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Roundtable: Mayor's Race, Campaign Finances, Crowded Jails

June 1, 2012 1:34 p.m.

Guests: Katie Orr, Metro Reporter, KPBS News

Kevin Crowe, reporter, Investigative Newsource

Dana Littlefield, reporter, U-T San Diego

Related Story: Roundtable: Mayor's Race, Campaign Finances, Jails Filling Up


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: My guests on the Roundtable are our KPBS news venture reporter Katie Orr. Welcome to the show.

KATIE ORR: Thanks, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Kevin Crowe is investigative reporter with investigative news source. Kevin, hi.

KEVIN CROWE: Hi, how are you, Maureen?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm quite well, thanks. And Dana Littlefield is a reporter from UT San Diego. Dana, welcome back.

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Thank you very much.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, on the heels on final poll of the San Diego mayor's race comes a legal threat from the DeMaio campaign over an anti-DeMaio TV ad. We will talk about that controversy and the mayor's poll. Let me give you that number again it is 1-888-895-5727 if you'd like to join our conversation. Katie Orr, first tell us what the Carl DeMaio campaign is upset about and what does this ad claim?

KATIE ORR: This is an ad from the San Diego police officers association and it features the voice over have a woman named Michelle Bennett. Her husband Terry Bennett was a police officer killed in the line of duty and in it, and of course they have the requisite images of the councilmember you know talking about how he voted to deny death benefits to the widows and children of the fallen police officers. DeMaio's camp says that this ad is basically libelous and slanderous and it has written, its attorney, his attorney has written to television stations telling them to pull the ad or they risk a lawsuit.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Give us a little flavor of that letter. What does the letter say?

KATIE ORR: It says that it is libelous. The ad has libelous streaming text and it says that Mr. DeMaio will name you as a defendant in a civil lawsuit if they do not pull those ads from their airwaves.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, Katie, you called to confirm whether or not this police officers association claim is accurate. What did you find out?

KATIE ORR: Carl DeMaio did vote against a long list of, they are like amendments. The city of San Diego struck a retiree healthcare deal with all of its unions. This particular benefit was part of another package of bills that was meant to that retiree healthcare bill. This particular piece was article 67 in this list of legislation. So there were many, many different pieces to this legislation. Carl DeMaio's campaign told me one of his biggest problems with this is that he did not vote to deny benefits to these families. He voted against an increase to these benefits. So, not saying no benefits at all, just not more benefits and they told me that if it had been a separate item on its own he would have supported it, but because it was folded into this long list of legislation he voted against the entire package.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So in a sense it's technically correct.

KATIE ORR: It is technically correct. He did vote against these increase in benefits. Again, they are saying the ad says he denied benefits and that is what they are taking issue with because he didn't. Again they are saying again the ad doesn't have any citations. I mean, this is, he voted against it on a Council meeting in 2011. He voted against this and you can go to the website, you can see the vote, you can see the minutes, the transcripts and all of that, however when you watch the ad there isn't any sort of citation or anything on there that makes reference to that vote.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Katie, do we know if anyone has actually stopped running these ads because of this illegal threat, I guess you could say, by the Carl DeMaio campaign?

KATIE ORR: I did hear some reports that paperwork flow station had stopped running the ads. Since this letter the POA has actually put out its own letter saying you do not need to stop writing this ad. They cite the vote that he took. I've talked to several legal experts today and there does seem to be, there tends to be broad legal protection for advertisers. Basically I spoke with one attorney who said that it's very rare for politicians to file these kinds of defamation suits against these stations and it's even more rare for them to win because you have to prove that they knew the statement was false or that they had a good idea that the statement was false and they went forward with it anyway.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Gotcha, well it sounds like the final days of this race might be very interesting. Let's talk about the final poll in the San Diego mayor's race. It's been released. It was done by Channel 10. Give us a rundown, Katie.

KATIE ORR: It shows Carl DeMaio holding steady with 31% of the vote. It shows Democratic congressmen Bob Filner in second place with 20% of the vote and it shows Nathan Fletcher in third with 23% of the vote and Bonnie Dumanis has 11% of the vote. So it's a switch for Filner and for Fletcher at the last poll they were both tied with 21%. So Filner has bumped up seven, Fletcher has gone up 3%. However, the margin of error is about 4.3%, I believe either way, so I mean, it's close. You know. It is statistically very close race.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So if Bob Filner and Nathan Fletcher have gone up in this poll and Carl DeMaio hasn't moved, where are the Filner and Fletcher votes coming from?

