The Local Races: Taxes, Lawyers and Developers, Oh My!

by on October 29, 2010 · 1 comment

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Education, Election, Environment, Labor, Organizing, San Diego

San Diego County map

OB Rag Election Guide

Here at the OB Rag we don’t have an “editorial board” that sips on lattes and slathers cream cheese on bagels at the Clair de Lune coffee shop as we sit around and make election recommendations. That’s my way of saying that the opinions expressed in this article are nobody’s but my own. As a group, we are most divided over Proposition D with some of our friends.  You naysayers need to chime in with comments, okay? And here are my picks and prognostications…

Proposition A: Ban on County Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) — Vote NO

laborer constructionThis is a symbolic gesture on the part of local reactionaries that is part of a larger movement to attack unions in this country. There is a nationwide organizing project to get these kinds of proposals on ballots. San Diego’s County Supervisors have already passed a local ordinance banning these agreements; this is just on the ballot to give a higher profile to such right-wing efforts. And it’s “revenge” because a union-backed measure passed earlier this year that placed term limits on the County Board of Supes.

A Project Labor Agreement typically is a one-time agreement between a group of trade unions and the developers of large construction project. In return for stability at the worksite, management makes concessions, agrees upon wages and benefits (which are not always at union standards) and consents to settle any differences that may arise through fast track arbitration. What management loses in the short-term financially they gain back in efficiency. PLAs are very common with large scale projects in private industry. But, apparently when they are utilized by governmental agencies, PLAs are dangerous. It’s odd how all these business types can run as Republicans proclaiming that their business experience will benefit taxpayers, yet GOPers turn around reject a commonly used mechanism in private industry. You don’t have to love unions to vote against this sort of bad business practice. For more, see our coverage here . Vote NO on Proposition A

Proposition B- Disciplining City Attorneys — Vote Yes

This amendment to the City Charter requires a good cause requirement for the termination or suspension of Deputy City Attorneys who have served continuously for two years or more. This could be called the “get even with Mike Aguirre initiative”, since he fired or forced out 124 of 135 lawyers during his tenure, according to a 2008 Grand Jury report, taking with them “valuable institutional knowledge and experience.”

We’re all in favor of disciplining lawyers [insert lawyer joke here], but it seems to us that a little stability and job security might be a good thing, in that it would keep them for going out and setting up personal injury law firms. Vote Yes.

Proposition C-The Pacific Highlands Ranch Dilemma — No Call

Back in 1998 the voters of San Diego passed Proposition M, which established a managed growth plan for Pacific Highlands Ranch, one of San Diego’s last remaining new neighborhoods. (It’s up there in the northern hinterlands of our fair city.) Now the residents of that community have come back to the voters as for and amendment to that plan, largely because the building of additional freeway ramps that was envisioned as part of this plan has been delayed for at least a decade. It seems as though the building of those ramps should have triggered the construction of community parks, open space and trail system, schools, stores, offices, recreation center, bike and pedestrian trails. According to proponents, the developer (Pardee Homes) and fees assessed on area residents will pay for all this construction. They say there will be no additional funding from taxpayers. Of course, they also don’t say that this measure will open the door for Pardee to build an additional 3,000 homes. I respect that the residents of this area are pressing for the amenities that they expected when they chose to locate there. I just wonder if San Diego really needs that much more housing. And how are they going to staff the proposed fire station and rec areas if San Diego has to make draconian cuts to city services?. I am neutral on this Prop.

Donna Frye sales tax

Donna Frye supports Prop D.

Proposition D—Sales Tax/Financial Reforms —  Vote Yes and hope for best

The BEST reason to vote No on Proposition D was given by one Bill Shaw in response to a City Beat endorsement of Mayor Sanders’ plan tying financial reforms to a ½ cent increase in the sales tax:

About your election endorsements [“Editorial,” Oct. 13]: You’re recommending a “Yes” vote on city Prop. D. You make a fairly reasoned, logical case for it. Here’s the problem: Lucy made a fairly reasoned, logical case to Charlie Brown every year with that football. Voting Yes on D is crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I lean leftward and don’t mind paying more taxes provided everyone benefits from them. But we’re talking about the city of San Diego here, folks. Jerry Sanders is holding the ball. What more is there to say?

Point taken.


Carl De Maio leads the anti-Prop D campaign.

The BEST reason to vote Yes on Proposition D is because the “No” campaign is being led by one Carl DeMaio, who could care less about the actual issues involved here unless they further his goal of establishing a libertarian paradise here in San Diego by shrinking government down to the size of a baby so he can drown it in a bath tub. I am sometimes kindly disposed to libertarians, in that I share their distrust of government intrusion on our personal freedoms. Given that his actual plan for future governance is being held under wraps until after the elections, I can only suspect that what DeMaio’s idea of fiscal reform is more of the same “screw the poor and middle class while making our rich friends fabulously wealthier” drivel that’s being passed around as economic gospel these days. It’s the kind of libertarianism that’s anarchy for the rich.

