Mayoral Debate Fails To Strike Sparks, DeMaio and Dumanis Stay Out, Is Fletcher’s Heart In Pension Reform?

Bradley J. FikesBradley J. Fikes 15 Comments


I really wanted to see the mayoral debate on Wednesday, but my day job kept me until it was too late to go. But from what’s been printed about it, I didn’t miss much.

Only two of the top four candidates even showed up — Nathan Fletcher and Bob Filner. Kudos to them for showing up. As for Carl DeMaio and Bonnie Dumanis, their no-shows were disappointing.

OB Rag wrote:

“The debate, sponsored by A Better San Diego Coalition, a conglomeration of various community groups—including unions—was moderated by Lorena Gonzalez, the leader of the San Diego and Imperial County Labor Council.  Also notable was the absence of the other two top candidates:  Republican Bonnie Dumanis, who refuses to participate in any debates until the primary ballot has been made official; and Republican Carl Demaio, who declined the invitation out of concern for the reception he would receive from the coalition groups that he is vehemently in opposition to.”

DeMaio’s decision is understandable, but still wrong in my opinion. One test of leaders is how they can deal with those who disagree with them. And if DeMaio gets elected, he’ll have to deal with them anyway. If he could earn some grudging respect from foes, that would be good to know.

Dumanis’ reasoning, however, is simply incomprehensible. She appears in danger of sliding into a second or third-tier status as the forgotten candidate. Maybe she was also afraid of a hostile reception. Her zealous enforcement of medical marijuana laws has made her a lot of enemies among the left. And even some not on the left might question Dumanis’ priorities.

As for those who showed up, Filner’s appearance is hardly a surprise, as those sponsoring the debate are his base. Fletcher’s is not as surprising as it might seem, as he has been diligently cultivating support in certain sectors of labor, as witness his endorsement by the San Diego city police union.

By the way, libertarian talk show host Chris Reed said that the police union endorsement may backfire on Fletcher. Here’s a link to a 2 MB audio clip from his program on Tuesday.

Reed said Fletcher’s reputation as a reformer is called into question by what critics call his less-than-energetic support of the pension reform initiative. (Starts at 3:56 in the audio clip).

“We already have an undercurrent of criticism of Nathan Fletcher from folks out there who say that he was inadequately supportive of the comprehensive pension reform measure championed by Mayor Sanders and Councilman DeMaio,” Reed said.

“You even have the rumor going around that Nathan Fletcher, while he supported it, actually never signed the petition. I have talked to one person who could know the details here, and the person says as far as to that person’s knowledge, no one can recall seeing Fletcher sign this. So you have this backdrop of folks who already believe and are putting out a narrative that says Nathan Fletcher’s heart is not in pension reform.

“Pension reform used to be the ultimate eye glaze over issue. But now it’s kind of like a standard part of any California political debate. So if Nathan Fletcher wins the support of the police union, and the perception is that it’s because he helped insulate them from pension pain by shifting the burden from city taxpayers to state taxpayers, that’s a powerful line of argument with influential people who, like (libertarian commenter) Steve Greenhut … who are open to his argument that you are an ultimate RINO, a total RINO, if you have union support, because that suggests you’re a sell-out.”

It would be interesting for Fletcher to go onto Chris Reed’s show so we can hear how he responds to those rumors. I find it very difficult to believe that Fletcher failed to sign the pension reform petition, but if he didn’t . . .


DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of my employer, the North County Times.


Comments 15

  1. No kidding! Now it makes more sense why POA endorsed Fletcher. Can someone from the CPR campaign confirm Fletcher never signed? What about DA Dumanis, who flip-flopped? Did she not sign?

  2. Let us note that, out of several thousand signatures obtained on the CPR petition, the rumor being floated by Chris Reed would be extremely difficult to prove. Please show us where the requirement is that an elected official sign a petition in front of anyone in particular vs. in passing at an event or even in private.

