Friday, November 13, 2015

With A Little Help From My Friends

I have neglected to post items here for quite some time. I've been quite busy rearranging my life, living circumstances and work responsibilities.

The June 2016 Primary Election will be upon us before we know it. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to spend some time in the coming months writing my somewhat infamous "Crotty UnOfficial Voter Guide," which attempts to inform, educate and amuse, with an emphasis on amusement.

This election cycle, I'm attempting something new.

I'd like to receive input from those who have insight as relates to the plethora of candidates and issues that will before us for our (presumably informed) opinions regardless of position on the political and policy spectrum.

A few years ago, Pew Research put things this way:

"... [Political] party identification is, an attitude, not a demographic. To put it simply, party identification is one of the aspects of public opinion that our surveys are trying to measure, not something that we know ahead of time like the share of adults who are African American, female, or who live in the South. Particularly in an election cycle, the balance of party identification in surveys will ebb and flow with candidate fortunes, as it should, since the candidates themselves are the defining figureheads of those partisan labels. Thus there is no timely, independent measure of the partisan balance that polls could use for a baseline adjustment.

These shifts in party identification are essential to understanding the dynamics of American politics. In the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, polls registered a substantial increase in the share of Americans calling themselves Republican. We saw similar shifts in the balance of party identification as the War in Iraq went on, and in the build-up to the Republicans’ 2010 midterm election victory. In all of those instances, had we tried to standardize the balance of party identification in our surveys to some prior levels, our surveys would have fundamentally missed what were significant changes in public opinion.

The clearest evidence of this is the accuracy of the Pew Research Center’s final election estimates. In every presidential election since 1996, our final pre-election surveys have aligned with the actual vote outcome, because we measured rising Democratic or Republican fortunes in each year.

In short, because party identification is so tightly intertwined with candidate preferences, any effort to constrain or affix the partisan balance of a survey would certainly smooth out any peaks and valleys in our survey trends, but would also lead us to miss more fundamental changes in the electorate that may be occurring. In effect, standardizing, smoothing, or otherwise tinkering with the balance of party identification in a survey is tantamount to saying we know how well each candidate is doing before the survey is conducted."

So much for the pollster's views. I am simply asking for a little diversity of opinions and attitudes, hopefully with the same sense of whimsy with which I, and hopefully others of us who do this for a living, must adopt to remain sane. Of course, the preceding sentence is a topic for an entirely different type of discussion, which may or may not occur based on the level of interest.

In summary, I'm essentially putting out a call for entries into my almost bi-annual Voter Guide. 

Please send your thoughts, observations, rants and other hopefully salient views on any or all of the choices before us on the June 2016 ballot to

Thanks, and let's have some fun!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Unofficial Crotty Voter Guide

The Unofficial Crotty Voter Guide

For the June 3rd Primary Election

It's alive, it's alive!

