Saturday, February 16, 2013

Balboa Park: The Good Guys Win

By Mark Gabrish Conlan • for East County Magazine, www.eastcountymagazine.org

Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs’ plan for an extensive remodel of the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park sailed easily through the San Diego City Council last summer — Councilmember Sherri Lightner’s was the only vote against it — but it hit a snag in San Diego Superior Court February 5. That’s when Judge Timothy Taylor, ruling in the suit the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) filed against the city to stop the Jacobs plan, found that the city had basically ignored its own rules by insisting that the current configuration of the park, with much of its area used for large, free parking lots, was not a “reasonable beneficial use of the property” under city law

The Jacobs plan originated as an attempt to reduce or eliminate auto traffic within Balboa Park. According to Bruce Coons, executive director of SOHO, it began when former Mayor Jerry Sanders and current City Council President Todd Gloria, whose district includes the park, “invited Jacobs to come to the park without telling him what it was about. They showed him the Plaza de Panama, and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to get cars out of here?’ They were planning on asking him to do a small project, which we call the ‘precise plan lite,’ which was to take the traffic out and route it around the southwest corner, have a drop-off there and do improvements. And he said, ‘Yes, I’m interested in doing that. A small project, right? It’s probably going to be under $1 million.’”
Then, according to Coons, Gloria left the meeting, Mayor Sanders gave Jacobs a private visit to the top of the Balboa Park bell tower, and when Jacobs returned after the meeting the project’s cost had ballooned to over $15 million and it had become far more elaborate. It involved building a huge parking garage behind the Organ Pavilion, and remodeling and extending the Cabrillo Bridge to provide a so-called “bypass” that would, according to SOHO, have resembled a freeway off-ramp. SOHO’s materials contained a long list of Balboa Park attractions that would have been jeopardized by the plan, including the Organ Pavilion and the Alcazar Garden. The plan also threatened to destroy the Centro Cultural de la Raza and the World Beat Center, two cultural centers for people of color and their allies housed in old water storage tanks on the east side of the park.
What made Jacobs’ plan particularly galling for SOHO members and historical preservationists generally is that he was presenting it on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. He was insisting that in exchange for his contribution, it be built exactly the way he wanted it. Throughout the process, Jacobs behaved less like the civic-minded philanthropist San Diego’s mainstream politicians and corporate media described than like Howard Roark, the architect protagonist of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, who blew up a low-income housing project he had designed when the government agency constructing it made changes in its outside appearance.
Coons, whose group sought to negotiate with Jacobs throughout the environmental review process (which Jacobs funded) and the permit approvals necessary to build on protected public land, called Jacobs’ intransigence “one person imposing his idea of what is best for the park and ignoring everyone else.” Coons pointed out that before Jacobs entered the picture, the city had “spent nine and one-half years coming up with the Balboa Park Master Plan and Central Mesa Plan, and that involved compromises. Then this guy comes in with a project he refuses to modify. It’s checkbook planning at its worst.” He recalled a meeting of the City Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee at which the Councilmembers suggested changes, “Jacobs took it off the table — and they begged him to bring it back.”
Jacobs reacted to his defeat in Judge Taylor’s courtroom with the same dignity and grace he had shown throughout the process. He basically declared the project dead, acting like the spoiled little rich kid who tells his playmates, “If you don’t play by my rules, I’ll just take my football and go home.” That hasn’t stopped Councilmember Gloria from trying to plug electrodes into the corpse of the Plaza de Panama Project and revive it, even without Jacobs’ money.
In a whiny memo to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith dated February 8, Gloria wrote, “I understand that your office has analyzed Judge Taylor’s ruling and the Municipal Code and can now recommend a path by which the City Council could, if it chose, overcome the legal roadblock that Judge Taylor identified so that the Plaza de Panama Project could proceed forward.” Gloria’s memo also argued that the Council’s approval of the Jacobs plan nullified all previous proposals, including the ones in the Master Plan and Central Mesa Plan Coons mentioned, and an attempt to revive anything different from Jacobs’ proposal “would need to go through a public process … including an environmental review of its own … [and] could potentially face its own legal and political roadblocks.”
The disaster of Irwin Jacobs’ “checkbook planning” proposal, the near-religious worship he got from the City Councilmembers in considering his offer, and its reception in Judge Taylor’s courtroom shows just how the lines between private profit, philanthropy and the public sector have become blurred. Despite the economic collapse of 2008, America’s love affair with The Market continues. Mitt Romney presented himself as a businessman whose proven skills making himself rich in the private sector would be just what the U.S. economy needed — and he got 47 percent of the vote in last November’s election. The debate at the City Council over the Jacobs plan was such a disgusting display of fealty it’s a wonder the Councilmembers didn’t offer to kiss his feet. The overriding theme was that if this super-rich person was willing to put up his own money to build something on city parkland, it would be churlish and wrong to say him nay.