KATIE ORR: They think they're coming from the undecideds. The undecided number keeps going down. Right now it's 4%. I think it was about 7% in the last poll. It seems like the people they are talking to anyway are making up their minds, but again, it's all statistically like within the margin of error. So I think it is going to lead up to a very close, tense election day. At least for second place. Everyone pretty much assumes that Carl DeMaio is going to secure the first spot in the runoff but that he couldn't get the 50% plus one that he needs to become mayor out right. So that means whoever gets second will face a runoff in November and it seems to between Filner and Nathan Fletcher right now.


KEVIN CROWE: In terms of support for Nathan Fletcher do you think you have the endorsements that he's gotten has made difference with these undecided people?

KATIE ORR: It's kind of interesting he has seen some high-profile endorsements this week Mayor Bloomberg of New York has been out this week. Of course Mayor Bloomberg is independent as well. But maybe you would expect that I don't know. The governor actually, Jerry Brown did not, did not endorse him.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's a non-endorsement.

KATIE ORR: Not officially an endorsement just a letter of support (inaudible) just a couple of line saying that he worked with him and his work across party lines however Bob Filner's campaign has pointed out that Lieut. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco has endorsed him. So today Carl DeMaio is holding a news conference talking about how these pension reformers are endorsing him. So you know, I don't know, do endorsements really strike a chord with people it is hard to say. You know it is sort of along the lines to, do all these negative ads, negative attack ads mostly focused on Fletcher, do they have any kind of impact? He still did go up in the polls. He did though maybe not as much as Filner. Or maybe as much as he would've liked. But it's hard to say.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was going to ask you about that with Fletcher is coming off in the latest poll, he did get a big boost after he announced he was switching from Republican to independent. But the initial interest in it doesn't seem to have carried, it doesn't seem at this point in print at least to have fired up the electorate.

KATIE ORR: It definitely gave him a boost. I think he was polling around eight or 10 or depending maybe 13, he is a contender now. I mean, he wasn't before so it's definitely gotten his name recognition out there. You know, and these polls, political scientists seem to think that they are generally accurate. They judge the electorate reasonably well. However they are calling people I think Nathan Fletcher's campaign would tell you they call people on cell phones and on landlines, in this political like the majority of people they talked to were people on landmines, not cell phones. Suppose they tend to be older voters, more conservative voters might go for someone like Carl DeMaio. Nathan Fletcher's campaign, over the course of the campaign that they really do expect to see a bigger turnout among younger voters. They said they are firing up the base. This it is an open primary so that might change how things have traditionally worked in the system. But, you know, we will have to wait and see. Tuesday.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You know it's interesting if you look on the TV you see a lot of ads in the (inaudible) from Carl DeMaio and I was wondering if you think maybe it's, I don't know, an ominous sign for Carl DeMaio that despite this very big advertising push that he has not, he's just not going to get past 31.

KATIE ORR: This is the first time I think he's been static he took a bound copy of last will and you know it could just be that people are, you know, really they are more feminine decisions now. There isn't a lot of play. I asked Carl Luna. He's a political science professor about whether or not these ads are effective and he said really, maybe they will switch like a percentage or half a percentage of the voters, but most people are firm in their beliefs and these ads either just reinforce, they reinforce their beliefs in one way or another they really don't have any impact. So you know, I can't tell you why he didn't talk about this. He has gone up over the year and he just about at this last one I think is pretty secure with this 30% that is going to make it into this runoff.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In the next segment we will talk about how much money all the candidates are paying for that advertising and if it's really not swaying anybody

KEVIN CROWE: Is it worth it.

KATIE ORR: I should say would give the criticisms the problem I have had about the PLA at this morning is that came out the Thursday before the election which does not leave a lot of time or any time for the campaign to respond because you can't produce an ad, get it on the television and get it to air in enough time and you can't really have an effective mailing campaign to counteract it. So it is sort of a last minute tactic to try and make this the one of the last words on him.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me just remind your listeners that we are taking their cause if they have anything they want to say about the campaign kind of nurseries we are talking about right now in terms of calling. 1-888-895-5727, Katie?

