Tag Archives: Ben Hueso

Hueso Wins, Torres To Run-off

Senate will regain supermajority

by Brian Leubitz

A split decision in yesterday’s Special Election, as Asm. Ben Hueso exceeded the 50% mark in his bid to replace Juan Vargas in the Senate, but Norma Torres was not able to break that mark in her bid. Torres will go on to a run off on May 14, where she will be a big favorite against Republican Paul Leon.

Now that the Senate is back at 2/3, what does this mean for the supermajority in the Assembly? Torey Van Oot breaks it down:

The Assembly will hold onto its supermajority status when Huseo departs for the upper house, but not for long. At least one other Assembly Democrat, Bob Blumenfield, is expected to resign this summer to take a Los Angeles City Council seat he won in a recent primary. Successors to both Blumenfield and Hueso will be selected in later special elections. (SacBee)

Round and round…

Dede Alpert Happened

In June I asked What the Hell Happened in San Diego following a disaster in the June primary. A few days later, I noted that, among other things, Ben Hueso happened. Today, former state senator Dede Alpert happened in much the same way. Alpert is, apparently by virtue of just being a Democrat who’s ever been elected to something, generally considered to be a major force within the San Diego Democratic Party. She was even batted around as a possible candidate for mayor before leading Dems decided it would be easier to just give up and go home. So in the one remaining citywide race, Alpert endorses Jan Goldsmith for City Attorney, the Republican. This of course continues her streak of supporting Republicans every chance she gets.

Let’s keep this straight. Incumbent City Attorney Mike Aguirre is the only one in San Diego who has consistently and seriously pursued tremendous corruption concerns over the past several years. Alpert’s endorsement says that Goldsmith “will provide the kind of leadership the City Attorney’s office needs to be a competent, well-managed law office for the people of San Diego.” Which of course implies that Aguirre’s office is incompetent and poorly managed. This is a popular line of CW bullshit in San Diego pushed out by people who bristle at the notion of real accountability at the city level. I know that Aguirre isn’t always the easiest person to get along with or work with, but with nobody else in the entire city taking seriously the responsibility to provide an uncorrupted, open and reasonably functional government, I’d wonder what exactly Alpert is looking for.

Has the city’s recent crumbling infrastructure, financial mismanagement, city hall pay-to-play scandals, collapsing economy and lack of responsiveness been some sort of model for virtuous governance and I missed the memo? Has the appeal of having a viable oppositional voice been abandoned in favor of a de-facto autocracy full of people keeping their head down and building a resume?

In this case, it makes some sense that, since Alpert’s Republican choice for mayor has won, that she would want to undermine anyone who might oppose his policies- regardless of whether the policies are good. Or ethical. Or healthy for the long-term prospects of city governance. Effective government requires a public and reasonable debate, a legitimate division of power within government and between ideologies, and a basic level of competence and motivation towards maintaining such standards. It would seem Alpert disagrees, but complacency and go-along-get-along simply doesn’t fly. Not anymore at least.

The Democratic Party in San Diego is completely rotten at the top. These standard-bearers of the establishment and decaying conventional wisdom are an embarrassment and actively undermine the tremendous bottom-up organizing that new blood, new perspectives and new energy have brought to the grassroots level. It’s people like Ben Hueso and Dede Alpert who work expressly at cross-purposes to the notion of a viable San Diego Democratic Party. The ultimate opponent is the GOP, but these oppositional Democrats are a hurdle that need to be identified and understood as well. There won’t be a healthy Democratic Party until we win both fronts. If Dede Alpert wants to try to hold up the Republican power structure, so be it. Now we know what we’re dealing with.

Ben Hueso Happened

Disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign which has worked on the Blackwater issue, but these opinions are my own.

