A flurry of last-minute advertising on Facebook attacking president Donald Trump wasn’t enough to get Republican Lorie Zapf re-elected last week against anti-Trump Democrat Jen Campbell. “Lorie Zapf will stand up to Trump’s off-shore drilling,” said the ad, featuring a color photo of a beaming Zapf across from a black-and-white shot of a scornful Trump glaring at her, an ocean-going drilling platform in between. “The beauty of San Diego’s beaches and bays needs to be protected.”
The ad, which ran election day, November 6, appeared three times, each time costing the campaign less than $100 for fewer than a thousand impressions, according to Facebook’s political disclosure page. Zapf ultimately fell to Campbell 56 percent to 44 percent, raising questions about the clout of two long-time opinion makers, the GOP Lincoln Club and the circulation-challenged Union-Tribune, which in days of yore could easily make or break council candidates with a last-minute volley of personal attacks.
“As supporters of both pension reform and an expanded convention center, it would be hard for our board to endorse Campbell and remain optimistic about the prospects of either effort,” the paper opined October 11 about its desire to protect two of Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer’s biggest pet projects. Going further, the Lincoln Club created a political committee, calling it the Public Integrity League against Jen Campbell, and launched a fusillade of hits against the physician’s professional integrity. The strategy had worked many times before, most controversially in 2013 when it was deployed against mayoral hopeful Nathan Fletcher, toppling him to third place. This year, though, labor unions matched the Republicans with equally well-financed rounds of hits of their own against Zapf and her alleged Trump ties…Another election-day Facebook attack using Trump came from the campaign Democrat Sunday Gover against incumbent GOP Assemblyman Brian Maienschein. “It’s simple: A vote for Republican Brian Maienschein is a vote for Trump,” said one. “Maienschein and Trump are wrong on health care, wrong on the environment and wrong for San Diego.” Said another: “Brian Maienschein isn’t serving us — he’s scamming us. While San Diego went broke, Maienschein schemed to get himself a taxpayer-funded city pension at age 39.” Gover lost to Maienschein, getting 47 percent of the vote to his 53 percent. In all, the California Democratic Party spent almost $900,000 on Gover’s failed campaign from August through November 2, state disclosure records show.
Witless in San Diego
The passing of ex-city attorney John Witt at the age of 86 last week was marked by a glowing Union-Tribune obituary, crediting the Republican with “running an efficient office much like a private firm, led by the law and not politics.” Near its bottom, however, the piece added, “Perhaps his greatest criticism came after a 1991 sex scandal, when a former city employee sued the former planning director for sexual harassment. Some critics said Witt’s office helped draw up a document to keep the employee’s $100,000 payoff a secret from the City Council, although Witt said his office merely provided the city manager advice on documents dealing with the settlement. Witt later reflected that he probably should have notified the Council.”
But other of Witt’s transgressions against taxpayers were far costlier than six-figures of city planning hush money, as related by Bruce Henderson in 2016. “It was almost sickening,” recalled the former city councilman about the city’s notorious 1995 deal with the Chargers giving the NFL team a tax-funded ticket guarantee, the infamy of which later contributed to the team’s unpopularity and subsequent departure for Los Angeles. “And then eventually John Witt, who was the city attorney, admitted that he’d never personally read the agreement, and then claimed, well, maybe, maybe another attorney in his office, who had by that time died, had read it, but the truth is it was clear that there wasn’t one word of city input into the ’95 agreement.”
The county is looking for a contractor to provide legal services for victims of human trafficking, per an October 17 request for proposals. “The Contractor shall provide legal assistance to victims of crime with temporary restraining orders, permanent restraining orders, immigration applications, civil restitution, financial matters, custody cases, clear identity theft and other fraudulent or erroneous credit report issues, connection to existing U-Visa programs, etc. In addition, the contractor shall provide supervision to at least four pro-bono legal interns or volunteers during the contract period in order to provide additional legal assistance hours.” This being 2018, certain rules of appropriate behavior are spelled out by the document. “Sexual contact shall be prohibited between program staff (including volunteers and members of the Board of Directors) and the participants. A written statement explaining the sexual contact policy shall be included in every client’s rights statement given at admission to the program. Contractor shall include a signed statement in every personnel file noting that the employees and volunteers have read and understood the sexual contact prohibition. The policy shall remain in effect for six months after a client is discharged from services, or a program staff member terminates employment.”