7th DISTRICT FIGHT - EMERALD VS. BOLING:  YOUR RINGSIDE GUIDE

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Accountant April Boling refuses to comment on allegations of “illegal and unethical bookkeeping”; opponent Marti Emerald shares vision for San Diego’s future

By Joseph Rocha

October 15, 2009 (San Diego)--Touted  as “The Troubleshooter vs. the Accountant” by local media,  San Diego’s 7th District Council race sounds more like a build-up to a Saturday night cage fight than a hotly contested political contest..  But the issues at stake will impact many residents in San Diego’s eastern region, since the district includes Allied Gardens, City Heights, Del Cerro, Grantville, Redwood Village/Oak Park, Rolando, San Carlos, the SDSU college area, and Tierrasanta.  At stake:  fire protection for our region, energy and water issues, outsourcing of public jobs, responsibility to taxpayers, integrity and openness of our City government. 

Here are last minute ringside highlights in the match-up between Marti Emerald and her opponent, April Boling.

April Boling’s campaign declined our request for an interview and our offer to reply to an e-mailed set of questions. The information provided about her in this article is from her official website.

Lets start by hearing why either candidate thinks they deserve your vote.  Boling talks tough about being angry with the way politics are conducted and insists that she is not afraid of anyone.  Her website states, “I’ve become an expert on San Diego’s budget. No ‘on the job training’ is needed: on the day I’m sworn in to office I’ll be ready to start going through our city’s budget, finances and priorities.”

Emerald
Marti Emerald 

In an exclusive interview with East County Magazine, Marti Emerald looked me in the eyes and said, “I was not just a TV reporter, I was a consumer and public advocate with a proven record for taking problems that communities and consumers were not able to solve and finding solutions. That’s what we need right now. We need people in these positions who know how to work with communities who genuinely want to solve problems and know how to get it done. I know how to do that.”

I sat down with Emerald to talk about the top priorities that she would like to bring to the highly coveted seat on the City Council, such as fighting political corruption, ensuring fire safety and a new vision for San Diego. After she grilled me over my resume, it was time for me to whip the sweat of my brow, role up my sleeves and ask the “Troubleshooter” some tough questions.

“How exactly do you plan on cleaning up City Hall?” I asked.  Marti Emerald replied emphatically that she intends on “opening the government process, making it transparent, increasing accountability.  That means internal control on the way money is spent, and decision are made.”

Boling’s website states, “Politicians don’t like to make tough decisions about what to save and what to cut. Instead, they prefer to overspend and punt the problem to someone else later.” She pledges that “I’m not afraid to make tough decisions. As a business owner I make tough decisions every day. And as your councilwoman I’ll demand that we fund our basic quality of life services like police, fire, parks and roads first, not as an afterthought.”

In an interview early in the campaign with Red County Emerald mentioned that she would “find the money to ensure that our fire department has the manpower and equipment to protect the County. Currently, we are 22 fire stations and 300 firefighters short of meeting national standards.  I followed up and asked where she was going to “find” the money.  Emerald pointed out that California voters passed proposition 172, which gives San Diego $8 million to fund public safety services. Since San Diego County does not operate a Fire Department, most of the funds are disseminated to other agencies.

Boling
April Boling

Emerald added, “In the meantime, wildfires are starting in the backcounty, burning across the County and taking out whole neighborhoods. That’s unacceptable. So I want to revisit this the way the bill was written…I am going to go to our state representatives and try to get it amended so that the County will have to share more of those resources with the City of San Diego to build the fire stations we need, to buy the equipment we need, and to hire the firefighters we need.”  

I contacted the San Diego Firefighters Union to inquire why they endorsed Emerald. George Balgos, assistant to the union President and public affairs officer for SDFFU, replied, “Marti supports getting the San Diego Fire Department the resources it needs to protect the citizens of San Diego.”

April Boling does not list Fire Safety as an issue on her official website.
 
Twenty three years ago, as a San Diego reporter and consumer advocate, Marti Emerald spent several nights on the streets doing a story on the homeless in downtown San Diego. I asked her if she thought the city was doing enough to address the issue. The question seemed to strike a responsive chord. She replied, “I think the city has stepped up to a degree, but more is needed. Come five o’clock as people are heading home, the homeless are settling in on sidewalks and in doorways…That’s unacceptable for a great city and San Diego is a great city. I think in many ways we are judged by how we treat the least among us and the homeless problem is very real. It’s a human problem, it becomes an economic profile; we need to address it with more than just the winter shelters.”