KATIE ORR: I think to this whole if you can call it a dustup or legal battle between DeMaio and the POA is a really symbolic of just the tension and the acrimony between him and the unions, the labor unions. They, there is no love lost between these groups and I think this is just really demonstrating how much is at stake. Especially the labor unions do not want to see him in office. Because it's just want to be battle after battle and you know from his point of view they've had, the unions have had free reign for too long and it's time to pull them back a little bit.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One person that we haven't talked about is Bonnie Dumanis. Bonnie Dumanis, as were all the candidates, was on the show talking about the races and so forth and we talked about the fact that she wasn't polling very well. She said at the time you know well it's really the last push that counts and she reminded us that she was 20 points behind in the last before she won assistant attorney and 2002. So I'm just wondering how many points issue behind in this poll?

KATIE ORR: Well she said 11% , so that is 20 points. So it is you never know how she's going to, she's got the endorsement of Mayor Jerry Sanders she's a moderate Republican she definitely has the name recognition that people might, when you go to vote for these ballots if you voted before or you know, they don't have R, D or I next to their name, the candidates are counting on you knowing that before you go into the booth to vote. So you know you never know. She certainly not giving up any ground. Her ads are playing, her campaign is right there with everyone else. They believe they have as good a shot as anyone. So we will have to see. Again it all comes down to Tuesday, right? It all comes down to the voter turnout and that's what we're waiting for.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Including a when you hear a story like that about Bonnie Dumanis and the fact that she was 20 points behind in 2002 and one the DA's office, you kind of wonder you know, whether or not, what about, the polling, how accurate the polling is.

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Well yeah I would wonder that as well. You know, she seems confident. I don't talk to her much about the race, but she seems confident that she can still win this. Now you know, I don't know I don't normally speak and I don't know how accurate that far, but she remains, you know she was on UT San Diego yesterday talking about how she is pretty steadfast in her belief that she could still take it also to speak. So we will see.

KATIE ORR: And you know and also practically they have to keep saying that (inaudible) you can't go on and be like oh forget it. I mean you have to be, if you support yourself, who else is going to support you?

KEVIN CROWE: She fought so long and so hard and she had some fundraising last year. It has really carried through so far this year but she got a lot of really support for the mayor's endorsement and a few others. But yeah it is a long campaign, but for this kind of winding down.

KATIE ORR: Yeah it is a long campaign and early on she got some criticism for you know, not being so steady in how she was running it, but that was almost a year ago, so we've had a long time of having a steady campaign now and it's really just, she's also dealing with some really big personalities. You know Carl DeMaio is a big personality. Nathan Fletcher got attention when left the Republican Party and to run as an independent then you have Bob Filner being the only Democrat. So in some reports she might be sort of lost in the mix there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you somebody asked me this question and I would imagine maybe it's on the minds of some people who speak to us. You said if he gets 50% this is a runoff in November and it looks as if although it is really rather tight, that prompted my own might indeed make the cut in one of those people in a runoff race. If it is really close between the two other candidates, coming second and third like, you know if it goes down to the wire in this kind of like a Florida primary kind of a thing is it winner take all? There's no way we could have a three-way race in November is there?

KATIE ORR: No just the top two vote getters and admittedly I have not looked into the specifics but I imagine they probably have some standards if the vote is in within a certain amount they have to do an automatic recount something along those lines. The County registrar's office would look into that but no, just the top two vote getters go forward.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: . As you say we will see next week.

KATIE ORR: It's like Christmas. I'm so excited.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We will move on to our next topic. Coming up there's a lot of money being spent in the June primary campaign so we will discuss where it's all coming from. It's 12:22. This is KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Joining me at the roundtable is Katie Orr, KPBS news Metro reporter, Kevin Crowe, investigative reported with investigative news source and Dana Littlefield with UT San Diego. We just talked about what's shaping up to be a tight San Diego mayor's race. Now we will talk about where all the money is coming from to fuel the race and other primary races. So if you'd like to join the conversation give us a call and if you've seen TV ads or you've received mailers that you'd like to talk about and wonder where all that money is coming from to pay for that stuff, give us a call, one, 888-895-5727. That's 1-888-895-KPBS. Okay, Kevin in the campaign-finance sweepstakes for the San Diego mayor's race, does the amount of money raised by each candidate's mirror their standing, was that we were just talking about. For instance has Carl DeMaio raised the most funds and he is in first place in the polls?

