“Oh, I'm just getting warmed up….” —Tony Krvaric, Monday on Twitter
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” —Elbert Hubbard
“Who are you with?”
With those four words to Spin Cycle, San Diego Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric clammed up and high-tailed it out of Downtown's Hall of Justice last Friday.
The poutiness was understandable. A 20-minute hearing before Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt Jr. had just wrapped up, and Krvaric was clearly not feeling charitable. His lawsuit seeking to disband the seven-member San Diego Redistricting Commission nine months after its appointment freshly shoved into the legal round-file, Krvaric was speechless—a rarity for the typically acerbic tweeter.
Instead, Krvaric busied himself with his camera phone, apparently focusing on the backs of his only supporters that day—his Irvine-based attorney and California GOP board buddy Steven Baric, and his loyal rightwing man, local GOP Executive Director Barrett Tetlow—who were walking a few paces ahead toward the fourth-floor escalator.
You couldn't really blame Krvaric for his silence. His defeat Friday was preceded in recent weeks by similar rejections from San Diego City attorney Jan Goldsmith and County Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler to his late-to-the-game claim that—to paraphrase—the Redistricting Commission is a partisan, union-sympathizing, Los Angeles-influenced panel of citizens intent on handing over the city's political future to folks beholden to the philosophies of Mao, Castro and Guevara.
Spin Cycle exaggerates, of course, but not by much. What seems clear, however, is Krvaric is intent to create a circus environment, serving as chief ringleader.
At the June 16 commission meeting, Krvaric urged the panel to change its bylaws to require all speakers coming before the citizens panel to state their political affiliations—past, present and (I am not making this up) future.
He told commissioners it would be “laughable” if he got up and criticized a map he didn't like “because everybody knows where I'm coming from.” Somehow detaching himself from his ongoing campaign to intimidate commissioners and city staff (one of whom now carries a card with a police officer's direct phone number should that person feel threatened following a hearing where a speaker was seen sporting a holstered handgun), Krvaric noted, “There's way too much political partisanship and gamesmanship going on.”
At Saturday's poorly attended commission hearing Downtown, Deputy City attorney Sharon Spivak announced that no such bylaw change would be forthcoming because it would “run afoul” of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's open-meeting law.
“You cannot require any member of the public… to provide any information or do things such as complete a questionnaire or answer specific questions,” Spivak told commissioners. “You can't put such limitations on the conduct of the public…. It also implicates the constitutional rights of speakers.”
At the same meeting, Derrick Roach, gumshoe/commission surveillor/secretary of the San Diego County Republican Party, appeared briefly to hand Spivak a piece of paper. She said later he questioned the public noticing of an additional special meeting scheduled for that afternoon, when commissioners were to consider hiring a federal Voting Rights Act consultant. That discussion was postponed to a future meeting, but Spivak explained that special meetings require only 24 hours' notice.
Krvaric and Roach seem undaunted by facts and laws. Krvaric was only happy to continue his unsubstantiated rants toward the commission in a brief story filed Friday by The San Diego Union-Tribune, which, like the rest of San Diego's media, failed to send a reporter to the court hearing pitting Krvaric against the city. Instead, the media vans outside were there to cover a murder verdict.
“We're going to continue to shed light on the commission and what they do,” the GOP chairman was quoted as saying. “There will be other avenues to do so. For now, we respect the decision as we must.”
If that means an appeal, or what many believe is Krvaric's continued attempt to lay the groundwork for a June 2012 referendum challenging the redistricting map that emerges from the commission by late August, then Assistant City attorney Don Worley said the city will be ready.
“We are confident that any court reviewing this would agree with Judge Nevitt and our office that the process used to select commissioners met the requirements of our City Charter,” Worley told Spin Cycle. “We would have not allowed the process to go forward if we believed otherwise.”
In his lawsuit, Krvaric's attorney argued that the City Charter was violated when only two of three retired Superior Court judges participated in the Oct. 1 appointment of the redistricting commission. (The third judge was absent because her husband was near death.)
But as Nevitt noted, the three-judge panel was the third option in choosing commissioners. The first two options—the presiding judge of San Diego's Municipal Court, or another judge selected by the Municipal Court—weren't available because the sitting judges declined to participate.
Krvaric argued that the City Council should appoint a new commission. Yeah, no partisanship there.
While Krvaric had no comment for Spin Cycle after the hearing, Worley called the decision “expeditious and very firm in its conclusion.”
“We've got a lot of work to do and very little time to do it, so I'm very happy that the legal cloud has been removed,” Worley said. As for Krvaric's motive, Worley added, “it just looks like he was trying to interfere with the process. If it was a concern, why not challenge it last October?”
Yes, these are challenging times for the GOP chairman, who has many troubles on his plate. As Spin Cycle reported earlier this year, the local GOP skipped out on the lease for its trashed Sorrento Valley headquarters six months early and retrenched in Krvaric's personal business suites in Rancho Bernardo.
That decision is now coming back to roost. Last month, according to Federal Election Commission filings, the local GOP shelled out $15,000 to its former landlord, Antoine Georges. Asked whether that payment
settles the dispute—the GOP owed more than $27,000 in back rent— Georges' attorney, Mark Feinberg, would say only that both sides have agreed not to speak to the media.
Those FEC filings also show a $1,000 “in-kind” contribution to the local GOP from Roach for “office rent.” Asked via Twitter what that was all about, Roach himself pulled a Krvaric and avoided the question.