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Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Nataly Buhr are at different places in their lives.

One is a powerful elected official in the most populous state in the country. One just graduated high school.

But they have a few things in common, too. Gonzalez lives in City Heights but her district includes San Ysidro High School, where Buhr attended and recently served – quite memorably – as valedictorian.

Scrutiny heaped on both of them this week highlights something else they have in common: They’re both women who’ve dared to passionately express anger in public – and for that, they’re paying a price.

Buhr’s speech, you likely know by now, went viral last month when she criticized a teacher she said came to school drunk, and a counseling staff she said dropped the ball in guiding her through the college admissions process.

The Union-Tribune published a bizarre story this week that purported to set the record straight on Buhr’s claims but failed, by a mile, to land the punch. The paper quotes the district’s spokesman, who disputes Buhr’s account of the intoxicated teacher.

“On that date, this teacher was taken from campus to see her treating medical professionals. Subsequent information provided by the teacher to the district indicated that she was experiencing a medical incident,” Manny Rubio – who has publicly criticized Buhr’s speech – wrote in an email to the U-T. Not only does this not refute Buhr’s account, it in fact confirms that a teacher left campus in circumstances that sound an awful lot like what Buhr described. Yet Rubio and the U-T both treat this like information that absolves the district.

The urge to “actually” Buhr – to beat back the negative attention her speech drew on the district – is closely tied up with ideas about when and how women, particularly women of color, should speak their mind. Buhr was not performatively obedient and grateful when given a public platform, and she’s continuing to take heat for that decision.

Now everyone knows Buhr’s name, because she had the guts to make her critiques publicly, with her name and her face attached. When it comes to the San Ysidro students and community members who are apparently troubled by her speech, the U-T, for some reason, granted them anonymity.

Then there’s Gonzalez.

Her long-running feud with actor Rob Schneider was reignited this week thanks to a video circulated by vaccine opponents purporting to show Gonzalez behaving rudely during a legislative committee meeting. Part of the supposedly rude behavior includes a straightforward description of the rules guiding public comments in the Assembly. She also said, “I do not play” when it comes to enforcing those rules.

Schneider called comments like those “disgusting” and “dictatorial.” (Enforcing existing rules is kind of the opposite of what dictators do, but hey.)

I don’t happen to think it’s a coincidence that this is all playing out during the same week that a group of non-white congresswomen were told to “go back” to where they came from.

Whether you’re a young woman just entering adulthood, learning to speak out about the injustices you’ve faced at your own school, or a member of Congress speaking out about injustices on the world stage, people will still react as if the one real, true injustice is that they were personally made to feel uncomfortable.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Law enforcement officers have hard, fraught, dangerous jobs that come with tremendous responsibility. Police in North County say their jobs are being made harder by the closure of Tri-City Medical Center’s behavioral health units. That has forced them them to transport patients to crowded, faraway ERs and wait with them there.

In South County, a trial has revealed the extent to which an ICE officer misled his supervisors after he struck a teenager with his vehicle, severely injuring him.

Meanwhile, the re-emergence of a San Diego police shooting case from 2015 drives home just how much Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s proposed law on police shootings would change things.


Hundreds of California companies and more than 20 in San Diego still have all-male boards of directors despite a new state law requiring them to have at least one woman by the end of the year. I talked about the law and what it means for local companies on this week’s podcast.


A massive charter school scam alleged by San Diego prosecutors has revealed big loopholes in the way the state uses attendance figures to fund schools.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“One former law clerk, Christopher L. Eisgruber, described in a 1993 essay an incident at a party for new clerks: Before Justice Stevens arrived, an older male justice had instructed one of the few female clerks present to serve coffee. When Justice Stevens entered, he quickly grasped the situation, walked up to the young woman and said: ‘Thank you for taking your turn with the coffee. I think it’s my turn now.’ He took over the job.” – We lost a real one this week.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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