A Call for Councilwoman Zapf to Do the Right Thing by Lori Saldaña

by on December 16, 2014 · 5 comments

in Economy, History, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

occupy-SD-lincolnclubinviteDear Councilwoman Zapf:

When you were elected to the San Diego City Council 4 years ago, to represent my Clairemont neighborhood, I was willing to give you a chance.

After all, you claimed to be sensitive to working class issues, as asmall business owner. And you have mentioned having Mexican-American family members, which made me hopeful you would find common ground with the growing Latino community in my native Clairemont.

But this week, your staff’s comments about how she “wanted to shoot” the “… idiot” protesters at a City Council event displayed a shocking lack of awareness about public safety, civil disobedience, efforts to achieve social justice, and the constitutional right of Americans to use peaceful protest to communicate with elected officials.

And what makes this latest situation even worse: it was the SECOND time a member of your staff displayed this tone deaf, cavalier disrespect towards public protest.

Remember this? CA GOP Mocks Occupy As Theme for Holiday Party

According to news reports, your former staffer, Matt Donnellan, coordinated an event in the middle of a work day with people dressed up in elf costumes, to help promote an upcoming event organized by the Lincoln Club of San Diego—a group infamous for their lack of concern for issues important to many poor and working class people in our city, including, most recently, a living wage.

At that time, I don’t know what your response was. Maybe your staffer’s action in 2011 wasn’t as shocking as the 2014 comment about “shooting” people who show up to protest. But both of these people have shown a level of disrespect that many San Diegans find troubling in anyone, let alone in those who work for an elected official.

I realize how challenging a response to this situation can be. Smart, professional staffmembers are essential for the smooth operation of any office. As an Assemblymember, I was fortunate to have people working in my legislative and committee offices in San Diego and Sacramento, who represented me well and responsibly at community events, meetings, etc.

These staff positions require the trust, respect and- most critically-experience and understanding of the community they serve.

So I have a few recommendations for you, as one former elected woman to a current elected woman:

  1. Educate those who are currently in your employ, so this sort of thing stops happening.
  2. Meet personally with the people who organized the protest at City Hall, and listen to their concerns.
  3. And finally: Fire Ms. Owen, and replace her with someone everyone can trust and be comfortable working with.

It may sound heartless, especially during this holiday season. But you need to take responsibility for this statement.

Moreover, this is not your office’s first time in this situation, and your staff has demonstrated a pattern of disrespectful behavior that is troubling, to say the least.

I wish you luck in showing San Diegans you take this matter seriously, and are willing to set a new tone for the New Year.

Lori Saldaña


This was first published at San Diego Free Press, our online media partner.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bearded OBcean December 16, 2014 at 9:23 am

I’m not so sure what was insulting about the referenced incident in 2011. So, they mocked the occupy protestors; No one in power from the democrat party refers to republicans as tea baggers etc? This could go on and on.

Yah, what Ms Owen said was pretty horrible, not the idiots part, but the shooting part. There’s no place for that in our political and public discourse, and she probably should be fired. But it’s quite possible that Zapf won’t fire her just because she doesn’t want to give in to the thought police that rise in apoplexy and convulsions each time something is uttered from the other side with which they disagree.


SaneVoice December 16, 2014 at 10:40 am

IMO, Ms. Owen’s statement is more than just something people “disagree” with. Even though it’s not a credible threat, it shows a serious disconnect that she would choose to threaten people with the exact action they’re protesting against. Even as a true blue Democrat, if a member of my party made a statement wishing pro-life protestors to be aborted, I’d expect that person to be fired or step down.


Geoff Page December 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Saldaña. Unfortunately, I’m sure Zapf will not do the right thing.

This was just the first glimpse through the window of what we can expect from Zapf and her staff. If you are not with them in lock step, you are the enemy, there is no middle ground. And they shoot enemies because that is much easier than trying to understand and work with them. They like simple solutions.


Korla Eaquinta December 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Thank You Lori Saldaña for your comments. I believe ANY staff member who uses such language and even jokes about shooting someone should be fired immediately!

As an active community member, I was hoping for a good working relationship with our new city council representative. I hope this inaction on Zapf’s part is not indicative of her upcoming treatment and response to the community she now represents.

Councilwoman Zapf, PLEASE take the good advice from Lori Saldaña and follow the three steps she listed in the article above.


Lori Saldaña December 13, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for this “Blast.”

FYI: Last time I called Zapf’s office, Ms. Owen was no longer working for her.

Not sure if she did the other items I had suggested.


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