Roundtable: Mayor's Race, Port Lease, Escondido Rights Issue
August 17, 2012 1:20 p.m.
Katie Orr, KPBS News
Brad Racino, KPBS/Investigative Newsource
David Garrick, North County Times
SAUER: This is the Roundtable on KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Mark Sauer filling in for Gloria Penner. It's Friday, August 17th. Joining me in the Roundtable today are KPBS metro reporter Katie Orr.
ORR: Hi, Mark.
SAUER: And Brad Racino of investigative news service.
RACINO: Hi, Mark.
SAUER: And David Garrick of the North County Times.
GARRICK: Hi, Mark.
SAUER: There was news this morning concerning union leaders regarding implications of Proposition B.
ORR: The city needs to set up a 401K plan since voters eliminated pensions for most new hires. And they needed to set up an interim plan. Since late July, there's been a hiring freeze in place because they did not have a plan that new employees could go into. So this morning, Jay Goldstone told me they have reached a tentative deal with the city unions that will happen in late September, and at that point the hiring freeze will be lifted, which is good news because that means it won't impact city services like libraries, potential fire academy, things like that. And they will start working on a permanent plan immediately, although that's still litigation pending over whether prop B was legal in the first place.
ORR: I think we will see ratification of this interim plan in the end of September, and they are working on a permanent plan, they'll start probably next week. But the litigation could go on forever. The public employment relations board has heard the case. But it could take several months for that process 230 play out, and there will be likely appeals following that.
SAUER: All right, turning to today's Roundtable topic, it was the squirt heard round the city. A late-night water gun fight in Balboa Park was promoted to about 8,000 Facebook users, and the stunt got out of hand. Newly planted landscaping torn up to the tune of $10,000 in damages. How did this lead to political fireworks between Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner? Recap for us what happened, and what's now known as the lilly pond incident.
ORR: Right. Well, the mayor's race had been fairly quiet for the past couple of months just because they usually take a break until about labor day. However, this water gun fight, if you go off the Facebook page, was apparently organized by a man named Ken St. Pierre. He had previously worked for the San Diego gay and lesbian news, a publication -- the publisher is Jonathan Heal, who is Carl DeMaio's partner. So there had been a business connection between these two men in the past. St. Pierre no longer works there, however they are still Facebook friends. The police said Jonathan Heal was not involved in this in any way. Bob Filner's campaign put out a press release linking Hale to the water gun fight.
SAUER: Now, this led to -- I don't know how in San Diego with all the other city, and we talked about the problems of murder and bankruptcy and all sorts of dire problems here, but here we have some trampled impatience in San Diego, and it becomes a big incident in the mayor's fight. But there was some nasty back and forth.
ORR: Oh, yeah. This was very nasty. So this news release from the Filner campaign came out last Monday. Tuesday morning, the two candidates had a debate, and this was the premiere topic of conversation. Lots of nasty campaigns. DeMaio calling out Filner for linking Hale to this event without any evidence. Filner saying DeMaio has said Hale would play a role in his administration, so that makes him fair game. It should be said that nowhere publicly has DeMaio said Hale would actually have a role in his administration. However, Filner keeps pushing that as a way to link Hale to this. And you say there's a lot of other things happening in the city, and there certainly are. But Balboa Park is a beloved place for a lot of people. A lot of people get married there, take pictures there.
SAUER: No question.
ORR: So they have this connection to the lilly pond.
SAUER: And there's animals there.
ORR: The Koi and the turtles.
SAUER: And early reports said there was some animals hurt, but there were none?
ORR: No, there were not any Koi or turtles killed. And I have to say I've never been retreated so much in my life. The Koi are okay.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ORR: But there was about $10,000 worth of damage.
SAUER: What causes Bob Filner to take the issue to did he have con4?
ORR: Well, he gets this whole thing in the news. And he forces Carl DeMaio to come out and defend his partner. He needs to bring to light the fact that Carl DeMaio is a gay man, something that some conservative Republicans may not be entirely comfortable with. There was a poll that came out that said maybe this didn't really work for Bob Filner, and it is only August, we'll have to see how it plays. But this just gave the race a nasty, nasty turn.
SAUER: It served to set the tone.
