Morning Report: Lightner’s Heavy Challenge

 

Councilman Sherri Lightner may be a Democrat, but she’s pretty high on labor’s hit list. Union types want her out because she hasn’t stood with them on some big issues (though firefighters remain passionate fans).

Lightner is running for re-election in the district that includes La Jolla, University City and Carmel Valley. Keegan Kyle has been reporting on the major issues there as part of our series of looks at all the neighborhoods choosing their new leaders.

“I know my community,” Lightner tells us in the latest in our series of profiles of the City Council candidates. “I do not make irrational decisions. I don’t walk in step with anyone.”

We examine Lightner’s priorities, her unflappability, and the positions that have drawn her plenty of flak.

U-T columnist Logan Jenkins offers his own look at the race. He calls Lightner a lightweight when it comes to wattage: “Has there ever been a politician so little enamored with her own voice?… the former engineer always appears to have just looked up from a planning document, her eyes adjusting to the lights.”

We profiled rival Ray Ellis earlier this week.

What Lies Above

Boaters and the people who maintain boats are supposed to be careful to protect the sea from things like sawdust and paint. But a watchdog has been seeing plenty of people violate the law at local marinas: “A boat being dismantled in the water, allowing debris to seep into the bay. Painters flicking their brushes. And plenty of people sanding off paint with nothing in place to catch the dust,” writes our Rob Davis.

It’s not just a matter of making the bay look nice. The paint contains copper, which is polluting the water and drawing the attention of lawmakers and others. Now, the port is paying attention to the watchdog’s findings.

Filner’s Pension Plan Reviewed

Our Scott Lewis took a look at Congressman Bob Filner’s pension reform plan if he becomes mayor. Lewis concludes Filner should have just given a full-throated defense of public employee pensions rather than try to outdo his rivals with savings promises.

Here’s Filner’s plan.

• In letters, Chris Cate, the VP of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, says this is “not the time to relax” on pension reform.

“The budget may be balanced, but this does not mean that the city is adequately funding services and maintaining infrastructure,” he writes.

Judge Bashes City Attorney’s Office over Gay Juror Challenge

Six people are in court on charges related to their protests of the anti-gay-marriage Prop. 8; the allegations say they blocked access to the county clerk’s office. Now, a judge has dinged the city attorneys’ office, saying it made a “shocking” decision to dismiss a potential juror because he is gay, the U-T reports.

Prosecutors said they made their decision based on his answers to a questionnaire.  

The case is more than a bit unusual. Three other defendants agreed to plead “no contest” and do just eight hours of volunteer work at a nonprofit of their choice. The city attorney’s office “is willing to try the case without a jury on infractions rather than misdemeanors, if the defense proposes it,” the U-T reported.  

In Congressional Race, Dem vs. Dem Action

Democratic consultant Larry Remer is a busy guy. He’s orchestrating the push to put a huge San Diego schools construction bond on the November ballot, and he’s also running former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña’s congressional campaign. But he still found time to take part in a bit of bashing of another Democrat.

As the U-T reported, he called Rep. Bob Filner’s run for mayor a “failing campaign” in an effort to dismiss Filner’s endorsement of Scott Peters, the port chairman and former councilman, in the congressional race.

Saldaña and Filner have a tense history. They battled over the failed Bajagua sewage-treatment plant project that the United States was preparing to build in Mexico. The issue bitterly divided environmentalist; Filner supported it and Saldaña opposed it.

Peters, however, isn’t endorsing Filner back, saying he’s pals with three of the major candidates and doesn’t want to pick one. As for Saldaña, she announced later in the day that she was endorsing in the mayor’s race. Her choice? Filner, the same guy her consultant accused of running a poor campaign.

DeMaio’s Oopsy Daisy

Councilman Carl DeMaio, who’s running for mayor, Tuesday issued a brutal broadside to rival Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher for taking donations from former city manager Jack McGrory and former Mayor Dick Murphy. They messed up the city, DeMaio said, adding: “I do expect him to return the money.”

McGrory is the notorious architect of the deals that set in motion the city’s pension crisis. In a classic profile, former U-T writer Gerry Braun called him the “smooth operator” who “had an explanation for everything.”

Well, McGrory did have an interesting take on this. He produced an email DeMaio had sent him also requesting a donation.

In the email, DeMaio noted that that McGrory had given the maximum amount to Fletcher and Fletcher was badly behind in the polls: “Can you also give $250 or more to me so you support me?”

DeMaio’s team sent Voice of San Diego a statement: “This email was sent by an intern who was contacting potential donors in the city as part of our normal finance program that reaches thousands of people each week. Carl was not aware that McGrory was on that list, and would not have accepted the contribution had it been made.”

So, if you’re receiving rather personalized emails from DeMaio, note that he doesn’t know, or stand behind, what’s in them. The buck stops at the intern.

Quick News Hits:

• So how did a blackout leave millions of people powerless last September? A new report has the answer, blaming what the NC Times calls “a lack of information sharing among power agencies and an overly conservative breaker design at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.” (The breakers are supposed to protect the nuclear power plant from a power surge coming its way.)

The initial story — that a single worker in Yuma screwed up and disconnected a major power line — appears to be true. But that shouldn’t have caused such a major disaster.  

• U-T City Hall reporter Matthew Hall will write a news column for the newspaper. Considering the wording — “news column” — he doesn’t appear to be replacing the sacked “three-dot” columnist Tom Blair. (The “three-dot” monicker refers to columnists who focus on slice-of-life anecdotes, like the San Francisco Chronicle’s famed Herb Caen, and link items with three dots: …)

Hall’s first column looks at a nasty snit between Councilman Tony Young and Michael Robertson, the founder of mp3.com and a frequent commentator on our site, who questioned on Twitter whether Young’s daughter got into a college with the help of preferential treatment because she’s black.  

“Dude,” Young responded, “you are fortunate that you did not say that to my face.”

NBC 7 San Diego and U-T San Diego have more on the horrifying story about UCSD student who was apparently mistakenly left in a small cell by DEA agents for five days without food or water.

Two Wheels, No Taste

It’s National Bike Month, and there continues to be plenty of talk about making biking easier in San Diego. It’s become an issue in the mayor’s race, and a local activist is devoting herself to biking issues.   

Councilman Todd Gloria tweeted yesterday that “40% of all vehicle trips are 2 miles or less. Substituting bikes can have a positive impact.”

Yeah, OK. But what about the risk that we’ll have to see more people wearing tight bike shorts who shouldn’t be wearing tight bike shorts? I demand an environmental impact report!

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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