Flunking Fletcher: Forget What His Friends Say, Remember His Record

by on April 30, 2012 · 3 comments

in Election, Labor, Military, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

My column last week, “The Fletcher Flim Flam,” got a lot of attention and many comments, the most interesting one coming from Democratic Assemblyman Isadore Hall sent not by the politician himself but by a worried Fletcher campaign staffer who forwarded it to the OB Rag asking that it be posted in response to my blog. Here it is:

On the same day that Jim Miller published his piece against Nathan Fletcher, the right wing group Americans for Prosperity was doing a press conference to attack him as well.

You may have heard about this group, the front group for the Koch brothers. This is the same group that supported the chaos and dysfunction in Wisconsin–a model and vision that Carl Demaio has laid out as his vision for San Diego.

It’s unfortunate that Jim Miller doesn’t know Nathan Fletcher, but I do.

I have served with him since we were both elected in 2008. As a lifelong Democrat, we have found a shared frustration with the extremes and a desire to try and come together to solve problems. But for the last four years, Nathan has been routinely attacked by Republicans for his willingness to break party lines to do what he believed was right. I have seen scorecard after scorecard where he was attacked by the right wing as “not pure enough” or a RINO (Republican in Name Only). In fact, Carl Demaio’s own campaign manager blasted him for acknowledging months ago (well before his actual move) that he struggles with this place in partisan politics. He acknowledges on fiscal issues he tends to lean more Republican, but on social and environmental issues he leans more Democratic.

These same forces that for years attacked Nathan for not being a real Republican are now bent on portraying him as the opposite of that to suit their political needs.

The reality is that Nathan Fletcher has always been an independent voice willing to do what he believed to be right.

I’ve been impressed by Fletcher’s willingness to diverge from party orthodoxy and pursue an independent course long before he made his break with the Republican Party official. Fletcher’s willingness to put solutions ahead of partisan game playing made him one of the most effective legislators in Sacramento, including passing Chelsea’s Law, tax reform and campaign finance reform. He also authored legislation to ensure people who lost their jobs could keep their health insurance, fought to restore healthy families, and authored legislation to help homeless youth. Fletcher’s support for women’s reproductive rights, environmental protection and marriage equality prove both his independence and courage.

San Diego needs a Mayor who can guide their city into a better future.

As the former Mayor of Compton and from where I sit, on the Assembly floor beside Nathan Fletcher for several years, I can say he will be a great Mayor.

This same piece also appears on Fletcher’s campaign website as an endorsement announcement.

My first thought is that someone needs to send Hall a memo and let him know that there is a very progressive, life-long Democrat in the race named Bob Filner. You know, like the memo that someone sent to Joe Lieberman when he backed John McCain in 2008. Let’s hope this bit of political backstabbing works out just like that one did.

Sidebar: Wow, a sell-out Democrat turning on progressives rather than fighting the right. Wake me when the shock wears off. Anybody wonder why we never win?

My second thought is that Mr. Hall doesn’t address a single bit of the substance of my piece and rests on the logic that just because Republicans don’t like Nathan Fletcher for jumping ship in the midst of an election that he must really be an “independent voice.” Sorry Assemblyman, that’s a logical fallacy. So is the implication that you have to know someone personally to make a judgment about policy positions? It’s not about personality; it’s about policy. I remember another guy who ran under the slogan, “Character Counts”: his name was George W. Bush and Nathan Fletcher’s wife worked on his campaigns and was a Bush-Cheney spokesperson during the Florida recount. We all know how that one worked out.

And that pious bit about the “Wisconsin of the West” makes me remember the great speech that Fletcher gave condemning the Koch brothers, Scott Walker and the corporate-funded forces of hate and division attacking working people in America. Oh wait, he never gave that speech. He was too busy supporting the very measures that DeMaio put forward to make San Diego the Wisconsin of the West.

Really Assemblyman, how stupid do you think we are down here in San Diego?

But to be fair, I figured I should test his assertion that Fletcher was really an “independent voice” on “social and environmental issues.”

As Anna Daniels noted in the comments section after my last piece and Norma Damashek observes on Numbers Runner , Fletcher’s record isn’t that great when it comes to environmental and social issues. If we were to grade him on the standard grading scale, what’s the report card show?

