Thursday, July 08, 2010

A judge will decide tomorrow whether to count 12,000 ballots that the Country Registrar failed to pick up

Barry Jantz sent this news:
From: @FlashReport
Sent: Jul 21, 2010 10:11p
**Breaking News** Moments ago Salas called Vargas and conceded the 40th SD Dem Primary. The recount is over!

Thank you Barry for keeping us up to date!

Good news: The Riverside votes are being counted, thanks to a Superior Court Judge.
Bad news: Juan Vargas has gained several votes. What's up with this? I am ashamed if, as it appears, roughly half of Democrats in this district either don't know or don't care that the head of the Assembly Insurance Committee took a job as vice-president of an insurance company immediately upon leaving office. But then I wonder: did Republican-leaning individuals ask for Democratic ballots so they could vote for Juan Vargas in the primary?

Thanks to Jim Sills and Barry Jantz at San Diego Rostra for keeping us posted.


Was it miscommunication? Or intentional neglect? Why didn't the County Registrar of Voters collect 12,000 ballots from the post office on June 8, 2010? Or why didn't the Post Office deliver them? How did this ball get dropped?

No matter what the outcome of the counting, however, I have come to wonder why so many Democrats would vote for someone as unethical as Juan Vargas. I sure hope Mary Salas wins. Juan Vargas should be running as a Republican.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Did Republicans work for Juan Vargas to sabotage the Democratic primary?

I can't help thinking that it was very odd that Juan Vargas, who had so few Democratic endorsements, apparently got so many Democratic votes. Or did he? Democrats allow Independents to vote in the Democratic primary. Did some people ask for Democratic ballots to sabotage the primary? I also wonder why the post office delivered ballots late to the Registrar. Did someone at the Registrar intentionally delay the delivery?

Back before he made it official that he was best friends with insurance companies (by accepting a lucrative position in an insurance company), Juan Vargas was already raising doubts about his integrity. Here's an article from 2006 about Juan Vargas, followed by an article about San Diego County Office of Education's Diane Crosier that was written about a week ago.

Lawmaker opposed homeowners' efforts
By Bill Ainsworth
March 4, 2006

Assemblyman Juan Vargas, criticized by some homeowners for opposing consumer-oriented changes in insurance laws, accepted nearly $2,000 for a golf trip and more than $500 in meals from the insurance industry last year, state documents show.

Major insurance companies, including Allstate, Hartford Life and Prudential Financial, paid for Vargas to play golf at exclusive courses, including Pebble Beach, last September, according to state records.

Vargas is chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee, which oversees legislation affecting the industry...

I am trying to figure out how Juan Vargas was able to be taken seriously as a candidate for public office after his shameless personal gain from insurance companies during and directly after serving as insurance committee president of the California Assembly. My conclusion is that some people and institutions are as corrupt as he is. Here are the endorsements he boasted about on his website:
The United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME Local 3930

United Nurses Associations of California

Crime Victims United

Coachella Valley Teachers Association

Desert Sands Unified School District Teachers Association

Palm Springs Unified School District Teachers Association

California National Guard Veterans Association

San Diego City Firefighters, Local 145

CDF Firefighters, Local 2881 “California’s Fire Department”

Black Police Officers Association of San Diego

Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO

AFSCME, Local 3299, University of California Workers

Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, San Diego

Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, retired

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, retired

Senator Ron Calderon

Senator Waddie Deddeh, retired, Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City, San Diego

Senator Joe Simitian

Senator Leland Yee

Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally, retired, former Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus

Steven Hernandez, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Coachella

Emmanuel Martinez, Council Member, City of Coachella

John Minto, Board Member (ret.), San Diego Police Officers Association

The list of endorsements for Mary Salas was huge, many times the size of that of Juan Vargas, and included many more elected officials. So how did Juan Vargas manage to get approximately the same number of votes as Salas in the 2010 California Senate 40th district election? I will continue to ponder this question as I mourn the fact that so many Democrats are either ignorant of or tolerant of shocking and inappropriate acceptance of insurance company largess by Juan Vargas.