ORR: Absolutely. This is going to be -- these men, there's no love lost between these two men, I don't think.
SAUER: Now, you mentioned that poll. It's hard to know if the whole thing is resonating with voters.
ORR: 10 news commissioned a survey USA poll that found 61% of the people they had spoken to were aware of this incident. About 51% said it was not fair of Filner to link Jonathan Hale to this event. 50% said it wouldn't change their vote. And way down in the poll, it was kind of hard, they ended up talking to about 260 people, and Filner had 37% support, DeMaio 30%, and 15% said this incident would make them change their vote from Filner to DeMaio. 9% said they would switch from DeMaio to Filner.
SAUER: Some of the backfire on Filner.
ORR: Right, right.
SAUER: Michelle from Chula Vista. Go ahead, you're with the panel.
NEW SPEAKER: I just wanted to say I think it's really sad that they're using this in the mayor's race. But I guess I'm not surprised. What I was wondering is I haven't heard too much about maybe trying to get out to people that they should be careful with other people's property, and you know, now that we have people doing flash mobs and different things like that, we need to get it across to people that they need to be careful.
SAUER: Okay, thanks very much. Was there a permit taken out on this? Is there somebody responsible?
ORR: No, there isn't. The police say they were aware that this event was happening. It happened last year, but accounts say there was between 20 and 50 people. This year, it was substantially larger. Some people put it at 1,000-12 hundred people that came out. It just got out of hand. I don't think anyone intentionally set out to destroy the lilly pond. It was supposed to be a fun sober event where you could do something at night other than go to a bar or club, but it just got out of hand. The police knew about it, but because last year was so tame, they didn't really think it was a problem, and there was no official permit taken out or anything like that.
SAUER: Okay. Now you mentioned that poll. It's too early, really, to have overall polls in this race. It's difficult to know what this nasty tone that's set so far, where voters are. What's the sense of where they might be now?
ORR: Well, are as I said, are the poll, when it talked to 260 people, it was 37% for Filner, 30% for DeMaio, and the percentages that said they were going to change their vote. The one thing that is interesting about this race, I spoke to Carl Luna, and I said in the past we've seen in the race for mayor, moderate white Republicans competing with each other for the mayor's office.
SAUER: Right, right.
ORR: This is really one of the first times we've seen in recent history these people who are not mod rates.
SAUER: They're extremes of each party. Filner being seen as the Democrat. And DeMaio as the conservative Republican.
ORR: Right. So this is unusual for San Diego. And we should say that it's because the nature of the mayor's office has changed. It's going to be a strong mayor position now. There's going to be an additional seat on the council. The mayor is going to have more veto power. So it is a lot more powerful position, and maybe that makes it a lot more desirable to people. So this isn't a kind of race that we've seen here in San Diego before, in terms of this fierce competition for this.
SAUER: Yeah, and of course the outgoing incumbent, Jerry Sanders, is pretty roundly seen as a moderate. He changed his position in office on a very touched on issue for conservatives, come is of course whether to ban gay marriage.
ORR: Right. Jerry Sanders was seen as, you know, I think probably a fairly typical San Diego mayor. Bonnie Dumanis, district attorney, was seen as the person that would continue that vain. Of course she didn't make it through the primary. So we have these two that are coming out of the primary that are on the more extreme ends of their parties.
GARRICK: I've heard Filner characterize the race as he's supporting the middle class and he's against developers, and DeMaio is in the back pocket of developers. Of does the fact he presses this story so hard make you think he's worried that message isn't going to resonate or play well?
ORR: I think it is -- it's a political strategy, right? It is very odd that you'd have this liberal democratic candidate highlighting the fight that DeMaio is a gay man.
SAUER: Ironic, indeed.
ORR: And I think it might speak to how nasty politics can be. He knows his supporters are going to come out and support him no matter what. So he is just trying to syphon out some of the supporters for DeMaio.
GARRICK: Did anyone ask him, did you raise this issue to point out the fact that DeMaio is gay?
ORR: I don't think anyone asked him that question.
SAUER: That'll be a good one going along. Filner might see any day he's talking about Mr. DeMaio being a gay man is a good day for Filner.
