Tuesday, February 11, 2020

YIMBYs--newest handmaidens of the Growth Machine

Alternative facts—they're the latest rage.  Even here at home, presumably responsible voices are echoing half-truths, distortion, and misinformation about a number of big-ticket items that face San Diego.

Let’s take the subject of housing, for starters.  We all talk about the housing crisis in San Diego.   So what makes it a crisis?  

For some it's about sky-high rents.  Others say it's a matter of supply--there aren't enough houses and apartments to go around.  Still others point to the near-million it takes nowadays to buy even a little bungalow…

Do the innumerable, uncountable people living on the streets constitute a crisis?  And what about the families being pushed out of their gentrifying neighborhoods?

As for the causes of this crisis, everyone's got a different take--too many regulations? building fees? zoning restrictions? government roadblocks? parking requirements? environmental protections?

Well then, what should be done?  How about the commonsensical-sounding solution bouncing around newspaper editorials and City Hall and County meetings… planning forums and urban studies classrooms… union halls and the hallowed Chamber of Commerce... the one that says: Yes we can!  Yes we must BUILD our way out of our housing crisis!

YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard crusaders) on both sides of the political aisle--Democrats and Republicans alike-- have jumped on this alternative-facts bandwagon urging us to build-build-build our way out. 

The YIMBY message is paraded out by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.  By California Senator Scott Wiener.  By HUD Secretary Ben Carson.  And yes, by executive order from our very own President Donald Trump. 

Their marching orders are clear: Slash government regulations.  Reduce building restrictions.  Require greater development and density (preferably but not necessarily in transit-available, jobs-rich urban areas).  Intensify growth.  And get yourselves out of the way of the market!

YIMBYs may be new to the game but their build-build-build message is just another twist to an old script written and directed by San Diego's longtime lord and master--the Growth Machine.

The Growth Machine can be described this way: it's a broad coalition of local folk (individuals, organizations, interest groups) who share two basic traits: 1) all its members directly profit from urban growth and development; and 2) all its members tend to have an outsized influence on local political decisions.

You've met them before: our hotels, banks, convention center, newspapers, shopping centers, sports stadiums, labor unions, realtor's associations, tech companies, builders, big developers….

And they have a third thing in common: a shared philosophy about the function of the land beneath our feet.

For the Growth Machine "land" is not a social good, it's a commodity—a financial vehicle to be purchased, sold, invested in, or traded.  Who can dispute that ownership and control over land is synonymous with wealth and power?  With land valued as a commodity rather than a social good, speculation can reap huge rewards. 

Now tell me, who has the Midas touch to transform the resale value of land owned by  investors/speculators/developers into pure gold?  None other than our elected officials on the City Council and County Board of Supervisors. 

And who are the people most susceptible to pressure from lobbyists, campaign donors, unions, and business elites?  Who can turn the city itself into a well-greased Growth Machine? See above.

Think about it: when local politicians act in their official capacity to extend the city's water and sewer lines… build new roads… amend a community or general plan… upzone to higher building heights and densities… bestow tax subsidies… relax building and parking requirements… a modest piece of property can be instantly transformed into a goldmine. 

You might ask: won't increasing land values and tax revenues also be beneficial to the city by enabling our elected officials to enhance amenities and the quality of life for regular people and neighborhoods?  

Not necessarily.  The priorities of land speculators and developers involve intensifying land use to accommodate more, and then more, growth and development.   Attention to your sidewalks/storm drains/schools/parks/potholes/municipal service is buried somewhere in San Diego's decades-old backlog of unattended neighborhood infrastructure repairs and upgrades--now at a whopping $2billion deficit

Back to the subject of housing.  Regular people recognize that the housing crisis is actually an unaffordability crisis.

Most regular people know that the remedy for an unaffordability crisis is NOT denser/ high-priced/ luxury/ upper-end apartments, condominiums, and mini-mansions.  Most don't fall for the myth that higher housing densities and generous developer "incentives" will bring prices down to a reasonable level.

Most of us aren't fooled about the difference between housing "abundance" and housing "affordability."  Most intuitively understand that--in the real world--supply and demand trickle-down economic theories don’t cut it for mid/moderate/lower income residents.  Does anyone honestly believe that unleashing the power of the market will bring housing prices down?

So how can we explain the blind enthusiasm of people who brand themselves YIMBYs and declare that high density market-rate residential development is the magic bullet for ensuring that anyone who wishes to reside in our neighborhoods/ cities/ counties can have an affordable roof over their heads?

