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Blog Archives - 2008
The Friends of Jerry Sanders got a $1 million windfall.
by Pat Flannery
Well, I'm back. I was just "tooling
up" for the next round of "The Battle for San Diego".
had to figure out how to continue this blog without
going broke. As you can see from the "Paid Advertizing"
opposite, I may have found a way, at least for
this election year.
Essentially, what I have been doing for the last three
and a half years on this blog is "voter education". Who
most needs to "educate" voters? Candidates! Therefore
those who feel that their candidacies benefit from my
kind of "voter education" are more than welcome to
advertise on my blog. Those whose lies I expose will
probably go elsewhere.
Why did I have to "tool up"? I discovered that you
cannot run video streaming from an ordinary web hosting
account. Nor can you send any more than 400 email
messages at a time using Cox or AT&T for example. I
wanted to do both. I had outgrown ordinary web hosting.
I formed a new company called "Web Hosting for the
World" and rented rack space in a datacenter in LA. I
then had to purchase a wide range of enterprise-class
software, install it and get it up and running. It was
quite a learning curve. But I did it and am now a
I then purchased a large database of San Diego County
emails, phone numbers and home addresses, the kind of
databases used by large political campaigns and
consultants. I spent weeks breaking the list down by zip
code, precincts and many other criteria. So now I am
ready to go to work to "educate" San Diego voters by
email and USPS.
So, let me get back in the fight with this story - 301
On September 12, 2006, on the
recommendation of Mayor Sanders, through his staff, the City
approved a 12-story high-rise mixed-use commercial
and residential development in a low-rise 1 to 3-story
area of Hillcrest.
October 17, 2006 a community group
The Friends of San Diego, a California
non-profit corporation, filed a
lawsuit against the City of San Diego and developer,
Pacific Development Group Inc. The lawsuit
challenged the City’s decision of September 12, 2006.
On August 20, 2007 the court issued a
on August 23, 2007.
Here is a
of that ruling compiled by Friends of San Diego.
In essence, the court ordered the City to rescind its approval of
the project on September 12, 2006. Sanders and the
Council had broken the law.
The developing partners,
Leidenberger & Mike McPhee of La Jolla Pacific
Development Group, Inc., are friends of Jerry Sanders. They own
3230 5th Avenue and run their
developer business out of
Jerry Sanders used that building as his campaign office
Properties Inc. Leidenberger and McPhee are also the
developers of the Deca project at Robinson and Park. A
funny thing happened on the way to the bank on that one.
A member of Jerry Sanders' staff at the Development
Services Dept., made a "typographical error". They
wrote the zoning down wrong. Ooops!
Leidenberger and McPhee were "accidentally" given
approval to build six additional units! They got to
build 37 condos at approximately $600,000 per unit
instead of the maximum of 31 allowed by the zoning. That
was a windfall profit of millions.
The "error" was not reported until construction of the
Deca project was well underway. The developer was
allowed to continue. In an apparent effort to cover
their tracks, the DSD staff proposed that the entire
block be up-zoned to what was "mistakenly" applied to
Deca. Under Mayor Sanders DSD has become a tool of developers,
not of government.
To illustrate the special treatment Sanders gave to
Leidenberger and McPhee, especially their 301 University
Jaymie Bradford, a Policy Advisor to Mayor Sanders,
turned up at a settlement conference between La Jolla
Development Group and The Friends of
San Diego. She said she was there representing the
But the Friends of San Diego beat the Friends
of Jerry Sanders at 301 University Ave.. They
proved it can
be done. That is why I am back in the fight - this time
to win. I will support any politician who serves the
people, not developers or other special interests. We
all need to get in this fight.
Union-Tribune: prime-time lies, buried retraction.
by Pat Flannery
Some of you may be
wondering if I fell off the end of the earth or had
started St. Patrick's Day early this year as I had not
written a blog in over a week. Well, the truth is, in
the three and a half years of writing this blog (I
started it in November 2004, right after the 2004
election), last week was the first time I became
Why? Because of the Union-Tribune's lies.
Over the last four years I have spent a great deal of
time and energy trying to get the truth out about this
City's finances and particularly about its pension
system. In my last blog on March 3, 2008, the one
immediately prior to this, I did the best I could to
explain to people that the Mayor's new Pension Plan will
not save the City $25 million per year as the Mayor
claims in his
press release and "Fact Sheet".
Then right on cue Bob Kittle compounds the Mayor's lie
by using the opinion column of the Union-Tribune to
repeat the Mayor's falsehoods.
is that U-T prime-time Sunday "Insight" editorial
- Sanders' plan curbs runaway pension costs", on
March 9, 2008, subsequently
retracted, buried deep in yesterday's paper.
That editorial together with
Alex Roth's hit piece on City Attorney Mike Aguirre
the previous Friday, March 7, 2008, almost drove me to
despair. Hence the blogging silence since Kittle and
Roth exercised their
First Amendment rights to use a monopoly "newspaper"
to blatantly misinform the public. What chance does a
lone blogger have?
In his eagerness to boost the reelection of
establishment-compliant mayoral incumbent, Jerry
Sanders, Bob Kittle wrote the
following highly inaccurate statement about the City's
the changes sought by Sanders, taxpayers would save $25
million the first year, with the savings mounting in
subsequent years. (The taxpayers' contribution to the
pension plan this year is $162 million.) The first-year
savings of $25 million is equal to the entire operating
budget of San Diego's central library and its 35
Those were Kittle's own words, not just a direct quote
from Sanders' so-called "Fact Sheet". Kittle's
editorials are blatant political "boosting" to an
extraordinary degree, more reminiscent of 19th Century
yellow journalism than today's enlightened age.
Kittle is too familiar with this City's finances not to
have known that Sanders' claims were bunkum.
the origin of the name "yellow",
“We called them Yellow
because they are Yellow,” wrote the Press,
a New York City newspaper, in1898.
I think the name is still apt for Kittle's column today.
Falling over himself to
"boost" Mayor Sanders' reelection chances against
challenger Steve Francis, Kittle ends his "yellow"
"Mayor Sanders deserves credit
for tackling the retirement system crisis head-on. His
plan is not only sensible, but absolutely essential to
San Diego's financial future."
If that's how the U-T and the downtown establishment
intend to get Sanders reelected, by putting out lies
about the City's finances, then they will fail. A
campaign built on lies will fail, even in San
Alex Roth's latest of many hit pieces on Aguirre
(Roth's "reporting" seems to have become a mere
extension of Kittle's "yellow" editorials),
Aguirre himself refuted Roth's "misstatements" on the
Aguirre Campaign web site. Here is
Aguirre's detailed response.
Roth wrote in his piece:
"And a Superior Court judge is
to hear arguments this month on whether the city charter
gives Aguirre the power to file certain types of suits
without council permission.
The judge's ruling, and the appeals that might
follow, could help cement a legacy that will outlast
Aguirre's tenure: a binding judicial ruling on the scope
of the city attorney's powers."
That made me wonder if the
real purpose of this particular U-T article was not to
influence Superior Court Judge William Nevitt in his
pending decision regarding the role of the City
Attorney, due to be heard on March 21, 2008. Roth's
piece went far beyond merely "reporting". It read more
like something written by Scott Peters and Bob Kittle
sitting on Peters' well-watered lawn in La Jolla, than
by a beat reporter.
The U-T and the ruling establishment of this town want a
favorable court ruling that will curb the powers of the
City Attorney's Office once and for all. They want the
City Attorney to be their City Attorney, locked into
defending any wrongdoing they may choose to get involved
in. That is how it worked until Aguirre came along and
that is how it will work again if they succeed in
getting rid of him.
In the meantime, I think you can see, I've got my
courage back. My sainted Irish mother did not raise a
quitter. Let the U-T and Mayor Sanders print their lies.
Let them retract in small print. The truth will prevail
in the end. I'm sure of it. Why? Because my mother told
look at Jerry Sanders new "Pension Plan" - Watch your
by Pat Flannery
This is Jerry Sanders'
new City Pension Plan,
It will only apply to "general" employees, hired
after December 31, 2008. Police and fire are not
affected. According to Jerry,
would have saved $25 million per year if
the Plan had been in effect".