KEVIN CROWE: Well he's got the most money and the little trickier when you get down to his raised the most funds because Carl DeMaio really has donated a lot to his own campaign so he has donated more than $600,000 just cold cash to his campaign and he's let himself another hundred thousand dollars. So is Tony was about 1.7 million, but when you talk about what has come from outside donors it is really just under 1 million. So Nathan Fletcher has Sebastian in fundraising is closer to 1.3 million from outside donors. So no, it doesn't really affect the pool so much because Carl DeMaio is in the lead but if you talk about money coming from outside one's own pocket, then really Nathan Fletcher is in the lead.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Why don't you just give usa ballpark to start out with in terms of how much money these campaigns have one, two, three, four kind of thing.

KEVIN CROWE: In terms of cash raised is Carl DeMaio, he's got 1 million 7 to spend throughout this campaign. Number two would be Nathan Fletcher at about 1.3 million, number three Bonnie Dumanis, a little more than 600,000 and for last but third, second in the polls, second best, excuse me, Bob Filner for about 440,000.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So he's actually trailing in the amount of money that the campaigns have to spend.

KEVIN CROWE: Right he's in last place.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: now where is this money coming from I mean you told us Carl DeMaio has given a great deal of his own money to this campaign what are some other interesting sources of these funds?

KEVIN CROWE: Really in terms of what goes into a candidate's committee you've only got a couple of sources, one which is a big story this campaign has been the candidates themselves. So Carl DeMaio has donated bunch to himself, Bonnie Dumanis has loaned herself 50 grand but the only other kind of big money indirectly to a candidate comes from a party so the Republican Party can donate unlimited amounts of money to a candidate, as can the Democratic Party and the only two candidates who have been getting that amount of money are Carl DeMaio and Filner because we've got an independent in the race.

KATIE ORR: Which makes it so interesting thing that Nathan Fletcher has raised so much money when he doesn't have any party funneling money to his campaign.

KEVIN CROWE: Right, he doesn't have a direct source of kind of unlimited funds coming in so Carl DeMaio has gotten 100 grand from Republican parties and some has taken in close to $80,000.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: is there that nonprofit profile think, is that

KEVIN CROWE: Right, then you're getting into independent expenditure committees.


KEVIN CROWE: There's money all over the place so you've got traditionally the way that things have been around for a long time you had political action committees that might represent a labor group and kind of lobby hard on one issue and you would see some commercials for something, but now you've got groups that can be formed by just about anybody. That can collect unlimited amounts of money and spend unlimited amounts of money independent of a candidate, though. So there is a committee of (inaudible) syndicates for Nathan Fletcher and they've raised more than $400,000, I have to check to make sure, that they can't coordinate with Nathan Fletcher's campaign. So they can't call Nathan Fletcher's campaign and say, they can't call them and say well we are going to buy a bunch of TV time next weekend we're going to run this commercial. It really has to be supporters of Nathan Fletcher: a bunch of money together and running their own campaigns, putting their own mailers. After similar here in front of me from San Diego's for Nathan Fletcher. So they are kind of in outside, they've added another really another paid to the selection and placement you know almost $1.4 million. So it is a significant amount of money.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have a caller on the line. John is calling from Rancho Bernardo. I just want to let everybody know they can reach us at 1-888-895-5727. John welcome to the program.

CALLER: Hi, thank you for having me.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes hi how can we help you?

CALLER: I was just curious to hear a lot of spin about each candidate represents and they are against and it seems like candidate DeMaio is specifically running against what he calls the downtown insiders and union lobbyists. But what he is saying doesn't really seem to measure up with the campaign dollars that the powerful union lobbyists are able to raise. If you look at what they are able to raise it dwarfs what he is able to donate to himself for his own campaign, so does that kind of fly in the face of his own claim that that he's running against the downtown establishment?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I kind of I think I understand your question and thank you very much. Part of that question I think was the candidates raise money on their own in one way or another whether from the party or individual donations from their own nice fat bank accounts, but what about the people who are these interests, or running against them, so to speak. Like Carl DeMaio has a lot of programs that labor feels are very threatening, so labor has mounted now a campaign against the Carl DeMaio campaign. Where does that money also fall into the realm of super pacs that you were talking about?