Is the seductive allure of a powerful, wily, and wealthy Growth Machine too hard to resist? 

For a clue, take a look at the organization called California YIMBY.   California YIMBY was created with a million-dollar advance from Bay Area high-tech executives as a lobbying tool for pro-development legislation in Sacramento.  Its purpose is to organize empower, and coordinate with YIMBY groups throughout the state to reduce environmental and regulatory restraints that stand in the way of high density building and growth.

The California YIMBY Victory Fund is its moneyed arm--a political action committee (PAC) that doles out generous contributions to Democratic clubs, civic associations, other political PACs, and of course to state and local politicians and candidates (local YIMBY cheerleaders Todd Gloria, Toni Atkins, and Nathan Fletcher  included).

San Diego has always competed with other cities to entice vacationers, conventioneers, and tourists to choose us over all others.  Lately, city boosters have been inviting newcomers to not only visit but to stay.  They're also ratcheting up incentives for new businesses and tech workers to come on over and relocate in San Diego.  With YIMBYs at their beck and call, the sky is the limit for the Growth Machine.

Let me state this for the record: growth is not a dirty word.  But growth--the quantity, quality, rate, impacts, losers, and beneficiaries--comes laden with enormous challenges.  There are no quick and easy answers.  That's a real fact.

The only dirty words in this debate are the alternative facts promoted by the powerful growth coalition and parroted by YIMBY acolytes.  Upzoning and slashed regulations do NOT increase affordability, reduce auto congestion, mitigate severe climate/environmental impacts, or make a dent in the plight of the homeless.   In fact, accelerated rates of growth increase these critical problems.

A real fact is that San Diego doesn't have to follow in the YIMBY footsteps.  Our city doesn't have to go the way of San Francisco or San Jose or Los Angeles.   We can choose an urban future that manages growth to meet the broadest range of human and environmental necessities.   If we want, we can start right now to remedy our housing unaffordability crisis. 

Why not:
* protect tenants from price gouging and unwarranted evictions? 
regulate international speculation and land acquisition? 
* preserve, upgrade, and promote adaptive reuse of existing affordable housing? 
put the screws on corporate landlords? 

Why not:
* encourage union-sponsored housing?
* curtail windfall profits exacted by landowners? 
* slap a luxury tax on investment dwellings? 
* initiate mixed-income public-sponsored housing?  
* lobby for a state bank and public co-ops?  

And why not:
* support bond measures focused exclusively on housing and let San Diego's hotel/tourism industry pay for an expanded convention center?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Mayor mayor on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

I know what you’re thinking: we’ve got plenty of time to make up our minds about who to choose to be San Diego’s next mayor.  No rush, right? Wrong!

San Diego City Hall (circa 1874)
Let’s get the timing straight.  The primary election is coming up sooner than you think—the date is March 3, 2020.  Then the top two winners will face off in the November 3 general election.

Now, let’s get the candidates straight.  The frontrunners for mayor are Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria--both are Democrats.  Civic activist Tasha Williamson is also in the running–for some voters she represents a protest statement.  There’s also Republican candidate Scott Sherman—he's the disgruntled candidate who voices cynical disgust for city government from his seat on the City Council dais.  Additionally, there are several also-ran names to choose from.

Above all, let’s get this straight: the mayor of San Diego may not be a hot item on the national agenda, but here at home the position of mayor could be--no, SHOULD be--a very big deal. 

That’s why it boggles the mind that nearly every past San Diego mayor (present mayor included) can be described as a nondescript, mediocre, banal, unremarkable, complacent, fly-by-night, tunnel-visioned, utterly forgettable minor league political figure.

(To be fair, Mayor Pete Wilson brought some innovative touches to the office before he went on to greener, though more conservative, pastures.  

Mayor Roger Hedgecock seemed promising until he tripped over his own feet and skidded off the rails.  

Mayor Susan Golding had hints of verve until her overweening political ego practically bankrupted our city's finances.  

Mayor Bob Filner coulda been a contender, but it was not to be.  Did I miss anyone?)

For San Diego, the cumulative impact of settling for second-rate leaders is painfully clear.  Take a look at the persistent state of our bleeding financial budget, understaffed city departments, failing levels of performance, and zero accountability.  It's hard to miss the fact that current mayor Kevin Faulconer (just another pea in the pod) has proven himself incapable of taking care of basic city business, much less tackling San Diego's complex, ever-growing problems.  

