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Measure A appears to have failed. This was hardly a given. Yes, the measure, which would have sharply curtailed rural housing development by requiring countywide votes for unplanned projects, attracted a diverse array of opponents from builders to racial justice advocates.
But even the organized opponents expected it to not look good when the first ballot counts showed up Tuesday evening. The Yes side started out ahead but votes quickly flipped to the No side. (It’s at 51.11 percent No now and continues to climb.)
But celebrations were short-lived. Opponents of the measure quickly fumed about how few resources they had.
“To our amazement, we had no support from the business community, who despite crying about housing conditions, left us to fend for ourselves,” wrote Borre Winckel, the president of the Building Industry Association, which led the alliance against Measure A, in an email to supporters.
Business leaders often do point to the lack of available housing options as a prime problem in their efforts to attract and retain employees.
We asked Winckel to elaborate on what he meant. In an email, he said business leaders were not interested in helping where it was most needed: money to pay for the No on A campaign. The No on A campaign raised about $1.6 million but mostly from real estate professionals and builders. No big money from, say, tech companies or others.
“Some were preoccupied by Measure C. Some thought we couldn’t defeat Measure A. And still others told us they believed in our campaign but that they couldn’t help because they don’t get involved in political issues,” Winckel wrote.
We talked to Mark Cafferty, CEO of the Regional Economic Development Corp., whom Winckel recruited last year to begin mobilizing the business community to oppose it. Cafferty reached out to about 20 large businesses, he said, to help Winckel and his team get meetings.
But many of them, Cafferty said, seemed confused about why the pleas for money were coming so urgently and late.
“This all speaks to the fact that our business community – at least the businesses I reached out to – aren’t being brought proactively into discussions about housing solutions and strategies. In this particular case, they were being approached when there was something to fight on the ballot and that just didn’t seem to be where they thought their resources should be directed,” Cafferty wrote to us.
He said he thought they could work on it going forward: “Hopefully we’ll learn something from this and think of ways we can bring businesses into the fold to start developing housing strategies and programs they will find worth funding, supporting and leading,” he wrote.
Bloomberg’s Busy Bees Backlash
The Nation ran an anonymously sourced autopsy about what happened to the Mike Bloomberg campaign for president. It’s a pretty simple story: The one and only debate he performed in wrecked his momentum and staffers didn’t believe in him but loved getting the checks.
But then there was a section about staffers canvassing for other candidates while supposedly working for Bloomberg. And it said this: “In San Diego, the regional organizers also exploited the campaign’s resources, staff, and infrastructure for local races they either were running in or consulting on.”
Oh really …
We reached out to Jesus Cardenas, a political consultant who was hired to work as a field organizer in San Diego. He said the local Bloomberg campaign suffered from “turmoil and changes,” as it quickly ramped up and hired people, more than doubling its size in just a few weeks. Initially, he said, he was tasked with digital work and phone banking — he didn’t get the go-ahead to start canvassing until a week before the election.
Cardenas denied that his canvassers handed out literature for candidates other than Bloomberg while they were on the clock for Bloomberg.
“I’m careful with that stuff,” he said. “We’re professionals. That’s a no-no.”
The Bloomberg campaign wasn’t sloppy so much as its goals kept shifting, he said. “When you ramp up quickly, it’s difficult.”
Carlsbad Shenanigans Draw FPPC Interest
California’s political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, is looking for leads after someone produced anti-Cori Schumacher ads in Carlsbad but didn’t disclose who paid for them, as required by state law.
So here you go, state political watchdog:
A week before the election, Lorrie Metzler filed a permit application with Carlsbad on behalf of Protect Our Beloved Carlsbad and Concerned Citizens of Carlsbad to distribute signs for the March 3 election. Those signs encouraged residents to “Stop Cori Now!”
A flier warned that Schumacher’s Sacramento platform, although she’s a member of the local City Council, attracts crime, reduces property values and takes away local control. It also notes that she’s married to a woman and does not oppose abortion.
“It’s apparent there’s a really far-right element in our city that is incredibly afraid of the change they think I represent,” Schumacher said. “Which is true. I represent change, transparency, integrity, the whole thing.”
Metzler didn’t return a request for comment.
Schumacher was running in a special election and won by about 600 votes, a margin of about 8 percent. She had been serving as an at-large member of the City Council. Her victory Tuesday moves her over to District 1.
“It’s par for the course for a city that’s changing,” she said of the attack ads. “But the people have spoken.”
The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission was tipped off to the signs and the fliers through its AdWATCH program, where people can file sworn and non-sworn complaints or anonymously pass along information that might be useful to investigators.