KEVIN CROWE: Yeah and some of those are traditional PACs it starts getting a little confusing I think

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm sure it does.

KEVIN CROWE: For a lot of folks but most of those expenditures are made for a certain for groups or they are may be against, DeMaio or Nathan Fletcher are against proposition B or for proposition a so that's the only way they are really defined. And yet there's definitely been some labor spending against Carl DeMaio. There hasn't been a massive from what I've seen there hasn't been this kind of grassroots you know, funneling together enough money to go against Carl DeMaio because I think when individuals are getting their money together it is for a candidate, so for Nathan Fletcher, or for taxpayers for Carl DeMaio is a committee that you know, pro-DeMaio literature and things like that.


KATIE ORR: I just want to put it in some context all of this spending, all of this money just shows you how coveted this office is. This is the first time Mayor Jerry Sanders is technically a strong mayor, he was testing it out, basically and then San Diego voters just voted to permanently change over to the system of government. So this mayor is going to be stronger than any mayor we've had in recent history. You know you are adding a ninth council seats, to get more veto power because if they Mayor vetoes something instead of needing five votes to pass 86 to override the veto and the boat could be hard to get if it is right along party lines. DeMaio is sharing, he has a campaign officials also working on several other Republican campaigns to try and get these people elected to the city Council so that they would basically have this huge (inaudible) city Council and he would be the mayor to get their agenda forward. I just think all the spending really speaks to how coveted and how powerful this position is going to be.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is a great point and is this correct it looks like almost $5 million have been spent already in this primary race? Is that a good number to go with, Kevin?

KEVIN CROWE: It is probably closer to six when you take in some of the outside committees. So like all of the commercials that you are seeing you really have to pay attention to the fine print as far as who is paying for them because it may have a candidates name and title but it may not be that candidate's committee.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do we know how this compares to past races money-wise?

KEVIN CROWE: Not entirely.

KATIE ORR: Because we've never seen a race like this really because like we said it's kind of a different office.

KEVIN CROWE: Right but in the past candidates have financed themselves before I think of Steve Frank put $4.6 million into his bid against Jerry Sanders and that didn't really work out. So there's not always a direct correlation in terms of how much money you're going to dump into it and what you're going to get out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me just go to this a minute because there are campaign-finance laws in the city of San Diego, right? I mean, people can only donate a certain amount of money to a mayoral candidate, is that correct?


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And how much is that?

KEVIN CROWE: That's $500.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I read a story in Voice of San Diego that Bob Filner didn't know quite how difficult it was going to be to raise money in the city of San Diego because he's not used to the city requirements. What is the difference between city and running for Congress?

KEVIN CROWE: Congress I think you, I'd have to double check but I think you can get 2500 per person. So I think---

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's a big difference

KEVIN CROWE: Five times the amount than the city. So as an individual you can donate $500 per election to a candidate. So yeah, if Filner was expecting that he was going to be able to get 2500 from people I'm betting he was sorely disappointed.

KATIE ORR: I think people would be shocked how much time candidates spend fundraising. I read a book by a former candidate. He, I don't believe ever won, but his name was Peter Navarro. He ran here for several offices and he wrote a book about his experiences. And the amount of time you spend on the phone going to fundraisers, trying to run, trying to raise the money is unbelievable. I mean, it's almost, it's almost hard to believe they have time to do anything else because they are just working the phones constantly. Trying to get the money and right now Filner is used to being able to raise several hundred dollars per call and the discount of $500, you can just imagine how many more calls he is going to have to make to try and make that especially when we are talking about is facing competitors for raising such large amounts of money.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: they go to the phones again our number 1-888-895-5727 Shane is calling for Mira Mesa. Hi, Shane.

CALLER: Hi, I was wondering if the money that the super pacs independently raise and spend is included in the figures that were mentioned earlier?


KEVIN CROWE: No in terms of the candidates figures, no they are not. Those are what the individual candidate campaigns have raised.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And is it difficult to figure how much this will have to, do they have to disclose?

KEVIN CROWE: Yeah, they have to disclose. They have to disclose and even n or if they are spending a lot of money.ow living they have to disclose on a daily basis if they get a sizable contributionso the candidates have to disclose on a daily basis if they could be contribution but we don't really know what they are spending right now. The transparency laws on super packs are a little more stringent.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay all right so how much money do they add into the mix, do we know?

