San Diego Clyde Fuller says he's through with politics. He doesn't want to discuss his failed race for the San Diego Unified school board against John de Beck ever again, period. "It's over, it's over, it's over," Fuller repeats over and over into the phone. "Once and for all. It's over!"
Well, not quite. First-time candidate Fuller, it appears, left behind an e-mail chronicle of his maiden bid for public office, complete with candidly graphic characterizations of his foes and perceived injustices committed by a newspaper reporter. The e-mails were reportedly sent to a small inner circle of Fuller backers during the final two months of the campaign. After being read their content last week during a telephone interview, Fuller would neither confirm nor deny that he had authored them. "I write a lot of e-mails," he said. "I'm not going to talk about any of them. The election is over, it's all over, and that's all I have to say."
John de Beck appeared poised to run unopposed for reelection until Fuller emerged as a surprise candidate just days before the filing deadline in the first week of December 2001. Hardly a household name before his ill-fated school-board campaign, Fuller's brief appearances in the pages of the Union-Tribune over the years had been limited to mentions in society writer Burl Stiff's column. A retired FBI agent and Pacific Beach resident with a lantern jaw and a flowing mane of blond hair, Fuller has close ties to the middle-aged beach-area party culture; his biggest public role before his school-board race was as chairman of the 2002 National Lifeguard Championship.
Thus his sudden entry into the District C race against Democrat de Beck -- an ex-teacher closely tied to the San Diego Education Association, the teachers' union -- provoked easy speculation that Fuller had been recruited by the city's anti-union, pro-business lobby. During the campaign, Fuller, a supporter of school superintendent Alan Bersin, benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled into the race on his behalf by the county's GOP Central Committee and the Lincoln Club, a Republican campaign-funding organization.
The largest Republican donations to the Fuller cause came from downtown real estate mogul Malin Burnham and Wal-Mart heir John Walton, a champion of charter schools. Billionaire Eli Broad, a Los Angeles Democrat and close friend and supporter of school district superintendent Bersin, also contributed more than $30,000.
The intervention of big business and development interests was used by the teachers' union as a campaign issue against both Fuller and Katherine Nakamura, the pro-Bersin candidate in District B, who, like Fuller, was the beneficiary of the money spent by Broad, Burnham, and the city's other financial interests. "I don't want to get into that," Fuller said repeatedly when asked about the motives of his backers during a telephone interview last week. "The election is over. I lost. We should move beyond whatever it is you're trying to say. It's over."
But whatever Fuller's current druthers, his campaign lives on in the e-mails. Signed "Clyde" or "C," they are full of attacks on the teachers' union and other Fuller detractors. They also say that, like many politicians -- especially those who suffer at the hands of voters -- Fuller blamed the media for many of his woes. Ironically, the memos suggest, he took particular umbrage at U-T education writer Maureen Magee, who covered the two school-board campaigns for the paper.
In August, Magee had broken the story that many observers feel ultimately led to the demise of Jeff Lee, the anti-Bersin, pro-teachers' union candidate running against Nakamura in District B. According to Magee's account, attributed to documents provided by an anonymous source, Lee, while an officer in the Navy, had abused sailors on a Navy frigate under his command. The piece, which ran under the headline "School board candidate's military past checkered," was repeatedly cited by Union-Tribune editorial writer Robert Kittle during various appearances he made on KPBS and Cox Cable television attacking Lee's reputation. The information also made its way into U-T editorials, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, radio spots, and direct mail hit pieces paid for by the pro-Nakamura business interests. Lee declined to return fire and was edged out by Nakamura.
But Fuller, according to the following unedited e-mail memos -- some humorous, some written in obvious frustration -- apparently thought Magee was out to get him and Nakamura. The memos say he also found a variety of other conspiracies lurking around every bend of his rocky campaign trail.
OK, is it me or do I understand that the Sec. of Ed. for the U.S. and the Cal. State Superintendent for Education can now be added to the giant conspiracy along with the "builders and developers" that are trying to take over the school system.
I'm surprised she [Ed: the memo apparently refers to a reporter] hasn't mentioned the world wide Jewish banking cartel (I need to get their number because we may need to use their meeting hall as our "group" is growing)
I will have to say for being such a poor and lazy writer, the thought of writing something derogatory seems to spur her creative juices.
It was pretty difficult to write something derogatory about what I thought was a positive visit, but she did it.
The Sec. of Ed. visits and she writes up an interview of the Pres. of the SDEA.
FYI someone with the large SDEA button asked last night how many years I spent in the CIA and why did the CIA want to be involved in our local school system.
(I told them that they were always looking for well educated students).
KPBS TV tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.
Just a little FYI re this forum.
The forum was put on by the Latino Coalition on Education.
