Tag Archive for Tony Krvaric

“He’s Going to Be President One Day” – The Changing Positions of Candidate for San Diego Mayor Nathan Fletcher on Labor Policy Issues

In the mid-2000s, establishment Republican Party officials would tell me that a young man named Nathan Fletcher was going to be President of the United States one day. He was a good-looking “war hero” – an up-and-coming model candidate whose wife was a top advisor for President George W. Bush and then for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Soon Nathan Fletcher ran for office in an affluent area of San Diego – not for a mere school board or city council, but for the California State Legislature, where political talents often launch their lifelong quest for power, fame, and wealth. He was an undistinguished member of the Republican minority in the California State Assembly for two terms, from 2008 to 2012. He quit the Republican Party in March 2012 after the Republican Party of San Diego County didn’t endorse him among three Republican candidates running for Mayor of San Diego.

Ditching the Republican label transformed Fletcher into an innovative paragon of political enlightenment. His decision even received national attention and praise when New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote about it in A Moderate Conservative Dilemma.

Ordinary voters weren’t impressed. Fletcher came in third in the primary for Mayor of San Diego. He spent a lonely year unaffiliated with a political party, got himself some gigs as a corporate executive and as a “professor” at the University of California at San Diego, then joined the Democratic Party in May 2013. Now he’s running for Mayor of San Diego again, this time as a Democrat backed by power-brokers such as Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a friend of Fletcher who was the president of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council in 2012.

No one would identify Fletcher today as a “moderate conservative.” He has remade himself as a Silicon Valley-style liberal Democrat, glorifying a vague concept of “innovation” while endorsing government intervention in commerce and personal behavior to make the world a better place.

Just before the San Diego City Council ended 33 years of autonomy on city construction contracts and voted 5-4 to submit to state prevailing wage law, the San Diego Daily Transcript published an op-ed signed by Fletcher entitled Prevailing Wage: Good for Local Economy, Local Workers. He had opened his mind and decided that charter cities should let the state government set wage rates for city construction contracts based on employer payments indicated in union master labor agreements. I responded with the July 29, 2013 op-ed Did Nathan Fletcher Lose His Mind on Prevailing Wage?

It’s hard to pin down how Fletcher would act on specific issues, as his shtick is portraying himself as a pragmatist who doesn’t stoop to the abstract ideologies and philosophies that bind the thinking of bad people. However, behind the scenes he makes commitments to ensure campaign support from powerful political groups, such as labor unions.

After someone leaked Nathan Fletcher’s September 5, 2013 candidate questionnaire for the San Diego Imperial County Labor Council, Tony Krvaric, executive director of the Republican Party of San Diego County, analyzed the astonishing change in Fletcher’s positions on economic and labor issues in 18 months. Read the analysis and the signed questionnaire here:

Nathan Fletcher’s Labor Council Questionnaire

The October 31, 2013 article Critics Focus on Fletcher’s About-Face on Issues in the UT San Diego notes Fletcher’s conversion (or “evolution”) on high-profile labor issues, including Project Labor Agreements:

Much has been made of Nathan Fletcher’s political evolution from Republican to independent to Democrat, but what truly irks his most vehement critics is the 180-degree turn he’s made on several key issues. Some of those issues — project labor agreements, pension reform and managed competition — have formed the bedrock for the dividing line in San Diego between the two major political parties in recent years…

“I’m very comfortable as a Democrat, a pro-jobs Democrat.”…That’s a far cry from March 2012 when Fletcher sought the local Republican Party’s endorsement in the mayor’s race. He told party leaders he was a lifelong Republican who supported the June 2012 ballot initiative (Proposition B) to replace pensions with 401(k)-style plans for most new city workers, a ban on project labor agreements that call for city contractors pay union-level wages and benefits, and outsourcing city services…

Fletcher filled out a questionnaire in September for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council that outlined several stark changes. Specifically, he indicated support for project labor agreements and public employee pensions and opposition to putting city services up for competitive bid, a process also known as managed competition…

Fletcher has also said the ballot measure to ban project-labor agreements that voters approved last year is the type of divisive initiative meant to stir up the electorate.

Nathan Fletcher now thinks that simply asking voters to preserve fair and open bid competition on taxpayer-funded construction contracts is “divisive” and “meant to stir up the electorate.” If only we could set aside our differences and come together for the common good under the benevolent leadership of Nathan Fletcher!

