continued Is some campaign spending not being reported? Due to a loophole in the state-approved Proposition 34, political parties do not have to report their "member communications," usually mailers sent to their registered brethren, in off-year municipal elections until the contest is over. However, in the wake of the Los Angeles mayoral race, where this loophole has been filled by an estimated half-million dollars' worth of soft money, the parties have agreed to report their local expenditures anyway.
Roxanna Foxx, of the San Diego County Republican Party, acknowledges that the state Republicans are spending $10,000 on a mailer to the faithful in District 6. According to Bob Jellison of the San Diego County Democratic Party, the local party is spending $1000 on a mailer to its District 6 members as well.
As of May 19, the individual donor totals for Danon are $183,654 raised and $121,754 spent; for Frye, $78,972 raised and $53,984 spent. By adding in the known independent expenditures, Danon's candidacy has cost $188,000 while Frye's cost $126,000.
In mid-May Danon and Frye rubbed horns at a debate sponsored by the Pacific Beach Town Council before a partisan-packed room of 130. Danon has an irrepressible politeness, like a middle-aged Beaver Cleaver. At times he seems over-wary of being in the least bit glib.
Lithe and capricious, Frye is a throwback to the '60s, with her drape-straight, mid-parted hair. In a raspy alto voice, her responses often have an unscripted snap. "We [activists] need to get our butts to Washington." The pair respectfully differed about Pacific Beach's flintiest issue, the beach booze ban. Frye is pro: "It's a privilege, not a right, to drink on our beaches"; Danon is con: "If my wife Patti and I want to go to Mission Beach and have a beer, we should be able to."
On rejecting Sea World's latest bid to erect a "Magic Mountain on the Bay," with hotels and roller coasters, they agreed. But they disagreed about how to net Shamu. Danon said Frye has refused to talk with Sea World anymore, which Frye declared was false. "Over the years, I've met with them 15 to 30 times. Sea World is not budging on its master plan," she said. Frye told me that in 1998, when she led the opposition to Proposition D, which would abolish Sea World's height restriction, "It was Sea World that refused to debate me, not me who refused to debate them." Frye also said the city has violated its charter by exceeding the limit of leasable land around Mission Bay. No more hotels, period.
Swords unsheathed on the issue of De Anza Cove: Yes, those mobile-home residents, with their front-door proximity to Mission Bay, must be out by 2003, when the community's lease reverts to the De Anza Corporation. But should the new tenant be the proposed De Anza Harbor Resort? (Frye no, Danon no -- loud applause.) In an unexpected parry, Danon chastised Frye for taking $250 from Michael Gelfand, the resort's developer. How could she claim to be against the developer and take his money? (Audience boos and claps.) Frye's riposte: "For the record, I have accepted his check, but I told him when I took it that I didn't support his hotel, so he's quite aware of that."
I followed up with Frye about this lone-donor scuffle. She thought it laughable that Danon would align her with "a developer. I had to control myself. 'My big-developer money.' I enjoyed that. I probably should have said, 'I'll give Mr. Gelfand his "big-developer money" back, and then you give all your "big-developer money" back, and then we'll see if you have any money left.'"
I asked why she hadn't gone after Danon concerning his out-of-district donors, the majority of whom are developers or work for them. Frye acknowledged that she should have and that voters "probably don't know" enough about Danon's givers.
What does it say that Danon has received so much money from the development industry?
"It says," Frye continued, "'here we go again.' The Susan Golding, Ron Roberts -- the same machine. To me, what's funny about it is that Danon puts on his campaign literature ...that he is against the Charger ticket-guarantee. But [Golding] was his candidate. All these things that he talks about that are wrong are things he's helped perpetuate over the years." Frye is referring to Danon's having worked on Susan Golding's campaign for mayor in 1992 and managing her reelection bid in 1996.
Concerns about Frye were voiced by the local Republican chairwoman Foxx, whose party has endorsed Danon. Foxx points to Frye's irregular attendance at meetings of the San Diego County Environmental Health Advisory Board. According to Foxx's e-mail, Frye missed 7 of 11 meetings over a two-year span. Frye said she missed those meetings because "shortly after her appointment, we were evicted from our surf shop. I told them I probably would miss more because, sometimes, business has to come first."
Foxx next wrote that Frye flip-flopped on whether the city should continue granting free lease of sites in Balboa Park and Mission Bay to the avowed anti-homosexual Boy Scouts. Frye told the San Diego Democratic Club, a gay-activist organization, that she "favored termination of the lease because of the scouts' national prohibition against gay troop leaders." But then, in a KUSI interview, she said she did "not believe the Boy Scouts should be kicked out of" either place. Frye told me that the issue will probably be decided by the courts long before the city council ever votes on it. She also said, "No, I don't dislike the Boy Scouts and want to kick them out. But this is a case of law, and I don't support their policy." For the record, Danon doesn't support the Boy Scouts' policy of discrimination but said he does want the lease renewed: "Don't penalize the kids for the mistakes of the adults."
Foxx's final contention was that Frye suffered amnesia over the city council's impending vote to authorize clean needles for drug addicts. Frye told me that in her precinct-walking, "No one has raised the issue. Only Steve Danon has." But Foxx countered, "Donna need only have reviewed the questionnaire she filled out for the Democratic Party to remember that the issue had . . . come up before . . . and had, in fact, been discussed at numerous candidate forums during the primary." Danon is opposed to needle exchange and wants "rehab on demand. Free needles sends the wrong message to our youth."