A group created out of thin air by [a former school-district employee], recently fired from SD schools and very disgruntled, and several other long time Bersin critics who are openly supportive of deBeck and Lee.
[Editor's note: During a recent telephone interview, the former employee cited in the memo denied he was fired by the district and produced a letter of recommendation on his behalf signed by all five members of the board of education. He added that the coalition had been active for many years before the 2002 elections.]
The concern was that the entire panel of questioners was made up of Bersin critics and it would be a complete set-up. Furthermore, Maureen Magee had stated that she would only be going to this forum and the League of Women Voters forum.
So the concern was that she would be writing a not too nice story about myself and Nakamura -- especially aided by the fact it was a complete set-up to make us look bad.
As we walked in every single person involved in the forum -- the person directing traffic to the hall, the people providing refreshments, the ushers at the door, the people filming, etc., all had on Lee buttons and SDEA buttons.
Then just before we are ushered up to the podium the moderator gets N and I aside and tells us that out of fairness he must tell us that he is [school-board member] Frances Zimmerman's son-in-law.
At this N bursts out in tears (after a few minutes and prior to the podium she gathers herself together). I have to say he was a very nice young man who had probably never had this experience before and he was completely befuddled as to what to do.
I hate to sound cold-hearted, but it was pretty entertaining watching them both begin to disenigrate. N recovered and then all was OK.
We go up to the podium and [the organizer] begins with a very a long-winded supposedly statistical tearing down of the Blueprint on a PowerPoint demo.
Tom has seen the data and it is ludicrous.
Then the panel begins to ask us questions that [the organizer] has assured me no one has seen before the questioning.
As soon as the questioning begins both D and L take out typed, prepared notes for each question and read their answers for every question asked (AH, nothing like honest competition).
The questions were very mild and were very fair and to top it off, even though they had obviously spent a great deal of time preparing answers -- their answers were terrible.
Then at the end, even though we had all been told that there would be no final statement, the moderator (Fran's son-in-law) said he was going to make an executive decision and allow a one-minute statement.
Both D and L immediately take out typed prepared statements (you'll love this -- they were so long that they both had to be stopped short of their conclusion, leaving a confusing and muddled ending).
DeBeck told the audience that they should not vote for a "want to be school board member" but that they should only vote for someone who is already a school board member. I retorted that not only was that the most absurd thing I had ever heard him say on the campaign trail, but that apparently it is a burr under Mr. deBeck's saddle that he is in America where any citizen can run for office.
I then went on to say that to counter his remarks that all my endorsers were politicians and that the further you got from education the closer you get to my endorsers.
I said I would turn that argument on its head and point out that all these people had worked with John during his years on the board and that now not one of them endorsed him. This shows that the closer you get to people who have worked with him the further you get from people who support him.
(Even old John liked it and told me he would have to agree. He likes to think of himself as a cranky old man).
All in all it was not too bad.
Also Channel 6 (Fox) seems to follow me everywhere and asked for an interview afterwards. They did and as they were leaving Lee demanded they do him, so the cameraman put his stuff back up and did a quick interview of he and N (I got odds they don't show it).
Then outside KUSI got me aside and did an interview about the DC killings. Lee demanded they interview him and they told him it had nothing to do with the race and basically told him to pound sand.
Then we went to Barrio Logan and Ben Hueso (community activist) took us door to door of known voters in the area for 4 hours.
Nice day all in all.
Hope you all have a good weekend.
About a week ago a number of my friends in La Jolla called to ask for more yard signs because their signs had been removed from their yard -- often within hours of putting it up. Another friend of mine had put up a sign at Costco on Moreno and had used tie straps to attach it and it was cut down within hours. Last night I returned home, and my wife told me that a friend of mine was in the Sports Arena area and saw a man get out of his car and remove a yard sign of mine. He yelled at the man and he got in his car and ran off.
This morning I awoke to find not only my yard sign gone, but also at least 10 signs in my neighborhood removed (and that's just with a short cursory look). deBeck signs are up across the street from some of the places where my signs were removed, and Faulkenor signs were removed from some, but not others.
These are large signs and with so many removed all over the area it is not some isolated incident of pranksters -- especially when deBeck signs are still up across the street, including across from my own home (retired shop teacher and full-time horses ass).
I know this happens all the time, but is there a way I could call a news conference and ask deBeck to ask his supporters to stop removing signs.
I could add that the sign removals really started to accelerated after his comments at yesterday's forum where he stated that no one should be allowed to be elected but incumbents ("You shouldn't vote for a want to be school board member -- you should only elect someone who is already there."
This matches nicely with his comments reported in the UT where he has often stated that this is his seat until he dies or he decides to give it up).