Not that the Jacobs plan was such a great deal financially, either. By the time the Council voted on it, the cost of the entire project, which started as a simple $1 million bypass and became a $15 million parking garage, had ballooned upwards again, to $45 million. And while Jacobs still publicly represented himself as willing to pay for all of it, he had capped his contribution at $30 million. The Jacobs plan would have required the city to borrow the remaining $15 million (or more, if the project cost more than its estimate — as these things usually do) and then pay it back with revenue from the paid parking spaces in the big garage.
Since the garage would have added only 260 new parking spaces for the public — of which 100 would have been dedicated valet parking only — opponents argued that the only way the city could possibly have made enough money to repay the loan was to take all Balboa Park’s parking spaces and make them paid lots. Coons said that there’s a question as to whether San Diego can legally charge people to park in Balboa Park, though the law he cited to say they can’t was passed in 1870, before cars existed. He also argued that the very idea of charging to park in or around Balboa Park violates the whole principle of a “free and open public park” and essentially makes access to the park contingent on having the money to rent parking.
Part of the rush to judgment on this project was the hope of Jacobs and his political allies, including Council President Gloria, that it would be finished before Balboa Park’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2015. Indeed, the city was so determined to push the project through that they had served notice to San Diego’s Earth Day organizers that their big event, a regular park attraction in April since 1990, would either not be allowed at all or would be shunted off to Marston Point on the west side of the park, because it would get in the way of building the Jacobs plan. Earth Day’s principal organizer, Carolyn Chase, got the bad news via a memo from Jay M. Goldstone, the city’s chief operating officer, to deputy chief of staff Allen Jones, dated December 21, 2012. The memo said that so-called “large/over-capacity permits such as special events which were requested for within the core of the park” — which, according to Chase, meant just two events, Earth Day and the popular December Nights holiday celebration — wouldn’t be granted at all during construction.
Goldstone’s memo unwittingly confirmed the sheer scope of Jacobs’ project: “[T]he excavation and shoring process in the Organ Pavilion parking lot … will involve the removal and hauling of approximately 120,000 cubic yards of soil … While it was originally anticipated that the project would have work shifts occurring during both daytime and nighttime hours from Monday through Friday, the revised construction schedule … may cause work to be performed on Saturday as well to achieve the completion date. This schedule would create mutual interference between the large event and the construction project. … Museum operators and other businesses in Balboa Park are already concerned about the financial impact the construction will have on their businesses. … To tie up limited parking with a large special event would be ill-advised.”
The controversy over the Jacobs plan for Balboa Park is yet another illustration of the attitude of the modern-day super-rich. It’s their way or the highway. As Richard J. Eskow put it in his article on the “Radical Rich” at the ourfuture.org blog (http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2012093818/radical-rich-romney-re-occupy), “At no time in modern history has the top 1 percent — or the top 0.1 percent, or the top 0.01 percent — owned more of our wealth or paid less in taxes. But it isn’t enough. The Wall Street executives who broke laws weren’t indicted, and those who ruined their own businesses were saved … It isn’t enough. … They want more — more tax breaks, more protection from the law. And they want adoration. From the looks of it, nothing short of a Roman Imperial cult — complete with their apotheosis as state deities upon their death — would satisfy them.”
Irwin Jacobs may be a decent man with a long record of philanthropy, but his plan for Balboa Park, offered on a “my way or the highway” basis and with enough chutzpah it’s a minor surprise that he didn’t also demand that the park be renamed “Jacobs Park,” is an example of the cult the super-rich have built around themselves and the extent of the worship they want from the rest of us. He got the brown-nosing he wanted from the San Diego City Council, but as soon as one judge ruled against him on one point of a long and complicated lawsuit, he took his football and went home to stew in the resentment Eskow’s article attributes to what he calls the “radical rich.” And his pet gnome, Councilmember Gloria, is trying to win his good graces back by dismissing the city’s courtroom loss as a “technicality” and asking his Council colleagues for a “legislative solution” to “fix the problem with the Municipal Code” and its pesky little provision that Balboa Park is not for sale to the highest — or the lowest — bidder.
NOTE: An earlier version of this article underestimated the number of parking spaces the Jacobs project would have added to those currently available in the park and incorrectly said the parking garage would have had only 73 spaces available for the public. The author and Zenger’s Newsmagazine regret the error.

