Exposed: Empower San Diego’s Last Ditch Political Play – And Interesting Friends

Eliot Ness Eliot Ness 8 Comments


It’s no secret that various interest groups have been actively lobbying the San Diego Redistricting Commission over the past few months. One of the most active groups has been Empower San Diego which even managed to get one of their own, Commissioner Theresa Quiroz on the actual commission and who has been carrying their water ever since.

The commission has arrived at a preliminary map which has been generally well received by the Latino, African-American, gay and various community groups. Even the business community seems OK with the map – as evidenced by emails I saw from the San Diego Chamber and San Diego Taxpayers Association.

While the jury is still out on what the local Republican Party”s opinion is, it’s safe to assume that local labor unions are not very happy with the proposed maps as they seem to be remarkably fair from a political perspective and would result in several competitive districts for the next ten years, which by all accounts is a good thing.

Today yours truly was forwarded an email chain, initiated by Empower San Diego’s  Executive Director Emily Serafy Cox, regarding a last ditch political play for more “progressive” council seats where it’s obvious that the group’s mostly white leadership cares less about minorities than about advancing their progressive (read: liberal) agenda.

I remember shaking my head at local GOP chairman Tony Krvaric with his railing against the Empower San Diego-Center for Policy Initiatives-Labor Council connection, but gotta give the guy props since it turns out he was largely right. The entire, unedited email chain has been reproduced below.

PS. Of additional interest is seeing the Who’s-Who of local liberal, union and Democratic operatives and elected officials cc’d on Remy Bermúdez’ email, incl. Redistricting Commissioner Carlos Marquez at his non-redistricting commission email address.


From: Tom McDowell <>
Date: Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM
Subject: images and equiv files
To: Emily Serafy Cox <>


Attached are the pics and the equivalency files for the 2 new plans we created today. I also have some snapshots of the original plan put out by the Commission on July 19th. For each plan, you have a north of 8 snapshot and a south of 8 snapshot.

Take care

Tom McDowell
San Diego Redistricting Assistance Site
588 Euclid Ave
San Diego, CA 92114


From: Emily Serafy Cox <>
Date: Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 4:07 PM
Subject: Report from LRC Meeting and Possible Changes to the City Draft Map


The LRC met today to discuss possible changes to recommend to the City Redistricting Commission. I was asked to send out the notes.

A group from the Community In Unity (EMPOWER) Coalition (Emily, Franco, Mateo, Linda, Jim, Evan and Jess) had drafted some changes with the following goals:

1. Increase the Latino percentage in D9

2. Make D2 and D7 more progressive

3. Overall, they tried to make the Commission’s draft map look more like the CIU map.

Pictures of this proposal and talking points for the changes are attached to this email, as are pictures and numbers for the Commission’s current draft map. Also, attached is a breakdown of districts 4, 8, and 9 with the possible changes. (It would take me longer to get the numbers on all the districts, but please contact me if you want more of the numbers)

This is a list of the possible changes to the Commission’s draft plan:

– Normal Heights (except for the Adams Ave Business District) moves from D3 to D9

– Golden Hill moves from D3 to D8

– Shelltown and 32nd St Naval Base move from D8 to D9

– College Area and Rolando move from D9 to D7

– Linda Vista moves from D7 to D2

– Midway, Loma Portal, and Roseville/Fleetwood move from D2 to D3

– Tierrasanta and East Elliot/Mirmar East move from D7 to D6

– Clairemont south of Balboa Ave moves from D6 to D7

The following are some of the concerns raised from the Sherman Heights residents present:

1. Proposing changes to the map as it’s drafted will risk more, unwanted changes to D8

2. Losing the Naval Base is not acceptable for D8, especially at this late date with little time to outreach to the community of Barrio Logan.

I was asked to look at the numbers if we did all of the above changes to D9, except the Naval Base, and unfortunately it doesn’t look good. Assuming all of the other changes, if the Naval Base is in D8, D9 will be 10,903 people under and D8 will be 6,046 people over.

I was also asked to check with Barry Pollard to see if there were any negotiable parts of D4 to add to D9. In the past, D4 has negotiated to give up Ridgeview and part of Mountain View to D9, but Barry said he couldn’t think of any other acceptable places to take. Additionally, any shift with the D4/D9 boundary will not help the total population numbers because any population taken out of D4 in one place will have to be taken out of D9 in another place.

I cannot find any other viable options for increasing the total population of D9–even adding Adams North doesn’t give it enough people.

At the end of the meeting (and after exhausting other ideas) there seemed to be two options:

1. Advocate for no changes to be made to the map for D8, D9, or D4–and advocate that if any changes are made to D9 that they not further dilute the Latino percentage.

This option has a lower Latino percentage in D9 (50%) and a less progressive total map


2. Advocate for the proposed changes (in the attached maps)–and advocate that no part of Downtown be added to D8.

This option has a higher percent Latino in D9 (55%) and a more progressive total map, but may hold more risk.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE – Email me and Mateo (, with your vote. There was a strong sentiment from the meeting today that we all be on the same page going into tomorrow’s public hearing. And currently the only way to do that is by an email vote.

