“This Mayor Has Got to Go!” Faulconer Opponents Say at Town Council Debate

by on April 28, 2016 · 14 comments

in Culture, Election, Environment, History, Homelessness, Labor, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

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OB Town Council meets at the Masonic Center. Here, the candidates address questions from the audience.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer wasn’t too popular at last night’s Ocean Beach Town Council meeting during the “mayoral dialogue”.

First, he didn’t show.

Second, both his opponents, former-Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, and San Diego Lifeguard leader Ed Harris, trained their sights on Faulconer and not on each other.

And third, this was Ocean Beach – the liberal bastion of the city – which usually votes Democratic; Kevin Faulconer is a Republican.

But still, Faulconer used to represent Ocean Beach – and the rest of District 2 – when he sat on the City Council. And the crowd of the 80 or so good-natured souls in attendance probably would have applauded him if he had showed. But he didn’t and neither did his aide, John Ly.

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“Where’s Kevin” sign on empty chair next to suit. That’s OBTC members Gio, Marin and Nate in the foreground.

So the two opposing candidates – one Democrat and the other Independent – had a field day in his absence.  As Town Council head Gretchen Newsom mediated the dialogue, Saldana and Harris made their opening statements and fielded questions from the Board and from the audience.

Up over on the stage behind where the Board members sat, was an empty chair with a sign that read “Where’s Kevin” next to a man’s dress suit hanging on a hanger.

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Ed Harris and Lori Saldana begin the dialogue.

Ed Harris said: “We’re in trouble right now with public safety. You can see it on the news.” He was referring to recent reports of long lapses in calls to 9-1-1, including one where a fatality resulted. “9-1-1 is behind up to ten minutes,” Harris continued.  He held up an enlarged photo of 9-1-1 dispatch records showing lapses, that were smuggled out of the dispatch office. “There’s $2 million infrastructure backlog,” he said.

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Ed Harris was looking very relaxed.

On the subject of short term vacation rentals – a hot issue at the beach – Harris said, “Kevin should just follow current law, but he doesn’t want to put 6,000 units back on the market.” This is also the position of the group Save San Diego Neighborhoods, which has endorsed Harris.

In somewhat of a change for Harris, he spoke on his concerns with homelessness. “We’re losing our compassion,” he said, and cited Faulconer’s recent efforts to push homeless people from out of freeway underpasses by putting in rocks. Harris said the City spent $67,000 for the rocks.

Lori Saldana told the audience that “I represented this [Assembly] District for 6 years n the legislature.” Her first issue – complete with charts – was the nearly 3,000 unprocessed and untested rape kits by law enforcement, which she laid directly at Faulconer’s feet.

“Faulconer hasn’t been showing up for Council meetings,” she said, and that “this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

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Lori Saldana explaining the nearly 3,000 unprocessed rape kits by the city.

Both candidates criticized Faulconer for missing the Town Council meeting, and both expressed disdain for his wanting to seek higher office instead of running the City.

Newsom began allowing questions. First up was: ‘what would you do differently regarding flooding in OB than more portable pumps?’  Saldana emphasized applying for more funds for infrastructure. Harris cited leaky roofs in Balboa Park and in lifeguard stations not being fixed, but that Jerry Sanders was given a $2 million going-away gift for his Balboa Park boondoggle.  “There’s sufficient money in the City if you prioritize,” Harris said.

Another question was, ‘how to allow the voices of the neighborhoods to be heard?’ Harris responded by saying people in the different neighborhoods of District 2 – which he represented for a part of a year during the transition of Faulconer’s departure from the D2 Council seat to the mayor’s office –  had urged him to run. Saldana said she would hold committee and council meetings in the evening, to allow ordinary working people to attend, and that she would hold council meeting in the communities whose issues were on the docket.

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The OB Town Council Board.

Both candidates talked about finding hidden “slush funds” within the city to help with infrastructure costs, with Lori pushing to “spend the money when it’s there”, and with Ed saying under his administration things would get done, get completed on time, and that he will ensure “money will be allocated” to persistent problems.

“There’s no functional chain of command,” Harris said in explaining the city’s dysfunction. “The city’s corporate memory is gone,” he said, “due to the loss of personnel.”

In ticking off various problems caused by Faulconer’s administration, as Harris recounted, he laid them on the mayor. “We have a strong mayor system,” Ed continued, “and Faulconer can’t defend his record, because he doesn’t have one.”

Harris said that Police Chief Zimmerman “is dangerously close to losing credibility,” due to the short-changing of dispatchers and lack of adequate police officers. “Kevin has been a good place holder.” If elected, Harris said he would “stabilize the dispatch office within 100 days of office.”

Lori recounted how when she attends city presentations on future projects, “the city doesn’t discuss money when making promises – this is part of the disconnect” in how the city currently works. People, she said, are not asking the right questions.

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It twas a good crowd.

“How does Kevin do it?” Saldana asked the crowd. She answered her own query. “Delay getting the information to the people, and then deny the problem.” Then she said: “This mayor has got to go!” echoing some of Harris’ comments.

The issue of more people on the street these days came up again. Saldana said many people on the streets have mental health problems and she would partner with the County, as they have a fund of $200 Million – funds for mental health.

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Harris again said that we need to have compassion when addressing the homeless issue. Relatedly, he said, “Have to give people a fair wage.”

