fluoridation today. UT

Chula Vista expected to cut $15.9 million from budget, and will layoff 27 in the process. UT

Construction begins on Palomar-Pomerado hospital near $1 billion expansion. NCTimes

In an editorial, La Prensa reminds us that the Reverse 911 system work well if you spoke English. LaPrensa

Rental vacancies on the rise throughout the county. UT

As reputation grows, number of applicants to SDSU increases. Too bad they can't get recruit better football players. UT

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Beyond Gitmo

The Center for Constitutional Rights brought the first Guantánamo case more than five years ago. This fall, CCR will again represent Guantánamo detainees before the Supreme Court to demand their right to know why they are being held.[Link]

Help Put this Ad in Bush's Bedroom!

While President Bush might not read our Supreme Court legal brief or listen to the arguments in next week's case, he'll probably watch the coverage on Fox News. So we've prepared a hard-hitting commercial to show during the O'Reilly Factor. Film star and activist Danny Glover narrates a 30-second video that depicts the shredding of our Constitution.

We need your help to put it on the air in Washington, D.C. - in Bush's backyard and in his bedroom.Can you help? Please make a contribution of $20 (or more if you can) to get the ad aired on the O'Reilly Factor so we can get our message across without being interrupted! If we raise more than we need, we'll take it to other shows like The Countdown with Keith Olbermann, too.[Donate]