Mystical Ratios and Other Strange Excuses: San Diego’s Top Union Boss Lorena Gonzalez Explains Why San Diego Voters Approved Propositions A and B

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A few people were incredulous last week when they heard the election night claims of Lorena Gonzalez – the Secretary-Treasurer/CEO of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Central Labor Council – that “corporate interests” and “huge corporations” outspent unions in a ratio of 7 to 1 in the campaign over the Fair and Open Competition ballot measure (Proposition A) in the City of San Diego. (Proposition A won with 58% of the vote on June 5, 2012.)

One person said to me, “I read your blog showing how unions spent $1.2 million against Proposition A. What is she talking about? Did the Yes on A campaign really raise more than $7 million?”

No. As shown here in the campaign finance reports of the City of San Diego Ethics Commission, unions and union-managed organizations spent more against Proposition A ($1,325,231.20) than “corporate interests” spent in support of Proposition A ($934,037.81), in a ratio of almost 3 to 2. Supporters of Prop A did not even raise $1 million for a city-wide campaign in a city with 1.3 million people. Gonzalez’s 7 to 1 ratio for spending on Proposition A could only be met with $8.2 million in additional imaginary money to the Yes on A campaign or with some sort of incredible distortion of data on campaign finance reports.

Knowing her three degrees earned from highly prestigious colleges indicate a truly superior intelligence, I concluded that Gonzalez must have used some sort of exotic algorithm to calculate the 7 to 1 ratio. I tried to figure it out, but failed. I did determine that even if she actually meant campaign spending for Proposition A combined with Proposition B (city employee pension reform), the claim is false. Add both together, and the so-called “corporate interests” outspent unions in a little more than a 3:2 ratio.

Why would someone with such prominence in a local community let out such a brazen lie? Opinions are often in the eyes of the beholder, but she presents that claim as a fact, which people can check for truthfulness and accuracy. Even more perplexing, she said it repeatedly.

A quick perusal of Gonzalez’s recent Twitter posts reveals her frequent citation of the 7 to 1 business to union campaign expenditure ratio. For example, on May 31 she responded to a taunt about her lost race for San Diego City Council with this line: “When I was outspent 7-1, everybody predicted Faulconer and I came within hundreds? Yep, I remember that!” And on May 19, she criticized the content of a KUSI Channel 10 news story with the comment “Doesn’t fit their narrative if they say business outspends labor 7 to 1.” (She was citing this specific ratio even before the campaigns for and against Proposition A submitted their later expenditure reports to the city.)

Is it possible that Gonzalez has stumbled on some sort of mystic power in the 7:1 ratio that will lead “working people” to start voting in support of the union tax-and-spend political agenda?

To examine Gonzalez’s full range of excuses after San Diego voters approved Proposition A on June 5, I looked at the election night news coverage in San Diego. Here are her standard talking points:

  1. These are “very complicated legal issues” and the voters don’t understand what they’re supporting. (Translation: voters aren’t educated enough to know what’s good for them.)
  2. Voters were distracted with so many races on the ballot. (Translation: the unruliness of democracy confuses people into voting against their interests.)
  3. We were outspent badly by huge corporations. (Translation: democracy is unfair because corporations are able to spend money in political campaigns.)
  4. We didn’t really try to win. (Translation: our political system is so fundamentally controlled by corporate interests that participation is useless, and I lied earlier to the union volunteers who helped with the campaign and lied even earlier to the union workers whose money was used – without their consent – for campaign advertising and contracts for political consultants.)
  5. We were victims of right-wing media bias. (Translation: media in a democracy should be required to present the valid position of working people. All coverage should be like Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio.)
  6. The enacted policies are meaningless. (Translation: I lied earlier to the union volunteers who helped with the campaign and lied even earlier to the union workers whose money was used – without their consent – for campaign advertising and contracts for political consultants.)

For example, below is an election night video interview on local TV news for Channel 7 KNSD (NBC) in which Gonzalez rolls out all of her standard talking points. She claims that “we didn’t invest in those propositions in the same way as our opponents” and that “huge corporations” outspent the unions 7 to 1. She repeats the 7 to 1 lie a second time for those who didn’t hear it the first time.

 


 
 
Gonzalez also blames the mainstream media, even as she tries to use it. “We live in a city where we have one newspaper” with an agenda to defeat unions, working people, and Democrats. She also says San Diego has local TV stations that are anti-worker. (She has to backtrack on that statement a little in her own self-interest when she realizes she is being interviewed for local TV news, although she must be fuming after the reporter starts the interview by introducing her as “the county’s labor boss.”)

I’ll predict “corporate media bias” will be a major theme of unions in San Diego; in fact, the New York Times is helping by now being worried about it: see “Newspaper as Business Pulpit” – June 10, 2012. I would suggest that the unions establish their own competing daily newspaper targeted at “working people” in San Diego, but instead they’ll probably use the government to force ownership or content changes at the Union-Tribune. 

Here are some other Lorena Gonzalez quotes from the web and print media following the June 5 election. Remember, according to Gonzalez, all of these media entities hate working people:

Early results show voters support the idea of the City of San Diego being prohibited from using union-friendly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs)… “With so much noise going on in this election, I’m not surprised,” said Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council. When asked her opinion on the returns for both Prop A and Prop B, Gonzalez said it’s tough for the workers’ voice to be heard. She said San Diegans are too smart to support Prop A but said the labor stance was outspent 7 to 1 by corporate interests. “When we need to, we’ll exercise our legal options,” Gonzalez said.

