Development and Promotion of Candidate Slates Is Not Allowed in Peninsula Planners’ Election

by on March 21, 2019 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

It’s happening again in this most recent campaign for the Peninsula Community Planning Board. The promotion of “slates” of candidates for the Board. It’s not allowed.

It’s unclear how or if this will be resolved, as the annual election for the Board is Thursday, March 21, at the Point Loma Library, from 4 to 8pm.

This happened last year for the March 2018 Board election, where Board members helped draw up slates of candidates and promoted them.

According to Peninsula Board’s own bylaws, Article V “Elections,” Section 3 states:

Voting to elect new PCPB members shall be by secret written ballot. Proxy voting for elections is not allowed under any circumstances. Development and promotion of “slates” of candidates is contrary to the intent of Council Policy 600-24 and is not allowed. (My emphasis)

Unless the Board has voted to change the bylaw over this past year, it still stands. The development of slates, the putting together, the organizing of slates by Board members or candidates is not allowed. The promotion of slates by sitting Board members is not allowed.

This paragraph in the Peninsula Planning Board’s bylaws is taken directly from San Diego City Council Policy 600-24.

What are the sanctions if a Board member or candidate violates this section of the Board’s bylaws?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar ZZ March 21, 2019 at 1:21 pm

While I don’t agree with the anti-development slate’s position, the flyer you posted is speech advocating the election of specific people. That’s protected by the First Amendment.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 21, 2019 at 2:27 pm

While I agree there’s First Amendment issues, there’s still the bylaws of this Board.

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Avatar ZZ March 21, 2019 at 1:27 pm

The argument against First Amendment protection is the planning groups are private groups without government authority. I doubt that would fly given they are still regulated and recognized by the city.

Overall, I think it would be a bad idea to try to exclude winning candidates based on violation of the rule. That would invite a lawsuit, and the city, as it so often does, would probably lose and have to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees.

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Avatar Debbie March 21, 2019 at 2:35 pm

I think people like slates when the come from people they know and trust. If I recall OBGO has a few slates in its time. Not sure why board members or prospective board members can’t have slates but it would be interesting to see what their slate looked like.

I would be helpful to have a list of 20 (picked that number out of the air) questions and have each candidate answer everyone of them so that a better comparison could be made and each voter could decide who would represent them the best and cast their vote accordingly. If a candidate did not respond to the list of questions well cross that candidate off the list if they are not willing to participate.

Maybe next year, the RAG could put a list of questions together and have the candidate respond about a variety of issues past and present. Just a thought.

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Avatar Geoff Page March 28, 2019 at 4:57 pm

ZZ,

There are all kinds of restraints on free speech that are perfectly legal. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater if there is no fire, for example. The PCPB is considered legislative body that is part of the city Planning Department. As such, it has rules it is supposed to follow and not promoting slates is one of those rules. When people run and serve on a planning board, or for city council, or the senate, they agree to abide by certain rules or they don’t get seated. This is important because, if a planning board member is sued for an action, the city has to defend them.

Slates by private citizens are ok, the rules only disallow candidates and sitting board members from promoting a slate. Unfortunately, at least two people, one a sitting board member and the other a candidate, repeatedly ignored the rules. Board member Don Sevrens published a slate again this year after being admonished about this same thing last year. Candidate Virissimo was told about this two years ago when she was running, last year when she was a sitting board member, and again this year, but still ignored the rules. If these were first offenses by candidate who were not familiar with the rules, that would be forgivable but that was not the case. And, even though all of the candidates were advised of this rule at the PCPB Candidate Forum, only one of the seven people notified the board that they had nothing to do with the slate and did not support it. That is very telling.

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