It isn’t surprising that occasionally people warn that Nathan Fletcher is “creepy” and “dangerous” because he lacks solid principles and runs for office under a cult of personality based on a distorted portrayal of his background. He seems to be popular among high-tech executives, bicycle advocates, and other who fit the demographic description of “bourgeois and bohemian” (see David Brooks’ excellent 2001 book Bobos in Paradise). Is that enough to win a special election in a city of 1.3 million people? It worked for Gavin Newsom in San Francisco, but San Diego is more diverse and more conservative.

All of this vindicates the warning in my May 7, 2013 commentary Know Thyself, Republican: You Could Be the Next Nathan Fletcher in www.FlashReport.org. I concluded that “Even the strongest among us on the Right are always only a few temptations away from second-guessing ourselves and going the same direction as Nathan Fletcher. The rewards of holding fast are few right now, and the relief and rewards of being acceptable are enticing.”

As the Republican Party on the national level, in the State of California, and at the California local level splits into factions based on the degree of willingness to compromise principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility for the sake of the alleged “common good,” I expect more Republicans will follow the path of Nathan Fletcher. Will voters buy it?

Unions Earn Growing Reputation as Bob Filner Apologists – Will Voters Make Them Accountable?

In my August 6, 2013 www.UnionWatch.org article entitled Take the Filner Challenge: Advance the Union Political Agenda, I explain why an August 3, 2013 article in the UT San Diego newspaper can reasonably claim that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s “list of supporters has shrunk to just one major group – organized labor and its allies.” This UT San Diego article includes an ill-advised and now-notorious remark from Tom Lemmon, head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council:

It’s an awkward situation, but we have a lot invested in him. We believe in due process, so let it take its course.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that Tom Lemmon is hesitant to castigate Mayor Bob Filner, considering that Congressman Bob Filner inserted a very nice statement about him in the September 10, 2012 Congressional Record.

We need to congratulate Tom Lemmon for his many years of dedicated service to the organized labor movement in San Diego and to working men and women all across this great nation!

Looking at the larger perspective, union leaders know that San Diego will one day forget Bob Filner the sexually harassing mayor, but the legacy of Bob Filner the union mayor may persist for generations. Union leaders have chosen to be politically pragmatic rather than make a public judgment about what kind of person should serve the people of San Diego as the city’s chief executive.

Nevertheless, unions are being called out on their amoral stance. An August 4 post on www.Breibart.com cited the UT San Diego article: “Unions Stand By Filthy Filner, ‘Have a lot Invested in Him.‘” As of August 13, there were 131 comments about the article – many expressing the idea that birds of a feather flock together. The article was also circulated widely via social media, tainting the reputation of labor unions across the country.

By sticking with Filner, union leaders have given San Diego Republican leaders an opportunity to highlight the shortcomings of the region’s most politically powerful leftist coalition.

Double standards are apparent. I have noted on Twitter that the North Bay Labor Council and the Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino Building and Construction Trades Council are calling for the resignation of Sonoma County Supervisor and Democrat Efren Carrillo, who has been arrested twice in the past year under strange circumstances and apparently has a drinking problem. See the July 31, 2013 press release North Bay Labor Council & Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Building Trades Council Call For Supervisor Efren Carrillo to Resign.

Of course, a cynic would point out that union leaders in Sonoma County have detested Supervisor Carrillo since he refused to advance a proposed Project Labor Agreement policy for county projects. See my September 19, 2012 article Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Abandons Project Labor Agreement Policy; Instead Directs Staff to Negotiate Project Labor Agreement for Sonoma County Airport Expansion, which includes a series of heated tweets from Lisa Maldonado, the head of the North Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Maldonado has actually been relatively restrained on Twitter after Carrillo’s second arrest.

Shame on Unions! Put Women Ahead of Your "Investment!"- San Diego Mayor Bob FilnerNow flyers are circulating in San Diego to make union leaders accountable for their decision to stick by Mayor Bob Filner. Considering how leaders of these labor organizations have no shame in blocking high-profile construction projects using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to get Project Labor Agreements, I doubt they’ll change their position because of public outrage. It’s up to the Republican Party of San Diego County to remind voters where unions stand on Filner and urge voters to make a statement via their ballots in the 2014 and 2016 elections. In fact, the time may be right to qualify dramatic county and city ballot initiatives to end costly government policies and practices that benefit unions at the expense of everyone else.

Jim Brulte’s Three Objectives as California Republican Party Chairman: Start a Party Fundraising Program, Encourage Local Grassroots Activism, Recruit Candidates Who Reflect the People of California

UPDATE (January 18, 2013): The Republican Party of San Diego County has posted two YouTube videos of Jim Brulte’s remarks at their January 14, 2013 meeting.