I know this is petty, but there is no way I can afford to go around and replace yard signs this close to the end.
Plus it might be a nice story about the trials of running in a high-profile race.
Well, tonight was the worst thing we have been to. 30 or so people and every single one of them a SDEA and/Lee supporter.
The moderator (Jim Vandovoer, an endorser) did a poor job, and the crowd yelled and got out of hand.
More questions than we have ever had, and they all were about real estate and bad mgt. and low teacher morale. Lee said that he would never impugn K's integrity, BUT it was merely a matter of conflict of interest. She would have to put vote for her husbands multimillion $ business interest and against the children.
He was awful.
D said the same about me and my developer friends. He said they made up the vast majority of my donors. He said it wouldn't necessarily be anything illegal -- it's just that I would put their interest ahead of the children. He said that the developers were licking their lips in anticipation of the potential windfall they were to receive.
He said that as to the Commercial St. property -- the person who provided the info on the potential illegal activity of I. (which he pronounced Imza) was none other than Ron Roberts. Ron R. had called to warn D. about the conflict. (What the heck is that all about?) He then went on to say I. was in deep trouble about some library deal in SE SD.
He then went on to attack Ron Ottinger (the attack can be seen tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. on KPBS TV where he first surfaced it). He said to show you how much faith Ron has in the Blueprint and the teachers, the Pres. of the school board has taken his child out of a SD school and placed him in a Coronado HS.
D was very much more vocal than he has ever been. He said he is going to fire everybody and give the classroom back to teacher and teachers aides. He was vicious about everybody.
It was an awful crowd. Several people came up and yelled at me about the Lincoln Club flyer and how I had brought racism in the race. They said his record spoke for itself that he was not a racist and that this was way over the top.
How could I talk about reconciliation and then print this up. I was pretty tired by this time, so I told her (1) I had nothing to do with the flyer (2) I wasn't there to take sh-t off her, I was there to answer questions from people with legitimate questions. I then excused myself as she yelled at me as I left -- with my head held high.
As I went out in the parking lot there was Pesta (the SDEA Pres.) and almost the entire crowd from the forum. He was giving them instructions for questions to ask at the upcoming forums. They stacked the questions at this one even though they did not have any competition.
They each wrote 4-5 questions each. Interesting tactic -- surprised it took them this long to figure it out.
I know Laurie does not agree -- and I have absolutely no knowledge to the contrary -- I got a call today "reminding" me that the moderator tomorrow and John have a "special relationship" and not to be expecting to be treated fairly at the League of Women forums tomorrow or on Monday.
I did see the moderator at the Latino forum ask questions and allow a closing -- which he specifically said he would not do. I also notice that the moderator almost always selects the questions.
But the truth is, I am very comfortable answering anything anyone wants to ask.
Sometimes these rumors gather a life of their own. Maybe after I'm elected the word will be that she and I have a "special relationship." At least with us it will be a little more believable.
Thanks for continuing the support
This morning an old lady (80s) who lives down the street came over and handed me two $100 bills.
She said she was disgusted by the TV ad with the puppet theme.
She said she had never given before but felt the kids scores were getting better, etc.
Then a few minutes ago I received a call from a person downtown who asked for 30 remit envelopes. He said he was so disgusted by the TV ads he's been seeing he's going to see if he can get his friends and office mates to donate.
I also just got an e-mail from a supporter whose opinion (which he is quick to point out is worth what I am paying for it) is that this race is very close and that the vast majority of people have their mind made up and will not be influenced by the ads one way or the other.
He says everyone he speaks to about this race already has a strong opinion about Bersin (pro and con) and the Blueprint and have little feelings one way or the other about the candidates.
I just wanted to point out some positive information about how elegant the dining room here in the Titanic is when the light reflects off the water. I also hope you appreciate all the trouble I had to go to get down off the chair and untie this knot to reach the keyboard.
No matter the results I want to thank all of you for all you have done. It has been a great pleasure getting to know you. Don't ever think I am unaware of how much you have put into this effort. I am very humbled that people who, in December, couldn't pick me out of a lineup (old FBI expression by an old FBI man) did as much as you all did. I hope I have earned your efforts.
We have done a great job, and I think we can all hold our heads high in an era when not many people involved in political races can. The fact that we can hold on to our integrity during a very stressful period is a victory in and of itself. In the game of life we are big winners.
Many of you have been vilified in the press, which has questioned your motives.
I can honestly say after having spent a lifetime interviewing people from all walks of life I have never met a finer group of people with better motives. And, after a lifetime of reading, I finally understand the term "Noblesse Oblige." You are truly the nobility of San Diego, and it has my great honor to briefly move in your circles.
Now go vote as many times as you can.
Thank you again