Source: Prop. A Passage Not Surprising to Labor – Channel 7 KNSD (ABC). (By the way, Lorena Gonzalez is one of the most relentless sources of political noise in San Diego, so maybe she’s subconsciously blaming herself.)

Lorena Gonzalez, the head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, told City News Service that she expects Proposition B to be overturned by the courts, and for San Diegans to repeal Proposition A in the next couple of years, once its costs become clear. “There’s a third branch of government for a reason,” Gonzalez said, referring to the court system.

Source: San Diego Voters Approve Propositions A, B – Channel 10 KGTV (ABC) – June 6, 2012; Absentee Voters Favor San Diego Initiatives Channel 5 KSWB (FOX); and Election 2012: San Diegans Favor Propositions – Channel 8 KFMB News (CBS).

Here, she decides to shift the focus from the proposition victories and instead start the general election campaign by trying to diminish the first-place showing of Councilman Carl DeMaio in the hotly-contested primary race for San Diego mayor, which had four legitimate contenders (three Republicans and a Democrat):

However, labor leader Lorena Gonzalez said the outcome of Proposition B was not unexpected considering how heavily opponents were outspent…Gonzalez, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, an umbrella group that represents 133 unions, said she doubts voters realized that Proposition A could keep millions of dollars of state funds from the city. Gonzalez said the strongest message she was taking away from San Diego voters was the number who voted against mayoral front-runner Carl DeMaio. “Sixty eight percent basically told Carl DeMaio they are not in for his politics,” she said. “I think that’s great. Clearly the only person who really billed himself as anti-worker was Carl DeMaio and 68 percent of the people said no to Carl DeMaio.”

Source: Labor, GOP Draw Different Conclusions from Vote: Proposition A, B Victories Called “Taxpayer Revolution” – San Diego Union-Tribune – June 6, 2012

Here, she strangely switches focus to the California Republican Party, perhaps indicating a subconscious desire to flee San Diego and return to the comforting security of the California State Capitol, where most people are smart enough to know that free enterprise is nonsense.

Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, countered by saying Republicans have sided with corporate interests over working people, leading to the possibility of the statewide GOP going the “way of the dodo bird.” She said DeMaio and downtown lobbyists that helped fund his mayoral campaign and Propositions A and B have used pensions and project-labor agreements as straw men they’d prefer to fight against because they make for good sound bites, no matter how inaccurate. “Measures like these don’t solve problems, they just create more,” she said…“Just as these propositions will not solve the financial problems of our city government, they do nothing to put more money back in the pockets of hardworking San Diegans or put the unemployed back to work,” she said. “We will continue to put our efforts to creating more jobs, better jobs and better lives for all San Diegans — union and nonunion — because that is what matters to us, not these cheap political games.”

Source: GOP Basks in the Election Afterglow – San Diego Union-Tribune – June 6, 2012

Note: it does not look like Gonzalez even bothered to comment about the passage of Proposition D – a charter for the city of El Cajon that includes a Fair and Open Competition provision and a provision allowing the city to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) for purely municipal projects.


Postscript: Lorena Gonzalez was uncharacteristically silent on record after voters approved Proposition G in Chula Vista, Proposition K in Oceanside, and Proposition A in San Diego County in 2010. I did find ONE comment from Gonzalez explaining voter approval of Proposition G and Proposition K: in this case, she blamed the people again, this time by complaining about people not voting.

FUDGE: And you’re disappointed, I assume, with Proposition G in Chula Vista and Proposition K in Oceanside on the project labor agreements.

GONZALEZ: Well, especially Chula Vista, you know, we spent a lot of time down there but the turnout just – I’ve never quite seen anything like it. I think when the final numbers come in, we’ll see about, maybe 25% and in a city that is predominantly Latino and predominantly Democrat, it was – the electorate yesterday was not. It was mainly an absentee turnout and mainly a Republican turnout and, again, when people show up at the polls, when we have high turnout like we do in presidential years or in gubernatorial years when there’s a runoff, then workers win. But when people don’t come out, we can’t win.

Source: Who Won and Who Lost In Tuesday’s Primary Election – KPBS – Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2 comments

  1. Cindy Rash says:

    Great article Kevin!

    It is lies like these that make the fight for fair and open competition so difficult. If the playing field were level and each side told the facts of their arguments, I’m sure that PLAs would be banned by now. But by making up lies and making contributions to political campaigns, the fight is terribly difficult. If you ask me, this is just wrong. We should be having factual debates about what is good for the people and the economy. Looking at the facts, PLAs are not good for the working class and not good for the economy. So why are they still around? Mainly because of lies Big Labor tells political figures so they won’t lose out on any work. Disgusting. They would get away with it too (like a line from Scooby Doo lol), if not for people like you who look into the facts and get to the root of Big Labor’s arguments and show that there’s no basis for those arguments. The facts just don’t support the claims that they make.

    Sorry for the rant. Thank you again for looking into this for me and opening my eyes to the disgusting side of politics. Keep up the great work!

  2. amanaplanacanalpanama says:

    Is that woman on drugs? If so then all union bosses must be taking the same drug because I heard the sore losers in Wisconsin make the same ridiculous claim of being outspent 7:1.

    I am glad that I found this website. There is so much information on California Public Works being produced by The Dayton Public Policy Institute. Keep up the great work.