Politifest Report: Nice Crowd Shows Up for Debating Politicians, Tea Partiers, Beer and Bands

by on September 18, 2011 · 7 comments

in Election, Popular, San Diego

The crowd awaits the debate. (All photos by Doug Porter.)

The first ever Voice of San Diego Politifest took place Saturday at Liberty Station. About 1500 people showed up, including seven candidates for the Mayor’s job in San Diego.

The Lincoln-Douglass style debate was okay, except that it was hard to hear the candidates who a) didn’t know how to orate and b) were unlucky enough to have a plane fly over while they were speaking. Generally, the major candidates (Filner & Fletcher) showed more poise and communicated better than the wannabes.  There was no discernable “winner” or “loser” here.

A couple of memorable quotes:

 “It’s time to change the water in the City’s bong”.  — Perennial candidate Point Loma Loch David Crane

 “Let’s solve our pension problems without throwing our City employees under the bus.”  –Congressman Bob Filner

 Music from Sade’s “Smooth Operator” drowned out Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher’s speech… (that’s what’s on the tape!)

 “I’m here to empower women.” –Rob Harter, furniture store owner & candidate.

 “I think I’ll pass on that.” – unknown woman standing near our table.

Patty Jones & I showed up early for the event, which was, logistically speaking, very well organized.  Stages were set, tables were laid out, signage was plentiful and there were volunteers in black VOSD tee-shirts scurrying everywhere. The OB Rag lucked out: our table was at the front of the area designated for groups, right next to the “free lunch for volunteers” setup and with an unobstructed view of the main stage.

Or so we thought, until a couple of elderly Tea Party types dragged their own table across the grass and plopped down right in front of us. (I really didn’t care what group they were with: I wanted to protect our prime estate. How right wing of me.) Eventually, the helpful volunteers from Voice of San Diego explained to them that they were expected to sign up in advance and gently re-located them off to the side.

Frank Gormlie rolled in shortly thereafter and nodded patiently as I told him about moving the offending table. He was like, “Dude, they’re not tea partiers, they’re from a ‘pro-constitution’ group. I was like, “Dude, look at the stuff on their table”. Moments later Frank was engaging in a heated debate with the old ladies.

Lots of interesting people cruised by as the day went on.  Congressman Filner came by and thanked us for the semi-critical article I’d written a couple of weeks earlier.  He seemed sincere and friendly.

Doug Porter's contributions to the bumper sticker 'wars' of San Diego's mayoral election.

Thing didn’t go so well when political strategist (and Port Commissioner) Bob Nelson cruised by… I thought for sure that he remembered me from some education reform meetings we jointly attended earlier this year, but I was w.r.o.n.g.. Wanting to break the ice, I whipped out a parody version of a Carl DeMaio for Mayor bumper sticker prototype, hoping to get a laugh… eeeehhh…. He literally ran away upon spotting the word “DeMaio”.  Ooops.

There was a lot to do, and cruising the other groups was almost as fun as meeting folks at ours.  The “Great Ideas” competition seemed like a great idea, but in practice it was tedious and difficult to follow despite the enthusiasm of many of the participants. I think it might have worked better in another venue… like a TV studio.  Kudos to City Beat for the Mayoral Debate Bingo Cards: unfortunately we couldn’t really use them due to sound quality issues. (And I would have lost anyway, because the words “Cat Tax” were never gonna come up at debate that Carl DeMaio was too busy to attend.)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Citizen Cane September 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I was there mainly for the Idea Tournament. I planned on winning the competition while wearing on OB Rag T-shit. Unfortunately my official instructions from the Voice of San Diego said that I should sign in a 12:55 PM. It was even underlined in the email. When I arrived they were already into the 2nd round of the competition. I was sort of pissed. I stuck around for a little while. It seemed like nobody was managing the sound system, and some of the speakers were panifully loud. So I left.

My wife and I decided to check out the walking path along the inlet. That was a big disappointment. The inlet is lined with old concrete rubble. There’s sort of a small beach down by the hotels, but it was submerged by the tide. Is the place intentionally unfriendly to people and dogs?


Judy Swink September 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm

First, I really enjoyed this article, thank you. To Citizen Cane, I’m sorry you missed the Idea Tournament. I had the same reaction as the writer of this article, that this kind of tournament would probably work better in a different venue with fewer distractions. There were certainly many many of them at Politifest with all of the organizations’ tables.

I’m sorry, also, that you found the old Boat Channel displeasing. I believe (and hope) that the trash concrete rip-rap is not forever, there isn’t supposed to be a “beach” along there. At low tide, there are mud-flats, narrow to be sure, but believe it or not, a rich habitat for many types of molluscs and crustaceans that various shorebirds graze on. On higher tides, it’s filled from shore to shore and a very tranquil spot in a windless late evening (when there’s not a jet taking off). I and many others walk our dogs or just walk along there on the dirt path.


Citizen Cane September 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

For me the concrete rubble is a roadblock to public access. I saw people playing fetch with their dogs, but the dogs had to clamber over broken concrete as they came in and out of the water. Nobody was launching kayaks or paddleboards on the rubble bank. No kid-friendly lagoons were carved into the edge of the inlet. And I don’t understand the logic of the dirt path next to the edge. Do they want soils to wash into the bay? Or is it because the project is unfinished? I must confess that I didn’t attend any of the planning meetings for Liberty Station. My bad.


mr.rick September 19, 2011 at 8:52 am

I was stoked to read that Citizen Cane was sporting his OB Rag t-shirt. I am assuming it is the new version. At least when we wear these t-shirts it’s obvious what we are representing. As an aside, how are the “Big OB” t-shirts going over with the public? Signed: Rick Ward.


Bob Nelson September 19, 2011 at 9:08 am

OK, I volunteer for either the dunking both or a cream pie in the face at next year’s Politifest. My sincere apology for being in a fog when I stopped by the OB Rag booth. I admit that my recollection of who was in the room at various “save our schools: strategy meetings is weak, as my head was spinning like Linda Blair in The Exorcist at the shear insanity of the “4GoodSchools)”proposal. Speaking of exorcism, I plead guilty to flying away as if the devil had been confronted with a cross when the Carl DeMaio flyer was suddenly thrust at me. This threw my entire weekend into limbo, and until I realized all was in fun I have been repeatedly chanting, “Exorcizo te, omnis spiritus immunde, in nomine Dei Patris omnipotentis, et in noimine Jesu Christi Filii ejus, Domini et Judicis nostri, et in virtute Spiritus Sancti, ut descedas ab hoc plasmate Dei, quod Dominus noster ad templum sanctum suum vocare dignatus est, ut fiat templum Dei vivi, et Spiritus Sanctus habitet in eo. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum, qui venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos, et saeculum per ignem. ” But now I can stop.


doug porter September 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

see, i was right. you do have a sense of humor!
thanks Bob. sorry to call you out, but given that we’ve been ground zero (serious) here at the OB Rag for DeMaio trolls lately, it was cool to have a funny story to tell. and thanks for all you do.


Patty Jones September 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Dave Maass at SDCityBeat shares “What drives you nuts?” video shot at Politifest!


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