After yesterday’s reaction to David King’s awful commentary on the San Diego News Room website, King offered a lengthy response in the comments section that I very much appreciate and encourage everyone to read. Unfortunately, it does very little to address the deeply offensive attacks from his original piece, or to explain the blatant partisanship of his criticisms. In the interest of giving full airing, I’ll take King’s response one section at a time.
The sections of my column regarding Ms. Wong address her “appointment,” not her job performance. So, her record up to the appointment is what matters–and the point is not simply her age but what her age indicates about her work experience: she is fresh out of college. I do not believe her sex has anything to do with her lack of qualifications (due to insufficient work experience) and her disqualification through close affiliation with a partisan group, and work in partisan campaigns and only Democratic offices.
First and foremost, while this is a valiant effort to re-cast the original post, this is simply not what the column said. The column says that Ms. Wong’s age makes her inacapable of performing her job, and that because she’s affiliated with members of the Democratic party (and the daughter of a Democratic state legislator), she’s incapable of being non-partisan. To support such accusations, most people would cite some evidence. King offers none, and seems not to think any is needed.
In the original post, King cites the requirement to be the redistricting commission’s chief of staff:
“Highly ethical and objective, with the ability to navigate in a political environment without being political, and serve in an unbiased and impartial way.”
That’s about job performance, not eligibility. King’s decision to impose his own standard — which he concedes below is inherently and inescapably biased — is irrelevant to Ms. Wong’s eligibility for, or competence, in her job.
I agree that my service to the local GOP would disqualify me from this position as chief of staff of redistricting, but not every form of public service (as the CA Senate has unanimously shown), nor from offering an editorial on this subject. The first job I had was through an appointment by a Democrat and my cousin was a Democrat Congressman. I don’t believe Ms. Wong has worked for any Republicans.
The job requirement doesn’t say anything about people who participate in their community being disqualified. Nor does being related to an elected official or having professional ties to Republicans and Democrats warrant disqualification. It’s revealing of King’s inescapable partisan perspective that he measures one’s competence with a scorecard of Ds and Rs.
Just because Mr. King apparently considers himself incapable of performing professional work in a nonpartisan fashion doesn’t mean that nobody else could. Certainly, San Diego News Room does not openly declare itself to be inherently and inescapably partisan, despite King’s now-admitted bias. In fact, as a regular guest of KPBS’s Editors Roundtable, many people would likely be interested by King’s admission here that he is inherently and inescapably biased in his professional capacity by his Republican ties.
I believe T.J. Zane of the Lincoln Club would be disqualified from this position (and other Lincoln Club executive board members) because, although it is nominally non-partisan, we all know what the club is about (“I know it when I see it”). Similarly, I can not accept Mr. O’Connor’s characterization of NLC as non-partisan. I strongly disagree. How many Republicans are active in the NLC?
The inaugural class of San Diego’s NLC chapter included a GOP fellow, and Republicans are welcome at any time to become more engaged in their community through leadership and engagement training provided through NLC. While Mr. King, like local GOP chair Tony Krvaric and the rest of the San Diego Republican Party, may find it helpful to their sour-grapes character-assassination campaign to declare the New Leaders Council to be a lynchpin in their imagined Vast Left Wing Conspiracy in San Diego, there’s no evidence here or anywhere else to back such a claim.
If there were such evidence, we imagine that King, Krvaric or another of their compatriots would have produced it by now. They haven’t because they can’t. Instead, it’s misdirection, hoping to distract from the outrageous arguments that King and others are making.
I have held positions beyond my age in the private sector, but not one of them was one of public trust which will have lasting impact on elected offices. I helped dotcoms “go public” with 23 year old CEO’s, but that was private enterprise (where a fool and his money shall part). I believe that Ms. Wong will be able to do her daily work largely free of public scrutiny (unlike board members who only act publicly and periodically). I do believe she has more input than the board. I believe I set this out in my column, and did not leave one wondering why I believe her appointment was wrong. I offered more supporting reasons than any U-T editorial.
King here revisits an ethical commitment to the public trust, reminding us that he can’t help but be partisan. He does it without even a nod to the notion that the public trust might be betrayed by holding himself and SDNR up as a nominally independent, non-partisan source of news when he knows it to be untrue. King’s admitted partisan opposition to Ms. Wong may be satisfied by making the case that no one with a partisan opinion could perform work in an effective, nonpartisan manner, but it seems here like nothing more than King projecting.
King’s additional assertion — that the chief of staff will have more influence than the board and not be subject to public scrutiny is again offered without any shred of substantiation or reasoning. And King himself, in running with this manufactured GOP scandal, has already disproved the idea that public scrutiny may be lacking.
King openly concedes that he has no critique of Ms. Wong’s job performance. He cannot name a single thing she’s done done as chief of staff with which he disagrees. In other words, King’s entire argument boils down to, because he’s incapable of being nonpartisan, it must be so for everyone else. That isn’t evidence, it’s just another tired attempt by the San Diego GOP to drag everyone down to their petty level.
The column I wrote followed my usual style of incorporating humor about local government and politics which has enhanced our audience. I have used humor describing the work of Mayor Sanders and Carl DeMaio, and it’s part of my infinite charm. Understanding that a few words have been taken by this blog to be sexist, I have modified the column accordingly.
King did remove reference to an imagined behind-the-scenes cat fight from the original column. But it took a second round of edits prompted by comments on yesterday’s post for him to remove a clumsily obvious reference comparing Ms. Wong to Monica Lewinsky, an offensive accusation that’s partisan, sexist and disgusting, no matter how infinite Mr. King imagines his charm to be. And as of this posting, there is no notation anywhere on the page disclosing the changes or apologizing for them.
As a start-up, SDNR has been built largely through the efforts of two women (our editors), both straight out of college, and neither were asked about their politics or gave a hint of political bias on their resumes (since they edit our reporting). One has turned out to be quite liberal and the other was conservative (now at UCLA Law) but both do good work. Like Ms. Wong they would both be unqualified for the chief of staff position due to their lack of sufficient work experience. However, neither of our editors would share Ms. Wong’s disqualifying high association with a partisan group.
“But some of my best friends are women” is the lamest possible attempt to squirm out of responsibility. King is welcome to judge people’s ability based on age, but by no means do his own biases require the rest of the world to operate with the same, sad, closed minds. Likewise, he gives himself away here by saying that job performance is irrelevant, but the people one associates with determine their ability to do their job professionally and competently.
That might be how King judges people, and it may be how he approaches the process of redistricting. But what actually matters is the process and the results — the substance — and he’s still totally unable to prove that the work of the redistricting commission or of Ms. Wong has in any way been compromised or failed to live up to the highest standards. He hasn’t because he can’t.
Instead, King is persisting with ad hominem personal attacks, misleading the public about his biases on several levels, and trying to disrupt and intimidate the redistricting process with nakedly partisan, offensive criticisms. He ought to be ashamed of himself not only for the original post but for persisting in this line. San Diego deserves a retraction and Ms. Wong deserves an apology.
by Lucas O’Connor. Still a board member of NLC’s San Diego Chapter and still expecting a substance-free response.