The Crotty voter guide is back following a hiatus going back to the 2012 general election.  A great deal has happened since then, including Bob Filner's election and subsequent self-immolation.  The Filner Foibles resulted in the Special Mayoral Election, which, in turn, saddled us with Kevin "Don't bother me with policy" Faulconer. 
However, don't blame Kevin too much.  He had plenty of help from the city's labor unions, which, while spending a couple of million, forgot Elections 101 and failed to move to the middle following the primary and practically handed the keys to the Mayor's office to "the Falcon."  Post election diatribe, uh … spin … was that the David Alvarez campaign for Mayor was not as much a campaign as it was a progressive movement.  Silly me.  I thought winning the Mayor's office and having a majority of Democrats on the City Council was the path to a more progressive San Diego.
However, let's not dwell on the past. We have citywide initiatives B & C that … well, essentially got their start when Kevin "I'll pander to anyone" Faulconer decided to make a mayoral race issue out of the years-long effort to update Barrio Logan's Community Plan.
Throwing the Barrio under the bus to score political points … San Diego's Republicans are back in form.
Seriously, though, let's get excited about this June's election.
Beyond Props B & C, we have Lori Zapf and Sara Boot slugging it out for District 2, Chris Cate and … whoever in District 6 and … and … Well, at least there's the County Board of Supervisors, where … uh, well …
Okay, I just re-read the ballot book.  Let's talk about … voter turnout.
Republican polling wiz John Nienstedt confirmed what I've been saying for almost six months.  We are headed for an election turnout of historic proportions … historically low proportions … despite the $20 million worth of political advertising statewide for races up and down the ballot.  Bill Horn and Lori Zapf are the only local candidates who contributed somewhat to that $20 million.  It seems everyone else got by without big bucks … I hope that's not a trend (a guy's gotta make a living).
Whether it's ballot fatigue, boredom or apathy, San Diego voters have yet to get it in gear and get to the polls. Two weeks from Election Day and only 6.2% of voters had returned their mail-in ballot.  One week out saw an uptick of almost 10%.  However, 16% turnout is well below traditional 40% or more among absentee voters.  Applying traditional turnout predictors, the pathetically low absentee voter turnout will still be greater than turnout at the polls.  This will result in an overall election turnout of approximately 26%, barely more than L.A.'s 2013 historically anemic 21% turnout.
San Diego's registered voters make up a little less than 50% of the city's total population, which means that a 26% turnout among registered voters will result in a citywide population turnout of 12.7%.  Who our next four City Council members will be and whether the Barrio Logan Community Plan remains in place or is repealed will be decided by fewer than 13% of the city's population.   That is not "representative democracy" and it's by choice.

Let's get to the ballot and discuss a few campaigns.

State Ballot Propositions

Proposition 41, the California Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act

If the initiative is approved by the state's voters, it will:

  • Amend the Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008 to reduce the amount of authorized bonds from $900 million to $300 million.
  • Enact the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 to authorize $600 million in bonds to provide multifamily housing, such as apartment complexes, to low-income veterans and supportive housing for homeless veterans.
  • Authorize the legislature to amend the bond act by majority vote.
  • Impose reporting requirements on the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs to evaluate any program established by the VHHPA.
  • Authorize the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide specified assistance to veterans.
The measure would authorize the state to provide local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private developers with financial assistance, such as low-interest loans, so that they may construct, renovate and acquire affordable multifamily housing for low-income veterans and their families.

“Low-income” is here defined as “those who earn less than 80 percent of average family income, as adjusted by family size and county.” At least one-half of the funds would be used to build supportive housing for homeless veterans.

The allocation from the general tax revenues would average about $50 million annually for 15 years. The amount spent on these programs would be less than one-tenth of one percent of the state budget each year for 15 years.

But, remember, Toni Atkins said in a TV commercial that the $50 million a year for 15 years to be paid for by our tax dollars is not a tax, so don't worry about how it's paid for.

Since it's not a tax, vote "Yes." Heck, vote "Yes" anyway – it's the right thing to do.

California Proposition 42, the California Compliance of Local Agencies with Public Act (Senate Constitutional Amendment 3).

Remember May 2013, when Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature said they would no longer reimburse local governments for the cost of obtaining public documents for the public? No? Then you must not be a member of the media or one of those government watchdog groups, because they went ballistic.

One newspaper wrote breathlessly that "In a resounding victory for open government advocates and the California media, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature on Thursday backed away from plans to make the state's open-records law essentially optional for cities and other local agencies."

State lawmakers were hit with a torrent of criticism from newspapers around the state, as well as opposition from everyone from liberal open government advocates to Neanderthal conservatives, who feared the change approved by the Legislature would have severely limited the public's right to know what their government is up to.

After deciding to pull about $20 million from local agencies to respond to requests made under the California Public Records Act -- signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1968 -- Brown and Senate leaders reversed course a day after the Assembly did the same.

The political firestorm proved too much to bear for state leaders, particularly in light of the relatively small amount of funding the state was looking to cut, which amounts to 0.02 percent of the state's general-fund budget at a time when the budget had a $1.1 billion surplus.

