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Takvorian for Port Commission

June 5, 2009 - 5:25 pm

Currently, the seven-member Port of San Diego’s Board of Commissioners, more simply known as the San Diego Port Commission, has only five members. That’s because Laurie Black, one of the city of San Diego’s three appointments, has had to resign due to illness in her family, and because Mike Najera, Chula Vista’s representative, recently caved in to Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox’s demand that he resign.

On Monday, the San Diego City Council will vote to replace Black with one of a handful of candidates.

Diane Takvorian, executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition, was nominated by Councilmembers Donna Frye and Todd Gloria. She’s up against hotel executive Bill Evans, security-device mogul Marshall Merrifield and attorney Lee Burdick. Before Burdick was nominated, conventional wisdom had it that the race was between Takvorian and Evans, who was nominated by Councilmembers Marti Emerald and Kevin Faulconer. (Merrifield was nominated by Councilmember Sherri Lightner and has no other known supporters on the council.) Then Council President Ben Hueso nominated Burdick as a “compromise” candidate, and Councilmembers Tony Young and Carl DeMaio joined in support.

So, that’s three for Burdick, two apiece for Evans and Takvorian and one for Merrifield. A nominee needs five votes for appointment. The scuttlebutt is that there was concern among Takvorian backers that there aren’t enough votes for her on the council and that Evans might somehow win—and so out of nowhere comes Burdick, who ran for city attorney last year but bailed out of the race and endorsed Scott Peters, who now sits on the Port Commission and is known as a shrewd wheeler-dealer behind the scenes. Peters is also an ally of Port Commission Chairman Steve Cushman and labor leader Lorena Gonzalez. Interestingly, Gonzalez is an ally of Hueso—at least until he abandoned her amid recent city labor contract negotiations. Gonzalez publicly has supported Takvorian.

So, which way will Lighner go when her Merrifield bid fails? We know Frye will stick with Takvorian. Will Gloria, Emerald and Faulconer jump to Burdick in the interest of compromise? I hope not, and here’s why:

The Port Commission, right now, is composed of a retired car dealer (the politically powerful, union-friendly Cushman), a construction-trades executive (Robert “Dukie” Valderrama), an investment-banking executive (Michael Bixler), a career Naval officer and airline executive (Rocky Spane) and a status-quo-type environmental attorney who irked environmentalists at times while a member of the San Diego City Council (Peters).

Clearly, it is a board made up of captains of industry (Cushman, Valderrama, Bixler, Spano) and guys (Cushman, Peters) who are inclined toward union-jobs-rich development.

With the Environmental Health Coalition, Takvorian fights on behalf of low-income residents in places like Barrio Logan and National City. She fights against toxic chrome-plating businesses. She fights against the effects of lead in paint and Mexican candy. She battles the Port on emissions into nearby communities. She fights against asthma-causing patricles that spew from trucks rumbling through residential neighborhoods. In short, she’s one of those people who stands up and fights whenever powers-that-be want to dump pollution on poor people.

The Port Commission doesn’t have someone like Takvorian. My hunch is that Cushman and Peters orchestrated the Burdick nomination, and my fear is that she’ll go along with whatever they desire. Meanwhile, Takvorian will be her own woman, an independent voice representing folks who need the most help.

I’d sure like to see Gloria stick with his nominee, and it would be nice, if surprising, to see Young, Emerald and Lightner act in line with their populist leanings and jump to the populist nominee, Diane Takvorian, rather than the politically safe choice.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. slingblade permalink
    June 6, 2009 - 12:33 pm 12:33 pm

    if your hunch is correct on the pushing of burdick via peters and cushman, the carl demaio is even more of a sell out than we thought previously. there will be hell to pay for his selling out with a nomination of a democrat in the first place, but if he is working with incahoots with peters….. unbelievable

  2. Watcher permalink
    June 8, 2009 - 3:02 pm 3:02 pm

    Burdick is a LAND USE ATTORNEY who works for one of the most influencial downtown old boy network firms. How do you expect she’ll vote? I hope everyone will look at the developers coming to the Port with development schemes to see if they have ties to her employer, so that if appointed, she can’t practice glaring conflicts of interest. But she probably will anyone since nobody monitors the Port Board these days.

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