Dem Chair Incorrectly Linked Former District 2 Candidate Ed Harris to Another Sexual Harassment Case

by on July 26, 2013 · 11 comments

in Civil Rights, Election, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

Francine Busby

Dem chair Francine Busby

Francine Busby is the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.  The Central Committee just voted last night – July 25th – to ask Mayor Filner to resign because of the sexual harassment accusations, after a stalemate last week on the issue.

During the debate before the  vote last week that resulted in a split of 24 to 24 votes on the committee that oversees the party, the president of the Point Loma Democratic Club, Susan Peinado argued against asking Filner to resign. She also criticized Busby and other leaders of the party.

Ed Harris lifeguard 5-15-13The next day, in a move that Peinado views as some kind of retribution for speaking out, Peinado received an email from Busby that alleged one of the candidates in the District 2 race, Lifeguard Sgt. Ed Harris, could face similar kinds of accusations that Filner is suffering and that Peinado better be careful in not supporting Harris.

Busby is supporting another Democrat in the race, Sarah Boot, who is a federal prosecutor and founding member of Run Women Run – an organization that Busby is paid to lead.  In her email, Busby warned that supporting Harris could be a problem for the Dems and Peinado because “as a leader of the lifeguards, he will be associated with a culture that has a long history of discrimination against women.”  In her email, she referred to “sexual harassment issues”.

Apparently, Busby also included in her email a link to a story – as Voice of San Diego reports

“about a woman lifeguard who sued the city over gender discrimination. Harris was not named in the suit, or deposed as part of it. His only connection to the suit seems to be working for the department where the discrimination took place. The lawsuit had nothing to do with sexual harassment.”

The Pt Loma Dems had not endorsed anyone for the race. Yet the party head cautioned Peinado about supporting Harris. She wrote:

“Whether or not you bring this issue to the attention of your members in the context of the impact that it will have on the election is your choice. If you don’t they may ask you if and when you learn of it and why you didn’t inform them and hold you responsible.”

VOSD quotes Peinado:

“I realized she was hitting back at me because of what I said at the meeting.”

 VOSD asked Busby about this, and report that “Busby says she was merely putting the issue on the table for the sake of transparency.” Busby told their reporter:

“Some people in discussions about the mayor’s situation have voiced an opinion that party leaders had information that they didn’t share. I brought this to her attention so she would be aware of it.”

Meanwhile, by time this email was flying around, candidate Ed Harris had already dropped out of the District 2 race.

When he learned of the Busby email and her accusation, Harris was pissed because it spoke of a case he wasn’t involved in. He said:

“I’d expect that from the Republicans, I’d expect it during the campaign, but to get it from your own party, it was clear she was trying to poison the well.”

“Using that case was odd to say the least, but that was part of the strategy to raise questions about me.”

In response to the VOSD article, former head of the lifeguards, Chris Brewster, took umbrage and wrote in its comments:

As a former leader of the San Diego Lifeguard Service, I would like to make a statement for the record.

The San Diego Lifeguard Service does not have a “culture that has a long history of discrimination against women.” Quite the contrary.

The simple fact is that significantly less women apply to be ocean lifeguards than do men. This is reflected in the makeup of the workforce at all levels.

While there have been some isolated cases of complaints by individuals of unfair treatment, a few adjudicated, there is no evidence of which I am aware that they are any more prevalent than those in other workforces. They may indeed be less prevalent.

