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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Is District 4 Bought and Paid For? (Local San Diego Post)

A recent article in San Diego's excellent online newspaper Voice of San Diego* recently had an article quoting local consultant Jennifer Tierney as saying that whoever wins in the San Diego City Council in District 4 will be bought.  Forgive me, but I had a few thoughts.

I think its half right. If you recall from my earlier post about the background of this race, there are two candidates in the race - Dwayne Crenshaw and Myrtle Cole.  Dwayne Crenshaw, again, is a good friend of mine.  Myrtle Cole is a former police officer for the local community college board, former campaign manager for Tony Young (the outgoing City Councilman for the area), and works for one of the labor unions.  Both Dwayne and Cole are Democrats with a long history in the Democratic Party.  And both are being backed by large independent expenditures - Cole is backed by the San Diego Labor Council (our local AFL-CIO affliate), and Dwayne is being backed by Republican groups such as the Lincoln Club.

But here's the thing - Dwayne isn't a Republican.  He's never been a Republican, and as an African American gay man, he probably never will be.  Not only that, but he is the Executive Director (on leave) of San Diego Pride, and works with the Innocence Project to get the wrongfully convicted out of prison.  When he ran for Assembly in 2000, NARAL and Planned Parenthood overwhelmingly endorsed him, and sent volunteers to work on the campaign.  This is not someone who is exactly close with the ultra conservative Lincoln Club.  And noticeably he has not accepted any campaign dollars from any conservative or Republican group.

Cole, on the other hand, is completely beholden to the Labor Council.  As she admits in the article, it was the Labor Council's spending (more than all the other candidates in the race combined) that pulled her into the run-off.  Her donations come as a result of the Labor Council's backing. The Democratic endorsements come as a result of the Labor Council's backing.  In the meantime, she has little support by the intelligentsia of the District.  So much so that five of the seven candidates in the primary have endorsed Dwayne.**  She could never even think of going against the Labor Council's wishes, even if those wishes are contrary to the needs of her folks in District 4.  Without Labor's support, her base of power completely drops out, and everyone knows this.

Again, the Lincoln Club isn't getting this with Dwayne at all.  He doesn't support their issues, or their philosophies of governance.  So why is the Lincoln Club supporting Dwayne?  For one reason, and one reason only - to fuck with Labor.  They can see that Cole is a weaker candidate, and are moving in for the kill.  Thus, the District 4 seat is half bought.

*I really need to buy a membership and support of Voice of San Diego.  If you live in San Diego, you should too.

**As Liam Dillon pointed out in a Tweet, of the seven primary candidates besides Dwayne and Cole, five have endorsed Dwayne, one has endorsed Cole, and one has not made an endorsement.  My apologies for the error, and like I said, those guys at Voice of San Diego are really thorough.  They deserve your money.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

These Two Things Are Not the Same - Post on District 4

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (the feed is to the left, by the way), you may have noticed a few tweets last night with the hashtag #sameashomophobiarightevanandlucas.  But you may not have understood the context of the tweets.  So allow me to explain:

After the 2012 general election, San Diego City Councilman Tony Young resigned from office to pursue other interests.  And, as you might expect, there was a special election to replace Mr. Young.  The primary has taken place, and the general election is coming up.

There were a large number of participants in the primary election, but there are only two you need to worry about for this post - Dwayne Crenshaw and Myrtle Cole.  Dwayne is a good friend of mine, and I have supported him from the get-go, including donating to his campaign.  I also believe that Dwayne would be a great City Councilman - he has a record of economic development in this City Council District as a private citizen that most politicians would be proud of.  Myrtle Cole, I do not know, but she is backed by the Labor Council, who, in turn, secured her endorsement from the Democratic Party. Dwayne is also a Democrat, by the way.

The other thing to know is that this particular race takes place in San Diego's historically African-American District.  Ironically, African Americans aren't the largest ethnic group in this area - Latinos are more numerous - but it has historically been the seat of African American politics in San Diego.  Both Dwayne and Myrtle are African Americans.

It is also important to know that Dwayne Crenshaw is gay, and his coming out process was brutal. When running for the same City Council seat in 2004, he was outed publicly and was subject to vicious and homophobic attacks.  He left politics, and worked for a nonprofit called the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils (CDC), which employed 1 part-time employee when he arrived, and employed over 50 full-time employees when he was fired for being gay (allegedly).  The whole process left Dwayne bruised and battered.  Oh, and the CDC collapsed when Dwayne left.

Anyway, back to the story - a few days before the Primary, the San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, the biggest and most influential African American newspaper in San Diego, who's editor regularly appears on radio and other local media outlets, endorsed a third candidate in this election.  That's not very important.  What is important is that the newspaper specifically rejected Dwayne Crenshaw because he is gay.  Not because of his record, but because he is gay.

Shortly thereafter, there were calls from various progressive groups to condemn the Voice & Viewpoint for this editorial.  48 hours later, Myrtle Cole did so.  Now, keep in mind, she wasn't endorsed by the Voice & Viewpoint either.  She had no dog in the fight, and would have won brownie points by denouncing the rampant homophobia right away.  But instead she waited.  Mostly, I think she waited because she didn't think about it.  Anyway, she got on board, and finally denounced the Voice & Viewpoint.

