Nov. 9 2016 02:32 PM

The benefits of voting in a nursing home, and other patriotic observations

    Will Mayor Kevin Faulconer (under table) find party dissension with possible job-bailers GOP chairman Tony Krvaric and DA Bonnie Dumanis?
    Photo illustration by John R. Lamb

    Voting is simply a way of determining which side is the stronger without putting it to the test of fighting.

    —H.L. Mencken

    For the first time in Spin Cycle’s memory, there was a line of voters waiting to cast their ballots at the nearby nursing home that serves as a polling place. A dozen young and old, to be precise, snaking through the autumn-decorated lobby.

    Familiar faces, some not so much, but all quietly, patiently awaiting their turn to—what the hell?—sit on the floor and color in circles on two placemat-sized cards. “They only gave us two polling stations,” a precinct worker told anyone who’d listen, confirmed by the pair of shielded cardboard structures against a back wall.

    The benefit of a nursing-home polling place? The accommodations. Lining one wall, voters in brightly printed cushy chairs at tempted various contortions for optimum lap-top bubble filling. Disappearing pens and a shortage of “privacy shields”—those manila-folder-like contraptions to keep your ballot from prying eyes— were also early-morning topics of discussion. One voter donated her own pen to the cause as she picked up her “I Voted” sticker.

    Speaking of early-morning discussions, there was Mayor Tippytoes himself appearing on Election Day morning sports talk radio. The Mighty 1090’s Dan Sileo took a brief phone call from Kevin Faulconer, who has been doing some light lifting this election season. Nothing too strenuous nor career threatening, mind you, but lifting up nonetheless.

    “Nothing worth doing is easy, right?” the mayor most likely to take the easy route was saying. “We’ve put together a lot of positive momentum...”

    Ostensibly, Faulconer was talking about his warm-lukewarm-cold-warm-again relationship with the brain trust of the San Diego Chargers, which Spin Cycle will leave to deeper minds in these fine pages to psychoanalyze and parse for future evolvement.

    Asked what he’s learned this election season, the mayor defaulted to a favorite bromide, “You solve problems when you work together.”

    “When you communicate, when you sit down,” Faulconer continued, “that really just helps set the table.” So we’ve put out the fine china, buffed up the silverware and crystal goblets and folded the cloth napkins into unicorns. What now, oh master of ceremonies?

    ****

    Since this edition wraps up before the polls close, don’t look at Spin to tell you what greeted us in our election stockings Wednesday morning. It’s a safe wager, though, that neither San Diego nor the nation will suddenly sprout lollipop trees under cotton-candy clouds while the entire populace holds hands in smiling unity.

    “San Diego leaders tend to pretend that—isolated by Camp Pendleton to the north, the desert in the east, ocean to the west and border to the south—we can simply ride out the national storms,” longtime local political observer Carl Luna said in an email.

    That this year’s national storm was a Category 5 hurricane of innuendo, bickering and in-yourface politicking courtesy of the slugfest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump perhaps made the local shouting matches seem pedestrian by comparison.

    What will be interesting to watch is the fallout from the land-mined road to the White House, circa 2016. Will basic civility return? Doubtful, although guys like Faulconer will do their gosh-darn darnedest to make it appear that every day is a Kumbaya moment, one photo-op at a time.

    But who will simply give up the fight? Rumors persist that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has plans to step down from her prosecutorial post after the election. She has reportedly waved off such whispers as speculation, which isn’t exactly a denial of the possibility. Efforts seeking clarity from a spokesperson were unsuccessful, so apparently time will tell.

    The bailing-Bonnie speculation runs the gamut from “family health issues” to interest in running for a county supervisor seat in 2018 to helping a protégé gain appointment for the remainder of her term and grease the skids for a future run as the sitting DA.

    ****

    San Diego Council President Sherri Lightner, her term expiring early next month, will fade into the woodwork and perhaps generate some scrapping among those interested in setting the agenda for the next city council. Councilmember and former mayoral candidate David Alvarez is considered next in line to lead the Democrat-controlled council, but might the sitting Republicans again try to woo another candi date—perhaps Myrtle Cole?— more to Faulconer’s liking?

    ****

    Meanwhile, it appears unlikely that any change will come to the leadership of the local major political parties. Francine Busby has made no pronouncements of any pending departure from her top-honcho spot with the county Democratic Party, and no hint of any uprising planned. On the Republican side, local chairman Tony Krvaric is said by friends to want out but is lacking a trusted soldier to hand the keys to—his mentor and right-hand man, Ron Nehring, finished 10th in a race for six Central Committee spots in his district in June.

    ****

    So what’s it going to be, San Diego? More of the same? Lots of talk, little action? Or will this election be the beacon that leads us out of the fog of political war and into the fresh air of a cooperative new era?

    Perhaps the lady who gave up her pen for the cause of democracy was a sign of better days ahead.

    Maybe the number of young people standing patiently in line not for a new iPhone but to vote makes it easier to imagine a bright, engaged future. Could it be that the quietude from no incoming robocalls is creating a false sense of tranquility at the moment?

    All possibilities. But as the mayor noted to Sileo, “To get 66 percent of people to agree that the sun comes up in the morning is difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.”

    In San Diego, the sun indeed comes up every morning—but what it illuminates is definitely up for interpretation. Let’s hope the view from the table is wide and embracing.

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