Strategic error in Filner recall bid? Maybe

Strategic error in Filner recall bid? Maybe

YouTube-East-Coast-v-West-Coast-perv-offThe Bob Filner saga continues to unfold in San Diego. The biggest news is that a gay-baiting gay activist is apparently backing off what once looked like a clear attempt to sandbag a nascent recall of the grabby mayor.

This is from a U-T San Diego editorial I wrote:

“The decision of two recall proponents — land-use consultant Michael Pallamary and gay activist Stampp Corbin — to combine their efforts to oust Mayor Bob Filner is good news for those who believe in direct democracy.

“That is the system established in California in 1912 to allow voters to use signature-gathering campaigns to directly enact laws and remove lawmakers. In recent years, it’s been subverted on many fronts …. .

“The monkey-wrenching has been led by political forces who want to preserve the status quo that is targeted by signature-gathering campaigns for initiatives or recalls. Initially, it looked like that was Corbin’s goal. As 10News reported, Corbin told Susan Jester, head of the local Log Cabin Republicans, that he intended to sabotage the recall.

“But Corbin insists that he was joking. On Friday, he promised to work constructively with Pallamary in gathering signatures of San Diegans who are tired of Filner’s mistreatment of women, his bullying of everyone and his ethical breaches.”

Filner’s temperament was well-known

In another piece, I took on the goofy idea from the East Coast media that Filner was protected by a fawning media. Just because that’s how D.C. treats the president doesn’t mean that’s the norm for how a big-city mayor is treated on the other side of the nation:

“As the national media descend on San Diego to cover our sexist caveman of a mayor, some wonder how career politician Bob Filner could have made it to age 70 without being exposed as a serial cad. The answer, of course, is that until last month, no woman was willing to come forward with public accusations. The idea that his behavior was covered up by a fawning media is absurd. Filner’s temperament was a constant focus of the 2012 campaign.

“[This is why no one] in local media and political circles is surprised by Filner’s scandal. He has a long history of thuggishness — one that has led to brushes with law enforcement and endless tales about his insolent belief that the normal rules of conduct and decorum simply don’t apply to him. It’s no surprise that this thuggishness leads Filner, in his word, to act like a ‘monster’ toward women.”

His misconduct extends far beyond this

“This thuggishness has been on ample display in his eight months as mayor in other areas besides his dealings with women. He has thrown tantrums at City Council meetings, both in public and in closed session, including once using his security force to eject a representative of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith on spurious grounds. He has been caught in lies about his possibly criminal efforts to force a developer to give $100,000 to his pet causes before getting a key project permit. He has used a silly cover story as a pretext to force out the head of the city employees’ pension board. Why? Because the official didn’t want to go along with what he saw as the Filner administration’s attempts to resume the pension underfunding that got San Diego into such terrible straits in 1996 and 2002.

“Filner’s arrogant contempt for anyone who gets in his way is reflected by his staff. Officials simply refuse to comply with state openness laws. His chief of staff, Lee Burdick, appeared to be interfering with sex-harassment investigations by interviewing potential witnesses. She also makes the bizarre claim that since she is an attorney, her communications with the mayor are privileged — though she’s not the mayor’s attorney.”

Recall invokes several scandals — dubiously

The mayor’s broader history of corruption, malfeasance and contempt for the law is cited in official declarations filed by lead recall proponent Michael Pallamary. I think that is a big mistake. Some of the other scandals can and will be depicted by Filner and his allies as him standing up to a city status quo that protects downtown business interests. That produces a Pavlovian response among progressive voters, who can’t believe a longstanding Democratic registration advantage has yielded a relatively tight-fisted government that has pushed big reforms on benefits, pay and provision of services, led by former Republican Councilman Carl DeMaio, a libertarian.

Just focusing on the sex harassment would have been a much easier sell. But I don’t buy the conventional wisdom that a lot of money will be needed for the recall to win. The disgust with Mayor Headlock is broad and deep, and tens of thousands of people aren’t going to need persuading to sign a recall petition.



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  1. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 4 August, 2013, 10:24

    Still waiting for your apology to Mr. Corbin. Or do you still want us to think that only right-wingers have morals and are ethical?

    Reply this comment
  2. Chris Reed
    Chris Reed Author 4 August, 2013, 14:38

    If Corbin were sincere, why didn’t he try to gather signatures and set up a formal structure for such a big task?

    Because he wasn’t sincere.

    Reply this comment
  3. Michael Pallamary
    Michael Pallamary 2 September, 2013, 05:33

    Stampp Corbin was and is a poser. He would never have been able to pull this off. I do not believe he gathered one signature. His conduct assisted the recall by angering others. In that regard, he and others played a vital role as anti recall sentiment and individuals like Stampp were part of my strategic effort. I similarly used other people who made comments on social media; their actions merely motivated participants. Stampp did more for the recall by his inactions.

    As to not including the sexual harassment issues as part of the recall statement, I did that because there was nothing else to be said on that topic. It was already sold and why would I sell it again? Indeed, the recall petition was designed to have two phases. In the first, I knew people would sign a napkin and so I used this opportunity to make a series of more substantive statements which would eventually be adopted by the public.

    The second phase is now in play; that is to lay out a more formal agenda for the next mayor to follow as well as to eventually present to the public; a manifesto if you will.

    Timing was critical as the recall needed to coincide with other events that were unfolding all the while recognizing that the ultimate goal was to remove Filner from office.

    With regards to any perceived defects in the recall, they remain to be found. The maneuver was properly executed and Filner is gone. Moreover and as the recall played out, all the political “experts” were wrong about the cost, the use of paid petition gatherers and other faulty opinions that were offered. At best, these were nothing more that minor distractions.

    Filner is gone.

    Reply this comment

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