Well, it's time for local governments to pay their own costs of retrieving documents for the media and the public.

If Prop 42 is approved by the state's voters, it will require all local agencies to comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act) and with any subsequent changes to the acts, thus guaranteeing a person's right to inspect public records and attend public meetings. Prop 42 will also make these laws core government responsibilities, thus ensuring taxpayers are not paying for items local governments have a duty to provide on their own.

The CPRA provides that public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of state or local agencies that retain those records and that every person has a right to inspect any public record. The act also requires agencies to establish written guidelines for public access to documents and to post these guidelines at their offices.

The Brown Act requires local legislative bodies to provide notice of the time and place for holding regular meetings and requires that all meetings of a legislative body be open and public. Under the act, all persons are permitted to attend any meeting of the local legislative body, unless a closed session is authorized.

The initiative would result in a fiscal savings for the state government, but would also result in comparable revenue reductions to local governments.

It seems reasonable (when was the last time you said that about anything done by the government?).

Each government agency pays the cost of finding and providing documents to the public. The state saves some money because it no longer is required to backfill local government costs associated with the CPRA or the Brown Act.  Local governments must find the money from somewhere (probably from the budget for filling potholes and replacing infrastructure) to pay for the public's right to know without having to pay to learn.

Vote "Yes!"

Jerry Brown isn't running a campaign because Tea Partier Tim Donnelly and former TARP ($418 billion federal government bank bailout due to the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent economic free fall) Director Neel Kashkari have neither the money nor the wherewithal to mount a serious challenge to the Governor formerly known as Moonbeam.
Voters have an overall positive impression of this incarnation of the Governor and no one the Republicans could have run against him would have had a chance.
The bad news is all of the down ballot races. There isn't a single statewide office that is at risk of flipping from Democrat to Republican.  No, that's good news.  The bad news is that there's nothing statewide to generate any interest and create some enthusiasm for going to the polls, especially those offices far down the ballot (i.e., City Council).

Perhaps the only interesting race for a Constitutional office is Controller.  Former Speaker of the Assembly John Perez has the money, while Betty Yee has the qualifications.  Guess how that will turn out.

Board of Equalization, District 4
Former Chula Vista Mayor and Assembly member Shirley Horton is one of five Republicans along with some Democratic "Government Auditor" vying for the 4th District Board of Equalization. The BOE was initially charged with responsibility for ensuring that county property tax assessment practices were equal and uniform throughout the state. Currently the tax programs administered by the BOE are concentrated in four general areas: sales and use taxes, property taxes, special taxes and the tax appellate program.  
I guess that means the "Government Auditor" ought to get our vote!

All of the Congressional seats will go to the incumbents, including the 52nd District, where Carl DeMaio and the Republican National Congressional Committee are taking on first-termer Scott Peters, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Scott's fat wallet (if necessary). 
I discuss this race as though it's November because both campaigns have been up on TV and trading General Election-like barbs for months already. I love that D'Carl implied that Scott's campaign was somehow linked to his office break-in. Paranoia will destroy ya … or, your credibility.
Usually, a challenger needs a reason other than wanting the seat to dislodge an incumbent.  However, Carl is Carl, and I'm certain he'll manufacture something between now and November.  You can never underestimate a man with his size ego and a burning desire to be back in the limelight.

Judicial elections are the least visible and possibly among the most important on the ballot.  Unfortunately, primarily because they are countywide races, you don't hear much about them.
I'm slightly biased against those with political endorsements, especially from the City Attorney, the Sheriff or the District Attorney. Neither do I look favorably upon attorneys who work for the DA or DOJ. They are prosecutors with the mindset that everyone is guilty until proven otherwise.  I like my judges open-minded.   

Superior Court Judge; County of San Diego; Office 9
Ronald S. Prager
Douglas Crawford
Crawford didn't bother paying the money to file a ballot statement. No wonder. The San Diego County Bar Association's Judicial Election Evaluation Committee rated Crawford as "Lacking Qualifications."
Prager by default.