He says it will
"lower the City’s financial
risks, reduce pension costs and eliminate excessive
So, he could have saved us $25 million a year, if
he had introduced it at the beginning of his first term
in December 2005, instead of at the beginning of his
second term, December 2008, (if he is
reelected). In other words, he could
have saved us $75 million over the last 3 years, but
he didn't. Is that what he is telling us?
Of course the truth is that he would not have saved us
anything like $25 million per year, even if he had put
his Plan into effect in December 2005, because it only
applies to new hires. It would take at least a couple of
decades to have had any significant impact. Another
massive exaggeration and misrepresentation by the
Sanders spin machine.
At least he has now officially admitted that there
are "benefit excesses under
the current system". Where have I heard that
before? Certainly not from Jerry Sanders, Judie Italiano
or Ann Smith. Up until now Sanders was officially
waiting for the courts to tell him whether there were
"benefit excesses under the
Amazing what a little political competition will do. Is
the fresh wind of the Steve Francis challenge beginning
to be felt at City Hall? Or is this a Jerry
Sanders/Judie Italiano scheme to fund their current
Is this "Plan" designed to fake out the voters until the
election is over only to disappear into the mists of
City Hall, like his 2005 smoke and mirrors "Business
Process Re-engineering" promises? Whatever happened to
that much-heralded Sanders' "turn-around" wizardry?
Anyway, the problem I see with his new "Pension Plan" is
that it actually exacerbates the deficit spiral. Not
only does it fail to address how the City will pay down
its existing pension deficit (now admitted to be caused
by "excess benefits" not by under-contribution on the
part of the City), it eliminates its only source of
future funding - new hires! It is like a Ponzi
scheme suddenly deprived of new investors.
Where then will Sanders find the revenue to fund his
We all know that the pension deficit was transferred to future generations, both taxpayers and
employees, by wily legislators like Scott Peters. He now
says that he didn't know. Yeah, right. But this latest
twist by Sanders & Co. is the cruelest cut of all. By
eliminating future employee contributions, the entire
burden will fall on the backs of taxpayers -
after Sanders has left office.
I am beginning to wonder if this "Plan" was not better
coordinated than we are being led to believe. Very
little happens in this city without careful back-room
planning. Are we to believe that this came as a complete
surprise to Scott Peters, the darling of the unions?
To me, it seems more likely that it is a well thought
out Sanders/Peters/unions scheme to
bundle up their "benefit
excesses" and secure them with
Pension Obligation Bonds. That has always been their
ultimate goal. It is
called converting soft debt into hard debt.
Only Sanders would go so far as to spin the cynical
scheme as saving the City money.
The San Diego taxpayer needs to be wary of such a mayor. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me
twice, shame on me.
The truth is out: Peters lied.
by Pat Flannery
Here is the
transcript of the
closed session of the City Council
on August 2, 2005 that everybody has wanted to read.
Here is a
press release from the City Attorney today
summarizing the relevant events.
Also, here are two relevant Court Declarations, one from
Jerry Sanders and the other from
Donna Frye. Both clearly confirm the City Attorney's
long standing assertion that he was given the
enthusiastic support of the City Council and of the
Mayor to pursue in court a resolution of the legality or
illegality of the disputed pension benefits.
Scott Peters now wants to say that Aguirre did all this
on his own without authorization from the City. Of
course, we all know why he is doing this: as a shill for
the city unions, particularly the MEA.
Peters tried to smear the City Attorney for doing his
job. Peters has abused the legal process by filing a
false complaint with the State Bar wrongly asserting
that Mr. Aguirre was not authorized by his client, the
City, to file a cross-complaint in a matter in which the
City was sued. In other words Peters tried to ensure
that the unions would win by default.
Clearly Scott Peters does not have the best interest of
the City at heart, merely his union backers. His abuse
of the State Bar disciplinary process for political
purposes should be enough to disqualify him from
practicing law let alone becoming City Attorney for any
Who will Wall Street listen to - Sanders or Francis?
by Pat Flannery
This week's legislative session (the Monday and Tuesday
weekly sessions are considered one session) was
dominated by two agenda items, the Internal Auditor
question and the Navy Broadway question (more on that in
my next blog).
On Monday mayoral candidate Steve
Francis represented a sharp contrast to Sanders on the
issue of who should appoint the City's Internal
Auditor. Sanders wants to appoint his own auditor, while
Francis wants to follow best business practices.
In the private sector, Francis explained to City Council, "Auditors
are appointed by audit committees, that have the power
to fire them. The committee itself is free from
executive influence as it is selected by the corporate
board of directors."
Accordingly, he suggested that "a
City auditor appointed by the audit committee and
confirmed by the City Council"
would best serve the City.
Here is Francis' full address to the City Council
Several other prominent citizens, such as Norma
Damashek President of the
League of Women Voters
Zimmerman, former San Diego School Board member,
made the trip down to City Hall to voice their concerns
over the Mayor's grab for too much control over the
City's books. Sanders wants to control the entire audit
process, both the Audit Committee and the Internal
Auditor, which may ultimately damage the city by causing
further delay in accessing the markets.
Sanders failed to get his version of the audit ballot
measure passed by the City Council on Monday. He needed
five votes, he got three. That did not deter Peters from
his relentless crusade to hand Sanders the unfettered
control of the City's finances, demanded by the special
interests. Peters and Sanders are now joined at the hip
as pawns of the developer/hotel industries, allied with
the city unions. A deadly mix.
The auditor issue will now be revisited next week, on
Monday March 3.
As with all special interest-dominated legislative
bodies, when they lose a vote they continue the item
until enough legislative arms can be twisted. It reminds
me of that infamous vote on the Medicare Prescription
Bill in the US Congress a few years ago.
I remember watching that bizarre legislative event live
on C-SPAN throughout a long night as the Bush
Administration gradually reversed 15 "Nay" votes. Only
when the roll call showed a positive result did the
Speaker announce the result, contrary to Congressional
Rules, which require an announcement within 15 minutes.
Some House Members later revealed that their families
were threatened that night.
The Sanders' political machine will be hard at work
until the final auditor vote is retaken on Monday. But
the entry of Steve Francis into the mayoral race may
already be changing those dynamics. It is hard to argue
with the Francis logic. It is backed by the full force
and prestige of Wall Street. This man, after all, is
Chairman of a billion dollar public company. Wall Street
is more likely to listen to one of their own than an
ex-cop intent on protecting his own service pension.
Should the Mayor appoint the City Auditor?
by Pat Flannery
Sanders' power-grab at appointing
the City's Internal Auditor (the very person who will
audit his books) will be decided by the City Council on
Monday. Here is the
Peters and Sanders want option (2): "appointed
by the City Manager
[now the Mayor], in
consultation with the Audit Committee, and confirmed by
Donna Frye will continue to
oppose the Mayor having any role in appointing the City
Auditor. She has consistently pointed out that it is
wrong both in substance and appearance and a giant step
backwards for this wayward City.
letter to Peters dated February 21, 2008 makes a
very weak case for allowing the Mayor to appoint the
City Auditor. Goldstone quotes paragraph 3.14 of the
GAO Yellow Book.
"3.14 Audit organizations in government entities may
also be presumed to be free from organizational
impairments if the head of the audit organization meets
any of the following criteria:
a. directly elected by voters of the jurisdiction being
b. elected or appointed by a legislative body, subject
to removal by a
legislative body, and reports the results of audits to
and is accountable to a legislative body;
c. appointed by someone other than a legislative body,
so long as the
appointment is confirmed by a legislative body and
removal from the
position is subject to oversight or approval by a
legislative body and reports the results of audits to
and is accountable to a legislative body; or:
d. appointed by, accountable to, reports to, and can
only be removed by a statutorily created governing body,
the majority of whose members are independently elected
or appointed and come from outside the organization
He disregards (a) and (b) and argues solely on (c). His
argument rests solely on the words:
"someone other than a
That's all he has got. He infers that that "someone"
could be the Mayor.
City Attorney wannabe Council President Peters will ram
it down the Council's neck on behalf of his new best
friend, Sanders. They are now partners in liberating the
city from Aguirre and open government.
It will be interesting to hear Peters and Goldstone
argue on Monday how a Mayor-appointed City Auditor could
be "free from
as if that's what they really want.