    The CPR campaign would not necessarily treat any one signature differently than all of the others. The campaign is unlikely to release the names of those who signed (and we’re not even sure they can), and the Registrar is not likely to go through thousands of petitions to produce proof of one or two (and we’re not sure about the legality on that one, either…weigh in if you know).

    In this case, yes, the campaign paid to verify the signatures obtained prior to submission to the ROV. So, here are the likely options:

    -A signature verification staffer/volunteer remembers seeing a signature when checking it against the voter file, recognized it — out of thousands — and is willing to come forward to say they saw it.

    -Someone happened to see the two sign the petitions and will say so.

    -A candidate says they didn’t sign.

    All unlikely, or simply difficult to prove, especially if it’s not true in the first place. May we suggest that this rumor is very close to an unsubstantiated whispering campaign?

    What we may be left with is whether Fletcher and Dumanis SAY they signed the petition.

    If someone wants to take it further than that, by soliciting proof from either the CRP proponents or the Registrar, by all means, but until then, let’s not go there on Rostra.

    The level of effort in getting CPR on the ballot and in subsequently getting it passed, is a completely different matter and open to discussion, of course. There’s (probably) no question that DeMaio has at this juncture clearly led the field in that regard.

    But, rumors about whether someone signed? Just that, a rumor, unless there is proof.

  3. Post

    Very good questions. Fletcher or his staff are welcome to give their response here. Since Fletcher’s a fellow Rostrafarian, he can set the record straight with his own post.

    As for Dumanis, who knows? I’m really having trouble understanding who’s supposed to be her constituency. Here’s what Voice of San Diego wrote:

    “Dumanis has long said she wasn’t seeking the police union’s endorsement. She believes there’s a potential for a conflict of interest as the region’s top prosecutor responsible for trying Police Department cases and at times individual officers.”

    The more cynical explanation is that Dumanis knew she wasn’t going to get the endorsement of the police union anyway, so she concocted a high-minded rationalization.

    In regards to Filner, the VOSD story says:

    For Filner, Wednesday’s announcement shows he was unable to unite public employee union support behind him, even though he’s the only major candidate to oppose the pension initiative.

    “Coming out against it and coming up with a solution to solve it, I think are two different categories,” Marvel said.

    In fact, it appears the union didn’t think much of Filner’s candidacy. Marvel said the congressman never even got an interview. The union gave Filner’s campaign their questionnaire, but didn’t wait for his response before picking Fletcher.

    “We have a process,” Marvel said, “but the process isn’t written in stone.”

    Three more cynical explanations are that:
    (1) The SD POA thought Fletcher was more likely to win than Filner, so it’s ingratiating itself with the presumed future mayor,
    (2) Fletcher and the police union have already reached an understanding, If Fletcher really didn’t sign the petition, it could be a way of tipping off unions that he personally isn’t committed to pension reform, and is just going through the motions because he needs the votes of those backing pension reform.
    (3) There’s bad blood between Fliner and the police union on some other issue, and this is the union’s chance to get revenge. Perhaps Filner backed some legislation the police union opposed.

    DISCLAIMER: These are unsubstantiated speculations, and while they are fun for political observers to indulge in, we need facts. If Fletcher signed the pension reform petition, that fact should be easy to determine. If he did, maybe some other motive is at work, or just maybe the politicians and police union are giving their real reasons for their actions and are not acting due to any hidden motives.

    I’d just like to find out the truth before it’s time to vote.

  4. We’re also going to reiterate the rule here about selecting a name/pseudonym/handle (or even your own name), and sticking with it…not changing names at a whim to fit one’s particular comment at the time. Thank you.

  5. The pension reform campaign can’t confirm or deny if Flecther signed because, I believe, giving out that info now would be against the law. I dropped off some signatures I collected at the very end of the campaign and when I asked the people there what elected officials signed in support someone named all the supporters except Fletcher. I was very disappointed Nathan didn’t sign the petition.