Wouldn’t it be great if we could elect a competent, stable, independent, trustworthy, responsible, well-informed, honorable leader... a mayor with integrity and a dependable moral compass?  It could be a game changer.

We may be in luck this time.  There is ONE candidate who could fill the bill.  

Barbara Bry is the only candidate running for office who meets the criteria for competence stability✔ independence✔ trustworthiness✔ responsibility✔ knowledgeability✔ honorability✔ integrity✔ and a dependable moral compass

Looks like a good start, doesn't it?

I've become convinced that for a fighting chance to wrest political control away from San Diego's business-as-usual power brokers and bend the benefits of good public policy toward the residents of our city, the odds for a good outcome lie with Barbara Bry.  The sum of her attributes is abundantly more vote-worthy than the scorecard for any of the other mayoral candidates.

Of course, nobody’s perfect.  Barbara Bry earns demerits when it comes to her public demeanor.  She scores low on the charisma scale.  She’s no smooth-talker.  She’s not fiery, not the cheerleader type.  She doesn't qualify for membership in San Diego’s entrenched good-old-boys club. 

What you see is what you’ll get: a down-to-earth, practical, realistic mayor with sharp business skills, lots of common sense, and no negative baggage… no hidden conflicts of interest… no secrets in her closet.  She understands that communities and neighborhoods must be the primary beneficiaries of city policies and decisions. 

Not long ago I made a practical suggestion: forget the fancy stuff... the bells and whistles... the silly-talk about sexy streets and world-class status.

With the right mayor in office--someone with integrity, strong management skills, and a nuts and bolts approach--we could see real progress toward meeting the needs of our neighborhoods and residents, along with securing a stable future for the city.  

Who can deliver? Not Todd Gloria--he's got a documented, reprehensible record of betraying his constituents and the public good.  

Not Scott Sherman--he has scant respect for city government and treats the public with contempt.  

Not Tasha Williamson--she speaks with authority on police abuse and overdue social reform but running the corporation called the city of San Diego takes a whole other bag of talents.

Way back last March I asked these questions: Is there time for Barbara Bry to grow? Spread her wings? Expand her scope? Be a risk taker by speaking truth to San Diego voters? Emerge as a multi-dimensional public-minded political leader?
Nine months later, my informed conclusion is that Barbara Bry is our best bet for San Diego's next mayor.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Story #2—Winners and Losers: the San Diego Edition

Stories #1 and #2 are connected by a common thread: the selective system that elevates, protects, and rewards San Diego's compliant players while throwing principled nonconformers to the wolves...

Story #1 revisited the 1984 San Ysidro massacre.  The loss and horror of that event are incalculable.  Yet those who were  responsible--directly (the shooter) or indirectly (certain city officials)--either cannot (the shooter is dead) or will never (the code of silence) answer for the depth of harm inflicted on the victims.  

Not many people think about this story anymore.

Story #2 revisits the Bob Filner story.  It's a third-rate operetta compared to the San Ysidro tragedy.   But sex sells and the Filner story has morphed into a national hit.  The secret of its success is that can serve a wide audience across the political spectrum—left, right, and center.  Like the proverbial gift, it keeps on giving.  

Given its popularity, the time seems right for an updated review of this story.  It needs a thorough airing, even though the dust it raises may irritate some readers.  It’s a small price to pay when good government, transparency, and--above all--accountability are the objectives.

Part I: The Official Story
Chapter 1
The latest resurrection of the Filner story was aimed at Senator Kamala Harris, a presidential candidate from California.  It's an attempt to discredit her for her 2013 failure to throw the accused mayor Bob Filner into prison when she was state Attorney General.  It’s an ironic twist, since Senator Harris had opportunistically jumped the gun and eagerly mounted the anti-Filner bandwagon, even though she had never laid eyes on the man or exchanged a single word with him.  

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t....
But Harris shouldn’t take the attack personally.  The Filter trope is an equal opportunity weapon across many battle arenas.   Check out how it's used against Nancy Pelosi and her "perv problem."  Or against gay rights activists and the Sex-Creep Club.  Or by trendy authors to advance their sociopath theories.  Or by #MeToo victims as grist for a movie plot or memoir.  

And see for yourself how effective the Filner trope is here at home with men like: 
* Labor Council’s Mickey Kasparian 
* County Supervisor Dave Roberts 
* Former councilmember Carl DeMaio
* School Board trustee Kevin Beiser, and recently
* Six male members of the District Attorney's office

Chapter 2
The official storyline goes something like this: Bob Filner, a transplant from the East Coast, spent a couple of decades at SDSU as a professor of history, having made his way to San Diego many years earlier.  He was elected to the board of the San Diego Unified School District.  