In his continuing efforts to serve the master (Jerry
Sanders) who pays him $250,000 per year, Jay Goldstone
has turned the recommendations of the Government
Auditing Standards body, published in what is known as
"The Yellow Book", on its head.
If this Council approves this deeply flawed ballot
measure for the June ballot, it should be rejected
vigorously by the voters. We need an independent city
auditor. Even a six-year old child can see that.
The truth about that August 2005 closed Council session.
by Pat Flannery
Everybody is trying to
determine the truth about what happened at a
of the City Council on August 2, 2005. Les Girard (Don
McGrath's predecessor as Executive Assistant City
Attorney) made a surprise announcement at an open session of City Council on August
9, 2005. Here, according to
"Assistant City Attorney
Les Girard announced that last week in Closed Session by
a unanimous vote with Districts 2 and 8 and the Mayor
vacant, the City Council authorized the City Attorney to
pursue a modified cross complaint in the action SDCERS
versus City of San Diego and City Attorney Michael
The full transcript of this closed session was at the
heart of a
news story in today's U-T and elsewhere. My take on
this controversial closed session hasn't changed much since I wrote a
blog on it back on
August 15, 2005, to which the Voice of San Diego linked
their story today.
To me, it is really quite simple - Peters lied and
continues to lie about it, because the unions are
extremely angry at him for voting to authorize Aguirre
to sue the pension board regarding illegal pension
First, here is the agenda for that
"The City Attorney filed (but did
not serve) a cross-complaint raising a variety of issues
and will brief the City Council on the status of the
matter in closed session, and request appropriate
The full transcript of the session will show that while
Peters may have expressed reservations about giving
Aguirre authorization to pursue a case against the
pension system, he voted for it nevertheless. He has
been desperately trying to redeem himself with the
unions ever since.
Ann Smith and Judi Italiano went ballistic when they
read Les Girard's August 9, 2005 announcement. To remind
Peters that they have not forgotten, Smith was standing
ominously in front of him at his press conference on
Monday when he announced his run for City Attorney.
He may have little choice but to run for City Attorney
or she will turn on him and put him in jail for pension
fraud. Smith and Italiano have "the goods" on him and
they don't take prisoners. Currently he is tasked with
preserving Italiano's union presidential benefits.
That's what you get when you do a
deal with people like Smith and Italiano.
Desperate to satisfy these relentless bosses, Peters
motion before Judge Barton on July 7, 2006,
attempting to disqualify Aguirre from representing the
City in the pension case. But on September 28, 2006 he
withdrew it and filled a complaint with the State Bar
Yes, it was Peters who filed that Bar complaint against
Aguirre. He may well have been encouraged to do so by
Bonnie Dumanis, who is on the
State Bar Board of Governors and has her own reasons
for stopping Aguirre - she fears he may run against her
for DA in 2010.
Even though the complaint against Aguirre has come up
empty so far "somebody" is able to keep it going. The
U-T reported: "At
his news conference, McGrath said “somebody's
pressuring” the bar's lead investigator to move forward
with the case “in spite of the evidence.”
McGrath, Aguirre's Executive City Attorney, said that
the investigator in the case seemed to have completed
the investigation then suddenly became active again
about the time Peters and Goldsmith entered the City
Attorney's race. It is hard not to be suspicious of
Without even reading the closed session transcript
(which I understand Aguirre would love to see
published), Peters' position seems untenable. Judge
Barton cleared this whole thing up back on January 12,
Barton ruled that the City was always the real "party in
interest", notwithstanding "any procedural defect" such
as using the name of the City Attorney, Mayor or any
other City official, as Peters tried to force Aguirre to
do. In other words Judge Barton ruled that it doesn't
matter whose name is on a case, the City is always the
real "party in interest".
Donna Frye had also cleared up the matter in her Declaration to the Court dated July 13, 2006.
is. On page 4 in Par. 12 she said:
"At this meeting the San Diego City Attorney requested
and received permission from the City Council to file
and proscute the cross-complaint in this action on
behalf of the City of San Diego. There was no ambiguity
in the City Attorney's request or the City Council's
For Peters to persist in his bogus complaint against
City Attorney Mike Aguirre in spite of Barton and Frye,
demonstrates a complete disregard for the truth. He is
seriously morally-challenged. This seems to have spread
to others on the City Council. San Diego's problem is a
moral problem not a fiscal or political problem. And
Peters is at the heart of it.
Powerful interests want that City Attorney's office back
real bad. Aguirre has proven just how powerful it can
be. The question for the electorate will be: on whose
behalf should that power be wielded? Elite special
interests or the people? It will be an
Peters will represent the unions if elected City
by Pat Flannery
Today Scott Peters formally
announced that he is running for City Attorney. It was
carefully timed to precede by one day his
endorsement by the Labor Council. Here is the
Although Peters would have been spared such formalities,
it is nevertheless informative, particularly number 7: "Elected
officials should intervene on behalf of workers during
labor negotiations if management is not negotiating
fairly with their union, even when the management is
a public agency".
That is clear enough.
The unions want to own the elected officials. The
pension mess is proof that in the past they were largely
successful in doing just that, which explains the
presence of Ann Smith, the MEA attorney, at Peters'
press conference today. The event looked more like an
MEA rally than a press conference. It is obvious who
Peters would represent and whom he would "intervene
on behalf of", if he
became City Attorney.
So, the battle lines could hardly be clearer if drawn by
a Hollywood screenwriter. The three main characters
represent the three main elements of San Diego politics
- the special interests of developers and the hotel
industry: "Judge" Goldsmith and
the special interests of the unions: the "Honorable"
And the third "character": say what you will about Mike
Aguirre, he represents no special interests. I have yet
to hear him being accused of representing anybody other
than the voters. In fact that is the main complaint
against him by the city elite. His only counterpart in
that respect is Steve Francis. Whatever you may think of
either one of them, you have to admit they are their own
men, each in his own way.
Here's what Aguirre had to say about Peters' candidacy
Peters says he regrets his vote in 2002 to exchange
increased pension benefits for decreased contributions.
I have given him many opportunities to take back that
vote and he has refused. He says he did it to save City
services. He did it to keep union support. The very
support his candidacy relies on today".
On the Goldsmith candidacy he said:
"Mr. Goldsmith fails to mention that a central player in
[the pension fraud]
former Executive Assistant City Attorney Leslie Devaney
is co-chairing and raising special interest money for
Mr. Goldsmith’s campaign. Mr. Goldsmith has already made
it clear he will do nothing if elected to rid taxpayers
of hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal pension
So it is Aguirre and
Francis against the special interests. It will be a
hard-fought battle, which may be won or lost as early as
May, when absentee voters start making their
choices. Francis in particular has a short window of
opportunity, while Aguirre will almost certainly survive
the Primary, when "events" may well work in his favor
for the General.
is launching his TV blitz early. He sent out
advisory today. I am looking forward to seeing the
ads tomorrow. I doubt that Steve will throw me out of
his press conference. He is too much of a gentleman for
that. Besides he supports underdogs like me.
San Diego is fast becoming a police state.
by Pat Flannery
Yesterday I got thrown out of a
news conference held by Bonnie Dumanis and Bill Kolender
to endorse Jan Goldsmith for City Attorney. No kidding!
See the video below. I had my very own "mucaca
Somebody had booked the Coronet Room at the Westgate
Hotel to host the anointing of "the chosen one", Judge
Goldsmith. I say "somebody" because the hotel staff
later refused to disclose who had paid for the room. I
tried to find out who had officially thrown me out.
I will be checking Goldsmith's campaign disclosure
return when it comes out. It better not be the County
that paid for that room. And if it was Dumanis and
Kolender personally, the cost of the room better be
shown as a campaign contribution from those two.
I arrived at the plush Westgate Hotel like the others,
media and non-media. I took my place in the TV camera
lineup as I often do. Most of them know me by now. I was
filming away nicely when I felt myself being manhandled
from behind. In a matter of seconds I found myself
outside the door wondering what the heck had happened.
Unfortunately I had turned off my camera when I first
started to get jostled. I was totally taken by surprise.
I did turn it back on just in time to capture my
assailant going back into the Coronet Room, looking very
pleased with himself. I still do not know who he is,
although I asked him.