There Is a Free Lunch, and They're Not Telling You About It
June 27, 2010
Voice of San Diego

Top employees at the San Diego County Office of Education have been allowed to avoid reporting gifts despite a California law that is supposed to ensure that the public can peek at who is paying for meals, handing out baseball tickets or giving other gifts to influential government employees.

The office has allowed employees to report their income without revealing gifts, an exception that could obscure important information about who is wining and dining public officials. California law says that gifts are income, no different than the other earnings that top employees already must report on annual statements of economic interests.

The Fair Political Practices Commission urged the County Office of Education to change its guidelines after being alerted to the issue by earlier this month. Depending on how long the office has failed to report gifts, its employees may need to report gifts they received years ago. Office spokesman Jim Esterbrooks said the agency is updating its guidelines to comply.

Gifts have played a role in a contentious lawsuit filed by a former employee that alleges free meals contributed to a "culture of corruption" at the agency that steered County Office of Education business to specific law firms.

For instance, employees who help oversee legal work for school districts regularly accepted free lunches from an attorney who is frequently hired by their department, according to testimony by employee John Vincent taken as part of the lawsuit. Attorney Dan Shinoff usually paid for the meals, which happened more than once a month, Vincent said.

Diane Crosier, who directs the office's risk management department, was one of the employees that accepted the meals, according to the testimony. Her department controls millions of dollars in legal work for school districts across the county. While Crosier does not decide which attorneys to assign to each legal case, she oversees Rick Rinear, the worker who does. Rinear also went to lunch with Shinoff from time to time, along with other employees, Vincent said in the deposition this year.

Crosier is required to reveal her economic interests to the public because she helps make decisions with a financial impact for a public agency. The County Office of Education does not require Rinear or the other employees to do so.

California law typically requires employees like Crosier to reveal gifts worth $50 or more from a single source annually, so frequent free lunches would likely need to be reported.

Yet Crosier did not report any lunches with Shinoff...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

How corrupt does Juan Vargas have to be to make voters turn against him? His lucrative job at Safeco after accepting gifts as assemblyman

I still have high hopes that Mary Salas will win this contest, but I can't believe there are so many Democrats in the South Bay who would vote for Juan Vargas, who went straight to a lucrative job in the insurance industry when he left the California Assembly and gave up his seat on the insurance committee.

Vargas maintains 6-vote lead over Salas
Riverside County votes uncounted
June 28, 2010

State Senate candidate Juan Vargas maintained a six-vote lead Monday over rival Mary Salas in a South Bay Democratic race, but while the vote count is almost over, the dispute may go on for some time.

Not only is a recount likely, but a controversy over uncounted ballots could alter the vote totals from the Riverside County portion of the district.

Updated tallies by the San Diego County registrar’s office from the June 8 primary election in the 40th state Senate District showed Vargas with the same lead he had Friday. Both candidates gained 45 votes in the latest batch of results.

There are 50 absentee and provisional ballots left to be counted in San Diego County.

The district reaches into Imperial and Riverside counties, and registrar officials in both those counties said Monday that they have finished counting votes.

However, questions over uncounted votes in Riverside County could be a wild card. About 12,500 mail-in votes were delivered after the 8 p.m. June 8 deadline, meaning the votes wouldn’t be counted. Elections officials there are exploring whether they have the legal right to count those votes.

There were reports of miscommunication between the county and the U.S. Postal Service, which resulted in the ballots arriving late...

Vargas takes insurance job
Ex-assemblyman's reversal draws fire
By Bill Ainsworth
December 8, 2006

Profile Juan Vargas

Job as of last Sunday: Assemblyman, insurance committee chairman

Interesting fact: $335,000 in campaign contributions from insurers over the years.

Notable quote: “I'm not going into insurance or finance. I'm just not interested.” (April) New job announced this week: Vice president of California external affairs for Safeco insurance

During his campaign for Congress, Juan Vargas was harshly criticized for accepting $335,000 in campaign contributions from insurers and frequently taking their side while chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee.

The San Diego Democrat not only disputed that but he went further and said he would not take a job in the industry after leaving office.

Now he has done just that.

Vargas, whose Assembly term ended this week, is the new vice president of California external affairs for Safeco, a Seattle-based company that sells auto, surety and homeowners insurance to 4.3 million customers nationwide...