Earlier this week, I asked What the Hell happened in San Diego in the June 3 election. I explored a particularly underwhelming electoral performance and noted that there was a massive failure of leadership from the city’s elected Democrats (active and retired). Councilmember Donna Frye supported GOP mayoral challenger Steve Francis and Council President Scott Peters ran against the Democratic incumbent City Attorney Mike Aguirre. Incidentally, both Francis and Peters failed to make it to the November runoff.

Then yesterday it happened again. Councilmember Ben Hueso, who in May was rallying to Block Blackwater in his council district, announced his endorsement of Republican city attorney candidate Jan Goldsmith. This is particularly notable because Goldsmith’s opponent is incumbent Mike Aguirre. Aguirre has been a champion for the city in the fight to force Blackwater’s permits into public hearing at a time when a number of other city leaders have…attended a rally and then thrown up their hands.

If Jan Goldsmith as City Attorney would go to bat over Blackwater or any other number of issues that might be uncomfortable for the Mayor or inconvenient for the City Council, I would be absolutely flabbergasted. The campaign, like every other challenge to Aguirre this year, has been centered around a promise to sit down and shut up. The last thing this city needs is another elected official who doesn’t have the necessary combination of power and motivation to force important issues.

As the UT newsblog notes, Hueso and Aguirre have never exactly been close. And Aguirre has taken a lot of flack throughout his term as City Attorney for his rabid pursuit of Mayor Jerry Sanders for all manner of scandal- real or imagined. But as Councilmember Hueso well knows because he’s at the meetings, the City Council hasn’t exactly put on a clinic when it comes to keeping mayoral power checked by the legislative branch. Fighting the good fight has consistently taken a back seat over the past two and a half years to misguided “pragmatism” that largely allowed Mayor Sanders to get anything he wanted.

So what we’re left with is Ben Hueso surveying this scene- Mayor Sanders re-elected to a second term with what CW will term a convincing mandate (it’s not, the turnout was too low to carry a mandate) and a City Council that will likely go from a narrow Democratic advantage to an even split, further neutering a body that had given itself over to the inevitability of the Strong Mayor government- and deciding that the best thing for the city is that the single dissonant voice of any weight in the city government should be replaced by, as the UT put it,

Hueso said the city attorney’s political persuasion is less important to him than getting “the best legal advice.”

If the Democratic Party in San Diego is ever going to be able to capitalize on the tremendous infrastructure building being done at the precinct and street-corner level, leading Democrats need to stop undercutting both their party and basic points of fundamental governance at every opportunity.

What happened in San Diego? Ben Hueso and destructive politics like this happened.

Rally to Block Blackwater Friday Morning

Full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign

When nobody was paying attention, Blackwater found another way into San Diego.  After watching every friendly politician in Potrero get recalled handily in February, Blackwater West quietly started pursuing permits to open a facility in the City of San Diego just three blocks from the U.S/Mexico border.  61,600 square feet, zoned for a vocational school but which Blackwater plans to use for training Navy personnel in terrorism response.  To echo recent comments by Councilmember Ben Hueso to local news, Blackwater has no business in the City of San Diego unless and until someone can say definitively what laws they are bound by.  And certainly, setting up shop on the border raises all sorts of extra red flags.

The local response has been fast and furious this week.  And thanks to leadership from Congressman Bob Filner, there will be a rally at the proposed site of the new Blackwater facility tomorrow (Friday) morning.  Rep. Filner will be joined by Councilmember Ben Hueso, San Diego City Council President Scott Peters, Carol Jahnkow of the Peace Resource Center, Raymond Lutz of Citizens’ Oversight Projects, and Sierra Club’s Jeanette Hartman at 10:45am at 7685 Siempre Viva Road in Otay Mesa in opposition to Blackwater’s latest shady dealings.  Blackwater discovered once that San Diego isn’t friendly territory. They’re sticking around for a reason, and best guess is, it’s not just for a Navy subcontract.

Among other organizations, the Courage Campaign is encouraging all local San Diegans to attend if they’re able.  If you want to read the email from Rick Jacobs, you can check it out here.