Here is the video clip from when I started getting
pushed around to when the door was closed - with me
Even the real "mucaca" was treated with respect,
albeit sarcastic respect, by George Allen and his
campaign handlers. Senator Allen did not have his goons
eject the guy. But San Diego is not Virginia.
is Kolender not looking too pleased at my presence. Was
he thinking of me as that "mucaca-by-the-sea"
person. Did he then signal somebody to have me ejected?
He is right. I am San Diego's "mucaca". At least
I am now. And I am just as mad as the original "mucaca"
was in Virginia in 2006. I am not going away either.
How ironic that at the very moment I was being forcibly
ejected from her published press conference, District
Attorney Bonnie Dumanis was pontificating about "thorough
investigations and fair prosecutions".
Here she is preaching
about legal fairness while her goons are giving me the
boot, without even asking my name. So much for
open-government and freedom of the press - because I am
not one of THEM!
Here is Dumanis in self-righteous political rage against
our elected City Attorney:
city attorney has been destructive, divisive and
disruptive, making this a public safety issue”
A public safety issue? The City Attorney is a "public
safety" issue? Yes Bonnie, this IS a public issue - a
"public exclusion" issue.
a good look at this closed door. It is what San Diego
will look like for all of us if Goldsmith becomes City
I stared at that closed door long and hard on Thursday
afternoon. I heard the door being locked from the
I listened to the strident voice of Dumanis inside. Is
this our future? Have these people really taken over? Is
Goldsmith their latest stooge? Is it now: "them
an ex-Judge he will fit in perfectly with this lineup of
Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, Judges and District Attorney's
who regularly lock arms to defend their own. Below is a
picture of when they circled the wagons to protect
Sunroad's Tom Story from City Attorney Mike Aguirre.
Goldsmith is clearly one of them, which is why they have
The locked room at the Westgate Hotel says it all. It
was not a pleasant experience for me, and it will not be
a pleasant experience for San Diego if Goldsmith gains
the City Attorney's office.
Like the current Mayor's office it will be locked to all
but the rich and powerful. Sanders and Dumanis are
turning this city into a police state.
How "Public" is our "Public" TV station, KPBS?
by Pat Flannery
I must admit that I listen to KPBS
radio and watch KPBS TV more than other stations. But
does that make me stodgy? Does it warp my political view
to the right? Has listening to right-wingers Bob Kittle,
John Warren and Tim McClain pontificate on San Diego
politics on "Editors Roundtable" every week for almost a
decade moved me to the right?
I think mostly it has just bored the heck out of me.
When they don't have Bob Kittle on they now have
"editor" Chris Reed, who seems to be measuring himself
for a bowtie to replace Kittle. The age of Obama must
terrify these guys. Hilary they can openly hate, but
Here is an
exchange of emails regarding the cancellation
of "Editors Roundtable" the TV show. As you may know
KPBS started selling the TV version of ER to Cox 4 San
Diego some time ago. It brought in "commercial" revenue
for KPBS, which presumably is allowed under its
non-profit "public" charter. I haven't checked the
actual law on that.
But what can we learn from these emails?
it appears that Craig Nichols, the young dynamic Vice
President and General Manager at Cox Channel 4, has
decided that he can do a better "Editors
Roundtable" than KPBS. Will he hire the same
"stodgy" team? My guess is that he won't. At least I
Which brings me to the supposed role of "public"
television. KPBS cited budgetary constraints for the
cancellation of its "Full Focus". Here is its
Press Release dated August 1, 2007 announcing that
the national "Nightly Business Report" would replace the
local "Full Focus". Should a "public" station make
programming decisions based on the same business
criteria as a commercial station? I don't think so.
The result is that San Diegans will no longer have a
regular "public" TV show discussing San Diego politics.
KPBS has no plans to allocate TV air time on its own
station to the cancelled Cox broadcast. The sad reality
is that KPBS was unable to shake off the stranglehold
Kittle & Co. had on its programming. Kittle ran "Editors
Roundtable" into the ground, as he is doing with the
opinion page of the Union-Tribune.
We will now get all our TV political commentary from
commercial media, who favor the right. "Public"
programming is supposed to counterbalance that. But then
most of the funding for "public" broadcasting tends to
come from the betteroff "right". Now they can save their
money and just watch Cox, with or without "Bowtie" Bob.
An ongoing battle about who appoints the Internal
by Pat Flannery
Donna Frye is
down her opponents
regarding who will
appoint the Internal
Auditor. She has
support for not
allowing the Mayor
to appoint the
person who will
audit his books.
Frye made a major
by moving away from
her previous demand
for an elected
She is now willing
to accept one
appointed by the
Here is a
Peters suggested a
compromise - that
the Audit Committee
make the appointment
with the Mayor"
means). But that was
to Kevin Faulconer
who has doggedly
elected on Sanders'
shamelessly does his
bidding on many
issues. Too bad.
to accept Peters'
the issue to be
February 25, 2008.
In the meantime the
Faulconer who will
continue to lobby on
behalf of the Mayor,
while Frye will
continue to lobby on
behalf of the
public. Let's hope
the public continues
to pay attention.
Steve Francis speaks before City Council on Mayoral
by Pat Flannery
Mayoral candidate Steve Francis
appeared before the City Council this afternoon and made
an impassioned plea against the proposal to: "Increase the
Number of Council Votes Necessary to Override a Mayoral
Veto". Read this
Item on today's City Council Agenda:
"ITEM-202: Two actions relating to Submitting to the
Voters a Ballot Proposition Amending the City Charter to
Make the Strong Mayor Form of Government Permanent, Add
a Ninth Council District, and Increase the Number of
Council Votes Necessary to Override a Mayoral Veto."
Here is a video of Francis before City Council
and here is his accompanying
press release. It shows that he does not share Mayor
Sander's passion for control of the Legislature as well
as the Executive. Refreshingly, Mr. Francis seems to
understand and is devoted to the long-established
American concept of separation of powers.
I don't think my trust in him will prove misplaced. I
sensed from the start that he genuinely wanted power in
order to wield it on behalf of the ordinary people, not
hand it over to greedy insiders, both union and
business, as Sanders has done.
Perhaps there is hope for San Diego yet. I once thought
that the only ones likely to seek power for unselfish
reasons would be people left of center like Donna Frye
and Mike Aguirre. I stand corrected. True altruism can
exist right across the political spectrum. Wealth does
not necessarily change a person. Francis seems to
The Strong Mayor and Labor Negotiations Reform.
by Pat Flannery
City Attorney Mike Aguirre and
Mayor Jerry Sanders may have finally found some
much-needed common ground in the matter of Labor
Negotiations Reform. Aguirre issued this
Memorandum of Law on Labor Negotiations Reform on
Friday February 1, 2008 and held a press conference to
introduce and explain its concepts.
Here is a video
synopsis of that
Mayor has made it
clear that he does
not intend to follow
past practices in
which the City's
directed by the City
Council through the
City Manager. This
is a correct and
conclusion under the
transformation to a
Strong Mayor form of
that this is what
the voters intended
when they voted for
a Strong Mayor. He
believes that Prop F
intended to cut out
that has long been
the practice between
union leaders and
council members and
that the unions
should deal with "a
official" viz. the
It is this back door
Members that has
been the problem in
the past. The unions
have often boasted
of "owning" a
sufficient number on
get anything they
wanted out of the
believes the public
want that changed.
No doubt the Mayor
agrees with him.
The Council as a
body would retain
important powers but
those powers would
be exercised in open
session and on the
record. That is the
not going to like.
They prefer to meet
union leaders like
Ron Saathoff and
Judie Italiano and
make the insider
of Law is timely in
that the 2008 round
already started. He
notice that they
would be in breach
of Charter Sections
260 and 265 if they
attempt to interfere
with the Mayor's
direction to the
service of the city".
In other words the
Council can no
directions to the
Mayor as they did to
the City Manager.
If impasse is
reached between the
Mayor and any union
that the City follow
the resolution model
set forth in the
The EERA impasse
provides for a
Finding Panel. Some
use an appointed
panel but Aguirre
recommends that in
San Diego the City
Council be that
panel. The City
Council would thus
have to "remain
ability to satisfy
its fact finding
function under the
And there's the rub.
not going to like
part. It's like
asking them to take
a vow of chastity
and there is very
at City Hall.
will be interesting
to watch how this
will work out over
the coming weeks.