ORR: San Diego is seen as a more conservative town. I guess it's more fiscally conservative, but if does have those roots. It has not been an issue for Mr. DeMaio at all going forward. He has won the nomination, no problem. He won his council seat, no problem. We have to remember were, he's only had one term in office.
SAUER: That's true.
ORR: So he was elected in, I believe it was 2008. And he has foregone running for his second term so that he could run for mayor. I was thinking about that the other day. It's pretty impressive. He's only had four years on the council, and he's come from nowhere, and he has a shot at being the mayor.
GARRICK: With the turnout higher in November than any of the other previous times he's run for office, you have to wonder if there's going to be more people out there from the primary who are homophobic.
ORR: Right, and I have spoken to people who are not in love with either of these candidates, and I wonder if anyone will stay home because of that. And we do see the candidates trying to move toward the middle now because they know they have to capture a more moderate vote in November.
SAUER: The money that was spent so far, and the strategies on spending money, and keeping your powder dry, Filner didn't spend that much, kind of laid back, he was criticized by some in the primary, but it certainly seemed to work out that DeMaio spent a lot.
ORR: DeMaio loaned himself about $800,000 through the primary. And that's one of the questions. Does he have more money? Nobody really knows how much personal money he has. So will he be giving him more money in the general election? Did he tap himself out in the primary election? We don't know. Now that it's the general election, he might get even more donations.
SAUER: That would jell for him.
ORR: Yeah. I think Filner is counting on his reputation as a Congressman, and knowing national political figures. He said a lot he thinks this race is going to draw national attention. I think he's hoping that it will so that he will get some outside donations.
SAUER: We spoke a moment ago about some people don't like either one of these candidates. What about a write-in? What about a Donna Frye move in 2012?
ORR: Not possible. Andrew Donahue had a great little wright up on this the other day. Basically because of the Donna Frye situation, the city has worked to insure that that can't happen. The city charter had prohibited write-ins in the general election, but the city's municipal code had allowed for it. And after the Donna Frye debacle or whatever you want to call it, they changed it so you cannot have a write-in in the city general election. And as Donahue points out, the feeling is that if you get to that in the primary, and that's where everyone is sorted out. In the general election, those are the voters' top two choices, and they get to go forward from there.
SAUER: Nathan Fletcher who came in third in the primary, Bob Filner said he'll give Nathan Fletcher a job if he's elected. What's the thinking behind that?
ORR: I think the thinking is that Nathan Fletcher had a lot of support. He also raised about $1 million, and he didn't donate a significant portion of that to himself. It was money that he raised through his campaign. He was a very popular guy. He got about 20% or so around there of the -- maybe 28% of the vote in the primary. I think the thinking is that if he brings Nathan Fletcher into his administration, Filner might be able to capture some of those moderate voters that went for Fletcher. And we should say too that Tom Sheppard who is a Republican campaign consultant who worked on Fletcher's complain has come over and is working for Filner. That is Filner trying to capture some of the strategy that Fletcher used.
SAUER: And there's more cross pollination on DeMaio's side.
ORR: Right, he hired a democratic consultant for his campaign as well. It's just that in the primary, you can stick toward your extremes, but in the general election, lots more moderate people come out, especially this year since it's a presidential election. Upon they're all trying to tailor their campaigns to capture that vote in the middle.
SAUER: We talked about this being a general election with a president. We expect more turnout. How might we speculate on how the dynamic might change from the primary in June? It could be a completely different election.
GARRICK: It could be completely different. In a way, Obama had such a huge coattail effect on Democrats, the question is I don't see right now that happening. And I don't know how much this would help Filner in that regard as far as partisanship.
ORR: I think more voters will probably help Filner. They expect about a 70% turnout in November, and from everyone I've talked to, they say primaries are generally good for Republicans, and general elections are good for Democrats. So Filner stands to benefit a lot from the fact it's a presidential election year.
SAUER: Welcome back to the Roundtable on KPBS. I'm Mark Sauer. My guests are Kato or, Brad Racino, and David Garrick of the North County Times. San Diego port commissioners signed a long-term lease with their biggest tenant, the Dole fresh fruit company. Some would rather have sent Dole packing. Brad, tell us about the deal signed this week with Dole. Deal say current port tenant.
