San Diego voters probably will set new records for apathy today, with less than 20% of those eligible expected to cast ballots in four City Council primary races. It's easy to blame the colorless campaigns and predictable outcomes for the empty ballot booths, but the fact is that city voters have been showing progressively less interest in these preliminary contests.
There hasn't been a decent city primary turnout since 1977, when 43% of San Diego's voters cast ballots, but they were attracted by the chance to ban nudity (at Blacks Beach, not among the candidates). In 1979, a mayoral election year, the turnout dropped to 38.8%; it plummeted to 20.8% in 1981 and 18.9% two years ago.
Maybe all those passionate voters in 1977 have grown cynical about the power of the ballot. In District 7, one of those voting today, it has been 12 years since a council member chosen by the electorate has completed a single term of office. And you don't have to look far on Blacks Beach to assess the impact of the ballyhooed decision to outlaw nudity.
Knee-Deep in Power
To the eventual election winners, of course, come the spoils of patronage--those choice political appointments decided by council members, county supervisors and the like. And just last week, no doubt caucusing in smoke-filled rooms from Chula Vista to Fallbrook, political maneuvering was under way for five seats on the newly created county Fly Abatement and Appeals Board.
The Fly Board, to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors, will launch investigations into fly breeding hazards countywide and has been given carte blanche to take whatever steps are necessary to wipe them out.
Commissioners are empowered to probe drying and coning operations at commercial poultry ranches to make sure this modern method of manure management begins on "at least a six-inch pad of dry manure . . . to provide (the) absorbent surface for fresh droppings," according to the county's new fly breeding control ordinance. During investigations into the construction of the ranches, the Fly Board will make sure cages "facilitate the drying and removal of manure."
Yes, politics is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. The fly commissioners will have clout--together with the county health officers, they can approve alternate methods of manure storage if they see fit. Sounds like a job for an aggressive young manure-kicker.
Wrong Kind of Clipping
Somewhere out there, probably in a den or a game room, is a nifty-looking barber pole that would look even niftier back where it belongs, outside Winn's Barber Shop near the corner of 5th and University avenues in Hillcrest.
The stately old pole had been around since E. Norman Winn, helped by his young son, Kirby, proudly placed it outside his new business in 1950. That was back in the days before barber shops were called salons and had nice basic names like Winn's, not Hair Factory Headshed, The Hair Handler or The Cutting Room. Every barber shop had a pole then, but over the years they gradually have been disappearing from the urban American landscape. Today they're about as common as a $3 haircut that makes no mention of the word "styling."
Kirby now owns Winn's (his father died four years ago). He just got back from vacation to find his father's barber pole had been heisted sometime during the night of Aug. 28. Kirby says barber poles are "stolen all the time, because people think they look good in their game rooms. That's one of the reasons you don't see as many of them anymore."
Kirby is not sure if he will order a replacement. To his knowledge, only one company in the entire country makes barber poles, and they cost upwards of $500.
"In any case, it would never be like the old one," he said. "I hated to see that disappear. It was a keepsake that always reminded me of my father. I sure would like it back, no questions asked."