Here’s a video of the entire 13-minute speech:

Here’s a two-minute video summary, featuring highlights:


I’ve been compiling the written, credible advice from California Republican Party leaders and activists concerning how Republicans in California can improve their election performance and become more effective at state and local governments in protecting economic and personal freedom. (See Proposed Changes for the California Republican Party in 2013-2014: A Compilation of Advice from Party Leaders.)

Now, we’re getting an idea of what plan the next party chairman will implement.

Jim Brulte kicks off his campaign for California Republican Party chairman on January 14, 2013 in San Diego.

Jim Brulte kicks off his campaign for California Republican Party chairman on January 14, 2013 in San Diego.

On January 14, 2013, former state legislator Jim Brulte spoke at the monthly meeting of the Republican Party of San Diego County.

This was an appropriate setting for Brulte to officially kick off his candidacy for California Republican Party chairman and outline his plans, because the San Diego County Republican Party successfully turned itself around (in ten years) to became effective in carrying out the basic tasks of a political party operation while maintaining a consensus set of principles. (I write about this in my June 19, 2012 column in www.FlashReport.org, The Untold Story: Years of Challenging, Unglamorous Work Led to Big Republican Election Night in San Diego on June 5)

In fact, Brulte called the Republican Party of San Diego County the “gold standard” for county committee operations, and he said he intends to model the state party’s operations based on the San Diego County “back-to-basics blocking and tackling” approach. Brulte is going to focus on mechanics (or “political technology,” as the Leadership Institute calls it) and leave the policy messages to elected officials and candidates.

Brulte has identified grassroots activism as one of his three area of focus.

Brulte has identified grassroots activism as one of his three area of focus.

At the end of the meeting, the San Diego County Republican Central Committee unanimously endorsed Brulte for California Republican Party chairman. San Diego County Republican Party chairman Tony Krvaric sent an email to activists with these links to news coverage of the speech and event. (I selected the article excerpts for the summaries and chose the bold highlights.)

Brulte Kicks Off CRP Bid at San Diego GOP Meetingwww.FlashReport.org – January 14, 2013

Senator Brulte laid out his plans which include the need for the CRP to establish its own statewide fundraising network, so that the party would not be reliant on the top of the ticket, or financial support from legislative leaders.  He talked about the need to export the “San Diego GOP model” for grassroots activism all around the state — because a resurgence in our “ground game” would be essential for future victories.  Finally Brulte talked about the importance of recruiting local candidates for office that reflect the changing demographics of our state…Brulte’s message of a return to the “nuts and bolts” of winning campaigns will be well received all around.

Statewide ‘Republican Renaissance’ Seen if San Diego GOP Is Used as Model – Rancho Bernardo Patch – January 15, 2013

  • “Our party is right,” Brulte said…“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Republican principles…We just need to get back to the basics of trying to win elections.”
  • “The California Republican Party has to be as good and capable and competent and excellent and outstanding as the San Diego County party.”
  • Brulte made no suggestions on how to reframe Republican policies, saying others could explain “the issues.”
  • His only hint that the party needed to improve diversity was saying: “The table will be big enough for anyone who wants to sit at it and pull in the same direction.”
  • Brulte said: “I want to be the most boring chairman in the history of the California Republican Party. I want to be the nuts-and-bolts chairman that helps begin the process of bringing back the Republican Party and a two-party state in California.”
  • STEP ONE: the path to GOP success lies in launching a statewide party fundraising operation, growing the grassroots and recruiting more candidates. “For too long,” he said, “the California Republican Party has been reliant on members of the Legislature, on Republican governors” and wealthy GOP candidates for governor to share funds with other Republican candidates. “The party that says welfare should not be a permanent state has become a welfare recipient,” he said, noting the lack of a fundraising arm.
  • STEP TWO: “You can’t build the party from the top down…you have to build a party from the bottom up – and that means re-invigorating the grassroots.”
  • STEP THREE: recruiting candidates from “every neighborhood in California…It is axiomatic that in a neighborhood election, the candidate who most looks like, sounds like and has the shared values and the shared experiences of the majority of people in the neighborhood tends to win.”

GOP Leader Lays Out Rebuilding VisionSan Diego Union-Tribune – January 14, 2013

  • “We just need to get back to basics,” Brulte said, laying out a theme for fundraising, candidate recruitment and training and better grass roots organizing
  • “We have to rebuild from the bottom up,” he said, adding the party needs to recruit candidates that look, sound and talk like their neighbors…Republicans know they have major work to broaden the party’s appeal…
  • work to rebuild the party starts with wiping a roughly $500,000 debt and creating a large-scale, statewide fundraising operation…
  • “We ought to be a help to Republican Party officials and candidates, not the other way around,” he said, referring to the GOP’s reliance on self-funded candidates for statewide office and a small cadre of wealthy donors.

