Politics Report: Dems Pre-emptively Call for Post-Election Unity - Voice of San Diego

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Politics Report: Dems Pre-emptively Call for Post-Election Unity

Keith Maddox / Photo courtesy of the San Diego Imperial-Counties Labor Council

Three of the most influential figures in San Diego’s liberal coalition sent a message to Democrats Friday: After the primary, no more fighting over the county’s District 3 seat.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Democratic Party Chairman Will Rodriguez-Kennedy and Labor Council Executive Secretary Keith Maddox sent the letter to “Progressive Allies” and announced a “Unity Breakfast” at party headquarters on Friday, March 6, a few days after the primary election. Both Democrats seeking to unseat Kristin Gaspar pledged to be there and to make their support known for the one who makes it through the primary to face Gaspar one on one. (It’s also possible, though far less likely, that Gaspar will be the one who doesn’t advance to the November general election.)

“Both of our candidates have agreed to attend and unequivocally support whichever candidate wins the primary. The same holds true for the three of us and countless other regional leaders,” the letter reads.

Fletcher has been an adamant supporter of Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz, who once appeared on the brink of getting the Democratic Party’s nod. But Terra Lawson-Remer, an attorney, lecturer and activist, has mounted a vigorous campaign that not only halted the party’s endorsement of Diaz but netted her the endorsement of the Labor Council, which Maddox manages. The largest union of county workers, SEIU Local 221, has been among Lawson-Remer’s biggest supporters.

That union had also worked vigorously to support Fletcher’s bid for supervisor in 2018. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who once led the Labor Council, supports Diaz as well. On the other side, state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins supports Lawson-Remer. The electrical workers union, IBEW Local 569 and a plethora of Democratic clubs support Diaz.

In other words, the race has severely divided Democrats. But it hasn’t yet gotten too nasty and it appears Fletcher, Maddox and Rodriguez-Kennedy want to keep it that way.

Checking in on Kersey’s Rest

Councilman Mark Kersey / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This week, the Airport Authority overcame a major hurdle in its push to do a $3 billion overhaul of Terminal 1, the congested, aging older brother of the bright shiny Terminal 2. The agency certified the environmental impact report, clearing its biggest hurdle before it can start construction.

Airlines led by Southwest are ready to pay a bit more to fly out of San Diego in exchange for nicer digs and the Airport Authority has been eager to accommodate them.

You may remember: When the report first surfaced for comment in 2018, it was wildly provocative, at least according to literally every other local government agency. Groups like the city of San Diego, the county, MTS, SANDAG and the Port pounced on it for what they perceived to be severe omissions of the Airport Authority’s own responsibility for nearby transit and transportation improvements.

And then there was a push to make sure that this rebuild, unlike the one for Terminal 2, would be done under a project labor agreement. That’s when unions agree to guarantee the labor for a project – not only that workers will be available but there won’t be work stoppages or strikes – and, in exchange, all workers must pass through union halls and get associated benefits.

You may remember, part 2: The decision on a project labor agreement was not an easy one for some Airport Authority board members like San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey. He revealed that his predecessor in that seat, Carl DeMaio, had sent him a threatening note.

“Mark — if you vote for a PLA, I’ll bash you every day I can on the radio. And we’ll do social media ads and emails into D5. You won’t get a moment’s rest.”

The agency went on to approve the PLA, with Kersey’s support. DeMaio went on to leave the radio to run for Congress again. Kersey went on, of course, to leave the Republican Party.

But we took the occasion to check in with Kersey about whether he had, in fact, been hounded into sleeplessness and general moroseness because of any DeMaio attacks. Had DeMaio delivered on the threat?

Kersey declined to comment through a spokesman.

Measure A Mo

Measure A has really stolen the show over the last couple of weeks in Politics Report land.

At the same time, opponents of the initiative that would force most housing projects not already included in the county’s general plan to countywide popular vote have taken a bizarre interest in what we do and do not remember to write about it every time we mention it.

Did you really write that entire sentence without including that both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party oppose Measure A??? You are recklessly biased and bent on dividing San Diego with your errors and omissions.

Yikes, sorry.

This week we learned that Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara supports Measure A, joining his colleague Olga Diaz. He said, echoing Diaz, that Escondido has a similar law in place and stuff still gets built. We also learned that mayoral candidate Barbara Bry rescinded her opposition to Measure A and now supports it.

Seriously? Did you just write that and not include the fact that Escondido is woefully behind in meeting its housing production goals? Obviously, it’s not working.

Jeez, sorry. No. To be clear: Escondido (like just about every other city in the county and state) is woefully behind on its housing goals.

We have no idea what to think of Bry’s decision to switch sides on the measure. We previously wrote about the Democrats’ internal arguments over it

Did you honestly just write about that again without speaking with NAACP and poverty attorney Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi who made the point to the Democratic Party that Measure A smacks of the same kind of racism and segregation that led to redlining neighborhoods in the past and kept people out of certain neighborhoods?

We would definitely like to speak with Ijadi-Maghsoodi, and we had just discussed having her on the podcast but this is all a bit much.

