KUSI and Carl DeMaio Sign-A-Thon, Aiming for an Eagle with One Wing

by on September 14, 2011 · 19 comments

in Election, Media, Popular, San Diego

Does it qualify as a newscast? Is it a free political advertising? Is it even newsworthy? These are all questions that can be legitimately asked about the forthcoming collaboration between Mayoral Candidate Carl DeMaio and local TV station KUSI.  This Thursday (Sept 15), the station will be giving up a four hour chunk of airtime for a “Sign-a-thon” featuring live coverage from eight locations throughout the area, where voters will be encouraged to sign or turn in petitions in support of DeMaio’s campaign for pension “reform”.

Conservative activists nationwide have initiated similar campaigns that are, in fact, thinly disguised attempts at union-busting aimed at public-sector employees.  This is part of a larger strategy aimed at minimizing the influence of constituent groups that are traditionally considered part of the Democratic Party’s voting base. The ultimate goal of this strategy is insure conservative dominance in the electorate for the foreseeable future.  For some on the right this means the ascension of libertarian “less government” policies, for others this process is more about establishing a fundamentalist theocracy. In practice, should such a scheme succeed, it will mean that the American eagle will be flying with only one wing.

DeMaio’s scheme, as Jim Miller points out elsewhere in the OBRag this week, looks both to the past (covering up) and the future (attacking unions) :

What this assault on public sector pensions masks, of course, is that it is the local business elite and San Diego’s robber barons who have been raiding the municipal cookie jar while the local press has been pounding away at city workers.  As UCSD’s Steve Erie and co-authors Vladimir Kogan, and Scott MacKenzie show in their new book Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Failures in San Diego (Stanford University Press, 2011), San Diego’s fiscal mess is just as much a product of our city’s decade’s long aversion to any taxes and our reliance on “public-private partnerships” which enrich the affluent while delivering little to the majority of San Diegans.

In the wake of the failures of two other recent “grassroots” faux reform campaigns (DeMaio’s “Outsourcing Initiative” & the “Great Schools” scheme to add appointed school board members) to actually gain enough valid signatures to qualify for ballot placement, backers of the “pension reform” campaign have hired a company to verify signatures on petitions. Committee chair T.J. Zane told the Voice of San Diego:

“..the campaign hired a firm called National Data Services to do signature verification. Zane wouldn’t disclose where the firm was based and said it would be hard to find.”

(A google search for a company by that name working in the elections field turned up nothing.)

Local labor groups have actively campaigned against the measure through a public education program called the “Decline to Sign” campaign. There have been several confrontations between petition supporters and their opponents.  And the bottom line is that, despite months of campaigning, with DeMaio himself trolling out in front of grocery stores for signatures nearly every weekend, they have thus far failed in their quest.

That’s why they’ve turned to KUSI for a chunk of “free” airtime.  KUSI is calling their donation a “news special”, a move reminiscent of TV news programming in totalitarian countries.  Which, if you think about the ultimate goals of DeMaio and his minions, makes perfect sense.  If you’d like to see an example of what passes for news programming on KUSI, please watch the video, where the so-called reporter just about drools over what the candidate has to say.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar annagrace September 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

Will DeMaio list the Big Shill as a “gift” to the councilman? a campaign contribution to his mayoral campaign? I do know that “none dare call it news.”


avatar RB September 14, 2011 at 11:17 am

If there is a pension problem and there is a $2 billion problem, the first place to check for blame is the pension board. The pension board was composed of representatives, including three union leaders, for all the pension members and had a fiduciary responsibility to their members. The pension boards actions has lead to the implosion of city’s defined benefits pension plans and the need for defined contribution 401k type plans for workers.


avatar annagrace September 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

But no Social Security RB, or other defined plan? Now why is that??????


avatar RB September 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Those employee should have had SS. Those employee should receive at least a pension that equals SS. Also, current employees should have their current pension plans (without DROP, spiking of hours in the last year, and below market buying of years, etc) protected. But the going forward no more defined benefits years or plans. They no longer work.


avatar annagrace September 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm

So RB- will you or did you sign the petition? There is no Social Security or defined benefit- just the 401(k)


avatar RB September 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I have not signed but I will vote to end the current pension system. The employees/unions would be smart to put their own competing solution on the ballot and I would give every solutions a careful look.

Current city employees should be put back into the SS System and given a 401k/403b account. No employee should receive less than what would be paid by SS.


avatar annagrace September 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Fair enough, RB.


avatar Dawg53 September 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

Spiking of hours? You do know that overtime DOES NOT count toward retirement right?

The plans are not the problem. It is the fact the city has not paid their portion that has caused the issues.

Never mind the endless “promises” to increase pension to avoid paying a raise at the time. Those moves were to save money in the short run. The city is just trying to avoiding paying the compensation at all.

The employees don’t have SS because the city decided to do away with it to save money.


avatar mr fresh September 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

there you are again RB, always pointing out the dreaded “union leaders” and forgetting to name the rest of the motley crew. not that you have an agenda, of course.


avatar RB September 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Gee, I did not mention the names of the union leaders that sold their members out in return for the spiking of their own pensions. (They were able to include union pay for city pension benefits in return for votes to underfunding the pensions of everyone.). But you are right, every member of that board should be blamed for this mess.


avatar annagrace September 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Every member of that board should have been blamed indeed, as well as those further up the food chain pressing for a specific vote. But they weren’t. Why do you suppose that is?


avatar RB September 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I agree. I continue to believe that the corrupt method of how we finance political campaigns is responsible for most of our problems.


avatar doug porter September 14, 2011 at 11:51 am

NewsFlash! Dave Maass over at CityBeat has even more gunk on this story–and it’s looking pretty gunky now: http://goo.gl/lrYmP


avatar annagrace September 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

If KUSI has indeed taken a public political position on this, as stated in Maas article, then I would expect the segment to be reflected as a campaign contribution to DeMaio.


avatar doug porter September 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Here’s KUSI’s TV promo for the show. Note that they have cut the special down to TWO hours, as opposed to the FOUR hours DeMaio’s website claims…. http://goo.gl/rgizp


avatar thinking out loud September 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Nice job promoting the show Thursday nite !! I had not heard about it been way to busy trying to make a living. But I will watch…Thanks for the heads up.


avatar Outlaw September 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I’ll watch if Leslie Lopez is interviewing. LOL


avatar doug porter September 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm

no wonder they’re desperate…. KUSI let it drop that they’re 30,0000 signatures short after three months of paid canvassers…. holy crap.


avatar scotty m September 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Every one of the of the problems we face today was brought on by polititions offering benefits so they could save the cash for their own legacy projects.


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