Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Um Guys. . .Seriously. . .What Are You Thinking?

I guess all the hit pieces run by the Lincoln Club hit a nerve.  The Labor Council sent out a hit piece on Dwayne Crenshaw in District 4 (see my last few post for the background), attacking Dwayne for his tenure at the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils (hereinafter CNC), most likely referencing this article by Voice of San Diego.*

So, let's go to the facts as we know them.  Dwayne worked for the CNC as the Executive Director.  When he started, the CNC had 1 part-time employee and an operating budget of less than $50,000.  Under his leadership, the CNC employed 50 people full-time, and had an operating budget of over $1.5 million.  After complaints by several members community regarding Dwayne's sexual orientation apparently, the CNC fired Dwayne, and he promptly sued the CNC for wrongful termination.** Thereafter, the parties settled, Dwayne went to law school without the aid of student loans, didn't work for around 3 years, and was able to loan his campaign $20,000.  Oh, and CNC completely collapsed after Dwayne left.

In the hit piece, the Labor Council claims that Dwayne was fired for "mismanagement of funds."  This is a lie.  The CNC never stated any reason for Dwayne's firing whatsoever.***  The only explanation for Dwayne's firing comes from Dwayne himself, and he claimed he was fired for being gay.  Oh, and he received an unspecified sum as a result of the lawsuit.  It also claims that he "took money from the community," because he received money from the lawsuit, compensating him for lost wages as a result of being fired for being gay. Classy huh?

As with earlier efforts to equate generally bad politicking with homophobia, this particular hit piece is pretty tone-deaf, and maybe a bit homophobic itself.  Was Dwayne Crenshaw supposed to accept that he was fired from the CNC because he was gay?  Was he not supposed to fight discrimination?  More importantly, is the Labor Council really attacking Dwayne because he availed himself of the legal process, and well, won?  I guess the message the Labor Council wants to send to members of the community is that racism and homophobia are no big deal, and that anyone who stands up for himself or herself is a traitor to the community.  Quite frankly, that's a pretty shitty thing to say, and violates every principle the Labor Council is supposed to stand for.

Here's the thing - I know these guys.  The Labor Council is lead by good people, who care about their community.  But this hit piece is completely ridiculous.  Again, not only is it lying about the facts, but it tells every gay kid that standing up for himself makes him a traitor to his community.  Seriously, guys, what the fuck?

* I seriously need to give those guys some money.

**A quick lawyerly note - there is no cause of action for wrongful termination in the State of California, as California is a right to work state.  There are causes of action for discrimination in termination, which is a nearly impossible claim to prove.  To win, Dwayne would have had to prove the motivation of the CNC was to fire him for being gay.  But I digress.

***Quick note - on Twitter, Lorena Gonzalez and Evan McLaughlin (who are both on leave with the Labor Council), defended the piece, stating that there were allegations that Dwayne had misappropriated funds, and had been sued for the misappropriation.  This is also false.  The CNC countersued Dwayne when he filed his discrimination suit, but never alleged misappropriation of funds.   If anyone at the CNC believed that Dwayne stole from the CNC, not alleging misappropriation of funds in a cross-complaint (which is constitutionally protected from defamation), is bad lawyering unless the CNC didn't believe Dwayne had misappropriated any funds.  The only thing Lorena could point to was a case against the CNC itself regarding a school lunch program, which the CNC successfully defended.  Even there, the issue wasn't so much misappropriation of funds, but rather, initially poor management of the program, which was corrected in the Court's view.

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