In 1987 he was elected and re-elected as a San Diego city council member.  In 1992 Filner won a seat in the United States Congress to represent the San Diego/Imperial County region adjacent to the Mexican border, one of the country's most ethnically diverse districts.

The official story continues: The liberal Democrat Bob Filner was among four main candidates running in the 2012 primary election for San Diego mayor.  The others were conservative Republican Carl DeMaio, moderate Republican Bonnie Dumanis, and Republican (almost-but-not-yet Independent) Nathan Fletcher.

Filner and DeMaio advanced to the November election.  Filner was elected mayor by a margin of 52.5% to 47.5%.  He was the first Democratic mayor to hold office since Maureen O'Connor.  (The city had elected a Democratic mayor in 1899, 1905, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1955, 1963, and 1985.)

Chapter 3
The official story goes on: Within weeks in office, what started as unofficial complaints from three women against the mayor rapidly snowballed into claims from over a dozen women of crude come-ons, intimidating sexual comments, and imprisoning headlocks. 

The official story takes a pivotal turn with an account of the
July 11, 2013 afternoon press conference, organized by three former supporters of the newly-elected mayor, to call for Filner’s immediate resignation.  Two accusers (Donna Frye and Marco Gonzalez) denounced the mayor for sexual abuses.  The third (Cory Briggs) denounced him with charges of corruption.

Chapter 4
The official story tells us that City Attorney Jan Goldsmith boasted about his decisive role in getting rid of the mayor.  

When Filner took office, Goldsmith hired private detectives to trail him and sniff out improprieties.  He deceived Filner with false information and threats of financial ruin, claiming that the city was not obligated to pay for his legal defense.  He had the locks changed to the mayor's office. Did he bug Filner’s office, as some staff members claimed?   

Chapter 5
The story progresses with a steady stream of graphic accounts of Filner's crude behavior. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Office launched a hotline so women could register sexual harassment allegations against the mayor.  

The local public news station assembled a phalanx of aggrieved women for explicit interviews.  The services of national celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred were employed.  A news agency on the political right ran this catchy headline: Mayor Filner Grabbed Breasts, A$$, "Shoved Tongue Down Her Throat."

Chapter 6
The official story relates that, effective August 30, 2013, Filner resigned.  On cue, city council president Todd Gloria took over the coveted mayor’s suite to assume the role of acting mayor.  Gloria retained a few of Filner's staffers (e.g., Irene McCormack--the first woman to file a sexual harassment lawsuit), terminated others, and set about reversing a slew of Filner’s executive decisions and policies. 

The official storyline climaxes a few months later when councilmember Kevin Faulconer (formerly a Democrat who turned Republican as an undergraduate at SDSU—any chance he sat in on one of Filner’s history classes??) was elected as San Diego’s new mayor.

Part II: The Unofficial Story
Chapter 7
The unofficial storyline of the rise and fall of Bob Filner reads like plagiarized lift from the movie Chinatown.

By recruiting Bob Filner to run for mayor in 2012, San Diego's Democratic establishment was able to kill two birds with one stone:  
  1. Filner was a safe bet to defeat Carl DeMaio, the candidate Democrats (as well as the city's moderate Republicans) were most worried about; and 
  2. A mayoral win by Filner would initiate a longed-for game of political dominoes.  South Bay politics would be secured as a Latino stronghold when Filner’s seat in the US Congress was freed up for Juan Vargas.  Then Vargas’s State Senate seat would become available for Ben Hueso.  Then Hueso’s State Assembly seat would fall into the lap of Lorena Gonzalez.  
And so it came to pass.
Chapter 8
The unofficial story is a reminder that plenty of people wanted Filner out--ASAP.  Too progressive and brash for Democratic operatives and too threatening for San Diego's Republicans and other business elites, Filner never stood a chance.

Once DeMaio was defeated and the Vargas/Hueso/Gonzalez deal was duly consummated, Filner's usefulness was gone.  Before long, a Recall Filner website was set up and ready to go.   He was a dead man walking.    

Filner had crossed swords with too many of the city's heavyweights.  For starters: the San Diego Chargers; downtown hoteliers; Lorena Gonzalez; Irwin Jacobs (in a harakiri moment, Filner dissed him in public); Todd Gloria; City Attorney Jan Goldsmith; Carl DeMaio; U-T's Doug Manchester...

