Saturday (26 October, 2013) I received not one, not two, but three big, glossy, expensive mailers for the upcoming San Diego mayoral election. All three were touting Nathan Fletcher for the position. I was going to toss ’em out (a daily evolution for me with the avalanche of such Fletcher mailers), but then I decided to look a little closer at what these mailers actually said, and what they divulged about the people and organizations backing Fletcher. Very revealing.
FLYER #1 — The simplest and most (relatively) honest of the mailers. It’s an ode to Fletcher paid for by San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 PAC — which like all such union candidate support is probably entirely funded with compulsory union dues. Given the respected nature of firefighters, they make no effort to hide the affiliation.
The flyer asserts that Fletcher is “Protecting Our Families.” And that is true — if by “our families” they mean the firefighters’ families (the overwhelming majority of whom do not live in the city of San Diego — many live outside the COUNTY of San Diego). In essence, the firefighters union held a candidate auction to see which candidate would most benefit firefighters, and Fletcher won.
Doubtless the firefighters want to overturn the citizen initiative (overwhelmingly passed by San Diego voters) that puts our future firefighters under less expensive and more sensible defined contribution plans (essentially 401-k plans). Presumably if he wins, Fletcher will work toward the union’s goal to overturn the will of the people in this pension matter.
This was not a “public safety” endorsement. It’s simply a public labor union expenditure. Arguably such labor union pieces should tell the taxpayers which candidate NOT to vote for.
FLYER #2 — This flyer is a bit less obvious as to the motives of the paymaster funding the piece. In fine print, the reader discovers that it’s paid for by “Restoring Truest in San Diego — A Committee to Support Nathan Fletcher for Mayor 2013 . . . with major funding by Paul Jacobs and Dr. Irwin Jacobs.” First the Jacobs family invented a $220,000 (phantom?) job for Fletcher at Qualcomm with almost no duties (and certainly requiring no Fletcher skills of use to the corporation) — a job that paid Fletcher a generous income while he informally campaigned nearly full time for mayor (prior to the formal announcement of his campaign as required by law). Now the uber-wealthy Jacobs family is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions of dollars) into Fletcher’s campaign via “independent expenditure” campaign funding (hardly a grassroots effort).
The Jacobs family is obsessed with expensive Balboa Park changes that were rejected by the current city government — they expect an elected Nathan Fletcher to help reverse that decision. Moreover, they’d likely want to retain naming rights to a new San Diego Charger football stadium — rights Qualcomm purchased at fire sale prices from a previous gullible city council and mayor. If the Chargers leave San Diego, the Qualcomm naming rights sweetheart deal loses essentially 100% of its value.
Yes, the Jacobs family are all true blue Democrats, but their commitment to the labor unions is not as strident as is the unions’ themselves. The Jacobs family has their own agenda.
FLYER #3 — This one is perhaps the most intriguing. And likely the least honest, though the most expensive flyer.
The flyer attacks “partisan extremists throwing mud at Nathan Fletcher.” It doesn’t clarify what mud is being thrown, but perhaps it’s his flip-flop record on the issues, his constant political party changing to gain funding, his contradicting proclamations and his own public abysmal vote attendance record.
But the best part is the huge flyer shows a lovely family portrait of his Fletcher with his wife and two young children, with mud splattered over the portrait — inferring that the attacks have been aimed at his family. They have not, but it’s a typical misrepresentation of Fletcher supporters. What the ad really infers is that any criticism of Nathan Fletcher is a smear on his family. Gosh, I doubt that standard is evenly applied in political races.
But more interesting is the group supposedly paying for the mailer — “NEIGHBORHOODS FOR NATHAN FLETCHER – A COMMITTEE TO SUPPORT FLETCHER FOR MAYOR sponsored by Neighborhood Market Association.” Ostensibly it appears to be a broad-based small business group, but this outfit smells of political cover for the labor unions.
The group is primarily made up of independent grocers and liquor store owners, and that’s just fine. But they have (and tout on their website) VERY close ties with the local police labor unions.
What makes this alliance interesting is that the flyer highlights and quotes extensively just two luminaries supporting Nathan Fletcher for mayor — the group’s president Mara Arabo, and the San Diego police labor union boss Brian Marvel.
I’ll bet dollars to donuts (an appropriate police wager, I suspect) that the flyer was paid for primarily by the police labor union — seeking to financially support Fletcher’s campaign while hiding behind the business group to avoid emphasizing the public employee labor union’s underlying motive in getting Fletcher elected.
The motive? If perchance you didn’t see Nathan Fletcher’s amazing, leaked labor union candidate questionnaire, you should review it now. http://riderrants.blogspot.com/2013/09/sd-mayoral-candidate-nathan-fletcher.html
In the questionnaire seeking labor unions’ endorsement and support, “independent” Nathan Fletcher came out in strong support for each and every labor union position, no matter how radical or nonsensical. Given that less than two years ago Fletcher claimed he was a staunch limited government Republican, the transformation is clearly a switch in positions to gain massive labor union monetary support.
Some “independence”!! Nathan Fletcher has made it clear — he’s for sale to the highest bidder.
BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes political mailers can tell us much about a candidate — perhaps more than the political consultants intended. These mailings are three prime examples.