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By Kristin Kjaero and Miriam Raftery


October 24, 2010 (La Mesa) -- With the election nine days away, ECM offers La Mesa voters this expanded collection of interviews, video clips, debate and news coverage for candidates on their ballots. 















ASSEMBLY - 77th Assembly District


STATE SENATE - 36th State Senate district


CONGRESS - 52nd Congresional district


Boxer-Fiorina debate
Fiorina visit in San Diego
Boxer visit in San Diego
Boxer calls Fiorina out on facts



To find more information on other statewide races and ballot propositions, see our Politics Section.

Keep checking as more coverage is added daily!


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Earlier, we and many others complained of EastCountyMag's biased candidate coverage. For an example of that, one needn't read any further than the title:

La Mesa Spotlight Part I: Mayoral Candidate Laura Lothian, Candidate's troubled past leads to new beginnings
La Mesa Spotlight Part III: Incumbent Mayor Art Madrid, More than Forty Years of Public Service"

Part one tells us first about what?--Lothian's "troubled past." Part two, on the other hand, tells us of only one thing--Art Madrid's lengthy career laboring on the public's behalf.

How ironic. Whatever their significance, Lothian's troubles lie deep in her past; so deep, in fact, that they required little short of journalistic excavation to be brought into public view. Madrid's, on the other hand, (those not even hinted at in the title!) lie so close to the surface that you practically stumble over them unless you watch where you're going.


Craig, we know you have a personal grudge against Art because he beat you last election, but you are projecting when you assume others are blinded by hate the way you are. ECM did the background research that any responsible journalist should do, and they did it equally on all the candidates. They found something on others too (including Madrid) which they also published.

They gave her the chance to address it up front in her own words, an she threw away the opportunity. Her own words show that she hasn't learned anything from her mistakes, because she blames everything on other people instead of taking responsibility for her own bad choices. It makes her sound like a sullen teenager, not an adult, and DEFINITELY NOT like Mayor material.

Your statement is not truthful - Lothian's baggage is NOT all in the past, and "The Present" section of the Lothian Interview article makes it clear. She cavalierly brushes off being on the sewer lien list in July as a matter of disorganization and inconvenience. And if you object to Madrid's incident, you should object even more strenuously to her irresponsibility in July that could have put more than 100 drunk teens on the road if the police hadn't shown up at her house. And it's very interesting that she was registered non-partisan in the primary, then "found" a party after she decided to run and wanted endorsements.

MOST IMPORTANT by misrepresenting her financial background SEVERAL TIMES at the candidate debates, it says volumes about a lack of ethics.


In fact, my "personal grudge" (which is a mischaracterization...) is based on nothing more than Art Madrid's conspicuous corruption. These include, but are not limited to, his blatant contempt for the First Amendment and his overt threats to local businessmen. And the fact that my very vocal critiques of his Chicago-Boss-style politics began when he and the Council tried to muzzle Chris Tanner, (Feb.'06)--well before I even thought about running--proves that my frankness has nothing to do with having been defeated in the election.
Generally, lesser offices provide opportunities for lesser offenses; a small town mayor just doesn't have the same chances to "blow-it" the way a, say, congressman or president can. Yet, in spite of this limitation, Art Madrid's done a good job of realizing his office's potential for wrongdoing.
Nothing in Lothian's past even remotely compares.

Frank? Or Simply Irresponsible?

Craig, you do our community a tremendous disservice when you toss around language such as "conspicuous corruption." Are you saying that there is malfeasance at the top of La Mesa's city government? If you have proof of this, are you taking it to the proper authorities? If you do not have such proof, why are you using inflammatory language apparently calculated to confuse many citizens during the election cycle? Isn't it time to step down from the soapbox and put that First Amendment canard to rest. The Tanner brouhaha in '06 had nothing to do with the First Amendment. The sole question was whether or not Mr. Tanner's slur on the City Council was sufficiently egregious to meet the legal definition of defamation. The subsequent determination that the offensive remarks did not rise to that level in no way made them wise, right or even correct. Merely exempt from prosecution. To suggest that Mayor Madrid's efforts (seconded by several councilmembers and the City Attorney) to maintain a modicum of civilty in the Council's chambers was an assault on the Bill of Rights is both irresponsible and unbecoming.

Craig, you're not being objective here.

Laura, by speaking about how she runs her own household without mentioning the long history her household had of financial troubles, was disingenous. Had she not made that statement, I would have agreed that bringing up this info would not be needed in this debate coverage story.