Aguirre has again
put the cat among
Hiding pension data may prevent City access to markets.
by Pat Flannery
For Jerry Sanders to insist that three
of his top staffers, COO Jay Goldstone, CFO Mary Lewis
and Director of Debt Management, Lakshmi Kommi, who
together prepare the City's financial statements,
including bond issuance papers, be the final arbiters of the accuracy of
all financial statements, may be the straw that destroys
Lewis was appointed to Goldstone's old CFO job on
January 7, 2008. She had previously served under
Goldstone as the city’s director of financial
management since April 2006. Before that she was Vice
President and COO of
Alliance Healthcare Foundation.
Lakshmi Kommi is Director of
(formerly the Financing Services Division of the
City Treasurer's Office). She has been with the City
since 1993, succeeding her Financial Services boss Mary
Vattimo, who became City Treasurer in May 2001.
Manager's Report announcing her appointment in 2001
said that she would be: "responsible for initial and
continuing disclosure reporting in compliance with
federal securities regulations, and for managing the
Equipment and Vehicle Financing Program. Ms. Kommi
serves as a liaison with the bond rating agencies
and will be responsible for structuring and executing
financing plans for a variety of bond financed projects."
It seems that Sanders now wants her "disclosure"
Vattimo was subsequently demoted to the
department in December 2004 amid reports that employees
in her office had destroyed documents. She resigned from
the City in May 2005. How much of that rubbed off on
Kommi is not clear. I remember her from the strange bond
issuance affair involving the
"Banc" of America who masqueraded as the "Bank" of
America, in October 2005.
This "new and improved"
Working Group (DPWG), that vets all financial
disclosures, will consist of the above three mayoral
staffers together with two City Attorneys, Mike Aguirre
and Mark Blake. Obviously three votes trumps two every
time, consequently it is little more than another
mayoral rubber stamp.
Sanders needs this rubber stamp because he is committed
to issuing $493 million in pension obligation bonds
before June of this year in order to fulfill a $600
million "pension pay down" promise made to the city
unions in July 2005. Sanders found $107 million of that
$600 million by leveraging the city's tobacco
settlement. That was one of the very first things he did
after taking office, making it clear where his
priorities lie - the preservation of his pension
His insistence upon putting his
people in control of bond issuance and all accompanying
disclosure documents (with the City Council's abject
concurrence) prompted this
letter to the SEC from
Mike Aguirre. It is reminiscent of Diann Shipione's 2003
letter to the SEC that propelled San Diego into the
New York Times article
that coined the nickname "Enron-by-the-Sea" for the
I watched the City Council debate the DPWG issue on
Tuesday January 22, 2008, and the hour and a half debate
by the Audit Committee on Monday January 28, 2008.
Clearly it is of fundamental importance to how this city
will be managed for some time to come.
Here is a video synopsis
of the City Council
debate, largely showing the arguments against giving the
Mayor voting control of the Disclosure Practices Working
Group (DPWG) as there really wasn't any arguments put
forward in favor of the Proposition other than that the
Mayor wanted it. The compliant City Council, with the
sole exception of Donna Frye, rolled over and gave him
everything he wanted.
That action seems to have been the last straw for
Aguirre who fired off his letter to the SEC.
The Mayor may come to regret not having listened to
Aguirre who has for several weeks behind the scenes been
cautioning the Mayor and Council about the dangers of
repeating the stupidity of past efforts to hide the
pension liability from the rating agencies. Yet that is
exactly what Sanders and the City Council are now doing.
They are all trying to protect their own excessive
pension benefits from Aguirre.
Here are some video highlights from the Audit Committee
Toni Atkins rudely interrupted John McNally, the DPWG's
outside disclosure counsel and one of the top securities
lawyer in the country, when he dared express the opinion
that Aguirre's disclosure concerns were genuine and not
as the Mayor has unfairly asserted.
It is not the first time Audit Committee chairman
Faulconer had to try to put a good face on Atkins'
rudeness. She once walked out
of an Audit Committee meeting because Aguirre even
mentioned the SEC.
McNally went on to explain to Atkins
that whenever the chief legal officer of a city has
serious reservations about that city's disclosure,
it is "problematic". He further explained that Aguirre
was more concerned about the false assertion that the
City is in compliance with the actuary requirement, than
with the fact that there is not a contract with an
actuary, which can be remedied. McNally seemed to agree.
The truth of the matter is that both Sanders, a city
pensioner himself, and the current City Council,
dominated as it is by the perpetrators of the previous
pension securities fraud, do not want an independent
actuary poking around in SDCERS files.
Here Aguirre explains why that has become a problem
SDCERS is flat out refusing to provide essential pension
information to the public and this Mayor and present
City Council are helping it do that.
So now it is up to Sanders. Will he back off and avoid
repeating the disclosure frauds of Dick Murphy? Or is
he, like Murphy, a slave to the "strong union form
of government" this city has endured for
Somehow I think Aguirre and Francis would make a better
pair. Aguirre, as a former securities lawyer, would have
much more in common with Francis who has led the company
he and his wife Gayle founded,
Inc. to become a top rated company on Wall Street. I
can't imagine Mr. Francis having difficulty
understanding the strategic advantages of total
transparency in financial disclosures.
Members of Sanders' top staff may yet have better
judgment than their boss. Surely a man of Jay
Goldstone's long governmental experience must recognize
that one must "know when to hold them and know when
to fold them". In this instance, as in Sunroad,
Aguirre has the better hand. He has already forced them
to rewrite their 2005 CAFR.
I am now a
Franciscan - a Steve Franciscan that is.
by Pat Flannery
Robert “Robbie” Robinson gave me the heads-up that
Mayoral Candidate Steve Francis would attend last
night's meeting of the Broadway Heights Neighborhood
Council, of which Mr. Robinson has been chair for the
past 15 years - since 1992. That is Mr. Robinson, with
his trademark cap, seated at the red-covered table.
Mega-rich white guy
Steve Francis seemed as much at home among this
largely African-American neighborhood group, in the familyroom of our very gracious
host, who also happened to be African-American,
as he would be in mega-rich Rancho Santa Fe
rich guy's mansion.
He bonded with these ordinary working folk in this mixed
ethnic neighborhood in a way you would not expect from a
person who has wrung the bell in the New York Stock
Exchange. Neither money nor color had any place in that
room last night.
Whether Mr. Francis realizes it or not, and I suspect he
does, this is exactly what San Diego needs right now. We
need to bridge the various "divides". Francis spoke of
more than just the North of 8 - South of 8 physical
divide. He has ideas about how to bridge the economic
divide and bring about a true urban renaissance. He
wants to attract investment into disadvantaged areas. He
used the word "underserved" several times last night.
He spoke of more than just economic enterprise zones, he
spoke of simple things like encouraging people to open
bank accounts instead of going to check cashing places
on Friday evening. He spoke of the outreach work the big
banks should be doing. He spoke of using the City's
franchising power to enable start-up wireless Internet
According to Francis we all have a moral responsibility
to bridge both racial and economic divides. I suspect a
Francis administration would have the best and the
brightest from all colors and races. He said talent is
not the prerogative of any ethnic or social background.
He wants to "put meat on the bone" in the form of real
things like a Quality of Life Fund. What a concept.
Actual money for "quality of life".
I was told privately that this was not his first foray
South of 8. Apparently some weeks ago he walked a
crime-ridden neighborhood with a certain local man, just
the two of them.
He was asked searching questions last night and seemed
prepared to stay until midnight if they wanted him to.
He just walked around and spoke to each one as if they
were the only one in the room. He gave very direct
answers, never evasive, actually seemed to be enjoying
the most challenging questions, like their concerns were
One of those concerns was the need for more living wage
jobs. He agreed that bridging the economic divide is not
going to happen by creating thousands of low-paying
jobs. Health care is a right not a privilege he said. He
supports the living wage ordinance! Only a political
candidate who does
not have to go cap in hand to business interests could
say that. It convinced me that Francis is his own man.
