We're in the process of putting together an in-depth story a part of mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher's resume that doesn't get talked about all that much: the short time he worked for the now-disgraced and jailed Congressman Duke Cunningham.
To our surprise, tucked into his correspondence with us about Fletcher, Cunningham offered his thoughts on another high-profile candidate: Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.
In a letter to Gingrich, Cunningham says: "Newt, a voice out of the past. Down but not out and still fighting." He goes on to promise the support of 80 percent of his fellow inmates, if only they could vote. "They might not be able to but their extended families will," he writes. The former congressman, jailed on corruption charges, suggests that he can help Gingrich with "prison and justice reform, if wanted." You can read Liam Dillon's story on it here and the entire letter here.
The letter spread quickly and got picked up by The Washington Post, Wonkette, Politico, Talking Points Memo and even Gawker.
Politics Are Mean, Lucrative
Cunningham has been a busy letter writer while behind bars. In a letter to CityBeat about Fletcher, he exclaims about how hard working and caring his staff was, and how they shouldn't be tarnished by having worked for him.
"I wish Nathan well and remember politics are mean," he wrote. "His opponents use his connection with me in error."
Pretty tepid stuff, comparatively speaking. Cunningham also waxes emotional on the topic of being a congressman's staffer. But Fletcher was having none of that touchy-feelyness. "There's never an excuse for corruption -- ever," Fletcher told CityBeat. "To have him take defense dollars and misappropriate them during a time of war for personal gain, it is unconscionable."
Thanks, but no thanks, I guess? "Wow. Really spreading around the unwelcome endorsements, isn't he?," tweeted Rachel Laing, the mayor's deputy press secretary.
Look for our story on Fletcher's time with Cunningham's office soon.
Speaking of Lucrative Politics
Up-to-date fundraising totals are starting to trickle in from San Diego's mayoral candidates. Carl DeMaio and Nathan Fletcher both said they raised $431,000 and $416,000, respectively, in the time period from July to December. According to U-T San Diego, that brings the total monies raised for DeMaio so far to $961,000 and for Fletcher to $736,000.
The Daily Transcript notes that DeMaio has donated more than $350,000 of his own money to his campaign, $80,000 of that in the period between July and December. Fletcher and his wife have each donated $500 to his campaign, for a total of $1,000. "Worth noting that when you subtract out the personal total, Fletcher out raised DeMaio by $114,000," said Amy Thoma, Fletcher's deputy campaign manager.
While the Fletcher campaign might dream about subtracting $350,000 from DeMaio's campaign coffers, Transcript notes that DeMaio's personal fortune is real and "presents a decided advantage."
Need a Job? How About the School Board?
Will Carless reminds us that the mayor's isn't the only seat up for grabs in the June election. Three San Diego Unified School District board of trustee seats are also up for grabs. Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans say they'll compete for their current seats, but Shelia Jackson is definitely out. So far, no one is challenging Barrera or Evans.
Carless lays out the potential candidates for Jackson's seat and promises to interrogate them on a regular basis until the election. I'd like to know why anyone would campaign to take a low-paying, high-profile part- time job that is the target of daily ire and derision from nearly anyone with an opinion. What would you ask the candidates? Let Carless know via Twitter: @willcarless or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Circling Back on Some Classics
• Our latest San Diego Explained tells the story of the promising and ultimately tragic life of redevelopment. In the Redevelopment Obituary, we guide you from the birth and infancy of redevelopment to its recent, convulsing, and some say tragic, death in less than four minutes. Not bad, considering redevelopment lasted 66 years.
• Rob Davis' recent profile of Doug Manchester, the famous hotelier and now owner of U-T San Diego, drew back the curtain and showed San Diegans a touching and quixotic side of Manchester. Davis now returns to the lore of Manchester with a round-up of other profiles that have been written over the years, some recent and some not. Read on for telling thoughts on Manchester, such as this one from 1984: "When Manchester signs a contract, he thinks that's just the start of negotiations."
• Our next "Meeting of the Minds" art event is rapidly approaching! Make sure you get all the details and check out the speakers in Kelly Bennett's latest post (with video).
• Finally, in August Keegan Kyle fact-checked a claim that by signing petitions, often pushed by signature gatherers outside local businesses, you risk having your identity stolen. He determined some claims were true, some false, but advised you should be skeptical.
But yesterday, Gail Pellerin, president of the California Association of Election Officials & Clerks and herself the Santa Cruz County Clerk, told Kyle that she was concerned about people forging her signature for use on other petitions. "I never sign them. Never. I wouldn't dream of giving my signature to a stranger," she said. There you have it, straight from the top.
Industry Strikes Back
This week, an important vote came out of what is now a Centre City Development Corp. board room running only on fumes. With the end of redevelopment nigh, CCDC still has some responsibilities left, and a recent dispute between residential developers of the Fat City Lofts apartment complex and nearby Solar Turbines is one of them.
Our Scott Lewis editorialized about that stand-off in December, ultimately warning that the city too often sides with residential developers at the cost of industry. "If you view industry along the waterfront as vital to the city of San Diego's economic future, beware," wrote Lewis. On Wednesday, the CCDC board agreed with him by voting 4-2 to side with Solar Turbines, recommending Fat City Lofts not be built at the currently desired location.
The decision by the board only results in a recommendation, notes the U-T. The final decision will be made by board chairman Kim Kilkenny, and even then, his decision can be overruled by the city's Planning Commission. Jonathan Segal, the project architect for Fat City Lofts, was dejected. "I feel like we've been mistreated by all parties," he said, but noted that he hoped to receive a fair decision from the Planning Commission.
Salvation for the Madonna
In April, a stunning mosaic called "Surfing Madonna" appeared in Encinitas, surreptitiously installed under a bridge by an artist who only unmasked himself after the city threatened to tear it down. Now, the artist has decided to lend Surfing Madonna to the city of Encinitas, and the city will support a proposal to place the mosaic on public land, reports NBC 7 San Diego.
If you haven't seen the Surfing Madonna in person, you will soon be able to visit it near the intersection of Highway 101 and Encinitas Boulevard in Encinitas. I'll leave the art critiquing to our Kelly Bennett, but this mosaic is an eye-catching spectacle well worth visiting once it has found its home.
Seth Hall can be reached at email@example.com.