Helix High student Mahamed Abdulahi joins southeastern San Diego community leaders to protest attacks against Monica Montgomery. /Photo by Andrew Keatts

Community leaders from southeastern San Diego have a message for organized labor: Leave Monica Montgomery alone. Or else.

In a letter sent to leaders of the county’s Democratic Party and “allies in the labor community,” 44 community leaders said they were drawing “a line in the sand” and demanding a stop to hit pieces against Montgomery that have been sent to voters in the closing days of her bid to unseat Council President Myrtle Cole.

The letter is signed by many of the community’s most high-profile leaders, and promises long-term consequences if the attacks do not stop.

“We urge, no we demand, you do not disparage, denigrate or otherwise distort the beauty of who Monica Montgomery is to win this council election with a candidate our community clearly does not want,” they wrote.

Last-minute mailers from the United Domestic Workers union and Unite Here, the hotel workers union, have attacked Montgomery for formerly working for a Republican politician and a law firm that worked on foreclosures. The letter specifically called out the UDW ad as “absolutely unacceptable.”

Unlike Cole, they wrote, Montgomery is from the district, understands the community’s hopes and dreams and “makes us proud.”

“We are calling on you to denounce the recent hate mail and to call for a public apology from those responsible,” the letter reads. “At a minimum, you will do nothing else in support of Cole … not (get out the vote), not robocalls, neither positive nor negative hit pieces. STAND DOWN!”

“This is a moment of truth,” it concludes. “What happens next will count and long be remembered.”

More D4 Community Members Speak Out

Community members, many who had not signed the letter, held a press conference Thursday to deliver the same message.

There, they said that labor has for too long taken advantage of the community, showing up every two years for elections but never delivering anything.

Lisa Grossman, who runs the nearby National Crossroads re-entry program for women, had not signed the letter but said it’s clear that the current city leadership isn’t helping the community. She pointed to the intersection of Euclid and Imperial avenues, formerly known as the “four corners of death.”

“That corner up there is still the same,” she said. “What has been done for District 4? Nothing!”

Ken Malbrough chairs the area’s planning group and ran unsuccessfully for the County Board of Supervisors in the spring. He signed the letter because he said he was “personally offended by labor’s mailers.”

“I’ve been a labor member for 40 years, and it’s personally been good for me, but it hasn’t necessarily been good for this community,” he said. “A perfect example is what you’re seeing now. We don’t see labor except for elections. Maybe Thanksgiving to give out a turkey, or Christmas to give out a toy.”

He said the community has given Cole more than enough opportunities to be successful.

“She’s missing in action,” he said. “She won’t come down here. She’s got outside people doing all her work for her.”

“This community, if you look at the data, they support labor when they go to the polls. Maybe it’s time that they start asking that tough question: Should I support labor? Look what they’ve done to a citizen who was born and raised here.”

Dwayne Crenshaw, CEO of the nonprofit group Rise San Diego, was himself tarred by a labor-backed election campaign when he ran against Cole in 2013. He said the community has taken it upon itself to run a progressive campaign without establishment backing.

“I have to say, in all my years in politics, I have never seen a community on its own be more organized, more energized, on its own, since Obama, literally since Obama, in my whole career,” he said. “This is real, and that’s the line in the sand. Enough is enough. I’m sick and tired.”

Cole Runs Into Last-Minute Controversy in Bay Terraces

Council President Myrtle Cole tells the Bay Terraces Fil-Am Senior Association that construction of a long-awaited senior center has been delayed again. / Photo by Andrew Keatts

Cole was also forced to deliver some bad news to constituents in a different part of her district Friday morning.

At Bay Terraces Park, she informed about 50 Filipino seniors – members of the Bay Terrace Fil-Am Senior Association, that the ground-breaking for a senior center scheduled for last month had been delayed until February.

At the last minute, Cole said, the city discovered the contractors it had selected for the $5 million project were not equal opportunity contractors and was forced to cancel the deal and restart the selection process.

The project was first promised to the community 27 years ago.

“If I have to get a shovel myself, I’ll make sure it’s done,” Cole said. “I just want it done right.”

The crowd of seniors shouted that they’d already been waiting 30 years. They held signs that said “no more broken promises,” “don’t take photos for your election” and “stop lying.” Montgomery was in attendance but didn’t speak.

Cynthia Suero-Gabler, an activist and organizer who also signed the letter to labor, said the city should have communicated with the community as soon as there was an issue.

“We have a problem with promises!” she said. “You need to either show up with a shovel or there’s nothing to discuss.”

Repeatedly, community members criticized Cole for not communicating with them when her office first learned of the delay.

After the meeting, 72-year-old Virgilio Parayno, a Paradise Hills resident, said he’s been hearing about the project since 1993 when he retired from the military.

“We’ll see,” he said. “I’ve been hearing it for 25 years. It’s not happening.”

Rudy Bautista, president of the Bay Terrace Fil-Am Senior Association, said he understands the reason for the delay, but like everyone else is simply frustrated.

“I appreciate their frustration – we’ve been waiting for years,” he said.

Play in Our Election Contest!

One of the things we do with every election is our contest. We try to set the line on many races and ask you to choose OVER or UNDER.

