The primary is right around the corner, so co-hosts Sara Libby and Ry Rivard tackle some of the biggest local races and issues that'll be on the ballot.
VOSD staffers join the podcast this week to help break things down and give listeners useful information in advance of the June 7 vote.
Andrew Keatts talks about a few of the San Diego City Council races and the five-way city attorney race. He also shares some important background and details about Rebuild San Diego, the measure put forward by San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey that promises to finally deal with the city’s large infrastructure funding dilemma.
"Somewhere along the line someone dropped the ball or somebody lost their nerve," Keatts said of the measure, which the city's independent budget analyst has said lacks a new source of revenue to actually make a dent in the city's crumbling infrastructure problem. "One thing or another happened, but the plan that was sketched out never happened and instead what we have is Proposition H."
Also on the podcast, VOSD's Ashly McGlone shares some insight about the city's raging debate over vacation rentals and what the candidates for City Council District 1 are saying the city should do to regulate them, education reporter Mario Koran discusses the unusually exciting race for the San Diego County Board of Education, Scott Lewis explains the lackluster mayoral race and other staffers discuss more races and measures.
• Ry Rivard's favorite thing this week is "All the Way," an HBO movie based on the life of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his work on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rivard says the series takes a good look a a politician who decided to do something bold with his time in office.
• Sara Libby's favorite thing this week is San Diego's growing love of cold brew coffee. She specifically names Barrio Logan cafe Por Vida's horchata cold brew and North Park's Holsem Coffee's banana bread cold brew.
This week we explore races full of lawyers: the race for city attorney and two San Diego Superior Court judge races.
The first race is full of intrigue, campaign ads, sniping among candidates and has a lot of people’s attention. Sara Libby and I talk with Andy Keatts, who has been covering the race. Recently, he's explored the client lists of Robert Hickey and Rafael Castellanos and looked at how frequent city foe Cory Briggs’ endorsement is affecting Gil Cabrera’s campaign.
The judges’ races, though – you’d be hard pressed to find much out about either of them. Forty-three of the San Diego Superior Court’s 128 sitting judges are up for election this year. Only two are actually in races, though: The rest are running unopposed, so will be elected automatically.
We talk with Johanna Schiavoni, a local appellate lawyer who worked on judicial endorsements when she was head of the Lawyers Club of San Diego. She tells us how judges races work and how voters can get more information on these important but unheralded contests.
This ballot measure is actually on the ballot in June, so it may not be that crazy: Proposition 50, which would prevent state legislators from receiving pay while they are suspended. In 2014, three state senators were suspended for various and separate allegations of wrongdoing, but each kept getting their Senate salary. That seemed sorta odd, so this proposition aims to change things.
Sen. Joel Anderson of San Diego is a major opponent of the ballot initiative, though. Rather than strengthening ethics in Sacramento, Anderson argues the constitutional amendment here would weaken it: “Prop. 50 is designed to make you feel like the Sacramento political class actually wants to take a tough position to root out corruption. What they are really doing is hiding from you the fact that they would not make the tough decision to expel a convicted felon—their buddy,” he writes in the official state voter guide.
The Legislature already has the power to expel lawmakers. An expelled lawmaker’s seat becomes empty, so someone else takes their place. Because of this, Anderson argues, relying on suspensions rather than expulsion is the wrong path, because a suspended lawmaker is allowed to keep occupying the office while the lawmaker’s district does not have an active representative.
My favorite thing is the language political journalists use when they are out and about in rural America. Usually, these are folksy-sounding words and phrases that real people don’t really use – towns and people are “hardscrabble” and when people eat they are said have “tucked into hearty meals,” whatever that means.
Sara Libby’s favorite thing is the Twitter account @PhotosOfTV, which archives the most interesting chyrons (those bits of text at the bottom of the screen). Lately, PhotosOfTV has noticed a man whose title is simply “Tired of Birds”; a segment on the “Cankle Criss” striking America and a Northern Virginia woman who is apparently a “’Notable Tree’ Owner.’”
There's a lot to unpack when it comes to politicalactioncommittees, or PACs.
Joe Yerardi, a reporter at inewsource, joins San DiegoDecidesthis week for a quick PAC history lesson, including arundownof the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling andothercases that have upended the world of campaign finance inthelast few years. He also reviews the basics when it comesto"dark money" and other termsswirling around themysterious world of campaignfinance.
"This stuff is a little hard to wrap your head around,"Yerardisaid. "But really it's extremely important to how this cityandthis country is governed."
Hosts Sara Libby and Ry Rivard go from learning about PACstotalking to someone who runs one. Aimee Faucett, COO of theSanDiego Regional Chamber of Commerce, joins the show to discussthePACs she heads. The Chamber used to keep politics at arm'slengthbut has significantly ramped up its involvement in localraces.Faucett said the Chamber's goal when it comes togettinginvolved in politics and elections is to give the localbusinesscommunity a say in how the region is being run.
"In San Diego, we're tying to be the mostbusiness-friendlyregion in California and with that we need tostart helping andsupporting campaigns by getting businesscandidates elected so thatwe have a voice," she said.
Faucett also talks about the candidates and issues backed bythechamber, including plans for a convadium, theinfrastructuremeasure called Rebuild San Diego and minimumwage.
Also on this podcast, Libby and Rivard discuss the City Council District 1 candidates andtheirbootstraps, Bruce Lightner's weird website problems and more.
There are a few wild ballot proposals that involvecampaignfinance. One would amend the state Constitutionto impose a 1,000 percent sales tax on allpoliticaladvertising in California. All media spending by allpoliticalparties, PACs or candidates would be subject to the tax,and themoney would go to public education. Anotherproposedmeasure is the brainchild of a local businessman. It's beendubbedthe "NASCAR measure'' and would require lawmakers towearthe names of their top 10 donors on their person – as in,theywould have to wear pins or stickerswithdonors' names. The mock-ups of what that would looklikeare hilarious.
• Sara Libby's favorite thing this weekisa profile of author Angela Flournoy atBuzzFeed.Flournoy's book, "The Turner House," is Libby'sfavorite newbook.
• Ry Rivard's favorite thing is TheAxe Files, a podcast by David Axelrod,President Obama'sformer campaign architect.