Metzler’s connection to either Protect Our Beloved Carlsbad or Concerned Citizens of Carlsbad is not entirely clear. We’re also not sure whether the Concerned Citizens of Carlsbad campaigning in the last election is the same Concerned Citizens of Carlsbad accused of election violations in the past.
Post Primary Points
- Nora Vargas has taken over the second spot in the runoff for County Supervisor in District 1 after the latest vote totals were released Friday. Rafael Castellanos had held a tenuous lead up until the latest count. Vargas is now up by just 54 votes out of about 71,000 cast.
- One Tuesday result seems under-discussed: The surprising failure of several local property tax hikes and accompanying school construction bonds. These have often been rather easy for districts and supporters to pass. But voters rejected the measures put up by Chula Vista, Cajon Valley, Poway, Lakeside and Escondido’s school districts. And they weren’t alone. CalMatters reported Thursday that voters rejected 70 percent of the 100 or so bonds school districts put up Tuesday.
- The Union-Tribune very confidently called the mayor’s race in its Thursday paper. “Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Councilman Scott Sherman will battle to become San Diego’s next mayor in a November runoff that many expect Gloria to win by a wide margin,” the paper reported. The thing is, that’s not certain at all. Sherman left Election Night with a 3,063-vote lead over Bry that was chopped down by nearly a third the next day as more votes were counted. Friday, the paper reported on that as if it hadn’t already said the race was set. Friday’s update, though, was not a great one for Bry: Sherman held a 2,019-vote lead, losing just 121-votes.
- The new vote totals also showed supporters of Measure C some good news: It had vaulted to above 64.3 percent. But it needs two-thirds. Some of us entertained ourselves on Twitter trying to figure out exactly what two-thirds looks like as a percentage – how many decimal places are we talking about, exactly? But Erik Bruvold, helped clarify for us how it would work: All you have to do is double the “no” votes and, if yes has at least one more vote than that number, it wins. If it has any fewer than that, it fails.
- The county looks like it will have about 48 percent voter turnout, if most of the 290,000 votes left to be counted are valid. The city of San Diego has about 780,000 registered voters. So if the city had about the same level of voter turnout as the county as a whole, then about 375,000 people voted in the city election. As of Friday, only 252,252 votes had been counted on Measure C … so we have a long way to go. If 350,000 voters weigh in on Measure C, accounting for the ones who didn’t make a choice, then 233,334 of them have to have said yes for it to pass. As of Friday, it’s at 162,284 for Yes.
Lemon Grove Asked for a Life Preserver. Voters Said ‘No.’ What Now?
Dispatch from Bella Ross: Lemon Grove received a blow on Tuesday when voters decisively rejected Measure S, a three-quarter cent sales tax increase that supporters saw as a fiscal lifeline.
At last count, nearly 59 percent of the voters cast a ballot against the initiative.
Supporters of the measure insisted that the estimated $3 million in additional tax revenue would be enough to dig the city out of a financial crisis that has forced it to depend on its reserves for years. Those in opposition to the measure criticized it for being a “lifetime tax” with no sunset and said the real issue is rooted in overspending and political apathy on the part of city officials.
Although most city officials and some advocates have been hesitant to predict the town’s long-term fate, one outside expert told us that financial instability could force Lemon Grove to surrender its cityhood and transition into unincorporated county territory if additional revenue sources aren’t secured.
At its current rate, Lemon Grove’s reserves are expected to dip below 25 percent in the next five years. But City Manager Lydia Romero said in a statement that there’s nothing to be worried about:
Regardless of the final tally, Lemon Grove is financially stable for the next several years. Measure S would have provided much needed financial support for basic city services, but the City Council created several financial initiatives to diversify our revenues. Looking to next year’s budget, we will have to tighten our belts yet again and will strive to deliver similar levels of service to Lemon Grove residents and businesses as we are doing now. Any new programs or projects (e.g. facility improvements, expanded street improvements, or drainage improvements) that are funded by general fund revenue most likely will not occur or will be further delayed. But make no mistake, disincorporation is not and has not been on the agenda. Lemon Grove is a strong city that can and will withstand any challenge it may face.
Corrections: An earlier version of this post included the wrong fundraising total for the No on A campaign. It was $1.6 million. An earlier version of this post identified Lorrie Metzler as a La Jolla resident. The La Jolla address listed on her permit application is her business address.
This Politics Report was made possible by Golden Chopsticks in National City. They did not pay us — they sold us delicious food, as they do every Election Day and it really is good. So good. Also, Bella Ross helped. She’s our intern with a keen eye for politics. Keep an eye out for her. Andy has a good story coming. If you have any feedback or ideas for the Politics Report, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.