Then we have a couple others in there for good measure. Get it? Measure …

Over the years, we’ve tried to think harder about where we put the line, because even though we don’t mean these to be predictions, if we set the line too low or too high, we’re going to feel bad and it increases the chances of a tie.

Anyway, go through the list and send in your answers like this:

  1. OVER
  2. UNDER …


Send them to scott@voiceofsandiego.org. The winner will get lunch with Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby. It’s a REAL TREAT.

Got it? Make your picks:

  1. San Diego City Council, District 2: Choose over or under for Lorie Zapf, 49.5 percent.
  2. San Diego City Council, District 4: Choose OVER or UNDER for Myrtle Cole, 49 percent.
  3. San Diego City Council, District 6: Choose OVER or UNDER for Chris Cate, 56 percent.
  4. San Diego City Council, District 8: Choose OVER or UNDER for Vivian Moreno, 52 percent.
  5. Measure D, County Elections: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes, 57 percent.
  6. Measure YY, SD Schools Bond: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes, 61.8 percent.
  7. Mission Valley: Choose which measure gets more than 50 percent of the vote: E, G, Neither or Both.
  8. County Supervisor, District 4: Choose OVER or UNDER for Nathan Fletcher, 60 percent.
  9. 49th Congressional District: Choose OVER or UNDER for Diane Harkey, 44.5 percent.
  10. 50th Congressional District: Choose OVER or UNDER for Duncan Hunter Jr., 53.5 percent.
  11. Measure W, National City Rent Control: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes, 49.5 percent.
  12. Carlsbad Mayor: Choose OVER or UNDER for Matt Hall, 51 percent.
  13. Assembly District 77: Choose OVER or UNDER for Brian Maienschein, 52.5 percent.
  14. Proposition 6 Gas Tax Repeal: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes, 46 percent.
  15. Proposition 10 Rent Control: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes, 44 percent.
  16. Governor: Choose OVER or UNDER for Gavin Newsom, 54.5 percent.

Five Fascinating Facts About Ballot Measures

If you’re heading to the polls on Tuesday, you may be spending this weekend cursing the very existence of ballot measures that you must understand or ignore. We’ve got a lot of them: The state ballot has 11 propositions, and the 41 local measures across the county run the gamut from A to Z, literally, and AA to YY too. (There are some exceptions. More on that below.)

Here are five fast facts about California’s ballot measures.

Not every state has to deal with initiatives.

California is one of 27 states (and Washington D.C.) that allows the public to put initiatives on the ballot. Here, you can credit — or blame — all those signature-gatherers in front of Walmart in the Progressive Era, when American do-gooders really stepped up their doing of good.

About 100 years ago, anti-corruption reformers in our state convinced voters to allow recalls (sacking a public official), referendums (reversing a legislative act) and initiatives (putting a measure on the ballot via petition).

It could be worse: Try 48 measures at once.

Nothing tops 1914, when the state ballot socked voters with 48 propositions. Among other things, voters abolished a poll tax, banned prize fights and refused to ban liquor.

We loved the ‘Ham & Eggs’ giveaway.

Prop. 13, which hacked away at property taxes, is probably the most famous — and notorious — California ballot measure of all time. Other biggies allowed women to vote, banned same-sex marriage and affirmative action, and legalized pot.

Voters also refused to ban gay teachers and declined to ban the death penalty. And they just barely turned down a Depression-era “Ham and Eggs” initiative in 1938 that would have given a $30-per-week pension to everyone older than 50. San Diego County voters supported the measure, and we became a hotspot for bitter debate when the idea reappeared (and re-failed) on a 1939 ballot.

Measure F is a giant, you know, fail.

You won’t find a Measure F on any local ballot this year. “Generally, jurisdictions don’t want ‘F,’ especially schools,” said Michael Vu, the registrar of voters. Figures.

There’s no Measure I, either. “‘I’ can be confused with ‘L’ or a one,” Vu said.

There are some other quirks this year: There’s a Measure T and a Measure U, but no TT or UU (the list skips to VV). Maybe TT is too suggestive.

San Diego once asked voters about letting it all hang out.

Talk about a bare ballot. Back in 1977, the city of San Diego put Prop. D on the ballot and asked voters if nude bathers should still be allowed at Black’s Beach.

The city had allowed nudity for a few years, but moralizing critics didn’t like all those bare bits one … bit. “The anti-nude contingent bought billboard, radio and newspaper ads alleging that the beach had become ‘a disgraceful carnival,’” I wrote a few years ago. “It had also, according to the New York Times, become the city’s top tourist attraction, outdrawing even the zoo.” (We need to run that claim by San Diego Fact Check.)

By a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent, voters told the city to make bathers cover up. But cops and lifeguards had other priorities than giving tickets to people without pockets to hold them. Nudity continued, and even failed to thrill lifeguards after they got used to the sights on the job. “If you work around nudists, nudity itself becomes uninspiring,” one told us. (We’ll skip the fact check on this.)

Drop by certain parts of Black’s Beach today, and you’re still likely to see many more birthday suits than bathing suits.

Randy Dotinga

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org...

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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