The 2012 mayoral contest here in San Diego is front and center in the news this week. Polling results released yesterday show Rep. Bob Filner with an 8 point lead over City Councilman Carl DeMaio. According to San Diego Politico, the race currently stands at 40% – Filner, 32% – DeMaio and 29% – Undecided. These polling results (which are likely drawn from internal Democratic surveys) closely mirror party registration in San Diego. Other polls reportedly show Filner in the high 30s and DeMaio peaking in the low 30s.
Voice of San Diego has an article up Monday that leads by quoting former Filner opponent and modern day China-phobic economist Peter Navarro calling the Congressman “the Grand Canyon of assholes.” The VOSD piece focuses on the narrative that candidate Filner’s abrasive personality is a political liability; it does explore the roots of his willingness to be combative–his roots in the civil rights movement–but the overall thrust is not particularly complimentary. For the record, here’s the lede:
Bob Filner stabs you in the front. And he stabs you in the back. He’s abrasive, aggressive, impolitic, caustic, truculent, brash and, according to one memorable formulation, “the Grand Canyon of assholes.”
UT-San Diego’s Craig Gustafson makes the front page of Monday’s paper pointing out that neither contender has experience taking on well-funded contenders from the opposition party. Each has won general election campaigns in districts with lop-sided party registrations that favored them. The article suggests that the mayoral contest will be won by whatever candidate can reach out to non-party voters and suggests that the next important step in the race will be disclosure of funding levels, as financial disclosures are filed on Tuesday.
Filner is unlikely win any contests for total dollars collected – DeMaio’s connections with the GOP Super-Pac universe will likely insure his financial supremacy throughout the contest. It should be noted, however, that the $2 million the city councilman spent in the primary contest failed to change his level of support in the electorate beyond the levels that he is currently polling at. His only hope for increasing his numbers seems to be in high dollar mass media advertising attacking Filner, a probability acknowledged in the UT-SD article.
While Congressman Filner’s campaign has seemed lackluster –SDPolitico says his polling position comes “without raising a finger “– at times in the past, he’s as of late been aggressively working public events. From the protest over the lack of Padres games on (some) cable outlets to the Hillcrest Farmer’s market, he’s been seemingly everywhere pumping the flesh. Acting as guest host on KCBQ talk radio Monday morning, Filner announced that he’s planning on asking former candidate Nathan Fletcher to serve in his administration, overseeing big projects for the City of San Diego.
San Diego Police Appear at Anaheim Protest… More than 300 demonstrators rallied in Anaheim on Sunday, July 29th, to denounce two fatal police shootings and to issue a call for community peace. They included a caravan of supporters that left from Chicano Park in San Diego to join in the protest. They weren’t, however, the only San Diegans present at the rally. Officers from the San Diego Police Department were observed among the law enforcement contingent, and there were several reports that they played an active role in pointing out members of the local group to be arrested for no apparent reason.
At total of nine people were arrested, including two from San Diego, as protesters rallied in front of police headquarters. Later the group started marching toward Disneyland, but a police line consisting of 50 officers in riot gear and two dozen police on horseback blocked them a half-mile away from the park. Law enforcement officers–who were wearing military combat equipment and camouflage–reacted with hostility to citizens who tried to film one arrest. While two officers handcuffed the suspect, other cops rushed up, formed a perimeter, pointed rifles directly at the faces of photographers, yelling, “Back up!” A SWAT sharpshooter was observed perched atop the Anaheim Police department headquarters.
Congress Says No to DoD Plan to Boost Retiree Healthcare Fees… Lawmakers, led by San Diego Congresswoman Susan Davis, along with Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week asking for an explanation of a $708 million shift in monies deemed surplus from the Defense Health Program to fund other “higher priorities” submitted to Congress last month. The request to shift the funds comes amid a fight between the Pentagon and Congress over raising fees for TRICARE and TRICARE for Life.
The House voted Thursday to prohibit the Defense Department from spending any money to implement those fees. Although the Defense Department has proposed a $200 annual fee for the health care benefit for Medicare-eligible military retirees and their families, Congress has not authorized the payment. Both the House and Senate versions of the 2013 defense authorization bill omit the Pentagon’s plans for TRICARE fee increases, making it unlikely — but not necessarily impossible — for the new enrollment fee to be charged.
Senior DoD officials have repeatedly testified before Congress that radically escalating TRICARE costs are “eating us alive.” Now, it turns out that costs for the first six months of the current fiscal year have grown at historically low rates: 0.6% for active duty personnel and a decline of 2.7% for all other beneficiaries.” A recent letter from the Military Officers Association of America claims that the DoD health budget had a surplus of over $500 million for FY2011 as well.
TRICARE is the comprehensive managed health care system for 9.7 million active duty service members, retirees, their families, and survivors. For these Americans, the health care debate has already been resolved; a hybrid system of military and private health care providers takes care of their medical needs. There are tiers of care levels, broken out by patients’ relationship with the military, the Medicare system and their ability to pay, run through private insurers in twelve administrative districts on a competitive basis.
GOP Chairman can’t get his facts straight… Columnist Matthew Hall’s Sunday commentary in UT-San Diego called out the San Diego Police Department’s claims that crime in this city is on the increase and that retention of local law enforcement officers has become a problem. The department said they need an additional $66 million over the next five years to help stem that tide. Hall’s column (and earlier comments from Scott Lewis over at VOSD) quotes statistics that raise questions about the SDPD’s credibility. GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric took to Twitter on Sunday to complain that the column hadn’t yet been posted online, attributing the police department’s request and the statistics used justify it to the San Diego Police Officer’s Association (SDPOA). Sorry, Tony, you can’t pin this one on the unions—it was the Chief of Police Bill Lansdowne (he’s management) who made those claims in front the City Council.
News that didn’t make the local news media… Former President Bill Clinton has agreed to place President Obama’s name in nomination at the Democratic convention. His prominent role will allow Democrats to embrace party unity in a way that is impossible for Republican rival Mitt Romney, given former President George Bush’s persona non-grata status with much of the GOP. Clinton will speak in prime-time at the Democratic confab in North Carolina on Sept. 5, the night before Obama formally accepts the party nomination. While the number two on the ticket often speaks that night, the campaign has decided that President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will speak on the same night.
Check of this family values headline:
Strip Clubs in Tampa Are Ready to Cash In on G.O.P. Convention
This is an edited version of Doug Porter’s daily column at San Diego Free Press, from Monday, July 30, 2012.