Dec 7, 2016 (San Diego) In a year of strange politics the San Diego City Council is about to get more interesting, We have two Democrats vying for the post of Council President. This is not a minor post. It determines what gets to the docket in the Council. That person will also set the agenda.
So at first glance, we have two democrats competing for the post. Never mind that the council member jobs are supposed to be non-partisan, we all stopped with that fantasy a while ago. The seats are political and related to both party machines. But there is more to this race. Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants a compliant council, that at least will not oppose him most of the time. He was behind some of the power plays that led to Sherri Lightner (D1), who is termed out, to get the post over Todd Gloria (who is moving up to the Assembly), last year.
We are seeing a similar environment. In the current council, no Republican will get the post. This is clear. So the mayor is behind the run by Myrtle Cole (D4) over that of David Alvarez (D8), a veteran of the council. Why? Cole is not going to oppose the mayor at every turn, while Alvarez is expected to run an opposition legislative body, with a real progressive agenda. This is not something that Faulconer can afford, especially if he decides to run for Governor in 2018. Yes, we know he promised he would not, but promises and politics are not usually things that go together.
This is also dividing organized labor. Those in the teamsters are behind Cole since they can smell good construction projects in the city. Never mind that they might have to fight to get agreements in place, but they are chomping at the bit for more construction jobs. Other unions are keeping their views closer to the vest, but it is suspected that they support Alvarez since he will support more progressive agenda that will help their members.
Cole might have some problems back at home base, though, and with the community she represents. Time will tell how much support she gets, given some of the comments she has made in the recent past that have led to calls for her resignation. Her comments in front of the whole council were regarding police profiling which she said was due to black on black crime, This was surprising, especially from a black council member representing a mostly black district.
This is not going away. Especially after the report from SDSU professors on profiling revealed what was not a particular surprise to many observers. Blacks and Latinos are stopped more often south of the 8, and their vehicles are searched. The study also revealed that there is less contraband found than in vehicles driven by white drivers. This pattern partially normalizes itself north of the 8, but the study confirmed observations from a 2002 study. Cole is not expected to push the mayor’s office, or for that matter Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, to adopt the kind of training that will reduce this.
Time will tell whether Cole or Alvarez takes the leadership post, but also tells us a lot about the palace intrigue in the city. It also betrays the power of certain interests that are still keeping control of the city.