This was a matter of how a candidate represented themself to the public, nothing more.  We did not repeat some other aspects of Laura's past that were previously covered, and would not have raised the financial issues in the debate story had the candidate not given the misimpression that she's not had financial problems in her personal life.

We had many positive comments on our coverage of this race, and allowed full discussion of the candidates and issues on our discussion boards. 

The title on the "troubled past" piece was appropriate.  We were the first media outlet to discover extensive and substantial financial problems in the candidate's past. To bury that at the end of a story, when it's the first publication of the material, would be a disservice to the public. I've discussed that point, Craig, with some esteemed journalists and all agreed: the financial troubles newly revealed in a relatively unknown candidate were the lead.  

All other candidates profiled thus far, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, etc. in all other races  have had positive or neutral headlines; the only exception was here where our background check found substantial new information that voters may wish to be aware of in La Mesa.

Art  Madrid, by contrast, has a very long record of public service marred by incidents already hashed out extensively in the public eye.  His primary qualification for running is his long track record. Our story on Madrid previously included plenty of details about the incidents in his past. Had I broken the story on his past incident, it would have been the headline at that time. This isn't about favoritism; it's about what's breaking news.

What you call "journalist excavation"  is called "investigative reporting" in the news business.  Candidate's pasts do matter to many voters.  Look at all the national publicity over revelations that Tea Party candidate Christine O'Connell admitted to "dabbling in witchcraft" in her younger days, or the negative publicity Gavin Newsom over a past affair. Since the days of Duke Cunningham if not before, political reporters have learned to look at candidates' property holdings and financial records.  

Voters aren't news editors, and many may well feel that Laura's issues were long enough ago that they are not concerned, or that the responsibility was primarily her ex-husband's. 

We don't endorse candidates; it's up to voters to decide who they will choose, and which factors are most important in their decisions.






Re. [My] "not being objective here."


No one would deny the relevance of a candidates past to their suitability for office. However, what caught the attention of many was the relative salience you gave to Lothian's past personal financial problems, versus the relatively minimal attention you paid to Madrid's political scandals.
"Barfgate" is far from the worst Madrid's offenses. But his subsequent lies (and police involvement) made it a nationwide story. We had friends in upstate New York and Washington D.C. asking us, "What in the hell's going on in La Mesa?"
We just answered, "The mayor's at it again."
Mightn't that have figured a little more prominently in your reporting?

Bias? Not by an East County Mile

Craig Maxwell’s accusation of bias is as reckless as it is unfounded.

Laura Lothian has no public service record to report; moreover, as a recent arrival to La Mesa she is unknown to the general public. ECM did exactly the right thing in bringing her background and her behavior into focus. She is, after all, seeking the city’s top office. Had you not done so, and the personal history emerged later, what would that public rightly think of ECM’s integrity?

Mayor Madrid on the other hand has had his mishaps rehashed (forgive me) ad-nauseam. He also has an exceptional record of public service. Many people know he is the mayor, but few of them are aware of what he has accomplished in that office. Would it not make sense then to put the emphasis on that record?

To pursue that tack is not remotely indicative of "bias" - though it will disappoint those who would quite happily impose their own views, without bias, of course.

And finally, it is a matter of some curiosity that none of the mayor's serial detractors ever take him to task for the policies, priorities, and programs that have guided his long tenure. Why is that?

Could it be that their beef with the mayor is purely personal? Is that why we never hear any concrete policy or program alternatives - just schoolyard-level carping about peccadillos, long since atoned for?

Re. Bias? Not by an East County Mile

"Long since atoned for"? Since when? What Madrid did to Tanner he said (if given the chance) he'd do again. This is a matter of public record. The U.T. called his on-going threat "unconscionable" which it is, at the very least. It also forces one to wonder what he'd be willing to say or do when the cameras aren't rolling! But maybe you're one of those who also approves of politicians who threaten their constituents? If so, you'd undoubtedly be happier on the other side of the border. But most Americans frown on these things.
So this is a long way from mere "schoolyard-level carping." It's about Art's undeniable abuse of power. And I do have a "concrete policy": throw the bum out. My "alternative" is Laura Lothian.

Keeping the Thread Straight.