RACINO: Dole moved here from LA in 2002. They were getting nudged out, so they came down here. They initially signed a 20-year lease, which was two ten-year leases. So the commission re-upped this lease, now it's a 25-year lease. It's the same layout, where it's a 15-year lease with two five-year options. Right now, I just got the lease about ten minutes ago. But the numbers look like from 2012-2017, there are some specifications in the deal that were written in to appease some environmental groups. One of them was that Dole would be moving their off-terminal warehouse operations away from where they were in Barrio Logan, which they were getting a lot of complaints from the Mercado apartments. They're moving to the 24th street marine terminal in national city, and they can't have those separations occur within 500 feet of residential property. They're not going to be idling on Caesar Chavez park anywhere. They're going to move that to the terminal. The port thinks it's a great deal. There are some critics of it.
SAUER: We'd love to have you join our conversation. We're talking about that 10th avenue marine terminal. How much land is down there? Give us an overview.
RACINO: Well, 10th Avenue is I believe 96 acres. There are some other tenants there, Yankovic, which provides fuel for cruise ships and other ships, NASCO, a lot of operations going on in that terminal.
SAUER: What about dole? How many folks are they employing?
RACINO: That's the big question when people are talking about the terminal is the impact on employees. While there are direct employees, there are also some things to be said about the indirect employees. Dole has 16 employees, ten Longshore workers, and 54 Longshore workers that load and unload the ship every week. But those numbers don't count the truckers, the tug boats, the pilots, the security, the ship agent, all the indirect employees.
SAUER: That brings us to the idea of how much impact is not only with dole in this major tenant, but also the port itself. How is this -- let's get on that lease for a moment. It's a good thing you don't have to lease it since you've just read it. How was this lease negotiated? There was complaints this was a backroom deal.
RACINO: It was not in the public. There was -- it's been talked about for the last year or so, but when I spoke with port people yesterday, they said no leases are negotiated in the public.
SAUER: Because they're negotiations! You don't want to show your cards.
RACINO: They're business deals. Once they're done, everything is out in the open. There was discussion of it as a CIP meeting a few months back. Of also some of the commissioners have talked about it at rotary club events and the Lincoln club, and the propellor club events. And it's been on the budget, but there is no opportunity for the public to weigh in on the specifications of the lease.
MAUREEN SAUER: And that's what you'd expect. There are complaints on some fellows who buy ink by the truckload here in San Diego that this wasn't the greatest deal in the world. We're talking a nickel a square foot was one of the figures. It could be worth 100 times that with different use. Tell us what I'm talking about.
RACINO: I don't think the UT has tried to hide that they have an agenda when it comes to the port. They don't want 10th Avenue there. They see other opportunities. What they want to see is a stadium is a bunch of other things. And there is something to be said about the square footage and how much it brings in. What they don't talk about is what the port does. We're talking about the indirect jobs, it's a deepwater port, come is rare on the west and east coast.
SAUER: And a warm water port.
ORR: When you think about the number of cents per acre or whatever --
SAUER: The figures I have are 5.4 cents per square foot. A hotel lease would be worth, they're claiming, 100 times more than that.
ORR: But the jobs at the port are middle class, well-paying solid jobs. And if you put a hotel in there, you might generate more revenue, but the jobs associated with hotels are more low-paying jobs, and that's San Diego's constant problem. We don't have middle class jobs. We have high-end and low-end jobs.
SAUER: Folks work here and can't afford to live here.
GARRICK: I do find the argument compelling that this isn't the highest and best use for that spot. Is there any other place along the bay where dole could relocate and not be at a place that could be prime space for a hotel or stadium? So we keep the jobs in San Diego, but free up the land?
RACINO: There is talk about moving some of the operations to national city. As far as what could actually fit there and what's feasible, I don't know that yet. We're looking into over the next month or so finding out what is possible, what the UT is saying, is it true, those kind of things. But as far as other than national city, not really. It's very hard to develop anywhere along the waterfront, especially with the port because of the California coastal commission and environmental groups. And who's going to pay for that? Is it going to be the company or the port? There's a lot of questions that need to be answered.