On environmental issues: F

Fletcher’s voting record is ranked at 33% by the Sierra Club and a mere 19% by the California League of Conservation Voters.

On women’s issues: F

Fletcher gets a 23% ranking from the California chapter of the National Organization of Women.

On women’s reproductive rights and family planning: F

Fletcher gets a whopping 0% ranking from Planned Parenthood.

On LGBT issues: F

Fletcher gets a 29% ranking from Equality California

On seniors and Social Security: F

Fletcher gets a 35% ranking from the Congress of California Seniors.

On labor: F

Fletcher gets a 29% ranking from the California Labor Federation.

On consumer issues: F

Fletcher is ranked at 19% by the Consumer Federation.

Looking for an A? Try the Chamber of Commerce who rank Fletcher’s voting record at 100%.

Sucking up to corporate interests: A

Fletcher was disgraced Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's District Director.

So if you are looking for a candidate who always does whatever big business and the 1% ask of him, Nathan Fletcher is your man.

As Kimberly rightly noted in the comments on my last piece, “In 2010 Fletcher secured a backroom deal to lift a cap on downtown San Diego redevelopment funds. This effectively transferred stable property tax revenue from schools to building projects, like a new football stadium.” Privatizing profit and transferring risk to the public sounds like something in Dirty DeMaio’s playbook, but in this case, it was part of Fletcher’s game plan.

Kissing Grover Norquist’s and the anti-tax zealots’s posteriors: A

Nathan’s also your guy if you’re in search of another lemming who has kissed the backside of Grover Norquist. I’ll say it again: if Fletcher really wanted to buck the system, he could have gone against Norquist and voted to fund schools, cities, and vital public services.

Once again, as Kimberly noted, “In 2011 Fletcher signed a pledge . . . to vote against allowing his constituents the opportunity to vote on a revenue extension measure. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) reported that this would result in the loss of over $335 per student. Parents have made hundreds of phone calls and students have written dozens of letters, with no response.”

Thus, when the consequences were real, Fletcher toed the party line like a good right-winger. To minimize the importance of this by saying that on “fiscal issues” he “tends to lean more Republican,” as Hall does, is to trivialize the brutal impact of Fletcher’s record on schools, the  poor, and the weakest, most voiceless constituencies in the state. To lavish him with fawning praise for his “independence” just because he voted against the most reactionary incarnation of the modern Republican Party on a handful of occasions is a sad testimony to our exceedingly low expectations.

I have two words for Assemblyman Hall or any other Democrat or Independent who may be flirting with Fletcher: aim higher.

Dear readers, if you are looking for someone with an excellent progressive record on social issues and someone who believes that the public sector can still be a force for good, vote for Bob Filner.

Nathan Fletcher simply flunks the test.

Interested readers should also see Norma Damashek’s most recent blog that outlines Fletcher’s ties to Pete Wilson and Randy “Duke” Cunningham and the Republican inside game in the mayor’s race.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Pulliam April 30, 2012 at 11:18 am

“Nathan Fletcher has always been an independent voice”? Give me a break. When he was running for the Assembly, he not only signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to not raise taxes, he did so on videotape, in Norquist’s presence, with vows of fealty to Republican principles. http://www.flashreport.org/blog0a.php?postID=2007031219435190&authID=2005081622025042

Fletcher was either lying when he signed the pledge or he is lying now. Or both.


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG April 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm

On another note, perhaps we should abandon the practice of elevating soldiers of war to public office. Simply because a person joined the armed forces of the U.S. does not immediately qualify that person as fit for public office. Typically, if a person brags about “serving” in the armed forces, I make note regarding where they served. In Fletcher’s case, I believe he was involved in the destruction of Falluja, Iraq. Just on that piece of information, he is disqualified from my consideration. Period.


Arthur Salm May 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

I know it’s about substance, I know it’s important that we focus on Fletcher’s record as a unalloyed reactionary and point out that his “independence” is a just a shiny geegaw (“Look over here!”) … but damn: This is a raise-your-fist-and-cheer example of just how devastating a straightforward, well-written, fact-driven and — at the same time — impassioned column can be.


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