Craig, There was no mention of Mr. Tanner in the original East County Mile post. (Some thoughts on the Tanner episode can be found in the "Simply Irresponsible" post below.) The "atoned for" description quite clearly refers to the personal peccadillos. For those, as you well know, the atonement is on the public record. Yet, the school-yard-level carping continues in a now-monotonous drone. I do not believe anyone is making accusations about your truthfulness or suggesting that you have lied or will lie about Mayor Madrid. But given your outspoken profile, I do believe that people are waiting for you to say something relevant or useful with respect to the pending elections. So far, you have steadfastly declined to do that. Tossing around unsubstantiated allegations with big-city words like corruption and abuse of power may strike you as profound, but most will see it for what it really is - hot air.

Re. Keeping the Thread Straight.

The Tanner episode alone should have been disqualifying (and, in fact, was so in the eyes of many). But that is wasn't in the eyes of Madrid's friends and supporters says much about their willingness to rationalize and excuse his later scandals. In any case, the drunk driving and public drunkenness of public officials--involving, as they invariably do--the the whole city government(including the police) hardly qualify as mere "personal peccadillos." Nor does his hit-and-run at Norm's Cocktails. Nor do his threats to my prosperity, and that of another businessman's on the Boulevard. That is why I use words like corruption advisedly. In cases like these, they are anything but "hot air." Rather, they are entirely concrete.
Maybe you'd be more sympathetic if your livelihood had been threatened.

Tanner Episode

OK Craig, you have been playing games with the Tanner thing since it happened and if that is the limit of your ability so be it. But hear this. As a lifetime resident of our fair City, I am growing tired of the fact-free banter back and forth from all of you including the U-T. I attended those Council meetings back in February, 2006 and have listened to and read all the rhetoric since. You have lost my respect. The unfounded accusations made by Tanner were just that, unfounded accusations. But you have taken it further. Your language makes it appear that Tanner withheld information that the public has a right to know. If Mayor Madrid did something illegal and Tanner has knowledge of it, by law he needs to make the information available to the proper authorities. If he does not have such knowledge, then to make false accusations is far, far worse than anything that occurred in the Council chambers nearly five years ago, or subsequently. Is it possible that Tanner is facilitating, by his silence, illegal activity by our elected officials (which could make him an accessory to those activities)? I doubt it. If not, shouldn’t he be held accountable for erroneous accusations? Which is it, Craig? There is every reason to believe Mr. Tanner would prefer to leave the whole sorry episode well enough alone. And if he won’t put up, you ought to shut up. No more garbage about not pursuing it for the good of the City – and then pursuing it vigorously, only on the sly. If the Mayor or any other City Official violated the law then they ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, not by your word games and frivolity. Craig, again I ask you to “get involved” and stop whining.

Tanner Episode

I'm afraid you misunderstand the issue entirely. What Tanner said doesn't matter. Nor have I ever suggested that he withheld anything. And far from being "fact-free," my accusation(s) are based on nothing but facts. Let's look at at least a few. FACT: 1) Many residents around around the Hilltop development (off Massachusetts) were puzzled and angry about the city's unwillingness to take the developer to task for unsafe building practices. FACT: 2) One of them, Chris Tanner, wondered out loud (at a Council meeting) if the reason behind this wasn't a too-cozy relationship between the city and the developer; hardly an unreasonable thought since, next to the developer himself, the city stood the most to gain monetarily from the project. FACT: 3) Madrid and Council (but not Sterling)took umbrage at Tanner's suggestion and enlisted our city attorney (whose job is to warn them against such folly) to draft a threatening letter which demanded that Tanner retract his comment or face legal consequences. Uh, BIG mistake. FACT: 4)You see, unlike people in other countries, U.S. citizens can say or write almost anything (thank God...) to or about their elected representatives or country; and it is the job of our officials to suck it themselves (and not "whine")--much less sue! FACT: 5) After hearing the input of First Amendment lawyers, both the Council and city attorney retracted their support for the threatening letter and apologized; a good idea, since they had not only erred in threatening Tanner, but had also exposed the city to the threat of a counter-suit. FACT: 6) Madrid not only refused to retract support for the letter and apologize, but said that he'd do it all over again.

Long-term, defiantly unrepentant wrongdoing is bad enough in little children; in adults, it is totally unacceptable-- especially in those entrusted with the Public interest!--and is usually the sign of a seriously compromised character. Little wonder the later scandals and disgraces.

Re. Bias? Not by an East County Mile #2

One other thing, RaglanRoad. Madrid's already shown he's more than willing to sue people who say things he doesn't like. My safeguard against this?--simple: always tell the truth. I have never, and never will, lie about Art Madrid.