Emily Serafy Cox
Executive Director
Empower San Diego
Civic Engagement = Community Power
Phone: 619.752.0576


From: Remigia Bermúdez <>
To: Emily Serafy Cox <>; Emily Serafy Cox <>; Mateo Camarillo <>
Cc: Rachael Ortiz <>; fairness4all <>; diazs <>; oaguilar <>; genoaguilar <>; Emilie Bonnet <>; yasminbozinmendoza <>; counselorestela <>; Juan Gallegos <>; Juan Gallegos <>; Liliana Garcia-Rivera <>; fgastelu <>; Jerry Guzmán <>; lopezr <>; cqlopez1 <>; Carmen Lopez <>; Sonia Amelia Lopez <>; W Lucero <>; Arnulfo <>; Pedro Olivares <>; A Pizano <>; Alberto Pulido <>; J Regalado <>; regosd <>; Ben Rivera <>; Cristian Ramirez <>; Monica Rocha de Leyva <>; Liliana Garcia-Rivera <>; Caridad Sanchez <>; M Serrano <>; Cynthia Soto <>; Kendell <>; Linda LaGerrette <>; Vince Hall <>; Franco Garcia <>; LilianaGarcia-Rivera <>; liliana <>; jose <>; josa241 <>; Pedro Rios <>; Lori Saldana <>; cmarquez <>; Lori Saldana <>; Gregory Morales <>; Moises Aguirre <>; Abel Macias <>; larrybaza <>; Redis Jose Lopez <>; Jose Padilla (CRLA) <>; Ricardo Delgado <>; Carlos Martell <>; converse252003 <>; M.Bernal <>; paceves50 <>; Rod0381 <>; Andrea Carter <>; ricardo <>; pitaruiz <>; Ernesto Bustillo <>; Blue Ramos <>; Patti Cueva <>; jlawrence1999 <>; Tommie Camarillo <>; Philip Stephens <>; Miguel Murillo <>; Daniel Cadena <>; Georgette Gomez <>; Blue Ramos <>; Remigia Bermúdez <>; Diane <>; doris_395 <>; fran <>; frankgormlie <>; fredavacdb <>; Alducheny <>; aleira <>; expressionsofmexico <>; clementecasillas <>; info <>; gperez <>; gmcneeley <>; MAPA_SanDiegoCounty <>; salasforsenate <>; ayalajl <>; JWJustus <>; mcfarlin <>; jessehbi <>; tarahumara19 <>; admin <>; juan <>; tsi92113 <>; loganhts_nc <>; sdwatch <>; ncalavit <>; norma <>; espipaul <>; Paul.Espinosa <>; Ricardo.Flores <>; wildbunchofhollywood <>; ronbaza <>; slwhitburn <>; uniondelbarriocc <>; willie.blair <>; loscalifornios <>; Mike Aguirre <>; Herman Baca <>; comitecentral <>
Sent: Tue, Jul 26, 2011 2:34 am
Subject: 5’26’11 d’Remy Casting LRC votes is premature due to outdated info, splitting of Barrio Logan with no community outreach

Emily and Mateo,

Your e-mail asking for folks to vote on the Unity Coalition revised map that was considered today at the Latino Redistricting Committee (LRC) meeting is premature and outdated, therefore invalid.

Apparently the decision to go forward with a brand new plan that clearly affects D8 mostly is a tough one. I, as a member of the LRC and a resident of D8, am not for splitting the Barrio Logan community into two political districts (2 City Council districts) or removing a portion of it from D8 to contribute to D9. I feel that more information is still pending for the rest of the 30+ LRC members (those who did not attend today’s LRC meeting) to cast a vote.

May I suggest that Emily from Empower San Diego, who staffs the Latino Redistricting Committee (LRC) and the Unity Coalition, give the analysis that was promised with the reference maps that she asked me to forward to her today and that the numbers reported be reported in a clear fashion within the e-mail? It’s too late for individuals to be extrapolating from the data sheets.

1. What are the numbers (full numbers and standard deviation) for D8 with Shelltown, all of Barrio Logan and without Golden Hill? This is the City’s July 21, 2011 proposed D8. (last attachment)

2. What are the numbers (full numbers and standard deviation) for D8 removing Shelltown and adding Golden Hill and the Navy Base area (all of Barrio Logan)?

3. What are the numbers (full numbers and standard deviation) for D8, removing Shelltown and Golden Hill but adding the Navy Base area (all of Barrio Logan)?

4. What are the numbers (full numbers and standard deviation) for D9 with the addition of the remainder of Mountain View community from D4?

5. What else could be tweaked from D4, D3 and D7 without taking a portion of Barrio Logan from D8 and splitting the community? Please give numbers and standard deviation for such options.

Once you do the math you may find that it’s too late to jockey around in D8; that all along we’ve been stipulating that communities are not to be divided and yet you propose dividing Barrio Logan; and that the risks to D8 are not warranted. For that matter, we may be risking the location of D9 if we propose a brand new map to the Commission at this late stage.