In any case, branding Mr. Harris with a taint with which he has no direct association is McCarthyist. We should indeed promote full participation of women in public leadership positions, but not by indiscriminately slandering men.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar JEC July 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Will Busby’s political fortunes sink with Filner”s? For her to apply a negative stereotype to a diverse group of people who’s purpose is saving lives; I think Francine revealed a gender bias better kept private. Slinging mud at a fellow democrat can not do Francine nor the local Democratic Party any good.


avatar Michael Valentine July 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

So get in line.


avatar Catherine July 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Well, that’s pretty messed up. Shame on Busby for insinuating such a thing.


avatar obracer July 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Busby ! YOU and your dirty politics gotta go !


avatar Doug July 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Witch hunt!


avatar Dana Levy July 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I am still amazed at the complete disregard for the viability and allegience to democratic party cohesiveness by any of the mouthy elected democrats on local, state and national levels. You don’t ever see the republiccns doing this self flagilation; from that wimp Gloria (my district council person) who seems to love Faulconner and Goldsmith, to Donna Frye who is siding with the enemy at every turn (even when premature), to Busby who makes an ass of herself at every step (couldn’t mount a decent campaign against Bilbray) to Toni Atkins in Sacramento ,and Pelosi and Wasserman-Schultz in Washington, to just name a few. I am not on the “due process “bandwagon but at least we good democrats should not add cannon fodder to the mainstream media by looking for acknowledgment and face time with them. It has been so long since we had a leader representing ME at City Hall ,and I will say that what Bob has done since being sworn in legislatively has pleased me immensely. So why are these supposed advocates for democrats so eager to pile on? Who among us is so pure and shiny that we can relish with such apparent delight in the shortcomings of another? I suggest we look towards letting the chips fall where they may and not continue reacting in such knee jerk fashions. I am not giving the republicans any standing or moral high ground and neither should any other democrat whether the subject is female sexual harassment or any other matter. Do we want DeMaio to take over or create an opening to return to “business as usual” with some other stooge of the republican self-righteous do-gooders? I say NO, NEVER. And, I don’t condone any of the alleged actions to which Bob is accused but I am forever a party loyalist and will endeavor to urge fellow democrats to do likewise, for it is the only salvation or avenue we have politically that the democratic party remains a beacon for diversity, freedom of choice, and fairness when we are constantly bombarded with the smears from the right cloaked in selfishness and insincerity. Dana Levy


avatar John July 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Yo, Dana, my fellow golfer, well said.


avatar Ed Harris July 28, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Email I sent to Busby.


To say I’m disappointed by your attached email is an understatement. As a member of the Democratic party and a Democratic candidate for District 2, I expected support and equal treatment from those elected to head the party. Since announcing my intentions to run, you have strategically used your position to push another candidate forward. Rumors of allegations have been used to poison others in the Democratic party prior to my meeting them. Those rumors are traced back to you and others from Run Women Run. The fact that Run Women Run supports you financially makes this more troublesome.

Your letter starts off indicating that I have been involved in a sexual harrassment incident. You then go on to say “Mr. Harris and I discussed the issue when we met.” As you know, we did not discuss anything related to sexual harrassment. I have never been involved in a sexual harrassment case. The conversation that you and I had was centered around inequality in hiring. I was not named in the case you referenced (Allison Terry vs. the City of San Diego). I had nothing to do with the case other than being called as a professional witness by the City. My testimony centered around lifeguard qualifications. I have no influence over hiring and did not write evaluations for Terry. My interactions with Terry were minimal so I refused to provide an opinion about her qualifications for the job.

I find it troubling that you chose not to lay out our true conversation. I relayed to you that I uphold a standard that ensures those who come to our beaches remain safe. The standard that I apply does not recognize gender. I relayed to you that I do not want to sit with another mom or family member while we search the bottom of the ocean for their loved one. Each year the Lifeguards hire approximately 50 recruits. A portion of them fail to meet the standards set by the service; some are men and some are women.

What you should know is that I am supported by our very strong & very capable professional women Lifeguards. You should also know that I am the one who consistently challenges how we hire and rate our employees. You should also know that I am the one our female guards come to for advice and representation when they are having issues in the workplace.

Here are some of the endorsements that I have received from our female staff:

I met Ed Harris in 1997. He convinced me to take a job as a San Diego Lifeguard, and I have since worked with him for over 17 years. I have seen Ed work tirelessly for almost two decades to promote our goal of public safety, professionalism, and workplace equality. As a female lifeguard, I have been able to always count on Ed when I am looking for advice or need support, both as my coworker and my supervisor.