The candidates then gave their closing remarks and Gretchen wrapped up the monthly meeting.

Harris was later seen at a local OB beer tasting hangout on Newport, rubbing shoulders with some of the Town Council members and other attendees.

Editor: More reporting from the OB Town C0uncil meeting will appear tomorrow.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rufus April 28, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Five democrats on the council and four republicans and both Harris and Saldaña complain that things can’t get done?

Hmmmm. Barking at the moon?

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RB April 29, 2016 at 5:50 am

The residue of Bob Filner….
A candidate that was never elected to office by the people, only appointed by the council after the Filner mess. A candidate that is now an independent because her party chose Filner over women in the party. And a mayor that needed to replace the disgraced Filner.

The ghost of Bob Finer is still here.

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Chuck Hardwick April 29, 2016 at 8:11 am

Great article Frank! Sorry I missed the meeting, sounds like it was very interesting….

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Tony D Muir Ave Ale May 2, 2016 at 9:45 am

So Faulconer begs off because he was allegedly “unavailable” on this specific date. Why didn’t the Town Council call his bluff and allow him to counter with a different date? Or did the Town Council’s inflexibility or lack of imagination prevent it from holding Faulconer’s feet to the fire?

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rufus May 2, 2016 at 10:05 am

Kabuki Theater, that’s why. The Town Council held a love fest for Harris and Saldana which displays obvious hostility towards the mayor, so why should he attend a council meeting and be shouted down? Attending the Town Council meeting doesn’t move the mayor’s ball forward, so why even go?

It reminds me of African-American demographics. blackdemographics.com reports that 93% of African-American voters voted Democrat last election. So why should African-American expect anything but lip service from a Republican administration???

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Muir Ave Ale May 2, 2016 at 10:18 am

Interesting reaction, but I think you’re being a bit unfair to the Town Council and its board. I’ve seen Republicans accept invitations — to participate in debates or just present themselves — without receiving the brick-wall treatment you speak of. Appearances by Carl DeMaio and Lori Zapf in recent years come to mind.

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rick callejon May 2, 2016 at 11:37 am

Every person should be represented by their elected officials, regardless of whom they voted for. America is a democratic republic.

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Rufus May 3, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Muir Ave Ale….I hope the council and audience would be civil, but I’m speaking strictly from what I saw and read in the Rag. The empty suit on the stage is evidence of hostility and disrespect. And the display was sophomoric and unfortunate.

And let me expand on my demographic argument….if the OB town council and the audience don’t seek common ground with the mayor, the community will suffer.

We need to learn the lessons of negotiating in the Tip O’Neil-Ronald Reagan model, not the Barak Obama-John Boehner model.

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Jon May 3, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I was in attendance. The OB town council did not place the suit on the stage. That was done by either an Ed or Lori staffer. Not sure which. Perhaps the council could have asked to place the prop somewhere else so it didn’t appear in photos that it was the concil’s idea? I dunno, I can’t speak for them. But I can speak to my prior experience on the board and the consistent no-shows from most republican candidates and representatives. When we tried to reschedule an appearance with Zapf over and over, she always had an excuse to why she couldn’t make an appearance. Kevin’s rep (while a nice guy personally), has not attended a community meeting in months! Probably because Kevin doesn’t “like” someone’s politics on that volunteer community board. Sounds like playground politics to me. Grow up mr mayor.

So why should they attend a council meeting and be shouted down? Good question, how about because it’s their job and duty to represent us and our community interests. If they want the job so bad, they need to have thicker skin and show their face once in a while. At least in Zapfs case she has an intelligent and hard-working representative from our community in Conrad Wear. I would support him over her any day. As for Mayor…. I’ll support Ed all the way. If he can get into a runoff with Kevin I think he has a good shot. Kevin has done squat since basically being anointed mayor and Playing around with billionaire football team owners while our streets fall apart and all my neighbors apartments turn into mini hotels.

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Tony D Muir Avenue Ale May 3, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Jon, did the Town Council board indicate whether they offered Faulconer an opportunity to suggest an alternative date? He is the mayor and may well have legitimate obligations that preclude his appearance on a given evening. I would hope the board doesn’t view the 4th Wednesday as so sacred that it can’t show a little flexibility and work with all parties to come up with an acceptable date.

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Jon May 3, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Sorry, I couldn’t answer that as I’m not sure, and no longer on the board. I do know that during the D2 elections a couple years back when Sarah Boot ran unsuccessfully against Lori Zapf, we made numerous accommodations to try to get Zapf to the candidate forum. It was so obvious she had no interest because petty politics.

I’m really not a partisan guy. I probably slant left in my views, but would have no qualms voting for a republican or independent candidate if they were best fit for the job and listened to our community.

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OB Dude May 3, 2016 at 5:24 pm

What was Mr. Mayor doing that he could not show up?

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Tony D Muir Ave Ale May 4, 2016 at 12:14 am

Good question. My whole line of questioning on this was provoked by City Beat a couple weeks ago, which reported Faulconer has declined most debate invitations on the grounds that the three televised ones he’s agreed to are enough. Curiously, that wasn’t his reason for begging off this one — instead, he cited a prior commitment. Doesn’t this imply that he would have accepted had he been available? The Town Council should have called his bluff and allowed him to offer a different date, seems to me.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie May 3, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Please take part in our mayoral poll over on the sidebar.

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