Now, moving forward to yesterday, there have apparently been some hit pieces distributed in the District by San Diego's Lincoln Club - basically the well-oiled, well-financed, Republican/conservative group here in San Diego.  From what I've seen, these hit pieces are a bit ridiculous - alleging Cole just moved into the District from Arizona (she is from Arizona, but moved to San Diego years ago; she moved into the District recently), that she was fined $10,000 for ethics violations (she was not, a campaign she worked for was, but after she left), and there are a few other iffy claims in the mailer.

Thus began a twitter war - two members of the Labor Council's political arm - Evan McLaughlin and Lucas O'Connor both tweeting that if given the whole blow-up over the Voice & Viewpoint, surely Dwayne would denounce the Lincoln Club's slimy hit pieces against Cole.

And this is where I got pissed off.  There is simply no equivalence between what the Voice & Viewpoint did and what the Lincoln Club has done. Yes, the Lincoln Club are slimy fucks.  Yes, they are lying in a hit piece against Cole. This is politics, and sadly, it happens all the time.  That's why politicians have bad names, and why most people don't read mail hit pieces - they throw them out almost immediately.  What the Voice & Viewpoint did is different.

The Voice & Viewpoint did not send out obvious advertising, it wrote an editorial on the front page of the paper.  As I said earlier, John Warren is a public figure - and in some circles, he is the voice of San Diego's African American community.  So, for John Warren to reject a candidate because he is gay is a statement that San Diego's African American community rejects everyone in the LGBTQ community.  Because a "confessedly homosexual lifestyle" is wrong in his eyes.

Think about a young teenager in that community hearing that message of hate.  We know what the effects are - Dan Savage started a YouTube channel called "It Gets Better" specifically to convince LGBTQ teens to not kill themselves for being gay.  We have seen gay men targeted for beatings because they are gay.  The Stonewall Patrol in Hillcrest was formed specifically to prevent such attacks on gay men that were occurring on a way too-regular basis.  The editorial didn't just attack Dwayne for being gay, it attacked the entire LGBTQ community.  That's why it had to be denounced immediately.

By contrast, a hit piece filled with lies, against a single person, written by a Republican Party group in a predominately Democratic District is hardly equivalent.  Is the Lincoln Club filled with slimy fucks who will lie at the drop of a hat?  Of course.  But no one is going to kill themselves over the message. When someone tries to draw a parallel to what happened with the Voice & Viewpoint, I get pissed off. And hence, the twitter war.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mirandizing the Boston Bomber?

Like a lot of people, I sat transfixed watching events unfold in Boston last week.  Of course, and this says a lot about modern media, most of my information came from Twitter, and not from the usual news sources.  Their failures - particularly the slanderous allegations in the New York Post - will be the subject of future litigation and handwringing, I am sure.

That said, I would like to make a short comment about the way the Obama Administration is dealing with the surviving Boston bombing suspect (who's name I won't mention because it gives him more press than he deserves and his name is hard to spell).  I completely appreciate the fact that the Obama Administration is treating the suspect as a criminal, and not as an enemy combatant.  Doing the latter, as opposed to the former, would only serve to elevate the suspect beyond the level of criminality that he does not deserve (allegedly).

The decision to not mirandize the suspect - to inform him of his right to remain silent, and his right to an attorney - is probably a poor decision, but not for the constitutional reasons most people set forth.

Remember, that a miranda warning deals only with the right to not make incriminating statements to be used against the suspect.  From what I've gathered, there is a mountain of evidence against the suspect, including when he allegedly told a carjacking victim that he had performed the Boston bombings (that could have been his brother, but since he was in the car, I don't think it matters).  The explosives, and bullets the suspect and his brother carried on him, along with the video evidence, all indicate guilt.  In other words, the Feds don't need the suspect to confess - the case is pretty strong as is.  And so, a warning to not make incriminating statements (and the withholding of any confession), is probably useless in this case.

Instead the Feds are interrogating the suspect under the "public safety" exception to Miranda, which I think is dumb for one reason only - a lawyer would help everyone involved.  Right now, this 19 year old kid is being interrogated without anyone advising him.  If he truly committed the crimes alleged (and that seems pretty clear that he did), and he performed these crimes at the behest of his older brother, then he's not the sharpest tool in the box.  An attorney, knowing that his client is screwed (and this kid is either going to death row, or SuperMax prison for life), will try to cut a deal.  He'll ask his client about other terrorist groups he knows about, what other crimes, and use that information to try to cut some kind of deal for his client.  Here, I'd suspect the deal would take the death penalty off the table, maybe even a plea deal to avoid trial.

Left to his own devices, the suspect may do something stupid - like not divulge anything.  He might think that his life is over, and that he might as well die a matyr.  The older brother probably would have done just that.  But I think this kid isn't at all like his brother.  I think that the option of living may be tempting - and an attorney may help him realize that.  In other words, this is an instance where the presence of an attorney helps everyone.