KEVIN CROWE: It's total as far as what they spent it's a total of $1.4 million. Now there are two anti-Carl DeMaio super pacs if you want to call them that, a couple of Pro. Fletcher super pacs. So it is kind of it's not exactly split evenly, but they are mostly spending money on television ads and mailings, a little bit of web presence.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do we have any kind of breakdown on how much the candidates are spending on these various forms of advertising?

KEVIN CROWE: In terms of the candidates, Carl DeMaio has spent more than $600,000 on television. Fletcher is hanging around about half $1 million on television. Bonnie Dumanis has spent about 200 grand on television and Bob Filner, and this is also as of the last reporting date so they may have spent more in the last two weeks within number as of that time Bob Filner hadn't spent any money on television advertising.

KATIE ORR: But I've seen also several media reports that he doesn't necessarily have to, he and Carl DeMaio have the same objective to knock Nathan Fletcher out of the race. Carl Demaio is spending so much money on these attack ads on Nathan Fletcher that Bob Filner just has to sit back and let it happen and his objective is achieved as well.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Before we have to wrap up let me ask you a few questions about campaign finance in other races, not just San Diego mayor's race.

KEVIN CROWE: There are other races?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's what I hear.

KATIE ORR: That's ridiculous

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are not moving very far when this next question the San Diego city Council which district has attracted the most cash from donors?

KEVIN CROWE: Probably the first district

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is incumbent Sherry Leitner.

KEVIN CROWE: And there's a lot of money in this probably because there is an incumbent and Ray Ellis has done a lot of fundraising and he's put some money into his own campaign as well. He's been a couple of contributions and loans he's dropped about $80,000 into his own campaign but he has also raised just under 200 in terms of outside, from outside donors and Sherry Leitner is about right there as well she's raised about $200,000 and there are two other candidates Brian Peas and Dennis Ritz, but they really haven't been able to put much together in terms of fundraising.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Again in the city of San Diego pops a and B, you see a lot of I get off a lot of flyers in the mail on both of these propositions. How much have these campaigns raised, do we know?

KEVIN CROWE: Oh they're something like $200 million in total spending a little bit more in the proposition A.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Did you say 200 million?

KEVIN CROWE: I'm sorry two million, excuse me. It's a little bit more than 2 million and the side that's been coming out spending more has been in opposition to proposition A, so there's a lot of union groups, lot of union spending there. And then for proposition A, it's builders and contractors. So they are the ones who are really trying to push it but they are kind of losing the fund-raising a little bit but we will see though we that means next week. Proposition B, there's a lot of money supporting proposition B so that is close to $2 million on its own. And so that's comprehensive pension reform for San Diego. I'm sure people have been seeing flyers in their mailboxes for that. There have been some commercials and the Republican Party is supporting it. The regional Chamber of Commerce, the lodging industry PACs. So they've got a lot of organization behind them. Organized labor is really opposing that but they have been able to put nearly as much money together.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I just really question because we are almost out of time, the 52nd Congressional District we have the incumbent Brian Bilbray but we also have a pretty hotly contested race between the two Democrats Lori Saldana and Scott Peters and a lot has been made about Scott Peters being a very wealthy man. So I'm just wondering what it looks like in the campaign treasure chests for these candidates of the 52nd District.

KEVIN CROWE: A lot has been made about that very recently because very recently he loaned himself $1.25 million.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well there you go.

KEVIN CROWE: And that's a lot of money and his campaign would say that that's necessary the final stretch to pay for television ads another kind of fundraising as well. Felt on this campaign would say that he is simply trying to buy the election.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay we are going to end it there but I would imagine that people would be able to see the results of your inquiries on our website, is that correct?


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay that would be Thank you all.

