Sadly, that is exactly what has been happening in San Diego. The issue concerns soccer and a Trump appointee so it popped up on my radar – but no doubt this sort of thing is repeating itself all over the nation right now.
The protesters in San Diego that we’ve referenced chanting “Let us Vote” want to vote on a land development deal that would knock down Qualcomm Stadium which has been recently abandoned by the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.
The redevelopment project would build a stadium for a new Major League Soccer team. As we’ve discussed previously in reference to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, two MLS franchises are going to be awarded this December and as we’ve covered extensively the Tampa Bay area wants to be one of them. Two more teams are supposed to be added at some point in the middle of next year, thought that timeline isn’t currently very firm. Without a stadium and a development project, San Diego has no chance of winning one at either point. So any attempt to postpone an election till November 2018 effectively kills hopes for MLS Soccer in San Diego. In an unrelated development MLS’ (somewhat) rival league, NASL has announced a new San Diego club this week. More on how that impacts the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (among other Strikers news) tomorrow.
Amazingly, it is Republicans in San Deigo, led by maverick Councillor Scot Sherman, who are in favor of letting the citizens decide. For them the attraction is that no taxpayer money is being asked for by the proponents, FS Investors. Also relevant, is that it will cost the city $12m to do nothing, to just leaving now ancient Qualcomm Stadium standing but continuing its long process of decaying.
So why are San Diego Democrats fighting so hard to prevent the right of other progressive voters to vote for something that, even if passed, will provide a left-leaning voice in their community and provide a revenue stream to the city for years as it has in Seattle?
One answer was provided by journalist Andrew Keatts on the Voice of San Diego site on June 16. In his article, How San Diego’s Biggest Developers Swarmed against Soccer City, he exposed the clique of rival land developers who had been quietly pouring money into the camp trying to prevent the election.
They had hidden behind the Labor Unions, local Democrat politicians and the SDSU. FS Investors’ original proposal involved also building a stadium for the San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs until the college negotiators withdrew from the talks suddenly and with no notice. They, represented by the SDSU Alumni, then became implacable opponents of the whole project. Incidentally, the news NASL club in San Diego is owned by SDSU Alum Bob Watkins, but there is no tangible evidence that he has influenced this opposition, or that the NASL is being used to undermine the MLS bid.
Keatts uncovered that one of the main funders was none other than Doug Manchester. Yes, that Doug Manchester.
Manchester as we’ve discussed in the opening is an influential individual. He is also without question an interesting character. He once bought the San Diego Union Tribune with the aim of making it more Conservative. Now he is a close friend of Donald Trump. So close in fact, that Trump has offered him the post of Ambassador to the Bahamas, probably the cushiest and easiest job available. It’s almost like Manchester selected it himself. He has property interests there in Lyford Cay with a building he once owned bearing his name.
So just as galling for those wanting to vote, is the fact that the Democrats are being bought off by a dedicated and close friend of Donald Trump. Most implacable of all is Democrat Barbara Bry who seems tied to Doug Manchester. She is considered by the pro-election folk to be so corrupted that they aren’t even bothering to reach out to sway her vote. Manchester is also the guy who Trump half-jokingly suggested would build the Mexico Wall for him.
I am not going to debate the merits of the land deal sitting across the country and as someone who wants to see as many soccer facilities built in the country but someone who also wants to see the public interest protected. That decision should be for San Diego voters to decide. The problem is Council President Myrtle Cole whose political ambitions range far and wide as well as her three other Democrat colleagues, Councelers Alvarez, Gomez and Ward will not let them. They are consistently opposing a Special Election in 2017 (similar to the one held in St Petersburg which gave the Tampa Bay Rowdies a leg up potentially in the race for MLS) in order to kill the deal by timing it out. Why are two Hispanic Councillors, three if you count Republican Lorie Zapf, allowing themselves to be manipulated by the likes of Doug Manchester? When challenged, Alvarez was overheard (according to a source in San Diego) telling a Hispanic constituent that “he didn’t want to be put in a box” as a Hispanic.
That’s his right. What is not his right or that of any other Democrat is to undermine the vital national campaign to support the right of people to vote across America. By all means speak up against the proposal to the electorate on behalf of whichever vested interest you care most about. Democrats should be for democracy always. As we’ve seen here in Florida, the ballot and allowing of questions of public interest to be voted on by the public has aided democracy against the runaway arrogance of an entrenched GOP majority in this state whose entire world view is buttressed by crony capitalism. They should especially not oppose elections where the effect will be to kill off a proposal for good. But we must remember in California, the Democrats are the driving party, the ones that govern, and political self-interest and promotion often means doing the bidding of those who fund campaigns and control the playing field – like Doug Manchester.
Their behavior became even more embarrassing last week around the same time the council was thwarting democracy, when Harris tweeted out her support for the Right to Vote.
Harris’ campaign is of course worthy of support from Democrats across the USA. But what ammunition does it give our opponents when Democrats in her own state are actively working for an entrenched interest trying to kill a measure by denying a vote?
Senator Harris’ office has not returned a call made by us about the matter made on the day after her tweet as yet. As the clock on the chance for a 2017 Special Election in San Diego clicks down, there is no evidence that any of the five local Democrats recognize that they are handing ammunition to opponents of the #restorethevote campaign that may well hamper Harris’ promising political career for a long time. And perhaps even but the brakes on Myrtle Cole’s political ambitions for higher office.
These Democrats GOP opponents on San Diego Council are holding their fire in the hope of actually getting the vote permitted for the civic good, but if Democrats continue to block it, you can be sure Doug Manchester’s money will follow us around the country using San Diego as yet another case of Democrat hypocrisy