Friday, February 08, 2013

No More Recess Appointments

One More Way the Republican Minority Continues to Run the Country
 
By Mark Gabrish Conlan • for East County Magazine, www.eastcountymagazine.org
Just four days after President Obama was sworn in for his second term, a Right-wing federal appeals judge gave the Republican Senate minority new powers to take over the country and shoot down whole government departments whose missions or policies displease them. Judge David Sentelle, one of the most powerful people you’ve never heard of, and two of his colleagues on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a sweeping ruling on January 25 that effectively ended the ability of a President to make so-called “recess appointments” to government departments that require Senate confirmation.
Previously, both Republican and Democratic Presidents had made recess appointments whenever the Senate stopped meeting — usually so its members could go home for the holidays or, as election day drew closer, they could campaign. Now, according to Sentelle’s opinion, the only “recess” that ever allows a recess appointment to take place is the one at the end of every even-numbered year in which the old Congress ceases to exist while waiting for the newly elected Congress to take its place.
“An interpretation of ‘the recess’ that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice and consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases,” Sentelle wrote. But his opinion will give a minority of the Senate the power to have free rein to sabotage any government agency or program they don’t like. The Senate Republicans have repeatedly done exactly that, and have made it clear they intend to keep doing it.
Sentelle’s ruling came in a case involving the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal government agency charged with enforcing workers’ rights to organize into labor unions and bargain collectively with their employers. The NLRB is supposed to be run by a board of five people, but in 2011 the NLRB stopped being able to operate because it was down to just two board members. Obama appointed three people to fill the vacancies and sent their names to the Senate for confirmation. But the Republican minority, led by Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), didn’t vote to confirm them. It didn’t vote to deny them confirmation, either. It didn’t allow the Senate to vote on them at all.
So Obama, in order to give working people the kind of voice in their own affairs the NLRB has promised them since it was created in 1935, used recess appointments to install his three NLRB appointees while Congress took its usual end-of-year break in January 2012. At the same time he appointed Richard Cordray to be the first director of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), where he was supposed to start issuing regulations to prevent another financial-system meltdown like the one that almost destroyed the U.S. economy in late 2008.
Republicans were furious. Not that they haven’t used the recess appointment power themselves; George W. Bush used it to make John Bolton the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations even though Bolton had famously said that the U.N, could function as well or better with the top two floors of its building blown off. But the very existence of the CFPB and the NLRB runs smack into Republicans’ ideological priorities, particularly their determination to “unleash the private sector” and free it from any regulations to protect the lives and livelihoods of either their workers or their customers. During the 2012 Presidential campaign, virtually all the Republican Presidential contenders — including the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, who made his multi-millions in the financial system it was supposed to regulate — pledged to get rid of the CFPB and the law that created it.
Well, according to Judge Sentelle, if the Republican Senate minority doesn’t like what a government agency is supposed to do, they don’t have to repeal the law that created it. All they have to do is categorically refuse to confirm anybody to run it. In 2011 the Republicans in the Senate said they would not allow a vote on any Obama appointee to run the CFPB until the law was changed so that, instead of a single director, the CFPB would be run by a bipartisan board of five. They also want the CFPB to be funded, not by the Federal Reserve, but by Congress — so even if it tries to do anything, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives can attack it by cutting its budget. And they want to split the power to regulate banks and financial companies by making it easier for other, more compliant government agencies to challenge CFPB regulations.
What about the Senate Democrats? They had the power to end the capability of the Republican minority to obstruct virtually every function of government — and they wimped out. The reason the Republicans can do this is the virtual filibuster, which actually has only existed since the mid-1970’s. Until then, any individual Senator or group of Senators who wanted to filibuster actually had to go the whole nine yards like James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. They had to hold the floor and talk, tying up the Senate and thereby bringing the entire business of the U.S. Congress to a standstill. Sometimes — as in Strom Thurmond’s record-breaking filibuster against civil rights legislation in 1956 — the filibuster backfired big-time, as Thurmond gave the country a chance to hear the Southern argument for racial segregation and learn just how unjust and ludicrous it was.
But in the first post-Watergate Congress in 1975, Senate reformers, thinking this would actually be better, instituted the virtual filibuster. If you wanted to block action on a bill, you didn’t have to take the floor and say anything about it. All you had to do was check a box on a piece of paper indicating that you intended to debate the bill — and presto! The bill was dead unless at least 60 Senators voted to end the “debate” that wasn’t in fact taking place. At first Senators used this power relatively sparingly, but the pace of virtual filibustering has picked up so much that by now it takes a 60-vote supermajority of the Senate to do almost anything.
The Democrats had the chance to get rid of the virtual filibuster on January 22, the magic day once every year when both houses of Congress adopt their own rules. Any other time, a proposed change in the Senate’s rules — including the filibuster — can itself be filibustered, and for a filibuster on a Senate rule change the supermajority needed for what’s called “cloture,” ending the debate and allowing the Senate to vote, rises from three-fifths (60 Senators) to two-thirds (67). But on the date the Senate adopts its rules, they can be changed by a simple majority.