Superior Court Judge; County of San Diego; Office 19
Michael J. Popkins is endorsed by both the Lincoln Club of San Diego and the San Diego County Democratic Party.
He must be doing something right. Vote for Popkins.

Superior Court Judge; County of San Diego; Office 20
Judge Lisa Schall received a private admonishment from the state Commission on Judicial Performance in 1995 related to her involvement in a juvenile dependency case. Then in 1999, she was admonished for “an abuse of the contempt power” after incorrectly ordering a woman into custody for five days. About a decade later, Schall was admonished again after she was arrested and found guilty of drunk driving.
Carla Keehn is not incumbent Lisa Schall.
Vote for Carla Keehn.

Superior Court Judge; County of San Diego; Office 25
Michele Hagan is a former Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney and Judge Pro Tem. In 2012, she helped a San Diego domestic violence victim to pass a law to protect victims – no alimony to spouses convicted of violent sexual felonies (AB 1522).
Oh, she's also a Democrat. There are far too few Dems on the bench.
Vote for Michele Hagan

Superior Court Judge; County of San Diego; Office 44
Joseph Adelizzi is a civil litigator with a background outside of the “big government” norm for judges.  He has an unusually parent-friendly attitude toward family law matters – favoring alternative dispute resolution and cost effective litigation management.  He is keenly sensitive to how the litigation process is frequently harmful to litigants and their children, and understands how existing family court and industry practices exacerbate that harm.
The local Bar Association rated Judge Jacqueline Stern “qualified.”  Sitting judges are very rarely rated below “well-qualified.”
You do the math.
Vote for Joseph Adelizzi

County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk
To refresh your memory, incumbent Ernie Dronenburg filed suit to to halt same-sex marriages from taking place. The legal work was paid for by Prop 8 attorney and lead counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, Charles LiMandri, according to an October 28 “Behested Payment Report” Dronenburg filed with the county. The form reveals LiMandri donated $11,240 in legal work to Dronenburg and the county to pay for “services required for the drafting and filing of a legal brief with the State Supreme Court.” Dronenburg described the legal work as “filing legal brief raising questions and asking for guidance.”
The Fair Political Practices Commission sent a letter to Dronenburg, admonishing him for failing to report the in-kind donation from LiMandri.
Aside from that, the current backlog in the assessor’s office is a serious problem for San Diego County taxpayers.
Susan Guinn has been a consumer attorney for over 20 years. She is a two time past president of Western Trial Lawyers and served on the board of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Her firm obtained a $3.3 billion settlement from Big Tobacco to benefit county government. She is well versed in property valuations and has the skills necessary to serve as Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk.
Plus, she's not Ernie Dronenburg.
Vote Susan Guinn