ALL: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Still ahead, prison populations drop as conditions get more crowded in San Diego jealous. We will check in on the effects of prison realignment. This is KP be as Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. My guests are KPBS venture reporter Katie Orr, Kevin Crowe, investigative reporter with investigative news source and from UT San Diego, Dana Littlefield. Dana, you had a story this week about how prison realignment is changing both prisons and county jails in San Diego. Before we start I'd like to invite our listeners to join this conversation. You can give us a call at 1-888 895-5727. Dana, I got the feeling from your story that overall so far so good, is that a fair takeaway?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Well it depends on which side you are coming from


DANA LITTLEFIELD: Yes definitely, so far so good especially for the state I will put it that way, for state prison because there is a marked difference in the population as it is now. Compared to just three months ago. Let alone six months ago. You can't really see it when you walk through the prison at Donovan, where the gyms, there are four gyms on the campus, we will collect, their fortunes, three of which were used for housing until not long ago. They are now cleared out and you just see the stacks of beds there, if it's really a startling sight to see if the beds empty, how many people crammed into such a tight space you know, two bunks and three bunks I, 150.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you know how many, how much is the population at Donovan gone down since prison realignment?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Let's see, I don't have the exact number in front of me. I can tell you that 1100 inmates have been reduced from the entire prison population just within the last six months.


DANA LITTLEFIELD: So I don't know exactly how many are gone from Donovan but all the gyms are cleared out. All the classrooms and day rooms and hallways where people were sleeping, and now everyone is in a cell. So, while there is still population, overpopulation population for which the population was designed for at least everyone has a door. Everybody---

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Has a cell. Last time we talked they had adopted a subpopulation has gone down about 1000, 1000 prisoners and overall across the street. 11,000 I think is what it is that has gone down now, if you could, Dana, could you give us just a quick reminder of why we did this in the first place? You said that the state is happy with the results so far. It was their aim to reduce the prison population.

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Yes it was the demand of the US Supreme Court said you have to do. Not only do you have to do it---

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There was the demand.

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Not only did you have to do it but by June 2015. That was one reason and the other reason was budget. So for those two reasons the governor imposed a lot of people would call a pretty drastic measure. In order to reduce the prison population. And so the flipside, yes it is working in the state prisons, but the flipside of that is that the sentenced population within the county jails is rising particularly when you're talking about the male inmates. Male inmates, I checked today, well, the courts have set the population levels for the San Diego County jails, 5600 is the total number that is 4000 for men, 1,000 women. Right now it is this week is about the same as last week the male population is hovering around 92% which is pretty high.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's coming up. Katie?

KATIE ORR: I just wonder after thousand have left, been removed from Donovan did they all go to San Diego County jails where did they go? I guess I'm wondering what is like the net increase for the County jail system. Are they being overrun with all these people now?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Other people are, is your question are you being released from Donovan and then going to jail?

KATIE ORR: I suppose, so are they being released? I guess what happens to them, are they being released do some of them get transferred to local jails? I guess I just wonder obviously they are leaving the state prison system so some other system, the county system is probably feeling the strain of that.

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Sure we don't go directly from state prison to County jail, so what happens with those, they call them non-non-non-, so we are talking the lower level inmates, those who've been convicted of serious nonviolent and non-sex crimes, they get paroled essentially from prison but they are not placed on parole anymore. This is where we get into a semantic discussion. They now go into what is called slip community supervision so they are supervised by Paul. So you are released from prison, you impact the county where you committed your crimes, or you go back to a County, and your supervised, you are under mandatory supervision by County probation.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And one of the reasons as I understand it that the number of people, the population in Donovan and in another state prisons have gone down is that fewer prisoners are being sent to those prisons. They are staying in county jails instead of being, if you are sentenced, if you are a non-non-non-and your sentence is three years or less you stay here instead of being sent to state prison.

DANA LITTLEFIELD: It could be a sentence of three years or less, it could be more than that.yes, so what happens is if you commit one of these non-non-non-crimes, one of these lower-level crimes and you are sentenced local jail press it is commonly referred to now in the courts local prison, you are sent to County jails. Everybody with me? So, you are sent to County jail and you do your sentence there. So the actual population of people who are serving a sentence jail is much larger than it was just six months ago. That is a different population from those within the jail haven't been convicted of anything who are awaiting trial. That population I've been told by Sheriff Gore is shrinking of it. What the sheriff's department is thinking of doing is reducing the population even more within the jails to have those people out on supervision, monitored by GPS devices and so forth. There are other tactics that can be used to deal with that population that is awaiting trial.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I just want to talk one minute more about the state prison the one that will have fewer prisoners in there even though the president's office deliver is considering its maximum capacity is still over there. But doesn't that mean that state prisons now are housing more violent and more serious criminals and those that have an impact on the people who are guarding these men?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Yes absolutely, it does mean that prisons are (inaudible) bring them more violent offenders that those who and even some who don't would argue that is what prison is for, you're only supposed to house those who are the worst of the worst so to speak whereas your habitual drug users, they are the ones who, it is argued, do not belong in prison. They are the ones who should be going to some kind of rehabilitation program and get training for how they should behave or how they should cope outside of confinement. So, what is being worked on is getting more of those services in place locally to help those people and keep them from being sent back to jail or to prison.