On January 22, 2012 there were more than 50 U.S. Senate Democrats ready to abandon the virtual filibuster and go back to the requirement that in order to hold up a bill to “debate” it, you actually had to debate it. But the Democrats’ own leader, Harry Reid, wouldn’t allow that proposal to be voted on. Instead he allowed a series of window-dressing “reforms” that potentially cut down the number of filibusters but still allowed a determined minority to thwart the will of the Senate majority at almost every turn through the virtual filibuster.
And three days after Harry Reid wimped out on getting rid of the filibuster, Judge Sentelle handed the Republican Senate minority a beautifully gift-wrapped, embossed package of a court decision that basically put them in charge of the entire government. Don’t think workers should have the right to form unions and bargain collectively? Just don’t confirm anybody to the National Labor Relations Board so the government can’t enforce those rights. Don’t think customers of banks, investment companies and stock brokerages should have any legal protection against fraud or other abuses? Just don’t confirm anybody to the new government agency that was supposed to stand up for consumers against the mega-banks that brought down the economy in 2008.
Indeed, on February 43 Republican Senators served notice to Obama that they’re going to continue using the virtual filibuster to have the law creating the CFPB — which a lot of consumer advocates said was already too weak — effectively rendered null and void because they’re not going to allow anybody to be appointed to run it. “Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances,” said the letter, signed by Mitch McConnell and enough Republican colleagues to keep any appointee for CFPB director from getting his or her confirmation voted on — either way. Instead of doing what legislators are supposed to do when a law exists that they think is bad — either repeal it or fix it — the Republicans in the Senate are going to nullify the law by fiat. And the Senate Democrats were either too stupid or too na├»ve to seize their one chance to take away the power of the Republicans to block their every move.
What makes it even more ironic is that the Court of Appeals’ decision went down the way it did because in addition to using the virtual filibuster to block a Democratic President from making appointments to government agencies and a Democratic Senate majority to confirm them, the Senate Republicans have also used it to keep Obama and the Democrats from adding more federal judges to the district and appeals courts. According to the Alliance for Justice (www.afj.org), “The Senate has confirmed far fewer judicial nominees at [the end] of President Obama’s first term than it had for his two predecessors in office [Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush], and the percentage of confirmed district court nominees is at historically low levels.”
The number of vacant judicial seats in both federal appeals courts and district courts — the lowest level of the federal judiciary, comparable to a state superior court — has risen from 55 when Obama first took office in 2009 to 83 today, an increase of over 50 percent. By contrast, federal court vacancies declined during the first terms of both Clinton (by 65 percent) and Bush II (34 percent). “Today, nearly one out of every 11 federal judgeships is vacant,” writes the Alliance for Justice, “ … mostly due to Republican Senators’ abuse of Senate procedure to obstruct even non-controversial nominees. … From the beginning of Barack Obama’s Presidency, Republican Senators have used existing Senate rules to obstruct judicial nominees in an unprecedented manner.” Thanks largely to Republican Senators’ use of the virtual filibuster and the 60-vote cloture requirement, Obama got only 74 percent of his judicial nominees approved during his first term, versus George W. Bush’s 96 percent.
The result has not only been a plethora of so-called “judicial emergencies” — courts in which justice is being denied because there isn’t a judge to administer it — but a court system that tilts more and more Republican. Indeed, David Sentelle is a perfect example of the sort of Right-wing Republican who now dominates the federal judiciary. He was appointed by Ronald Reagan on the recommendation of the late Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina), an arch-reactionary who became a national figure due to his opposition to civil rights, Queer rights, AIDS funding and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In the 1990’s it was Sentelle who appointed all the special prosecutors investigating President Clinton and his administration. If you lived through the 1990’s and were appalled by the sight of Clinton being impeached and threatened with removal for office over a consensual sexual affair, don’t blame Kenneth Starr, the hanging-judge prosecutor who was appointed to investigate a failed real-estate deal and instead caught Clinton lying about his sex life. Blame David Sentelle, the man who fired the previous special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, and picked Starr to replace him.
The Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they will permit no government they do not control. They hamstrung President Clinton through the special-prosecutor law as well as through their triumph in the 1994 elections and their ability to hold a majority in Congress. They’ve hamstrung President Obama even without a majority in both houses of Congress, partly through the insane brinksmanship of a Tea Party-dominated House majority that continually threatens to destroy America’s credit rating if they don’t get massive cuts in social-welfare spending; partly through the virtual filibuster, which has converted the Senate into a minority-run institution; and partly through their Senate minority’s ability to sabotage the judicial system and agencies like the CFPC and NLRB simply by refusing to confirm anybody to run them.
The American people actually voted for Democrats in 2012. Not only did they re-elect Obama and increase the Democratic Senate majority by two seats, but one million more people voted for Democrats than Republicans to represent them in the House. In any other democracy, that would mean the House would have a Democratic majority. But thanks to the willful procedural maneuvering of the Republican Party, which controls the House through corrupt redistricting processes at the state level and runs the Senate through the virtual filibuster, Americans are going to get Republican government whether they want it or not.