District Attorney
(With thanks to Doug Porter at the San Diego Free Press, from whom I plagerized shamelessly.)
High profile events attended by Bonnie Dumanis that seemingly weren’t disclosed in financial reports as required by law. Now, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is the subject of two state ethics complaints alleging she failed to report meals and travel she accepted from interest groups — complaints filed by a supporter of a political challenger on the June 3 ballot.
The allegations raise a particular issue for Dumanis, who has led a high-profile prosecution in the past three years of more than a dozen officials in South County for accepting meals and other considerations and not reporting them on state forms.
What we’re looking at here are fifty or so free meals with a total value of $4583, according to the story. The on-line version of the UT also has a handy-dandy photo gallery of Dumanis at some of these events, including:
§     February, 2012 ($100)- The Neighborhood Market Association
§     May, 2012 ($125)- Lawyer’s Club of San Diego 40th Anniversary
§    September, 2012 (Registration + Dinner) Chamber of Commerce DC Lobbying Trip
§     January, 2013 ($50) – San Diego Association of Realtors
§     February, 2013 ($200) Downtown San Diego Partnership Event
§     March, 2013 ($200) National Conflict Resolution Center
§     October, 2013 ($135) San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association
The UT says they provided the DA’s office with a list of the events in question, “but the office declined to say whether the DA attended for free and what her policies are on accepting and reporting such gifts.”
Ex-City Council woman Donna Fry appeared at a downtown press conference yesterday with Dumanis challenger Bob Brewer to call for release of recently discovered documents relating to a (mostly) failed investigation of Chula Vista politicians.
After telling KPBS back in February that records pertaining to a phone call ex-Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla said he got from Dumanis did not exist, the DA’s office is now obviously stalling for time before releasing the documents.
But when KPBS sent a Public Records Act request to Patrick O’Toole – the prosecutor who handled the Chula Vista investigations – he gathered the records in just hours and gave them to officials in the District Attorney’s Office.
Dumanis’ office said it never asked O’Toole if he had the documents because typically that information is kept in a case file that has long since been closed.
But the information sought by KPBS was not about case pleadings and motions. It was related to Padilla’s assertion that Dumanis had asked him to appoint her aide to a vacant City Council seat in that 2005 call. Within weeks of Padilla’s refusal, Dumanis initiated an investigation of the entire Chula Vista council.
The District Attorney’s Office told KPBS that it needed more time because the request was not restricted to records O’Toole handed over. KPBS promptly amended its request to ask for only what O’Toole has delivered. The office still has not released the records.
The real deal with Dumanis isn’t really about these allegations. They’re minor and she’ll probably skate free from any consequences. But they are indicative of a much larger problem.
Politics, not the law, is what rules the roost in the County District Attorneys office these days. The rank and file of local law enforcement agencies have come out solidly against the incumbent. The rank and file of the downtown set have come out in favor of Bonnie Dumanis. 
Here’s a comment posted recently by ex-prosecutor Dave Stutz:
Within 3 hours of making a call to Sycuan to ask about a $25,000 contribution to “Kolender for Sheriff”‘, which would be illegal, I was called into her office and told to stop the investigation. No one knew about my call expect Sycuan and myself. Either Kolender or Sycuan called her and she stopped an investigation without knowing what is was about nor did she ask. For the next year Dumanis was led by a leash by Kolender endorsing right wing candidates on a “law and order” ticket. She has been in their bag since day one.
Terri Wyatt, a 27-year DA's office veteran, began too late and doesn't have the resources to win this time around. If Dumanis ekes out 50% plus one in June, Wyatt is well positioned to run in four years.
Bob Brewer's time is now. He's matched Bonnie in fundraising, obtained major law enforcement organizations and has done well in framing Dumanis as too political to be an effective DA.  In addition, Brewer is benefitting from Dumanis' own missteps.  He's positioned himself as the anti-Dumanis and it's working.
It would be a major upset, but why not?  Let's jump on the Brewer Bandwagon!
Fifth District County Supervisor

Second District San Diego City Council
When Kevin Faulconer won the special election for San Diego's mayor this year, he left behind an open seat in District 2.  Although Councilwoman Lorie Zapf represents District 6, redistricting moved her Bay Ho home to District 2.  She's now running for election in District 2.
Lorie received her Master's Degree in Marketing Communications from the University of Denver.  She and her husband started a business making an all-natural energy bar that was sold in grocery, health food and sporting goods stores across the United States and Canada.  The Zapf's later moved to San Diego.

