Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Devil You Know and The Devil You Don't

Here in San Diego we have a choice this November. It's not an easy choice like for President. (I mean c'mon the DNC was awesome and Obama's speech was even better.) It is the choice for San Diego City Attorney. Now, normally this would be a no brainer. However being we've got some what many would see as questionable candidates on both sides would make some see a difficult choice.

On one side we have the incumbent Mike Aguirre. Mike styles himself as a selfless crusader that is willing to expose corruption and hypocrisy regardless of who it is. I think he sees himself as RFK and is bringing back the mandate of a City Attorney that works for all San Diegans.

Yet, he has alienated key members of the traditional Democratic constituencies with his rhetoric on public sector unions, his perceived boorish behavior toward staff and people he believes as his opponents in his quest. Not to mention his questionable statements to the press like suggesting a citywide evacuation during the `07 firestorm. These issues have led some high profile Democrats to support his opponent, Jan Goldsmith.

However Jan Goldsmith isn't a great alternative. A former leader of Assembly Republicans in Sacramento. He has spent his entire political career fighting against progressive causes. I mean other then the bill to legalize ferrets. (I mean of all the issues to champion in this state, you choose ferrets? Really?) What did he do in Sacramento that would be seen as a major accomplishment?

Yet because he promises to return stability and normalcy to the City Attorney's office he has been able to peel off support that would have traditionally gone to Mike.

Now I'm not saying that Mike is down for the count, but you have to wonder what the game plan is to win in November. And ultimately the question for San Diego voters is do we vote for the devil we know or the devil we don't?

Your thoughts?

Update: Here's Aguirre's thoughts on those high profile Dems supporting Jan.


Anonymous said...

You talk about "the devil you don't know." Well, I suggest there's much more we know about Judge Goldsmith than his ferret legislation. And perhaps that's why Democrats and Independents are supporting him.

Do a little research and you find that the Los Angeles Daily Journal -- on Nov. 1, 1996 -- reported that, "Assemblyman Goldsmith has a reputation behind the scenes as being one of the few tough-on-crime, lock 'em up advocates who is willing to tackle the less popular and infinitely more complex problem of preventative meausres, i.e., early intervention for high-risk youth."

A year later, the California Children's Lobby said: "We singled out Assemblyman Goldsmith of Poway as the brightest star for children this year. Assemblyman Goldsmith will be termed out in 1998, but in our hearts he will never fade from glory."

And perhaps most telling about whether Goldsmith will be just another partisan Republican is this quote from Capitol Weekly in July 1997: "Assemblyman Jan Goldsmith is fiercely independent."

Antonio Villaraigosa, now the mayor of Los Angeles, is a Democrat. In 1998, he wrote -- and the Assembly passed -- a resolution honoring Goldsmith's work in the Assembly. The resolution highlighted Goldsmith's work to end racial divisions in government programs,to eliminate the ban on trans-racial adoption and foster care placement, and to eliminate the archaic requirement that a medical professional be present to administer the blood-glucose "finger prick" test on children with diabetes. Sounds like much more than ferrets, to me.

And, finally, from Voice of San Diego in April of this year, there was this letter from civil attorney Patrick O'Connor, another Democrat, who appeared before Superior Court Judge Jan Goldsmith. He wrote: "He is as fair a trial judge as can be had. I knew that when I entered his courtroom that any decision he made was based on his reading and understanding the issues before him and applying the law as he saw it. No one who tries cases can ever ask for more than that from a judge."

Mike Aguirre clearly is the "devil you know." Jan Goldsmith is no devil; he clearly is a reasoned, ethical, more broadly experienced alternative, someone with the legal acumen to know a good case from a bad one and -- better still -- how to win the cases he files.

That's why high-profile and grass-roots Democrats are supporting Goldsmith. San Diegans from all parties want the rule of law to return to the City Attorney's office. No more grandstanding. No more accusing people of corruption or other crimes and then never following up with actual charges. No more filing lawsuits and then quietly withdrawing them. No more ethical violations of mixing criminal and civil cases. No more late, non-existant or error-filled advice to the City Attorney's client.

Contrary to your premise, we KNOW Jan Goldsmith, and that's why he must be our next City Attorney.

Anonymous said...

God, Goldsmith voted against the living wage laws, voted to have Poway be exempt from living wage laws. He constantly voted against funding education while he proposed a bill to allow paddling of children in schools! Please, he is a devil and you should know him. Aguirre is not a politician, but a great attorney. Named one of the 100 best trial attorneys in California by CLJ. Aguirre has enforced the Brown Act and his Appeals team has a 93% success rate. They will overturn the pension scam and save this city over $1 billion! Wake up, there is not comparison.

Anonymous said...

During the last few years the city gave NTC to developers, didn't pay city employees a living wage but instead promised retirement benefits and then failed to pay for them, watched the deterioration of the city infrastructure, closed city recreation facilities, gave away millions to Chargers, and more. All this was as a result of the cozy relationship between the Republican mayors, the downtown business establishment, real estate developers, and city employee union management.

I see no reason to expect that if conservative Republican Jan Goldsmith, a close friend of Mayor Sanders, who is supported by the downtown business establishment, developers and the city employee's unions and other special interests is elected, it will not be back to business as usual. 

Anonymous said...

And now Mike Aguirre is trying his hardest (and losing in court)to take away those retirement benefits that 9/5/08 10:26 AM mentions. I am a liberal Democrat - and there is a lot of politician/Republican Goldsmith that I don't like. But 4 years of City Atty. Aguirre is enough. He's been a disaster of a city atty, and his time is up. He can continue trying to eliminate benefits that up to now the courts have ruled are legal as a private citizen. The best part is that maybe he can sue what should be the true target - the City, not the employees, not SDCERS, as it was the City that did not meet it's agreed upon obligations to make payments into the retirement system, so monies could be spent elsewhere (RNC, Qualcomm, Petco, our roads and sewers), and the booming stock market of the time could cover the City's obligation...until the market went south and the city still did not want to make their payments.

Is there a great choice for CA this year? No, but there is a less bad choice and this year it's the new guy.