According to a January 14, 2013 San Francisco Chronicle blog post (Jim Brulte: Will Take CA GOP 6 years to Rebound), it’s going to take a while to turn things around, but it needs to start now or a turnaround will become unfeasible:

“A minimum of six years,” Brulte told The Chronicle. “This is a corporation that is bankrupt. There is a lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done and we all need to share in doing it.”

That’s not to say he’s kissing off the next cycle. Republicans need to “either stop the bleeding and/or start turning it around” in 2014 or Brulte said the party will be in the pits “for the rest of the decade.” The legislative supermajority gives Dems a supermajority of fundraising power that will be hard for Republicans to overcome…

Remaking the Republican Party: Experienced Hand Seen as Key to Revitalizing a Wounded GOPSan Diego Union-Tribune – January 18, 2013

Brulte’s agenda is straightforward:

  • Raise money to wipe out a roughly $500,000 debt.
  • Establish a statewide fundraising operation.
  • Early recruitment and training of candidates in every electoral district in the state, including traditionally Democratic ones such as those dominated by African-Americans, Asians and Latinos.

“If we do that, 2014 can be a great for us”…Brulte says the right mix of money, candidates and grass-root efforts will make 2014 “the year we can begin the Republican renaissance, and the year we can begin to take back California. The team will be big enough for anyone who wants to join and pull in the same direction.”

Of course, some of the comments posted under these articles (not necessarily representative of the ordinary voter) blast the Republican Party for its policy positions rather than the mechanics of its campaigns. Brulte is assuming that a majority of California citizens believe in limited government, and therefore funding, volunteers, and appealing candidates can get people to switch their votes to Republicans or to start voting – and vote for Republicans.

It will be an interesting test to see if the population of California is now inexorably committed to democratic socialism and its related philosophical tenets. In the meantime, the demographic base of the Republican Party will likely continue to move out of the state (see the January 15, 2013 Fox & Hounds column California’s Demographic Dilemma).

Another California Union Leader on the Way to Confirming the Ancient Proverb: The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall

UPDATE: See the December 5, 2012 post Quest for the Presidency: San Diego Union Leader Lorena Gonzalez Announces Run for California State Assembly.


California newspapers are apparently obliged to run post-election profiles of the union leader who gets the credit for the local political machine’s latest successes. I have a dozen such articles in my files going back to the mid-1990s, and it is astonishing how many of these union leaders eventually leave the arena of power under shady circumstances. There’s something in the nature of humanity that warps most of us when our power or position earns undeserved and excessive flattery.

Today, the December 2, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune features a profile of Lorena Gonzalez, the Secretary-Treasurer/CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

See Democrats’ Not-So-Secret Weapon: Labor Leader Lorena Gonzalez Made Her Mark as a Key Player in November’s Election VictoriesSan Diego Union-Tribune – December 2, 2012.

There is still hope for the State of California and the City of San Diego, as the article quotes two individuals who were willing to speak out against this union official who will enjoy a period of significant influence over government and commerce in the City of San Diego.

Tony Krvaric, the chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, contends that Gonzalez “plays class warfare, and while that works sometimes, I don’t think in the long run it’s a healthy way to operate.”

Eric Christen, the executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, provides a perceptive psychological analysis. He observes about Gonzalez that “her radical views make her a bit predictable and linear in her approach on anything she does…Backroom deals are Lorena’s specialty…The big corporations she pretends to be against with her neo-Marxist language – she’s as much of a corporatist as anyone as long as her side gets its pound of flesh.”

I’ve documented some the recent activities of Lorena Gonzalez at this web site. I tweeted my own views about the article:

San Diego union leader Lorena Gonzalez builds her palace on sand. Voters are fickle and the gods detest hubris. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/dec/02/the-organizer/ …

I’m looking forward to January 2013, when Lorena Gonzalez ratchets up the pressure for the State of California to withhold funding to the City of San Diego because 58% voters approved Proposition A, a Fair and Open Competition ordinance, in June 2012. She can’t wait:

Hmmm. Wonder when media will start talking about the $100 million loss San Diego will face next year from State due to Prop A

See What About Prop. A? Come January 1, San Diego Will Find Out if Funding-Loss Warnings Were TrueSan Diego City Beat – November 7, 2012.

Lorena Gonzalez supports democracy as long the people vote the way she thinks they should. This upcoming arrogant effort to compel voters to repeal a law protecting fair and open bid competition as a condition of getting their state goodies will be a cataclysmic battle over the future relevance of the structural checks and balances in our republic. Bring it on!