Oh wow, can’t handle the heat in the kitchen, eh? Just pointing out some absurd omissions. Why do you want everyone to live in Temecula? Wait till you check your email. We’re going to be there, on your phone, on Twitter. We’re everywhere. LISTEN TO US.

Wait, did you hack your way into the Politics Report?

Just checking in, thanks for the response. Hope you have a good weekend.

What About Measure C?

One of the things we have not heard much about is Measure C. As one astute Politics Report reader pointed out, it seems … kind of late?

“The election is less than 60 days away and getting two-thirds approval is always a tough, uphill battle – even for mom and apple pie,” wrote said astute Politics Report reader.

It’s a very good question. The election may be 60 days away but ballots are out in just a bit more than three weeks. Where is the campaign?

(For one thing, nobody probably knows what Measure C is at the moment. Kind of a hurdle! Measure C is the one that would raise the city’s hotel-room tax to fund the Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road repair. The campaign is known as Yes! Loosely related to the 2016 campaign known as Jeb!)

We checked in with Dan Rottenstreich, one of the two main political consultants working on the campaign. Rottenstreich represents the left side of the labor-business coalition pushing the initiative.

“I think it’s going quite well. Fundraising is solid. The endorsement coalition is super strong and getting bigger. Those silly lawsuits against the ballot question went nowhere. On track with our campaign plans,” he wrote to the Politics Report.

Ho Hum: Another SANDAG Weighted Vote

It’s been a few weeks, but SANDAG’s board once again needed to invoke its weighted vote authority to pass a measure over the objection of a coalition of officials from North County.

SANDAG staff asked the board Friday to give it the authority to take out $90 million in bonds to finish a series of protected bike lane projects in the region that were part of the 2004-approved sales tax measure, TransNet.

County Supervisors Kristin Gaspar and Jim Desmond, along with San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones, led the charge to kill the initiative, raising concerns about the cost-per-mile of the bike lanes, whether it was appropriate for a cash-strapped agency to spend on a transportation mode that not everyone uses and whether they were properly distributed around the region.

They and other leaders from North County and other rural cities won the first vote, which by SANDAG rules is a simple tally of all the representatives on the board. But the losing side then took advantage of their ability to call for a vote weighted by population size, where they won easily.

Pro: Catherine Blakespear, speaking in favor of the bonding, argued that a recent bike project in Encinitas was a clear success and that it had clearly encouraged some users to ride bikes instead of driving for some trips.

“It’s important to recognize when we have examples of success, and we do in Encinitas,” she said.

Anti: Gaspar, speaking against the measure, argued that the projects SANDAG was funding weren’t even concentrated in the most dangerous areas for cyclists, according to the Union-Tribune, and criticized SANDAG staff for not providing safety information in the meeting materials.

“I always have to procure this public safety data on my own,” she said.

This has become a common occurrence at SANDAG, but it’s not so long ago that anything but a unanimous board vote was unheard of there. Not much later, calling for a weighted vote itself seemed like a dramatic outcome. It’s now beginning to look like standard operating procedure.

New Port Chair Meet and Greet

Land use attorney Ann Moore is the new chair of the Port of San Diego. A Chula Vista appointee to the board, she’ll now lead the agency in the year ahead. We chatted with her briefly about her goals.

So what are your priorities for 2020?

My emphasis is going to be on this idea of the Port of tomorrow, or the Port of the future. I want to move forward with two of most transformation projects right now, the Chula Vista Bayfront project, and the Port Master Plan update. Both projects will have a transformative effect on the Port and the region.

The Port Master Plan update has been underway for a while, what are the next major checkpoints?

We’ll release the next draft of the master plan this spring. Should incorporate public comments that we received since releasing first draft last year. We hope to move the environmental document and this document forward for adoption by the end of this year. The reason I think this can be transformational is because one key element of the plan is to come up with a focus or vision of where we want the port to look like in 2050, what we want it to be in 2050.

One major project that’s part of that future is Seaport Village. Where does that stand now?

We’re very excited about it, but it’s in the design stage. The designs look exciting, but we can’t say one way or another what it will end up looking like. It’s not finalized.

And what about the Harbor Island redevelopment?

We’re negotiating right now with Sunroad for a 500 room hotel on the site, and are exploring negotiating with Top Golf which will be exciting project to add to the site. Also the Portside Pier restaurant by Brigantine is opening this year. That’s four restaurant concepts rolled one. And the Bayside performance park will have an important impact on silhouette of the bay.

The airport took a big step with its Terminal 1 expansion this week. The Port had been concerned with that project. Where do you stand now?

Any expansion that the airport has will benefit the entire region, so we’re excited to see how that moves forward. We’re in a good place with the Airport now so we can work together in the future, because we all should have a common goal so that everything done at that airport site is beneficial to the entire community.

What’s a lower-profile project people should be aware of?

Here’s one thing that I feel excited about that isn’t talked about much. The National City project —  we’re re-looking at the plan down there and re-looking at land uses there. It sort of mirrors the Chula Vista Master Bayfront project. I think it’ll make a big improvement in the area, and we’ll start environmental review in coming year. We will  eventually see increased commercial uses there, and improved public access to the waterfront, which is really needed for National City residents. It’s not not talked about much, but it took a long time to get where we are, because there were competing desires and needs and we came together as a community.

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