Jane Fonda helps an old San Diego friend

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Granny power

While one candidate takes maternity leave from the campaign trail, the San Diego Democratic Party has set up a so-called independent committee to take on incumbent Kristin Gaspar in next year’s race for Third District county supervisor. Build Bridges, Not Walls Opposing Republican Kristin Gaspar for supervisor is the name of the newly formed fund, which banked $40,000 from the party on February 12 of this year, according to a July 31 disclosure report. Meanwhile, in an email to supporters, Parke Skelton, a longtime friend of political consultant Larry Remer, is fundraising on behalf of one of Gaspar’s Democratic opponents, Remer’s daughter Terra Lawson-Remer, who is on a summer maternity break.

The face that launched the clunkiest political action committee name ever: Build Bridges, Not Walls Opposing Kristin Gaspar for Supervisor

While touting her family values, Lawson-Remer’s online campaign profile omits mention of her locally famous father and mother lawyer Shari Lawson. Instead it skips a generation back to her grandparents. “Her grandfather Frank Lawson, a career Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, was killed in battle in Korea in 1950. Her other grandfather, Herb Remer, fought in the Pacific in World War II with the Navy. Her grandmother, Beverly Remer, taught junior high at an inner-city school in the Bronx.”

Being left out of the family tree didn’t stop Larry Remer from kicking in $900 to his daughter’s campaign on June 23, disclosure records show. His longtime political patron, current New York denizen Jane Fonda, age 81 and twice a grandmother herself, came up with $1700 on June 13. Mary Steenburgen, Fonda’s co-star in last year’s Book Club, gave the same on April 5. Lawson-Remer’s chief Democratic opponent, Escondido Councilwoman Olga Diaz, has also been busy, picking up the endorsement of Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher. He was elected supervisor in 2018 with the financial help of his wife, Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, who routed state political cash from Sacramento lobbyists through the local Democratic party.

Faulconer’s charity camp

San Diego mayor and ex-public relations maven Kevin Faulconer, still hoping for higher office after he is termed out of city hall next year, has tapped one of the city’s wealthiest Democrats for a contribution to his One San Diego charity fund. Campland LLC, run by Michael Gelfand of Rancho Santa Fe, gave $10,000 to the fund on February 9, according to the mayor’s latest disclosure report, filed August 2. Gelfand and family members have been waging a big-money political war to hold on to their lucrative Mission Bay leases with the city to operate resorts on choice bayfront property, giving a total of $6300 to Democratic city attorney Mara Elliott, $6150 to Republican Faulconer, and $3250 to Democratic city councilwoman Jen Campbell. The investments paid off in June when the council voted 6-3 in favor of a five-year sweetheart lease extension arranged by the mayor’s office.

Frogs and seahorses

There’s a jolt of bad news for the Union-Tribune in the form of “disappointing” online subscription growth at its big sister to the north, the Los Angeles Times. Such numbers at both papers are usually kept tightly under wraps, but last week came to light in L.A. when Times editors Norman Pearlstine and Scott Kraft fired off a staff memo obtained by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. During the first half of this year, the memo says, the Times signed up just 52,000 digital subs, and suffered widespread cancellations, leaving a net gain of only 13,000. “I don’t think it’s ominous, I think it’s urgency and it’s just that we see a great opportunity and we have to move quickly,”

Norman Pearlstine

Pearlstine told Poynter July 30. “If anything, I think after years of neglect and no investment, we just have so much catching up to do. So I don’t think of it as ominous, but I do think it’s important that we get out front after having been behind for so long.” Said the memo: “Although reaching 300,000 digital subscriptions — our stretch target for 2019 — will be difficult, we remain convinced that we can grow to 1 million subscriptions in the next few years.”

To get that kind of boost, big content changes are contemplated. “We know that we must take a holistic approach — looking at each coverage area not simply in terms of overall audience but at how we can build a stronger business and get more paying customers for what we produce.”

Writers are being told that certain topics have more of a chance of attracting new business than others. “Stories that entertain and educate — recent reports about seahorses and endangered frogs come to mind — also drive subscriptions.”