His answer to the final question of the night was the
most telling. A lady asked if this was not all
an act to get into office and that when he attained
power he would be just like the others. He thought for a
moment, then said:
"But this is the way I am". You'd have to be
there, to feel the body-language in the room, his sincerity got to me
and others. I am now a
Franciscan. The guy is for real.
Emerald: herald of change. Here comes the
by Pat Flannery
Emerald begins the campaign for the 7th
District City Council seat with an overwhelming lead,
demonstrating initial support and favorable ratings that
exceed anything we have seen in an open-seat race."
So says this
released this morning. It was commissioned by her
It suggests that Marti may
be able to win outright in the June
But it could also work against her. It could trigger
a massive inflow of money into
the Boling campaign. April is the long-time darling of
the downtown "old guard". They are not going to
give up Jim Madaffer's conservative stronghold without a fight.
Even if only half of this polling data is true
(campaign-commissioned polls are not necessarily
push-polls, it's just that candidates tend to release
only the favorable ones) it is still a powerful
indicator of the mood of District 7, if not the whole
city. It is clear that San Diegans, both Republican and Democrat, want
change. "Troubleshooter" Marti Emerald has impeccable
"change" credentials, while Boling is an establishment
This "herald of change" may be good news for Stephen
Whitburn in D3 and Sherri Lightner in D1. Both are
perceived as the "change" candidates in their Districts.
Carl DeMaio is struggling to portray himself as an agent
of change while remaining embedded in the old
Steve Francis on the other hand has caught the mood of
the people by refusing all donations in order to
demonstrate that he is beholden to nobody, not even Doug
Manchester. Maybe DeMaio, who has substantial means of
his own, should have done the same. His proudly
displayed contributor list is fast becoming his biggest
Most San Diegans now realize that for decades they have
been governed by powerful insiders,
not just unions and developers, but a cadre of diverse
special interests, who by banding together to control
the politicians, succeeded in putting their pensions and
corporate profits above the welfare of the city.
This disempowerment of the old power elite
will be the story of the next few years. This is not a
Democrat or Republican issue. There is a wind of change
blowing across this country and both parties need to
trim their political sails accordingly.
According to this particular survey: "Republican
voters overwhelmingly support Emerald 54 percent to 22
percent, while she carries 63 percent of Democrats and
56 percent of Decline-to-State
voters." When 54% of Republicans support a "change"
Democrat, anywhere, something big is in the air.
Insiders are out and outsiders are in.
Independent City Actuary is anathema to Scott Peters.
by Pat Flannery
Scott Peters told the City Council
today that "it would be a cold day in Hades"
before he would support funding an Independent City
page 19 from
his Kroll testimony where he seems to have no
problem with it. Was he being coy with the Kroll
investigators or has he since changed his mind? My guess
is the former. He is and always was a shill for the City
unions and their pension benefits.
Stymied by Peters and his union-appointed friends at
SDCERS, the City Attorney's office has essentially taken
over the role of the Independent City Actuary. Using
nothing more than the powerful Public Records Act the
City Attorney has uncovered most of the embarrassing
data that Peters and his union backers would prefer stay
hidden. That information was supposed to be provided by
an Independent City Actuary.
Peters and his friends would love to de-fund not only
the Independent Actuary but the Independent City
Attorney and the Independent City Auditor. Insider union
control has ruled San Diego City Hall for decades. Now
that they have seen what an Independent City Attorney
can do they are desperate to put the "Independent" genie
back in the bottle.
It is a bit lame for Peters to dress up his opposition
to an Independent Actuary in righteous indignation about
"incredible overruns". If he is genuinely concerned
about "incredible overruns" at City Hall, I can provide
him with a long list, many of which he supported.
Methinks the Council President doth protest too much.
wildlands-urban interface problem together.
by Pat Flannery
This map was
received by the City on or about September 17,
2007. Mayor Sanders was then supposed to hold a public review
within 30 days. But the first we heard about it was last
week when City Attorney Michael Aguirre revealed it at a press conference.
Aguirre explained to me that a new State law requires that the City of San Diego,
like all other jurisdictions in California, must have an
Ordinance in place before July 1, 2008, taking full responsibility
for fire protection
in the wildland-urban
In addition to the Ordinance deadline of July 1, 2008,
he pointed out that the City had a legal responsibility
to involve the public in a full and open
review and that the Ordinance itself was a "Process 5",
i.e. it requires a lengthy legislative process that
cannot be left to the last minute. He referred me to the following
section in the State Government Code:
Within 30 days after receiving a transmittal from the
director that identifies very high fire hazard severity
zones, a local agency shall make the information
available for public review. The information shall be
presented in a format that is understandable and
accessible to the general public, including, but not
limited to, maps."
I went to the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
web site, read up on the whole thing
constituted the "transmittal
from the director that identifies very high fire hazard
referred to in Code Section 51178.5.
I noticed that the map contains this note in the legend:
"The version dated September 17, 2007 of the map
shown here represents draft VHFHSZs within LRA, for
review and comment by local government."
Mayor Sanders and Bill Anderson sit on it since
Planning Chief Bill Anderson would have known about
such a map as it will become part of the General Plan.
Why was it not made available to the forty-two Community
I think we need to have that public debate now. This
important discussion should not be confined to a few. We all have a stake in how we
resolve our wildlands-urban interface problem. A quick look at the above map
shows we have plenty to worry about. We need to work together
on this. Next time we may not be so
discloses her ambitions at Whitburn fundraiser.
by Pat Flannery
I went to a fundraiser for
Stephen Whitburn at Ian Trowbridge's home in Mission Hills last
night. Whitburn is running for District 3. It
was a feast of scuttlebutt for us policy wonks.
an opportunity to talk politics with a surprisingly large
group of political savants. I spoke to as many as
possible and picked up as much scuttlebutt as I
Donna Frye was the featured speaker. She and Bob Filner
are among Whitburn's impressive list of backers.
That is Jane Filner, Bob's wife, bottom left in
the picture opposite. Jane is probably the best fundraiser in San
Diego County, but she has drawn criticism largely
because she possesses that very
For many years she was her husband's main fundraiser. But starting this year
Members of Congress
can no longer employ members of their own family as paid staff. That
is probably a good thing, but fundraising is more than a
staff job. The
message seems to be "if you know the best fundraiser
don't marry her". Bob's loss is Steve's gain.
Donna Frye has been keeping her cards close to her chest
for some time but now seems to have made the tough
decisions and is willing to openly share her political
ambitions with anybody who asks. Last night we asked.
She shared with us that what she really wants is to be
Council President after Peters and then
She is an experienced legislator and would be excellent
in both jobs. She takes her work very seriously and does
her homework, literally. She is to be found most
weekends pouring over backup material for the various
items on the following week's Council Docket. I am
constantly amazed at the depth of her knowledge of even
the most mundane items.
Her eagle eye would be invaluable in managing the
Council's business, which is the role of the Council
President. Under her Presidency, City staff would know
that they must provided complete and timely information
for the Council to make informed decisions. There has
been much game-playing with information in the
past. It became an art.
So it looks like Ms. Frye will be a political force in
San Diego County well into the future. It is a great
compliment to Stephen Whitburn that she sees in him the
kind of personal honesty and political steadfastness she craves for
in a new-look City Council. 2008 will be a watershed year for San Diego. Let's hope
personal qualities will prevail over corporate greed.
Let's hope honesty will replace the dollar
as our political currency.
encounters of the scary kind.
by Pat Flannery
The People won a
timely victory at City Hall on Monday night. But it was
a close call.
Davies and his "San Diegans for City Hall Reform"
came within one vote of making our City Council
irrelevant for decades to come.
This "Reform" organization raised
$1,008,225 between Jan. and Dec. 2006 and
$68,349 between January and June 2007, to finance its
"The Committee" has not yet filed its
Form 460 for July to December 2007.
Here is how John Davies pointedly warned the City Council that his
Committee colleagues "had reached the end of their threshold of pain"
actually used that intimidating language on the City
Council. That is the language of
not democracy. You don't threaten the legislative body
in a free republic. This is very close to fascism.