  6. Of course Nathan signed the petition. He also:
    -Wrote an op-ed in the UT detailing his support
    -Sent his volunteers to collect signatures
    -Encouraged donors to give to CPR (and they did)
    -Repeatedly stated his support for the initiative in print, radio and TV
    -Was booed at the Better San Diego Debate for supporting it

    Why would he do all that and not sign the petition? That’s a total conspiracy theory like saying the moon landing wasn’t real. In fact, Carl DeMaio even thanked Nathan for all his help.

    Bottom line, Nathan supports CPR.

  7. Nathan Fletcher sponsored Assembly Bill No. 2510 that only applies to employees in the City of San Diego who are either Members of the San Diego Police Offficers Association, or unclassified or unrespresented employees of the City of San Diego.

    Congressman Filner wants to get rid of CCDC and make them pay the full $228 million they stole in Federal CDBG funds.

    In comparison, Fletcher sold out the poor and Homeless through the midnight elimination of the CCDC Cap, in order to not increase Affordable Housing set-aside from the current 20 percent to 30 percent minimum, and target housing for the Homeless and very poor.

    12/07/10 The TRUE story behind raising the CCDC cap.
    by Pat Flannery

  8. Why would Fletcher sign a petition that is the core of his opponent’s campaign? Fletcher may or may not support reform, but helping get it on the ballot would only strengthen De Maio’s campaign.

  9. Amy-

    I think what is fueling this criticism, and is hard to refute, is that it was obvious to the people working on CPR that Nathan did the bare minimum necessary to claim he supports it.

    By bare minimum, i mean he did absolutely nothing other than say he supported it. When his staff were asked if they would sign it at an event, they declined. When pressed on why they didnt want to, one of them answered with some vague “Well yeah, Nathan endorsed it but it’s complicated.”

    I’m not saying he should compel his staff to sign a petition, but it certainly fueled buzz that he was playing both sides… Maybe he would prefer that it not qualify even though he realized he had to endorse it.

    I would be careful about persisting with the claim that he signed. Just let it go. No one can publicly prove otherwise, but a handful of insiders know for a fact that it’s a lie. All you’re doing is encouraging them to talk about it and repeat it to more people. Just a friendly messaging suggestion.

  10. I bet Fletcher wasn’t even born in the united states. Why doesn’t he show us his birth certificate?

  11. In many a JOHN WAYNE movie, the Duke learned that
    he was about to ride, or walk, into an Ambush set by
    his enemies.

    Unfailingly, the Duke rode away from the Ambushes
    laid for him.

    None of his confederates urged him to enter the trap
    to win the Grudging Respect of his adversaries. Nor
    did we, in the audience, think John Wayne was any
    less manly for doing so.

    The idea was to defeat his enemies…..not impress
    them with how sincere he was.

  12. Post

    In Fletcher’s U-T op-ed endorsing the pension reform measure, he reassures public safety employees that he is “particularly sensitive” to their retirement needs, and that the pension reform plan has “flexibility”:

    “As a Marine combat veteran, I was concerned about the potential impact of the measure on the retirement of our public safety workers. I know firsthand what it means to put your life on the line and the amount of stress it puts on individuals and their families. All workers, not just public safety, should be treated with dignity, but I was particularly sensitive to the impact on public safety.

    “The measure is written in a way that gives the City Council and mayor flexibility when they design the new retirement system to ensure newly hired workers are provided a stable and secure retirement. . .”

    This would appear to answer the concern of police officers that they’d be ill-treated under pension reform.

  13. I just talked to a top official within the CPR campaign — not a volunteer and not just any staffer, but someone within the effort that I have no doubt knows. Since the signatures have been submitted, there is no way of providing evidence of course, but it was confirmed to me that Fletcher’s campaign initially contacted CPR to inquire about where to send Nathan’s signature. Subsequent to that, the CPR official learned that Fletcher’s signature was indeed collected at a supermarket in North City.

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