And if anybody doesn’t think that GOP hatefulness is behind this initiative, then why (!?) did the “No on D” peeps think it would be cool to park their traveling billboard out in front of the SDPOA (cops union- which has been very active in supporting the Yes campaign) offices on the day after a cop was killed? Didn’t anybody think the cops might be a little edgy on the day after a cop was shot?

I am under no illusions about Proposition D. But I do know that we’ll likely be paying less in sales taxes anyway come June as a 1% bump from the State is sunsetted. So what we’re really talking about is cutting a decrease in half. For those of you that want to see more arguments on this topic, I suggest visiting Voice of San Diego , which has covered this in excruciating detail. See more of my ranting about this here . Vote Yes on D.

education-cuts-vs-warProposition J- Local Funding for SD Unified School District (Parcel Tax) — Vote Yes.

Per pupil funding in California dropped has 20% over the last 3 years. Once a national leader in education funding, California today ranks 47th out of 50. This year San Diego’s Schools face yet another round of budget cuts that are going to hurt our kids. There is no organized campaign against Proposition J because it’s generally accepted that advocacy against the welfare of kids is not the ticket to a bright political future.

So the naysayers around San Diego have focused their attacks on the School Board. The real deal here is that the members of the San Diego Unified School District are (gasp!) “liberals”. Some of them may even be (quick, call Glen Beck!) progressives. The current school board could graduate students who could walk on water and they would still have to walk a gauntlet of “concern trolls” agape over the lack of inflatable water wings.

Proposition J will get a majority vote. Unfortunately, it needs 67% to pass. And turnout could make the difference here. Here’s more on Prop J. Vote Yes.

County Bd Supes missing demThe County Board of Supervisors

For the first time in a dozen years, two of the five members on the County Board of Supervisors are facing run-off elections. Maybe it’s because they’re been there forever. Or maybe it’s because of the warm fuzzy feelings –and payback votes–that they get while doling out millions of dollars to favored non-profits and community groups every year. Or maybe it’s that they’re all Republicans in an increasingly Democratic region. Whatever. It should be noted that both incumbents have retained GOP consultant Tom Shepard, who has a history of winning nearly every campaign he’s worked on.

Ron Roberts (R, Incumbent) vs Steve Whitburn (D) — Vote for Whitburn

By most measures, Roberts is a centrist on the board. His willingness to criticize developers gets him good press, but when it comes down to votes, it’s a different story altogether. About 40% of his donations are coming from real estate and development interests. Roberts’ long-time ties to the gay community (he is a longtime supporter of gay rights) have been strained this year by the opposition of Steve Whitburn, an openly gay Democrat.


Steve Whitburn

The area Roberts and Whitburn are contending represent includes neighborhoods from University City to Paradise Hills. The district includes neighborhoods such as North Park, Hillcrest and University Heights, a regional hub for the gay community and a stronghold for Whitburn during the June primary. Caught in the middle of this is City Councilman Todd Gloria, who Roberts backed in a heated contest over Whitburn two years ago. Gloria has endorsed Whitburn.

Whitburn has emphasized his Democratic Party affiliation throughout a campaign that’s been remarkably short on plans and promises, hoping that his party’s registration advantage in the district–131,000 Democrats, 68,000 Republicans and 68,000 decline-to-states—will work to his advantage.

The Roberts campaign has been inclusive of the neighborhoods in the southern region of the district, which includes many less affluent areas. In Paradise Hills, for instance, Whitburn signs are rare in a sea of otherwise pro-Democratic leanings. Roberts’ lawn signs are remarkably prominent.

I’ll endorse Whitburn in this race, but I won’t be surprised if Roberts wins.

Steve Gronke

Steve Gronke

Bill Horn (R, Incumbent) vs Steve Gronke (I) –Vote for Gronke

The choice shouldn’t nearly as close when it comes to Horn & Gronke. Whether it’s his reputation as a fat cat politician, or his reputation for feathering the nests of his friends or simply his cozy relationship with big time developers, Bill Horn is political train-wreck waiting to happen. I’d include some terrific links about Horn’s sleaziness, but the City Beat has redone their website to be “more powerful, more user-friendly and more interactive” and none of these are available anymore.

Fortunately, the OB Rag link about Steve Gronke is still up. The district they are running in includes much of the North County, where, according to one of our resident trolls, the OB Rag has no readers. Vote for Gronke.

That’s it for now. I’ll be online Tuesday evening as a pundit, providing insight and inanity along with a host of others (Frank Gormlie? Lori Saldana?) at the CityBeat election liveblog. We’ll post a link as soon as it’s available.

Don’t forget to VOTE.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

doug porter October 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm

the twitter is all a tweeting today about DeMiao’s No on D goons going out overnight and stealing Yes on D signs out of people’s yards.


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