KATIE ORR: I just wonder about the cost, you talk about local programs but everybody knows there's not a lot of money. The state has no money, the city has no money, while the city doesn't have a lot of money and I'm honestly, with the county's budget, but where are they getting the money to that these programs?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: That's what a lot of people would like to know. The state has allotted $25.1 million for the first part of realignment to enact it, to carry out whatever programs are necessary. Some of that money has been set aside for treatment programs. Other for housing and other sorts of things that are needed under this plan. But, everyone locally seems to knowledge that that certainly is not enough to carry us forward. And while the governor has said, he said that he wants to guarantee funding that would come from the state to the counties to make sure that realignment is carried out properly, there is a lot of doubt out there as to whether that will actually happen. So that is another thing that we are waiting to see.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's part of his tax initiative is to guarantee those funds that's the selling point that the governor is using to go to the counties and get support for this tax initiative because it has a guarantee for certain funds to go to the county to help pay for the cost of this realignment.

DANA LITTLEFIELD: You said while local officials clearly support that idea there is again this kind of cautious you know, let's wait and see approach, we will wait until we see the money.

KATIE ORR: Did the county allocate more money to the probation department here to help them deal with that, is that something you're familiar with?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: Nationally with the County has a lot of. And of the state funds and I know how much, that a large portion of the 25 million that has allowed itself I will go to probation because basically it's, the Sheriff's Department and the patient will feel the brunt of this initially.

KATIE ORR: I followed along with probation officer for an unrelated story a couple years ago and it is just unbelievable the stack of files that they have, they had just gone through a reduction in the department at that point that I was talking to this guy and it's literally one of those stereotypical cartoons when you see the person's desk overflowed with files like this is how it was, so you know they said they could use any additional resources that might come their way.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And one of the concerns we had about when this initial idea of present realignment was floated and basically when the project started is that it was going to make San Diego County unsafe it was going to threaten our safety. We had an assembly member from the show who said it's time to buy a dog and get a gun. And I'm wondering, is, do we have any statistics as to whether or not our safety has been imperiled in some way? I reintroducing all of these probationers you're into the County?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: I've asked that question of a lot of people and what I've been told repeatedly is that it's too early to tell at this point. We just don't know. And you know, I tend to trust that to some degree because it still is very early. Realignment was, it was put into place on October 1. So we are only looking at you know, eight months or so. Since this started. But, probation assures me that they are doing everything they can, they've set up a new unit to handle these offenders who are admittedly a higher risk level. They are more dangerous than the population that County probation has dealt with historically. But they say they have more resources they've hired more people this best set up a special unit to deal with those people specifically and so far we haven't seen a problem. Who knows what will happen down the road.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have just a short period of time, but wanted to ask a question

KATIE ORR: I just have a question also the cost savings to be the number of people they were laying off so has the County picked up some of those?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: They did not attempt to pick them up directly another aspect I read the Sheriff's Department hired as well for the special unit that will be working out of the alternative custody unit, they call it. And I'm told that that is up and running but they are not ready to put anyone out on his custody alternatives for another few months still. So I don't know if someone has been hired or people have been either directly from the state to the County. I will have to ask.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to wrap it up, one quick last question. We know when an assessment might be needed of how this overall prison realignment thing is working?

DANA LITTLEFIELD: I know that the, they call them the community, there is a community partnership that meets, the officials from San Diego County, Bonnie to Mrs. and one of them, matching funds from probation, Sheriff Court, they need and they discuss, and the public defender is there, there are judge representatives. They meet and discuss how things are going every month.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see so there's sort of an ongoing thing.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank my guests, Dana Littlefield, Katie Orr and Kevin Crowe, thank you all very much.

ALL: Thank you

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Be sure to watch KPBS evening edition tonight on 6:30 on KPBS television. Join us Monday for Midday Edition on KPBS FM. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and have a great weekend.