Queer Democrats Split in District 4 City Council Race

Crenshaw, Cole Both Rated “Acceptable” After Intense Debate

by MARK GABRISH CONLAN

Copyright © 2013 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

L to R: Dwayne Crenshaw, Myrtle Cole, Tony Villafranca

Dwayne Crenshaw

Myrtle Cole

Ben Hueso

The predominantly Queer San Diego Democrats for Equality were unable to agree on a candidate to endorse in the March 26 special election in San Diego City Council District 4. At the club’s January 31 meeting, three of the nine candidates — Dwayne Crenshaw, Myrtle Cole and Tony Villafranca — appeared to seek the club’s endorsement. But the main battle was between Crenshaw and Cole, both African-Americans with long histories of involvement in community politics both inside and outside the district. The club deadlocked between them and ultimately voted to rate both candidates acceptable, a level of support below endorsement the club can use if it finds there is more than one candidate who supports Queer equality, women’s reproductive choice and the club’s other key issues.
Both Crenshaw and Cole scored 100 percent on the club’s issues questionnaire. Villafranca scored 98 percent; the only issue on which he differed was his support for school vouchers. With all three candidates on board with the club’s key issues, the questions asked of the candidates and the club members’ debate afterwards turned on issues like breadth of support, electability, endorsements and the candidates’ personal histories.
Cole, a former police officer and currently representative of the United Domestic Workers (UDW), a branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that represents in-home caregivers for seniors and disabled people in San Diego County, is pursuing a classic “inside” strategy. She worked on the campaigns of San Diego’s first two openly Queer elected officials, City Councilmembers Christine Kehoe and Toni Atkins, as well as the two immediately preceding District 4 Councilmembers, the late Charles Lewis and Tony Young. (Lewis died in office and Young’s recent resignation to become president of the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross triggered the March 26 election.)
Cole touted a list of high-powered endorsers including Kehoe, Atkins, current District 8 Councilmember David Alvarez, former San Diego County Democratic Party chair (and former San Diego Democrats for Equality president) Jess Durfee, openly Gay San Diego Unified School District board member Kevin Beiser, San Diego-Imperial Counties Central Labor Council head Lorena Gonzalez and longtime club activist (and former club president) Gloria Johnson.
Though he came in with a slicker and more elaborate leaflet than Cole’s, Crenshaw presented himself as an “outsider” candidate. While Cole’s opening statement stressed her record of working with previous Councilmembers, Crenshaw’s stressed his ties to the Queer community and his status as one of San Diego’s few prominent African-Americans who is also openly Gay. He reminded the club members that he had briefly served as the club’s treasurer and that his current job, from which he’s taking a leave of absence to run for office, is executive director of San Diego LGBT (Queer) Pride.
Some of the questions for the candidates dealt with substantive issues, including what they’d done to fight Proposition 8, the November 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriages in California. “In 2008 I worked with Ryan Hurd and Jess Durfee, and we opened the Obama Unity Office in a community that voted 70 percent for Obama and 70 percent for Proposition 8,” Crenshaw said. “I stood up against Proposition 8 and made phone calls at 301 University,” the local headquarters of the No on 8 campaign.
“In 2008 I was working hard for health care providers,” said Cole. “That’s a seven-day-a-week job.”