GARRICK: And that makes sense. And the lease wouldn't be negotiated in public because it's a real estate negotiation and you don't want to show your cards. But it seems like the port should have this debate about do we want to have the entire waterfront be hotels and stadiums? Or do we want to keep industrial use there and how long should we do that?
RACINO: Right. And I spoke with Brenda Coniglio who helped negotiate this lease she said the port's goal is not to squeeze every penny out of every square foot. Then they wouldn't have 18 parks that generate absolutely no money. And Joel Valenzuela said nobody talks about putting a port in the middle of a runway. This is a transportation corridor. The goal is not to eek out every penny.
SAUER: This is one of the great national harbors in the world, and it's a warm water port. Getting back to the mayor's race, Bob Filner talked quite a bit, and both you folks have done stories on this, be regarding the underutilization of the port, and if he were mayor, he'd want to do a heck of a lot more in development. And I think he exaggerated that there's nothing going on at the port, and no commerce. Is that true? Is it underutilized? It's a tough call, and it's been a longstanding operation there, and things have changed in that area.
RACINO: Yeah, I think that word gets thrown out, underutilized, but no one has taken a close look at is that true. There was an economic impact report in 2007, but there's been nothing since. There is a report coming out at the end of this year that the port has been doing to see how the operations are going, but we're going to be working on that through the next month or so to drill down and see, okay, are these claims valid? I don't think anyone can really answer that right now.
ORR: In terms of just making the port an issue in the mayor's race, I don't think anyone was really talking about it until Bob Filner came out with your interview with him on his views on the port. It was a bit of an issue in the primary. Nathan Fletcher was talking about it, Carl DeMaio was talking about it, and the port in terms of not just the 10th avenue marine terminal, but the businesses around the port, and streamlining the way things work at the port. Carl DeMaio says he wants to do an audit of the port to make sure they're running their business the way they should. She would like to see the city have more control every on it. There are five port commissioners, I believe, and San Diego gets to appoint two of them? Maybe I'm wrong about that.
RACINO: There's three and -- oh, go ahead.
SAUER: And the other cities along the bay have their representatives.
ORR: Right. So the port has become an issue in the mayor's race. And I wonder if it's one that resonates with voters. I think the port is one of those things that's pretty important but does its thing and didn't have a direct impact on people's lives.
GARRICK: If you went to Horton plaza today and asked people what the port district is, 1-10 would actually know there is one.
SAUER: It's obviously a huge tourist destination. Plenty of visitors, big conventions here. Folks from all over the world. And yet a port in the middle of all of that. So it's very difficult to weigh this. We mentioned parks. We've got stadiums, we've got developers who want to throw more hotels in there. Marinas down there, restaurants, all sorts of uses, and this port offloading facility, which has been there for decades. How do you weigh it all?
ORR: I think the port provides actually a really clear picture of the central argument that's going on in San Diego right now. Do you keep catering to tourists who can come here and certainly bring a lot of money into the economy, however the jobs created might not be great for the people that actually live in the city? Or do you keep something that creates middle class jobs but might not be utilized to its fullest potential, creates problems for the people in Barrio Logan? It really is sort of a turning point for San Diego right now. Which way do you go? And I think it's something city leaders are going to be dealing with more in the future.
SAUER: Well, it would be interesting if we got into this as an issue in the mayor's race because as you say, people think it's just there, it's the port and it's always been there. Let's talk more specifically about what we touched on regarding the development proposed by Doug Manchester in the front page editorial. Give us a quick overview. What are they calling for? What would their dream Utopia be for the development down there?
RACINO: They put up a map on their site which had a stadium, a bunch of park, parking lot, and then another arena, are which I don't think there are any specifics as to what would be in that.
SAUER: There's no team! We don't have a basketball or hockey team.
ORR: Not yet.
RACINO: Right. So it was a sweeping proposal. And they presented it to the commission late last year or early this year, I can't remember. But that's what they're calling for is all this commercial activity to go on right there.
SAUER: We've got a caller joining us. Steve from the south bay. Give us a shoutout, Steve.
