Act Two of Tragicomedy – the 2020 Race for San Diego Mayor

by on September 11, 2020 · 1 comment

in Election, San Diego

ACT II: A Cautionary Tale About What a Council Member’s Negligence, Lack of Independence, Inept Management, and Behind-the-Scenes Manipulation Can Do to a City

Scene One: Setting the stage for the winners… and losers

By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner / September 10, 2020

There’s no denying it– life feels out of control nowadays.  Upended.  Throw in the national political scene and it’s enough to push you over the edge.

But gird yourself for some good news.  Here at home we’re blessed with the extraordinary opportunity to seize control of San Diego’s political destiny.  It’s no exaggeration.

The person we choose as our next mayor (Barbara Bry? Todd Gloria?) will shape the quality of daily life for more than 1½ million San Diegans for years to come.   Which one can we trust with the power to control who gets what in our city… who benefits from the policies, decisions, contracts, appointments, agreements, awards, favors, negotiations, and other goodies originating in City Hall… and who gets left with the crumbs?

Based on Todd Gloria’s history and campaign contributors, the answer is clear: Mr. Gloria is the wrong choice for the mayor’s job.

Yes, he seems likable… a winsome kind of guy who packages himself as a gay person of color from an economically disadvantaged background and ethnic mix: 50% Alaskan tribal/native American, 25% Filipino, a tad Dutch, and a touch Latino/ Puerto Rican… in other words, a politician for the underdog, a man for all seasons and occasions.

If all things were equal between Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria, it’s tempting to think that San Diego might score a few points by electing the city’s first gay mayor—a guy who talks a lot about sexy streets and transforming San Diego into a world-class city.

But all things… ability, integrity, management skills… are not equal between these two candidates.  Todd Gloria’s political record, associates, and financial backers paint an explicit picture of a politician who’s been co-opted by our city’s pack of alpha dogs.  Identity labels notwithsatanding–Todd Gloria is the wrong choice for San Diego mayor.

Scene Two: Who owns Todd Gloria?

Behind the curtains are  San Diego’s alpha dogs,  sniffing the air expectantly and straining to run onstage.  Who are they? The bankers, lobbyists, real estate industry, developers, sports team owners, convention center purveyors, land speculators, consultants, building trades organizations, Chamber of Commerce, Port District–the power brokers who exercise a disproportionate amount of leverage in our city’s abundant and lucrative transactions.

If you want to know what to expect from a candidate who’s been embraced and groomed by the alpha dogs of San Diego, just follow the money.  Mr. Gloria’s list of campaign contributors reads like a who’s- who of our city’s entrenched guard:

SeaWorld/ Sempra Energy/ Hoteliers Bill Evans, C. Terry Brown, Richard Bartell/ Ace Parking/ Cox Communications/ Cush Enterprises/ CA Association of Realtors, CA Building Industry Association, CA State Building & Construction Trades Council/ private prison contractors doing business with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/ Oliver McMillan

Yes, money talks.  It repeats loud and clear that Todd Gloria is the wrong choice for mayor.  The volume gets turned up even louder by contributions from “independent expenditure” PACS like these

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce super PAC ($62,500)/ Laborers’ International Union of North America local 89 PAC ($50,000)/ Southern California District Council of Laborers PAC ($50,000)/ Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation ($75,000)/ Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition PAC ($25,000)/ Mel Katz ($10,000)/ LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund ($75,000)/ California Apartment Association PAC/ San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council PAC…

Scene Three: Todd Gloria’s performance at the City Council

Not yet convinced that Todd Gloria is the wrong choice for the mayor’s job?  Then consider his eight-year stint on the city council (2008-2016) and the decisions he made that were pockmarked by bad judgement, incompetence, pandering, abuse of power, behind-the-scenes manipulation, and overreach:

  • Sempra Energy headquarters (101 Ash Street): At this very moment Mr. Gloria is on the hot seat, struggling to justify his starring role as council cheerleader for the disastrous, maybe corrupt plan spearheaded by Mayor Faulconer (with complicit thumbs-up from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith) to purchase this property: bad judgement? incompetence?
  • Balboa Park: As councilmember for that district, Mr. Gloria a) played cheerleader for a community-reviled plan to construct a bypass bridge and city-financed paid parking lot in the Park; b) negligently withdrew supervision of the newly-created Balboa Park Conservancy, leaving it to sputter and languish; c) wasted $3 million of public funds on a sole-source contract for the Balboa Park Centennial Celebration.  Despite promoting it as a spectacular citywide festival, he never got it off the ground: just plain incompetence?
  • Mr. Gloria’s hearty support of an unprecedentedly long 40-year lease extension for Mission Bay Bahia Hotel, which carried the day for hotel owner Bill Evans–a dependable financial backer of the councilmember: pandering? behind-the-scenes manipulation?
  • Mr. Gloria’s unethical pressure (according to court documents) on a city planner to doctor findings on a hotly-disputed expansion of a private religious school Academy of our Lady of Peace, which cost the city more than half a million dollars in legal settlement fees: more behind-the-scenes manipulation?
  • full-throated support for the city to fund a third phase of the Convention Center expansion, even though the city was still financially on the hook, still paying for the previous expansion: bad judgement? pandering?

Now consider his record during the six-months he performed the role of interim mayor:

  • his attempt to reorganize city government by hiring an “efficiency expert” (Stephen Goldsmith) who specialized in the privatization of public services and the sale of city business functions to the private sector: abuse of power? behind-the-scenes manipulation? overreach?
  • his peculiar decision to rehire two recently fired lobbying firms­­–one involved in an influence peddling scheme, the other aligned with Jerry Sanders and Doug Manchester: pandering? bad judgement? incompetence? overreach?
  • his unwarranted action to eliminate a stop-use order slapped on a North Park Jack in the Box for zoning code violations, rejecting a community outcry: pandering? abuse of power? overreach?
  • his decision to defund a program to keep emergency shelters open year-round, impeding the city’s ability to provide emergency shelters as needed (and contributing to the death toll taken by a Hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless population just a few years later): bad judgment? incompetence?
  • his (self-protective?) decree to automatically delete and destroy city emails older than one year (a new administration reversed this order): bad judgment? abuse of power? behind-the-scenes manipulation? overreach?

These examples of political bad judgement, incompetence, pandering, abuse of power, behind-the-scenes manipulation, and overreach tell a tangled tale–one that does not deserve an encore.

Curtain Call:

Not long ago I made a practical suggestion: forget the fancy stuff… the bells and whistles… the silly-talk about sexy streets and world-class status.

With the right mayor in office we could see real progress toward meeting the needs of our neighborhoods and residents and securing a stable future for the city.

Barbara Bry is the candidate who meets the criteria for:  competence – stability — independence –  trustworthiness – responsibility –  knowledgeability – honorability –  integrity –  and a dependable moral compass.

There’s no getting around it: Barbara Bry is the best choice for San Diego’s next mayor.

(IN case you missed it, here’s Act One.)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Doug Blackwood September 12, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Excellent writing Norma, keep up the good work!
So far; Its Barbara for our household

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