Lorie successfully ran for City Council in 2010 on a fairly typical Republican platform of "running government like a business" and improving public safety.
Sarah Boot is a former federal prosecutor, an occupation rarely associated with Democrats. She led investigations to dismantle cross-border drug trafficking organizations and has prosecuted drug dealers, bank robbers and criminals who sell young children for sex on the streets of San Diego, according to her website.
Before her job with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Sarah worked in a private practice representing local technology companies, internet companies and non-profits, as well as litigation involving contract and employment disputes, intellectual property and land use.
Boot is running on issues familiar to those in the 2nd District, including neighborhood services, neglected infrastructure, height limits on development and crime.
Zapf is trashing Boot with several hundred thousand dollars from all of the usual Republican suspects. If there is a message between the hit pieces, it's extolling the virtues of increased budget revenues, alleged pension savings, managed competition and other DeMaio-like issues.
Kevin Faulconer could get away with talking about right-wing issues because, gee wiz, he seemed like a nice guy. Zapf doesn't have that luxury.
The outcome of this race will be interesting. Boot is focusing on neighborhood issues, which plays well.  Zapf is talking about what a great job she did on the Council.
It's Zapf's money and the thrashing Boot is taking in the mail that is worrisome for the Democrat, especially with a low voter turnout. Remember, Republican voters generally turn out in higher percentages than Democrats.
Given the circumstances, if Sarah has a good ground operation, she could make it. If not, Zapf and her money come out on top.
I don't see Jim Morrison or Mark Schwartz taking enough votes to force a runoff.
This race breaks along partisan political lines, so if you are a partisan, you know for whom you'll vote.  If you're not partisan, what are you doing voting in a June primary election?

Sixth District San Diego City Council

Republican Chris Cate, a longtime lobbyist with the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and the organization's Vice President, stands for whatever the local business establishment wants him to, including loosening environmental regulations and repealing the linkage fee on commercial development for affordable housing.

Cate has raised more than $100,000 in 2013 from developers, Cox Communications, lobbyists with California Strategies and, most importantly, San Diego's Republican Party.

He'll get as much money as he needs from the Lincoln Club.

Democrat Carol Kim lags behind Cate in fundraising, with a large chunk of cash coming from the county's Democratic Party.  

Former Republican School Board member Mitz Lee is running as an independent or No Party Preference (NPP) candidate.  There are two other candidates in the race, De Quang Le and Keith Wong.

This race comes down to whether Cate can outpoll Kim on Tuesday or whether Lee and others can pull enough votes from Cate to prevent him from winning the election outright, so Kim can take him on in the fall.

San Diego Elections Charter Amendment, Measure A

Brought to you from the Registrar of Voters Sample Ballot

Measure A would alter the city charter to make its election process more compatible with state law. It would also give the city elections office more time to mail out ballots, count ballots and certify election results.

Measure A would improve the elections process in the city in two important ways:

  • It would protect the voting rights of military voters and other overseas voters by allowing more time for ballots to be mailed out and for the counting and certification of submitted ballots

  • It would make the elections process compatible with the process mandated by state law.

There is no known opposition to Proposition A.

San Diego Measures B & C

The Barrio Logan Community Plan Update was approved by the San Diego City Council in 2013.  However, the maritime industry, business groups and then-Mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer opposed the plan. They launched a petition drive, collected enough signatures and now voters will decide on June 3 if the plan moves forward or not.

The heart of the matter is a five-block-long commercial buffer zone that separates residential and industrial zones. The plan allows "community and neighborhood commercial uses'' in the buffer area, but no houses.

Supporters of Props B and C say the Barrio Logan plan is a change that's long overdue. They say the plan will ease health risks for Barrio Logan residents who live near shipbuilding facilities.

Opponents of the plan update say the council's actions would hurt the nearby shipbuilding industry. Ballot language backed by five retired Navy rear admirals calls the plan "a dangerous first step toward elimination of San Diego's shipyards."

All San Diego residents, whether they live in Barrio Logan or not, can cast votes on the issue. Mayor Kevin Faulconer (I will never get used to saying or writing those three words in that order) has since reversed his campaign position and is supporting the community plan.

If I were running the campaign for B & C, I would send mail to Del Mar Heights, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Kensington-Talmadge, La Jolla, Point Loma, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peñasquitos, Sabre Springs, Torrey Pines and other nice neighborhoods and ask whether they would like it if folks from the Barrio had input on their community plans.

In fact, I'll ask that the answer to the abovementioned question determine which way you vote.

Remember to vote Tuesday; it's one of the most important responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen. 

That's it for June. Email me with any questions or comment below.