NEW SPEAKER: You were talking a little bit about underutilization, whether the port is underutilized, there's no question it is. If you look at imports and exports, that port ranks way down low compared to other ports. Not only on this coast but across the country. In tonnage, it ranks 60th or 70th. And you have containers, hardly anything. And you're not going to build that up. One of the things, if you're going to have an active port, it's Transmodal. There's absolutely no rail out of here to integrate. The only thing that's ever going to go out of here is by freight, by truck. So there's no way in the world that you're ever going to build up a commercial application of this port, any more than what you have now.
SAUER: Okay, Steve. Thank you very much. He makes a very good point. Of there's been a long question here about a rail spur to the east, and that is one thing that has been said for years that has stunted the growth of this port here. Are you looking to that at all?
RACINO: Well, there is rail out of here. BSSF owns it. They don't directly east.
SAUER: That's the problem. There's an old story here, and a wooden trestle, and infrastructure problems, and it dips down to the border, and some of the conservative congressmen over the years have not been keen on that because of the security in the border area that that train line would be in proximity to. We're getting some more calls here. The rail spur, does that connect through Los Angeles?
RACINO: It goes just directly east of Los Angeles, and it does then from there connect to LA. But that's how the majority of the big commodities that come in here get out of here.
SAUER: All right, Len, on line 3. Go ahead.
NEW SPEAKER: I'm calling to support the concept of the middle class, middle income wages that is generated by the port versus the plentiful but minimal wage service industry supporting the tourists. We also have the upcoming development of national city and Chula Vista, and they're going all to the entertainment side, if you will, the tourist side. And I think the port gives some diversity to our economy that is really critical because it's steady. It doesn't seem to be cyclical.
SAUER: Okay. Very good. Thank you very much. Another caller, Ian from Solana beach.
NEW SPEAKER: I just wanted to point out that in my experience in San Diego over 40 years, I believe that the port district is one of the worst that I have ever experienced, compared to something like Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, or Manhattan, which is all parks surrounding the rivers. And Waikiki in north Honolulu. If there's 1 square foot that's not filled, they put concrete on it.
SAUER: Okay. Thank you very much. That's a very good point. So there is so much to talk about and delve into here. David?
GARRICK: Well, I was just going to play the off-topic. When they envision Horton plaza and the Gaslamp, I think if that was a success, there was going to be pressure some day on the industrial uses down there. So this is sort of an inevitable result of the success of downtown, that land became more valuable, people actually want to build stadiums and things down there. When I was a kid in San Diego, nobody wanted to build anything there. This is maybe good news for San Diego. There's enough pressure for land down there, that you might want to kick someone like dole out, and that that is even a plausible argument to make.
SAUER: And as we're pouring over the contract, there's some reopeners and ways to do that as we move along. Thanks very much for that discussion.
SAUER: I'm Mark Sauer, and my guests are Katie Orr of KPBS news, Brad Racino of Investigative News Source, and David Garreth of the North County Times. David, it appears that political tension has become a way of life in Escondido. The Latino population there is nearly 50%, yet the city has a long history of overhostility toward illegal immigrant, and that's drawing the wrath of the ACLU among others. Tell us about the voting rights lawsuit that the city is facing.
GARRICK: Well, it's filed on behalf of five Latino voter, but I think they were just people that they chose because they had standing. It was filed by the state building and construction trades council. It's a union that represents construction workers. This is a long, complicated story. But basically the city has been hostile to unions, and they tried to become a charter city. They were exploring it in the spring because they didn't want to pay the prevailing wage, which is union level wages on construction projects. And there was some ugliness at a public forum about the charter, and then this lawsuit got filed. And the state voting rights act makes it very difficult for cities to prove that there's not racially polarized voting. So basically cities are pretty much -- if you got sued, you've pretty much lost. Not the federal, but the state voting rights act. So the union teamed up with a group called the lawyers community for civil rights, which has been traveling down forcing schools and cities to adopt voting districts. So you had the convergence of a group that wants to make sure Latinos get elected, and a union that was angry with the city trying to get rid of prevailing wage, and they came together, and Escondido got sued, and they were pounding their chest saying we'll fight this, we'll fight this. When they went in to talk with their lawyer a few times they said, I guess we're not going to be able to fight this.
SAUER: Can't really fight it!