One major difference between these two candidates is their stance on outsourcing city jobs. In a July 3rd interview with Red County, the two candidates were asked if they would push to outsource more jobs. April Boling answered yes and offered no explanation. I asked Emerald to clarify the extensive answer she had offered the Red County reporter. In response to outsourcing jobs Emerald replied, “On the face of it, generally speaking I do not support outsourcing city jobs. That has been my stand all along. With the economic crisis we are in, middle class jobs are being decimated, people are losing their homes, people don’t have health insurance. Right now I think it’s best for the economy that we preserve as many middle class jobs as we possibly can and this is just for the basic health of our economy. I don’t want to see any knee jerk reactions.”

Boling and Emerald are also in disagreement over the living wage law for city workers. Boling does not support it and Emerald does.

Emerald had a great deal to say about how we can make San Diego more energy efficient—including investing in a “sustainable, healthy water supply.” She added, “That means we have to invest in water stretching technologies.” She also called for investment in public transit that “helps to get people out of their cars and put money back into their pockets. San Diego I think could be a leader in going solar, a world leader. We need to communicate to the world that San Diego means business.”
April Boling has no official statement regarding energy efficiency on her website.

I asked Emerald what she had to say to critics who ask how her career as a consumer advocate and reporter qualifies her for City Council. After a brief response about her ability to find solutions and bring people together, she offered reasons why being an accountant does not qualify April Boling.

“She likes to say, ‘Oh well I’m an accountant so that makes me more qualified,’” Emerald said of her opponent. “She’s a CPA, it’s true. But this accountant has been cited time and time again for sloppy bookkeeping practices and for violating election laws through sloppy and illegal and unethical bookkeeping. We don’t need anymore of that kind of accounting. I didn’t want to be represented by someone who has cheated, who has lied, who has contributed to the problems that this city has.”

The Boling campaign declined my repeated requests to respond to those allegations. However, documents from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) indicate that in 2004, the Lincoln club was fined $1,875 for late campaign filings while April Boling was treasurer of the group.

The City Ethics Committee twice fined Boling $500 and $200 for violations committed when she served as treasurer for Mayor Dick Murphy’s committee.
 

A whistleblower inside the Republican Party has also provided documentation to East County Magazine, verified through the FPPC, indicating that in April 2007, Boling as treasurer of  Citizens for a Better San Diego County referenced a “Schedule G” that should have detailed payments made for literature, but failed to attach the document.  

From January through May 2008, with Boling as treasurer, Citizens for a Better San Diego County took large contributions from developers and then made payments to five groups for “slate mailers to support SD Co Republican Central Committee candidates.”  An article in the San Diego Reader suggests that San Diego Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric improperly placed some Central Committee candidates’ names on the slate mailers while excluding others..  (Other questions regarding Krvaric’s integrity have surfaced, including evidence that Krvaric cofounded Fairlight, “a band of software crackers which later evolved into an international video and software piracy group.” rawstory.com/news/2008/San_Diego_GOP_chairman_cofounded_international_0425.html). 

East County Magazine also sought to learn both Emerald’s and Boling’s visions for the City of San Diego.   Boling has stated, “I want to ferret out the truth about our financial situation. I want to preserve our quality of life.”

Emerald closed off her interview with this conclusion: “By working together I am convinced that we can make San Diego Government as great as San Diego.”

The final round in this match-up will be up to the voters, who will determine the winner on November 4th.

For more information on the candidates, visit their websites www.marti4sandiego.com and www.aprilboling.com. Also be sure to check the League of Women Voters (LWV) Smart Voter site.  (note: Only the Emerald campaign has provided information to the LWV site.)

Joseph Rocha is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Middle East in Anti-Terrorism/Force protection measures as an Explosion Detection Handler and Supply Petty Officer.  He received the Expeditionary Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and also assisted in Hurricane Katrina Relief efforts.  His unit provided security for officials including the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  Now a political science major at City College, Rocha’s bipartisan experience includes internships with Republican Congressman Ken Calvert, Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis, and  Kenneth Maxey, Director of the California Democratic Party.  He aspires to attend law school with a focus on Constitutional Law.