Who are these people? Here is the list of
subscribers for that $1,008,225 raised between January and December 2006 and
$68,349 between January and June 2007. It is the
same special interests that are behind Sanders and
They are mostly small service providers seeking sweetheart
contracts with the City and a few powerful insiders willing
to pay big bucks to have their big "entitlements"
expedited through the City permitting processes, like
Doug Manchester at the Navy Broadway Complex and Aaron
Feldman at Sunroad.
It is Chicago-style corruption with Madison Avenue
Here is how "The
spent its $1
million in 2006. Fundraiser Jean Freelove raked in $168,132 while
political consultant Tom Shepard received $71,567.
Freelove and Shepard fulfill the same role for Sanders.
"The Committee" was first formed as a "Controlled, Primarily Formed Ballot
Measure Recipient Committee" in 2006 and
morphed into a
"General Purpose Recipient Committee" after the
2006 November election. Unlike
a "Candidate Controlled Recipient Committee" these
General Purpose Committees
unlimited corporate funds. They have become the ultimate
"special interest" tool.
This aggressive group uses "Reform" as its flag of
convenience. It really is the "Committee to take over
San Diego" - a power grab pure and simple.
Its ambitious scheme comports
perfectly with Council President Peters' scorched earth policy
as he maneuvers to cover his exit from City Hall. He is
by far the most likely elected official to be singled
out by the the SEC as its municipal Ken Lay. Like Lay he
had the brains and privilege but he put it to the wrong
use. Enron-by-the-Sea may soon have its own Ken Lay -
from La Jolla.
Here is Peters
using his Council President's bully pulpit to co-opt
Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer and Jim
Madaffer into coming to the aid of "San Diegans for
City Hall Reform". Together they tried to get the
rest of the City Council to hand "The Committee"
a 75% mayoral veto starting January 1, 2009, two months
after Peters, Madaffer, Atkins and Maeinschein leave
These four are terrified
of Aguirre remaining as City Attorney after they have
gone. They should be. They also have much to fear from the SEC because they hid the
huge City's pension
liability from bond investors. But most of all they
should fear The People. Because of their
consistent lies while in office, this city has the worst
infrastructure of any major city in America - it has
practically no firefighting capability, one hundred year
old water mains and severely potholed streets.
They should not be allowed anywhere near elected office
ever again. At the very least, they should follow their
colleague Dick Murphy into disgraced obscurity.
Perhaps that's why Maeinschein announced this week that
he is going to run for City Attorney, to protect himself
and his colleagues. It may be their only chance.
Aguirre calls this behavior "adverse
domination". While these people remain in office
they will seek to "adversely dominate" the City Council.
Now Maeinschein hopes to "adversely dominate" the City
Tony Young is not buying any of it
He told "The Committee" what it could do
with its money.
Before the vote was taken, Davies fired off one last
salvo at the Council
Frye reacted magnificently.
"Bring it on"
she said! In telling Davies what she thought about his
unelected Committee, she made it official: she is not
running for Mayor and will be free to fight "The
Committee's" power grab "all day long".
I was greatly encouraged by the appearance of one
Council hopeful, Stephen Whitburn, who is running in
District 3. He was the only Council candidate to speak.
It shows that he understood what was at stake
If the voters elect
"people" candidates, Republican or Democrat, not "corporate" candidates like
DeMaio, whose campaign list is a carbon copy of "The
Committee", we may yet preserve our democracy.
On that note here is my own contribution
There were far better speakers than I, so please forgive
the vanity, but it was out of genuine concern for our
Then came the moment of truth. Peters began to realize
that he did not have the five votes. Atkins was
wavering. What would have happened if Ben Hueso had been
present, only Hueso knows. Peters reported that he
really was "very sick" and "unable to speak", which
makes me very suspicious about how Hueso would have
voted. If Peters tried so hard to have him there .. draw
your own conclusions.
Here is the final vote
"The Committee" got four - a close call. We
came within one vote of losing our democracy. Peters,
Madaffer, Maeinschein and unbelievably Faulconer, voted
to disenfranchise the voters who elected them!
Davies has actually gone on
record as saying that the Council should be reduced
to seven, not enlarged to nine. Democracy and
these people does not mix.
The veto override question will now have to wait until what is known as the "sunset package"
in 2010. The people
will be asked whether to make the
strong mayor permanent, whether to
expand the City Council from eight to nine and at THAT
TIME, whether the Mayor should have a veto at all
and if so, what should be required to override it. The whole
thing will be put forward as a package in 2010.
It is a victory for those of us who feared what Sanders
would do with a 75% override veto, with no guarantee that the Council
be expanded to nine. Sanders is only interested in serving the
special interests on
High Noon -
6:00 PM - City Hall. 01/13/08
by Pat Flannery
Tomorrow evening at 6:00 PM, Mayor
Sanders at the head of a strange union/developer
coalition of special interests, will march into San
Diego's City Chamber to strip the Legislature of all meaningful authority. What is planned
is nothing short of a
under the guise of "City Hall Reform".
Heading the union part of this "reform" coalition, police
chief Bill Lansdowne may turn up in dress uniform, complete with
braided cap and side arm. Police and fire personnel
expect to be the biggest beneficiaries of Sanders'
enhanced mayoral powers. For their support, the police
and fire unions hope to get huge salary increases in
2008 and have their retroactive pension "rights"
validated. That should be easy for Sanders as he was one
of the chief beneficiaries of pension benefit
retroactivity. His "multiplier" was backdated over 20
years from 2.5 to 3.
It is not hyperbole to call the recommendations of this
Strong Mayor Charter Review Committee a "putsch",
when you consider what it is they are "pushing". Here
their main proposals,
most of which have already been found "acceptable" by
Council President Peters, some Councilmembers and IBA
Allow the City
Auditor to be appointed by the Mayor.
two-thirds Council majority to override a
Audit Committee to consist of only 2 members of the
City Council (currently 3), one of whom shall serve
as Chair, and 3 "members of the public".
Define the "civil
client" of the City Attorney as the "municipal
Allow any City
entity to retain outside legal counsel.
need for Council confirmation of the City
Allowing a City
Mayor to appoint a City Auditor is unheard of in local
government circles. The
five largest cities in America elect their auditor.
The San Diego proposals turn the concept of
"best practice" on its head. They make Enron's internal
controls look positively exemplary in comparison.
Requiring a two-thirds vote to override a mayoral veto
in an eight-seat City Council means six Council votes.
That is 75%. An impossible legislative hurdle.
Expanding the City Council in 2010 to nine would bring
the "six" requirement down to 66.66%. But Sanders wants
his 75% override now. If he gets it, he and his
backers would undoubtedly campaign against any City
Council expansion in 2010. Why would they give up their
their 75% veto stranglehold? Additionally, it is
unlikely that voters would approve money to expand an
unpopular City Council.
achieve that 75% veto override, they need only control
three votes on the City Council to rule San Diego with
an iron fist. The most likely three votes are: Kevin
Faulkoner, already seated in District 2, Carl DeMaio,
running in District 5 and April Boling, running in
District 7. All three are solid Sanders supporters
because they share his campaign contributors.
Even if this
fails to take District 7, it still owns Tony Young in
District 4. Tony knows that those who will "do it
with you" can "do it to you". He
knows that the BIA will do to him what they did to
George Stevens, pick a fresh guy and get a Council seat
on the cheap - if he forgets who put him on the City
This special interest money is flowing into the
campaigns of DeMaio and Boling. Scott Peters' current
seat in District 1 is also attracting its share. Both
the developers and city unions want to stop the very
independent-minded Democrat, Sherri Lightner, from
taking that seat. Centrist Sherri suits the
free-wheeling voters of La Jolla, University City and
Penasquitos, who are not likely to be swayed by outside
money. District 3 is largely Democrat but its main
constituency, the gay and lesbian community, has warmed
to Sanders since his gay marriage flip-flop.
Not only does this Sanders/union/developer coalition
want to appoint the City Auditor,
they want to hire
and fire his/her staff. Then
they want to appoint
Committee to which the Auditor will report!!! They would
do that by appointing three "members of the public". I
wonder who they might be - all three will no doubt be
numbered among those marching into City Chambers
The Charter Review Committee recommended that the City
Charter specify the "municipal corporation of the City
of San Diego" as the City Attorney's "civil client". Any
future City Attorney would then be bound by strict
attorney-client privilege rules. In the unlikely event
that such a mayoral puppet would dare give "wrong"
advice, they further recommended that "any City entity"
be able to retain an "outside counsel".
