So we’ve decided that the rights of a polluting business to set up shop where ever they choose is more important than the health and safety of Barrio Logan residents. How did we get here exactly? It’s what we like to call Nullification Politics.
San Diego used to be a reliably safe city for Republican business interests. Want to host the Republican National Convention? Sure. The City Council will just “borrow” the funds to make it happen from the city employee pension fund. Want to keep the Chargers in San Diego? We’ll just sign an agreement putting the taxpayer on the hook for any unsold game tickets.
In the last few years though, something happened. Democrats outnumbered Republicans – first in the City of San Diego and now, even in the County as a whole. The City Council is no longer a rubber stamp for every corporate give-away the Republican downtown special interests bring them.
Groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Club and San Diego County Taxpayers Association have chosen not to let majority rule though. Even if you don’t have the City Council in your pocket anymore, there’s still a lot of money in those pockets.
The City Council approved a compromise Barrio Logan plan. It did not give the shipyard industry everything they wanted. So, the decided to buy a different outcome. They hired paid signature gatherers by the busload. (Of course they hired them as “independent contractors” so that when they were called-out on the lies being spread by their staff, they could disavow it.) They insisted that all the signatures they bought entitled them to a vote in the Primary election when Democrats and progressives are in short supply. They spent ship loads of money in a misdirection television/direct mail campaign to convince the small cadre of conservative voters who can be counted on to protect their interests, even when Democrats don’t, in that Primary election.
And they won. With the application of a few lies, and copious amounts of cash to spread those lies, they managed to nullify the six years of work spent to craft the compromise plan for the community.
This is not the first application of nullification politics. When the City Council set a plan in motion to repay the funds diverted from the City employee pension plan, a minority on the Council decided to use it as a spring board for a new job and bought an initiative that took away employee pensions. But hey, it won’t cost the taxpayer too much MORE over the next 30 years. When progressives took over as the majority on the school board, what’s the response? Try to pass an initiative to pack the Board with non-elected members appointed by people that can be counted on by the Lincoln Club.
Defeat of the Barrio Logan Plan will certainly not be the last example of nullification politics either. Plans have already been set in motion to promote an initiative whose only purpose is to confuse and confound the City Council’s work to enact a livable minimum wage in the City. The initiative will indeed enact a higher minimum wage, but only for a very limited number of people who are not among the more than 90% of employers/industries exempted by this dishonest initiative.
San Diego Democrats for Equality will host a program on Nullification Politics at its June 26th meeting. We will talk about examples of this phenomena, both locally and at a national level, and more importantly, we’ll work on developing practical solutions to prevent nullification in the future. The Club meets at Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center, 3900 Vermont St in Hillcrest. We begin with a social [half] hour at 6:30 PM with the program beginning at 7:00 PM.
Please join us. Get involved. Stop the nullification before it strikes again.