The reasons why I believe that soliciting a vote on the Unity Coalition revised map that was considered today at the Latino Redistricting Committee meeting is premature, outdated and too late in the process and therefore invalid are as follow:

1. The map that you are representing as the City of SD Redistricting map is outdated. I provided Emily with a copy of the July 21, 2011, revised City map at today’s meeting. Emily copied it from my flash drive on to her computer. Yet, Emily still sends the outdated July 19th map as the most current City map. The maps that I provided Emily via my flash drive today have a comparison of side to side for better analysis. Yet these were not forwarded by her. Please see last attachment.

2. Emily from Empower San Diego, who staffs the Latino Redistricting Committee and the Unity Coalition, did not get back to us as agreed with any analysis of the reference maps that she asked me to forward to her today.

3. The talking points that you propose in your e-mail below don’t talk about the fact that you are proposing to divide Barrio Logan with your recent proposal of which the Latino Redistricting members were not privy to until it was all said and done by members of the Unity Coalition without any input from the members at large of the Latino Redistricting Committee.

4. If this vote were done in a timely fashion with all of the information as promised, then this vote that you are requesting should be of the Latino Redistricting Committee members only not anybody else. It should be an open vote so that we can all see the results.

By sending out blind copies and requesting blind replies, it leaves it up to speculation as to whose vote you are actually soliciting and what the tru count may be. And whether or not others who are not LRC members will be asked to vote on the proposal…. for example the folks present from the Unity Coalition at today’s LRC meeting. May I remind you that it was an LRC meeting not a Unity Coalition meeting? Others like the 5 folks there today that had nothing to do with the Latino Redistricting Committee but everything to do with crafting the recent changes that divide Barrio Logan by proposing to give the southeastern portion of Barrio Logan to D9 without community outreach of, or input from, the affected community.

5. The fact that with the exception of Mateo Camarillo. Franco Garcia and Liliana Garcia-Rivera, not even the members of the LRC full Steering Committee showed up this morning to the Latino Redistricting Committee meeting, may be perceived as a lack of interest, a lack of acceptance of your planned revision, and/or don’t want to get involved in deciding whether or not to split the Barrio Logan community into two City Council Districts.

6. When Emily mentions that “concerns raised from the Sherman Heights residents”, she fails to acknowledge that Liliana Garcia-Rivera is a member of the LRC Steering Committee and that Cynthia Soto, Ben Rivera and I are members of the Latino Redistricting Committee. I take that as an affront to us advocating on behalf of D8.

If we, “Sherman residents,” had not shown up at today’s meeting, there would have been all Unity Coalition members and Mateo Camarillo, the LRC Chair, for most of the meeting as Franco was there intermittently. Does that make it a Latino Redistricting Committee meeting?

7. It seems that given your recent changes, it’s ok to keep tweaking D8; that it’s ok to keep protecting D4 and not get any more concessions from D4; and that it’s ok for D3 to remain protected except for the area’s that they are willing to give up…but D8 is carte blanche to keep modifying and placing D8 at risk at this late date in the game.

8. As much as we would like to have Golden Hill within D8 again, Golden Hill reps clearly made some ignorant statements with a “hint” of racism at last week’s Commission hearing. So what is the likelihood the Golden Hill will be returned to D8?

I repeat, “Apparently the decision to go forward with a brand new plan that clearly affects D8 mostly is a tough one. I, as a member of the LRC, am not for splitting Barrio Logan or removing it from D8.” I believe that D3, D4 and possibly D7 could contribute more areas to the creation of D9 in its present location in the City proposal.

May Justice Prevail,
Remigia (Remy) Bermúdez


(Note: BOLD formatting carried over from the original author/s.)


Comments 8

  1. Seeing the political calculations blatantly spelled out like this is stunning. And you might be able to find many more such emails.

    Some of the email addresses have UCSD, UC Berkeley and CSU suffixes. That means they are with the state college systems, and therefore part of the state government. It might be worth exploring if emails pertaining to the redistricting can be obtained similar to how a certain clever SD CityBeat reporter obtained emails pertaining to the San Diego Society of Professional Journalists.

  2. Wow, a who’s-who of the left indeed. I wonder if Filner, Salas, et al. would decry these sorts of machinations if confronted publicly.

  3. Post

    People starting to dissect that email list: Willie Blair is with Congressman Bob Filner’s office and Ricardo Flores is with, you guessed it, Congresswoman Susan Davis’ office. Keep ’em coming.

  4. Post

    Those with government/taxpayer email addresses:

    – Carmen Lopez, Voter Outreach Coordinator at San Diego Registrar of Voters (!?)
    – Maria Serrano, Research Assistant, CSUSM/National Latino Research Center
    – Carlos Martell, Associate Instructor, UCSD
    – Nico Calavita, Professor of City Planning, SDSU School of Public Affairs
    – Paul Espinosa, Professor, School of Transborder Studies, Arizona State University

    Anyone with info on any of the other several dozen individuals on that email chain, please send it over. Interesting cast of characters.

    Bonus: We see Stephen Whitburn, perennial Democratic candidate on the list, but no sign of T-Glo.

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