Kerry Brown, LG II

This is my official endorsement of Ed Harris for City Council. He is a compelling leader, one who truly looks after the needs of his fellow Lifeguards and that of the public in which we serve. Ed is a charismatic individual, and I can honestly say, his work ethic and room presence is alluring. I was a second year lifeguard when I first met Ed. He is always interested in how to make improvements to the Department. When he became involved with the Local-911 Lifeguard Union, he found his platform to shine. Ed Harris is a family man with the values and integrity this City needs for a fruitful future.

Amber Prestigard, LG II

Hi Ed Good Luck!

I have had the pleasure of working with Sergeant Ed Harris as a permanent lifeguard for the past two 2 years. Ed Harris is one of the lifeguards in a leadership position to go to for sound advice, support and to get the ball rolling on any number of issues. He always has a quick grasp of the issues, and I am always confident that he will be a strong and influential advocate for me, and all the lifeguards. I have no doubt that he will be able to do the same for the community of San Diego.

Brittany Rowe

I have worked with Ed Harris as a professional lifeguard for the past 12 years. During this time I’ve known Ed to be a strong advocate for public safety and a tireless advocate for civil service employees. As a lifesaver, Ed is a waterman in the true sense of the word. He is a decorated life-saving veteran who many will gratefully credit with saving their life. I’ve known Ed to be hard-working, hard-charging and proud member of a Service that he would call a lifestyle rather than an occupation.

It is his true love of the craft that pushes Ed to both encourage and challenge his coworkers. I’ve witnessed Ed several times demand excellence, with the ability to demonstrate first what he asks of his team. At times Ed is firm…even gruff, however I know him to always be fair. His tactics at times can be unconventional, however are always designed to elicit success. I know very few who without hesitation, would not follow his lead both in surf and on land. His unwavering spirit likely comes from his days as a Marine; he has transformed those lessons into a leadership style that I came to appreciate as his coworker.

As coworkers, we did not always agree; however I always knew I could count on Ed to be forthright, supportive and fair. When I had my own issues with inequity in the workplace, it was Ed who sat beside me and encouraged me to have patience, strength and persevere. I am proud to call Ed a friend and support his future endeavors.

Katherine Jackson
Former Lifeguard Sergeant
San Diego Fire-Rescue Dept.

It is important to note that several of our female guards testified against Terry during the trial. Maybe you should have checked with them before you chose to disparage me. I would expect this to come from the Republicans during the race. I did not expect it from my own party. I successfully lobbied the Mayor several months ago for a part-time recruiting position which will start in September. I respect the efforts of Run Women Run and ask that they focus some attention on helping the Lifeguard service attract more qualified women to tryout for the Lifeguards. This will ensure that we have a qualified pool of applicants to choose from.


Ed Harris


avatar Carol Heasley August 1, 2013 at 9:04 am

Dana Levy said it all


avatar Pat Donahoe August 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I’m disappointed in my party’s rush to judgment. Why should we assume, as the U-T does, that every word that comes out of the mouths of ten women most of us have never heard of, is golden. The party should have waited to judge until the official process works its way though the justice system. We’re getting into really dangerous waters here. Is just looking at a woman with a smile on his face going to make a man a suspected sexual predator? The hardcore feminists in our party are up in arms that some stranger’s tush was allegedly touched. Filner is a fine man with 35 years in elective office where he manifested a solid commitment to Democratic issues. He was the best friend Democrats had in Congress. We’re fools to forget that. Did Busby and her Central Cte. offer even a thank-you to Bob for his lifetime of dedicated service, before they threw him to the sharks?


avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman August 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

Francine Busby is a glaring example of the Peter Principle in her multiple failed candidacies to unseat a Republican Congressman and in her ascension to head of the County Democratic Party. Was that the reward for flaming out? She has done a lot of damage. Where the heck is is Ryan Hurd?


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