GARRICK: So now it's on the ballot this November, and the odd thing is there's sort of a vacuum where they haven't really educated the public. They could dear public, we're beyond the hook for $3 million if you don't approve this. But they haven't done that. Now it's only August, and they have some time. It's going to be interesting to see if the public rejects the charter either because of the districts or just for whatever reason. Then the lawsuit is back on -- I'm sorry, the judge ruled that the lawsuit would be on hold until we see the outcome of the election. That happened in May.
SAUER: Let me invite our listeners to join in. So where do the current member of the City Council stand on district elections?
GARRICK: It was 4-1 against. Only Olga Diaz who is a Latino was for them. And the other 4 were against them. But two of them ended up voting with her out of fear of the lawsuit. So it was 3-2 in favor.
SAUER: Remind us briefly what the match-up is of that City Council.
GARRICK: There are four white people and one Latino, and there are four Republicans and one Democrat, and the Latino and the Democrat are the same person.
SAUER: And presumably the district elections would shake all of that up.
GARRICK: It would be crazy. And it appears that the Latino district, the district that will be drawn based on ethnicity or makeup would be in the center of the city. And that's not where Olga Diaz lives. So you'd have to find and recruit a different candidate. And that may be more difficult than you think. No one runs from office from that neighborhood. We don't know where the district will be because it hasn't been drawn. Historically, that's a poor section of town where people don't run for office. So they may have to recruit someone, or you'd have people moving across town in order to run in a geographic district.
ORR: We saw that a little bit in San Diego when they redrew the districts and established district 9 which was primarily a Hispanic district, and it was designed to maybe get a Hispanic representative on council, but Marti Emerald actually won that in the primary. He had sort of a token opponent, but really I heard he filed just so that there would be a Hispanic opponent on the ballot. That's another case of just because you create a district that is supposed to benefit one group doesn't necessarily mean the representative will be from that group.
GARRICK: And the mayor of Escondido has made the point that he thinks the Latinos will actually lose long-term in this. They have enough voters right now to control the City Council, but if there are one or two heavily Latino districts created, they won't have the council majority. When any issue is disputed, the council majority, if it's 3-2 against, you can say all you want, but you don't have the power.
SAUER: And Asian voters are dynamic in this too, are they not?
GARRICK: Escondido doesn't have as many Asian voters that have become a factor in politics yet.
ORR: Asian voters were a big factor in San Diego's redistricting process. In the end, district 6 I believe is about 30-40% Asian.
SAUER: Right, right and that district -- those districts have all changed with the introduction of 9.
GARRICK: And the question sometimes comes up, if you have district, you have a divided city. And Escondido is a city that's in particular need of being united. It's ethically divides, it's almost like apartheid in some ways, where people live, and economically. And some would argue that this is going to divide the city further. Let's say -- they almost got a minor league ball park last year. Maybe if you have council members that have geographic district, they would have been fighting, put the ball park over here, put it over here. I'm in the saying that will happen, but it's certainly been a topic of discussion.
ORR: And one thing to consider when you're creating district, you can't create a district solely based on race. If that is seen as the presiding reason for creating the district line, they'll be challenged on that.
GARRICK: And the attorneys have filed the lawsuit said we're willing to stand down and see what the voters do. Upon when the voters approve this, we're not going to let you, the city, determine the districts. We want to play a role in helping you, and helping with quotes. . We want to make sure you draw them the way we think is fair. So if the voters approve this in November, and I think there's every reason to believe that because Carlsbad, orbed, Vista have approved it in recent years. And the lawyers want to help them draw it, are and the judge will have to decide who plays what role in drawing them, and drawing them will be a really interesting process.
SAUER: What happens to the lawsuit if this issue wins in had November?
GARRICK: If the voters approve the charter saying we'll go to districts, then the lawsuit comes back alive for a day during which the judge says here's how the districts will be drawn. Either the city draws them, the lawyers draw them, or it's a combined effort.
SAUER: The Escondido school district has already made this change. What's the analogy there?
GARRICK: It's that they listened to their lawyers. A lot of school districts, in fact the county office of education warns school districts throughout the county, there's this group of lawyers, they're going around the state, forcing you to adopt district, geographic districts. The school district said, wow, we could lose a lot of money in the lawsuit. We have a lot bigger problems in our world right now, let's adopt these districts. Escondido got that advice, and they said let's see if they come. And the city did, and then they come, and I don't know how much the city spent on lawyers. It could have been $3 million if they fought it. It's probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000. But they could have avoided that, and avoided all the drama that would have happened in the process in the spring.
