It's rare that a school board election gets so much press. But then San Diego doesn't have your average school district. In theory, Alan Bersin's Blueprint for Student Success looks good-who could argue with improving basic skills? In practice, however, it's a mess. Sure, some schools have taken the curriculum and run with it, but those schools are few and far between. Too many teachers and parents are horribly unhappy and it's high time for change. Bersin and Chancellor of Instruction Anthony Alvarado recently said that perhaps they haven't been as open to public input as they should have been and perhaps they need to listen to the community more. It's a little bit late for that, we think.
We appreciate the fact that incumbent John de Beck and his school board buddy Fran Zimmerman do their homework while their colleagues are still basking in the glow of much-debated test score improvements. De Beck's opponent, Clyde Fuller, for the District C seat seems like a nice enough guy, but he has shown no evidence that he's anything more than a Bersin shill. Saying he lacks de Beck's grasp of the issues is an understatement.
In District B, Jeff Lee has the support of both the San Diego teachers union and the California Teachers Association, and that's a pretty strong message. Lee and his wife Mitz have devoted the past 10 years to education research and advocacy, and we trust Lee knows what he's doing. Lee's opponent, Katherine Nakamura, is less objectionable than Fuller, but her architect husband's ties to Bersin are too close for comfort. That whole situation makes us itch.
We trust that both de Beck and Lee will push for open, intelligent dialog with Bersin before making any drastic changes to the current educational system. John de Beck and Jeff Lee should get your votes.
City Council, District 2
Although the two candidates for District 2-Kevin Faulconer and Michael Zucchet-haven't appeared too far apart on many issues, we think the ideological gap will widen over time. For our tastes, Zucchet is supported by all the right people-despite Faulconer's attempts at painting himself as an environmentalist, the local greens are backing his opponent. But the kicker for us is Faulconer's opposition to the city's proposed medical-marijuana ID-card and needle-exchange programs. Those aren't the most crucial city issues, but we believe they are important indicator issues. We like Michael Zucchet.
City Council, District 4
Truthfully, we'd be fine with either Charles Lewis or Dwayne Crenshaw. Both are bright and seem to have the city's interests at heart. We're glad that Lewis has said won't continue in his boss George Stephens' anti-gay ways, and we're sure he's do a fine job, but we're going to give our endorsement to Dwayne Crenshaw, simply because, unlike Lewis, he says affordable housing is a problem in District 4.
San Diego Prop. A
Under the state Public Housing Project Law, voter approval is required before the city can build public housing units. This measure, essentially, tells the city to move forward on plans to build up to 5,000 new units around the city. It doesn't approve specific projects. Vote yes.
We feel for incumbent Paul Pfingst, who had to deal with the unfortunate anti-Semite brouhaha. There's just no way for the guy to defend himself against that sort of thing. So pay no attention to all that. Pfingst doesn't like the “three-strikes” law, nor does he like the law making it easier to prosecute juveniles as adults-positions that endear him to us. But Pfingst seems terribly averse to prosecuting people who wear expensive suits, and we're not fond of that attribute. And the unrest amongst the attorneys in his office is too much to ignore. Bonnie Dumanis hasn't done much to convince the electorate to vote for her-all she's said is that she's not Pfingst, but that will have to be enough. Vote for Bonnie Dumanis.
Dan McAllister will probably show up for work, unlike his opponent, the incumbent-whose name we forget. Beyond that, no promises.
Congress, 51st District
Susan Davis gets our kudos for not hopping aboard the War Express like too many of her fearful Democratic colleagues, but we hated her vote giving the president fast-track trade authority. Her opponent, Bill Vandeweghe, is a hard-line, station-the-troops-on-every-corner military type who scares the hell out of us. Our emphatic endorsement goes to Susan Davis.
Congress, 53rd District
Did you happen to catch Maria Garcia's TV ad charging Bob Filner with being a pathological flag burner? Hilarious! Garcia's a social ultra-conservative that couldn't possibly get our endorsement. If she thinks flag-burning is a top issue for voters, she should just stick to protesting abortion clinics, or whatever she does when she's not making us laugh out loud. Bob Filner gets our nod.
Assembly, 78th District
We don't like Vince Hall's support for the death penalty, but we'll have to look past that, given his opposition, Shirley Horton, who's not even confident enough in her own views to square off against Hall in any candidate forums. We're not even sure if she really wants the job-she was recruited by the state's Republican bosses to run. Vote for Vince Hall.
The best place for Gray Davis and Bill Simon is probably a jail cell. Simon, who makes Michael Huffington seem almost palatable, is a complete waste of time. Shame on you if you vote for him. 'Nuff said.
Davis, on the other hand, is a shameless whore. He'll do anything you ask if you give him enough money. We need to derail him before he makes a serious run for the presidency. Faced with competing political interests, he does nothing. Need an example? How about his cowardice at the beginning of the energy crisis/scandal. We'd say he was like a deer in the headlights, but it wouldn't be fair to the world's deer population.
Davis represents everything foul about politics, and he's reportedly a total jerk to the people who have the misfortune of working with him. Shame on you if you vote for him.
Our endorsement goes to Green Party candidate Peter Camejo.
We're not sure what the lieutenant governor does, but we don't think it's much, so we don't really care whom you vote for. If we must endorse someone, it may as well be Cruz Bustamante.
Bill Lockyer is wimping out on the controversial matter of holding Indian tribes accountable to state campaign laws, and that is disturbing, but we like him on most other issues, especially his continuing support for the state's medicinal marijuana law.
Phil Angelides should be the governor of California. Until then, you may confidently send him back to the Treasurer's Office.
We don't know much about Steve Westly, but he has to be better than goofy anti-tax zealot Tom McClintock.
John Garamendi. He doesn't appear to be in the pocket of the insurance lobby.
State Superintendent of
We couldn't be any more firmly behind Jack O'Connell. Termed out of his state Senate seat, O'Connell's been working on educational issues for years. One of the few genuinely good guys left in California left, this position is a natural for him.
Housing and Emergency Shelter. This one is a $2.1 billion bond measure that will fund crucial housing programs for farmworkers, first-time homebuyers, seniors, low-income folks, homeless people and victims of domestic violence. We say yes-big-time.
Kindergarten-University Facilities. Desperately needed $13.5 billion bond measure to fix decaying schools, from kindergarten through higher education, starting with the neediest facilities. Yes.
Court Consolidation. Courts have already been consolidated. This just ties up loose ends. Yes.
Before and After School Programs. This is a tough one. It's Arnold Schwarzenegger's political coming-out party, and he's chosen an issue-after-school programs-that's difficult for the Democrats to oppose. It's a good idea, but it doesn't provide any funding, so some other worthwhile program would likely lose. Come back with some money, and we'll support it. For now, no.
Water Quality and Supply. A bond measure worth $3.44 billion for fixes to the San Francisco Bay-Delta system, where much of California gets its water, and wetland protection. Yes.
Motor Vehicle Sales and Use. This thing is a slimy deal with lots of goodies for various special interests that agreed to support it up front. Vote no.
Election Day Voter Registration. Voter-turnout is shamefully low. This might help. We say yes.