The Committee wanted to thus emasculate the Office of
City Attorney and ensure that there could never be
another Aguirre. But the Mayor and City Council appear
to be baulking on that item for now. Sanders' priorities
seem to be the 75% veto override, control of the City
Auditor and control of the Audit Committee. He wants to
secure those before Peters,
So there you have it. This may be your last chance to
Council meeting with any meaning.
It is bad enough now, but imagine next year sitting
there week after week watching Carl DeMaio, Kevin
Faulconer and April Boling play bobble-heads for
Sanders. That's where we're headed if Sanders gets his
If "We the People" allow it to happen, we will enter a
dark age in San Diego history. Let's hope enough people
care. If you care, turn up on Monday evening.
If you wish to fully understand what is at stake, read
the supporting documents for tomorrow's meeting. Here is
the Agenda and back-up material,
Part 1 and
Part 2. This "putsch"
has to be defeated. Four City Councilors, who will be
gone within a year, stand ready to sell out to Sanders
tomorrow night. This four, who have sold out before,
should not be making critical decisions for future
San Diego style.
by Pat Flannery
Read the "employer"
column on Carl
filing. It reads
like a roll call of
interests that have
controlled San Diego
for decades. And
Carl is going to
Reform City Hall?
is DeMaio with Bill
Kollendar and Bonnie
Dumanis. He fits
right in, doesn't
he?. Look at the zip
codes of his
There are very few
from District 5.
San Diego went to
elections to end
this buying of City
interests. The City
Council was to be
elected by local
Now, for even less
"investment" than in
the bad old days of
groups like the
and the Building
Association can own
one or more
Democracy San Diego
Tony Young was
elected in District
4 with only 6,911
votes in 2004 and
with 10,275 in 2006,
people! That allowed
Republican BIA, with
an eye for a
bargain, to step in
and sponsor Democrat
Young in both
elections. They now
own him lock stock
and barrel, as
evidenced by his
The BIA was able to
less than the price
of a truck. The good
people of District 4
got screwed as those
in District 5 will,
if they don't come
up with a real
like Tony Young,
will represent the
interests that paid
for his campaign -
you dance with the
one that brung ya.
Currently there are
only two candidates
running in District
5, Carl DeMaio and
Bob Ilko, both
Lee, also a
out because she felt
a strong sense of
the School District
to which she had
been elected in 2004
and for which she
had served as Vice
than switch to the
City Council she
decided to remain
with the District
and run for
From January to June
of 2007 Attorney Bob
Ilko raised $2,640,
mostly from his own
family. DeMaio in
the same period
raised $56,169 from
matched it with
$55,899 of his own
money. Ilko hasn't
yet turned in his
second half 2007
DeMaio has. He
raised $92,365 and
matched it with
$92,365 of his own.
You need an awful
lot of popular
support to fight off
that kind of outside
money - otherwise it
will be more
democracy San Diego
DeMaio only recently
moved into District
5. Surely his new
ultimate "burbs", is
the last place a gay
man would want to
live. Isn't there
anybody, Democrat or
Mira Mesa or Scripps
Ranch who cares
enough about their
communities to fight
to represent them
at City Council?
Richard Rider says:
"Carl needs not
to just win, but to
CRUSH any opponents".
All that money just
to crush Ilko? A
Is moderation so bad Richard?
Come on District 5,
give DeMaio and his
machine something to
really CRUSH - local
democracy as it was
intended to be.
Clearly it will take
a lot more than
beat the outside
calls "reform". Is
this the future for
sleepy San Diego? Is
this why DeMaio
moved here from DC?
I knew we were
asleep but I didn't
think we were dead.
Why we must have
an elected City Auditor. 01/06/08
by Pat Flannery
Read this newly-released
"2008 Annual Report on
Internal Controls". John Torrell, the previous City
Auditor, quit last year infuriated when Fred Sainz, the Mayor's
media guy, rewrote vital parts of his 2007 Annual Audit
Our new Mayor-appointed City
Auditor, Eduardo Luna, seems more amenable to such
I read the entire Report and Exhibits. It is full of
empty rhetoric, lots of praise for the Mayor but little
like it was written by a press officer not by an
accountant. Perhaps Sainz wrote the whole thing himself
this year. Why not?
present Luna's Audit Report to the people of San Diego
Friday. Luna stands dutifully on the Mayor's right
while his $250,000 per year Chief Operating Officer boss, Jay
Goldstone, stands eager to serve on his left. The whole
thing as usual was stage-managed by Fred Sainz. He
politely thanked everybody for their attention.
has thus surrounded himself with well-chosen staff who are willing to
take the money and do the bidding of the man who hired
His current Chief of Ethics
and Integrity, Jo Ann Sawyer-Knoll, is a perfect
example. She knows all about serving men in high places. She
was Alan Bersin's dutiful lawyer for the School District
from 1998 to 2003.
She now earns $150,000 working for Sanders. But does
anybody know what she actually does? Perhaps she gives ethics
lessons to senior staffers like
Or perhaps she helps
Jill Olen "investigate" how
staff trainer Jill Olen could have handed out "cheat sheets" to the 8,000 City
employees required to pass an
so that the City could receive
a Homeland Security grant?
That's right, Sanders appointed
Olen to investigate Olen. But Sawyer-Knoll knows exactly how
to handle such delicate tasks. She did the Sunroad
Speaking of Sunroad,
lineup of judges, San Diego Sheriff, Bill Kollendar, DA,
Bonnie Dumanis and Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, as they
stood with the Mayor to block Aguirre's case against Tom
Story, the ex-City planner and ex-Mayoral Chief of Staff
turned developer as a Vice President of Sunroad, for
of the San Diego
Here is what
that Section says:
"It is unlawful for any
former City Official who received compensation from
the City to work on a particular project during his or
her City service to engage in direct communication with
the City, for compensation, with regard to any pending
application for discretionary funding or discretionary
entitlements before the City relating to that particular
project on behalf of any
other than a Public Agency for
a one year period immediately following
termination of service with the City."
emails widely circulated at the time, Tom Story was in
flagrant breach of that law, yet the above lineup of
judges and law enforcement officers conspired to defeat
the law. When you disagree with such people you have a
"conflict of interest", which is what they accused
Aguirre of having. It's a
conflict of interest alright, between those who put up
the money to elect judges and DAs and us lowly
This old power
elite will fight like demons against a charter change
to an elected City Auditor. They will even try to
abolish an elected City Attorney. They aim to regain
ownership of the Attorney's Office and put a "place-man"
in the Auditor's office.
It is easy to see why.
Can you imagine what would happen if somebody like
Aguirre became City Auditor? How many financial skeletons would
come tumbling out of the financial closet? Aguirre put a
stop to the giveaways and has been rummaging in the
legal closet ever since getting elected three years ago.
He is still discovering skeletons.
Getting back to the sham Audit Report, the East Coast rating agencies
and financial markets will not buy the self-serving platitudes
Sanders feeds to the people of San Diego. This is what the
Wall Street Journal had to say
about San Diego last week in a major year-end editorial.
Our laid-back City has an abysmal reputation in the financial
Sanders' laid-back bonhomie will not impress the gnomes of
He wants to borrow billions of
dollars this year to placate the unions by paying down
their (union-created) pension debt and to repair our
aging infrastructure. But he comes across as an ex-cop who is in over his managerial head.
Wall Street does not believe that this City is serious
about its finances. It believes right. We lost an
excellent City Auditor in Torrell. I remember how
reassuring it felt having John on the other end of the
telephone, being just as curious as I was to find out
what was going on with Dennis Kahlie's strange $152
million private bond placement with the "Banc" of
America. I still don't know the truth about that deal,
but I haven't forgotten. The moment Sanders was
elected everything shut down.
The Golding/Gwinn years were the good old days of secret
giveaways. Control of the City's finances must be
wrested from those shady insiders who have been keeping
two sets of books for decades. We got a brief glimpse
behind the curtain under John Torres. We now need to
make it permanent. We need a free spirit like Aguirre as
Copyright "San Diego Today"
November, 2004 -