SAUER: So the ACLU is going to open an office in Escondido especially to help get out the Latino vote?
GARRICK: They're holding an event on September 25th that they wanted to do, and there was some hubbub about that, but apparently that's all been cleared up. The ACLU and the city had a lot of turbulence. They tried to ban landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. The ACLU sued, it got thrown away. This is another instance of the city fighting something and the ACLU winning.
SAUER: And you're alluding to the history of the tensions there with the Latino population. But we're up to I think 49% are we not?
GARRICK: That's the latest numbers that we get from the American community survey.
SAUER: It goes back to they wanted to have landlords become immigration cops and that went aside. Of we talked about the checkpoints, and there's been a number of stories on KPBS recently about that. A tremendous amount of tension in that city.
GARRICK: It was the first city in the county to require e-verify for all employees. You want to hire a new employee, you put them in a computer to see if they have immigration status. I feel like the council has decided that we understand certain things are under the purview of the federal government. But anything that isn't that's related to immigration, we're going to take a stab at.
SAUER: Tell us about the City Council race.
GARRICK: It's two seat, and you have two incumbents, and compared to previous race, it looks like it might be relatively calm. Olga Diaz for whatever reason, the conservative majority has decided not to run any candidate against her that has a name-recognition or is well-funded. Of a lot of times, the council will talk about how she brings balance and diversity of opinion to the council. It's interesting because they don't like her, and they don't vote with her ever, but they haven't decided to run someone who you would consider a viable, well-funded, well-known name recognition candidate against her. It looks like the incumbents are in good shape. There's one mobile home advocate running against the conservative incumbent. And he might be viable. There's several thousand persons listening in mobile homes in Escondido which is a high number.
ORR: Do you think one of the reasons they don't run someone against Olga Diaz is because if that person won, then the council would be all Republican and it might even strengthen the claims for people who want districts to get a lot more diversity in there?
GARRICK: That is certainly possible. But the angst about her tipping the press off to stories and, you know, trying to schedule things, I feel like you may be partly right, but I also feel like she causes them a lot of headaches. It seems like there's a part of them that want her gone, and a part of them who want her there like you're saying.
SAUER: And the other incumbent?
GARRICK: Mike Morasco, he was appointed, never elected to serve out mayor Abed's term.
SAUER: And this council member has been the one that calling the lawsuit you legal blackmail?
GARRICK: Yes, he's very against T. He's a thoughtful guy. He's in politics in Escondido for ten years. The he's a bright, thoughtful guy, and adds some interesting things to the table. He raised $25,000 in six months, which in Escondido is pretty -- that's a lot of money.
SAUER: And with Olga Diaz's seat, it's kind of like the starting gate at Del Mar. You've got seven or eight candidates lined up and ready to hit the track. But as you say, many may not be viable.
GARRICK: Wouldn't want to downplay anybody's viability. But the candidates, when you're covering the race, and the city clerk alerts you to a new candidate, and you call them, and they say I've never really run, you say as a reporter, anything is possible, but they don't seem like a strong candidate.
ORR: We had like ten candidates for mayor in the primary are, something like that.
SAUER: We always focus on the big four, don't we and but there were a bunch of others. Tell us about the history of Escondido. Give us a characterization of how that town has developed.
GARRICK: Well, most of the people who lived out there were farmers. Of then you had a very, very white -- I would say middle class to lower middle class because the housing was cheaper out there throughout the '40s, '50s, '60s. Then in the '70s you got the strong influx of Latinos, and it really accelerated in the '80s and '90s. They would blame the previous City Councils that approved a lot of apartment complexes in the center of town which became lower rent. Of and as the Latino populations increased, tensions have increased. And that's why you get the city legislation related to illegal immigration all the time. The problem for the city is that those draw headlines. And the City Council would rather talk about economic development, about the fact that they want to bring jobs to the city. The education level in the city is very low, relative to other cities, and they want to improve that. But what gets the message is immigration.
SAUER: We're going to have to leave it there.