“I was not involved in Proposition 8,” said Villafranca. “I had my own personal issues. I had groups of friends who would enlighten me.” Though Villafranca endorsed the club’s positions on both marriage equality and reproductive choice in the questionnaire, he said he’d had to do “a lot of soul-searching” to get to that point.
Asked whether they would support reproductive choice in general and Planned Parenthood funding in particular, Cole said, “I would not want anybody in my community to tell me what I can do with my body.”
“I have been supported by Planned Parenthood in the past,” said Crenshaw. “I support Planned Parenthood personally, and when I was the grants director at the Jacobs Center we made grants to Planned Parenthood. I’m a lifelong member of Planned Parenthood, and I want to ask Myrtle [Cole] if she talks this way to all communities in the district.”
Though there was at least one other substantive question on an issue — rent control, which Cole and Villafranca said they supported and Crenshaw said he opposed — most of the remaining audience queries concerned issues like whether the candidates had supported openly Gay candidates for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Crenshaw said he “walked and wrote checks for” both former club president Stephen Whitburn’s failed campaign against Ron Roberts in 2010 and Dave Roberts’ win for an open seat in 2012. Cole said she personally supported Dave Roberts even though her union endorsed his Republican opponent, Steve Danon.
Other issues that came up included Crenshaw’s multiple runs for elective office — including two prior campaigns for the District 4 Council seat — and Cole’s residency. Though the City Council districts were redrawn in 2011, a quirk of the city’s charter requires the special election for Young’s seat to be held in the old district boundaries. When the vacancy occurred Cole was living within the new District 4 boundaries but not the old ones, and she had to move in order to be eligible to run. She’s been called a “carpetbagger” for doing this, though her supporters in the club pointed to other local candidates who’ve had to move — including current District 3 Councilmember Todd Gloria, who had to relocate for his re-election when his former home in City Heights, where he’d been living when he first ran, got moved out of the district in 2011.
Asked how they planned to win the race, Crenshaw said he had “run strong” in District 4 — even though he lost his two previous tries for the seat. “In 2004 we won the absentee vote and we lost on election day by 107 votes,” he said. “In my race for the Community College Board I won District 4. A poll released today has me first, with 24 percent of the vote. The next runner-up has 15 percent.”
“You win if you walk,” said Cole in answer to the same question. “I’m walking door to door, and I’ll have 100 people this Saturday walking with me.”
The club was so closely divided on the race that even the motion to make an endorsement at all — which is usually unanimous, or nearly so — was opposed by about one-fourth of the members present. On the first ballot, Crenshaw received 32 votes out of 61 cast, to 26 for Cole, none for Villafranca, and three for no endorsement — 7.5 percentage points short of the 60 percent threshold the club’s rules require for endorsement.
Under the club’s rules, Cole was dropped from the second ballot because she got the fewest number of votes of any candidate who got any votes, and Crenshaw got 27 votes to 23 for no endorsement — once again winning a majority (54 percent) but falling short of the 60 percent threshold. The final motion to rate both candidates acceptable passed by voice vote with only one in opposition.
In a far less controversial vote, the club also overwhelmingly endorsed California State Assemblymember Ben Hueso in the March 12 special election to fill the State Senate seat Juan Vargas vacated when he was elected to Congress last November. The vote for Hueso was 50 to seven for his Democratic opponent, author and activist Anna Nevenic, and five for no endorsement.