The story says that interim mayor Todd Gloria played a key role in the Filner ouster, working hand-in-glove with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.  Other schemers included Tom Story of Sunroad Enterprises, who hatched a plot with then-councilmember Faulconer to initiate bogus kickback accusations against him.  Yelling corruption! Cory Briggs hurled this fictitious bombshell at mayor Filner.

Chapter 9
The story plods on: Filner made himself an easy target.

While the personal pursuits of numerous city officials and bigwigs have always been discreetly tolerated, Filner’s pursuit of female company was fair game for exploitation.  The gentleman’s agreement in San Diego was selective.  Its rules would never apply to him.

The unofficial story does not minimize Filner's role in his brutal ouster.  He kidded around too much.  He flirted incessantly.  He lost his temper and berated city personnel.  He was demanding and insensitive to his office staff.  He was bad at delegating authority.  He ignored the warnings of friends and allies.  For an unusually smart man, Filner could be socially inept, retarded, and obtuse.

It wouldn't matter that he was getting good things done for his constituents; that he was a reformer and advocate for the environment, workers, neighborhoods, and cross-border cooperation; that he was making sound decisions on behalf of the public.  His record could not save him.

Chapter 10
The unofficial story gets a boost when foes came up with a surefire formula to get rid of Filner: a massive dose of unrelenting, no holds barred, prurient accusations.  The more bizarre, the more implausible the better.  As predicted, it proved as effective as a sledgehammer.

The unofficial story takes note that Nathan Fletcher—cognizant of the plan and fully confident that the mayor's seat was soon be vacated and could be his--switched his party affiliation for a second time in one year to prepare for another run for mayor, this time as a Democrat.  His political conversion was announced in May, 2013, three months before Filner stepped down.  

Chapter 11
The unofficial story continues as Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, impatiently chafing at the bit,  organized a private meeting of a dozen Democratic politicians to speed up the process of a) getting rid of Filner and b) choosing his successor.
By July, a letter was circulated from a generous Democratic fundraiser (Christine Forester) that read "...we would like to be prepared to immediately call for Nathan Fletcher to run for the office ... to have a letter ready to send to Nathan... (It) would allow him to say that he has received a letter from a bi-partisan group of highly respected leaders in the community (including his current employer QUALCOMM) calling on him to declare as a candidate.” 

Filner resigned a month later.  

But it didn’t work out as planned for Fletcher (much less for the Democrats).  He came in third in the subsequent mayoral primary, behind Democrat David Alvarez.  Then Alvarez lost in the November election to Republican Kevin Faulconer.  And that is how San Diego got from there to here. 


Such is the story of a duly-elected mayor who was taken out—NOT because he was a monster, NOT because he was a fake, NOT because he failed to act in good faith on behalf of his constituents—but because he was not (and would never be) a member of San Diego’s selective gentleman’s club.  

Filner is gone but the game goes on.  With Nathan Fletcher ensconced as a County Supervisor, the city's anointed mayoral contender is now Todd Gloria.  He’s in the bag as San Diego’s latest go-along guy and dependable team player.

But let's step away from politics for a moment and do some soul-searching:
  • Once, we tarred and feathered a mayor for his reprehensible, unacceptable, and obnoxious behavior toward a number of women. 
  • Once, we elected and rewarded a mayor whose incompetence and hubris may well have contributed to the preventable deaths of many innocent San Diegans in San Ysidro. 
  • Once, we elected and reelected a mayor whose incompetence and neglect may have precipitated the deaths of many homeless people on the streets of San Diego. 
The question is: why weren’t they ALL run out of town?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Winners and losers: the San Diego edition--Story #1

We know how it’s played at the Del Mar racetrack.  There are winners.  There are losers.  It’s a brutal ordeal for the horses but there's a hefty payoff in the offing for a certain percentage of track regulars

City politics has a lot in common with horse racing.   But while it takes years of selective breeding and training to produce a winning horse, a winning candidate can be created through selective inbreeding, deft maneuvering, and discrete fingers on the scale.  

To illustrate what this means in real time, consider the jarring juxtaposition of two seemingly unrelated stories that appeared this month in the news--practically on the same day.  Read them separately and you get a hint of the embedded gentleman’s agreement that controls San Diego civic life. 

View them side by side and you begin to understand that to reform the flimflam politics and vacuous leadership that permeate daily life in America’s Finest City, we need to be more blunt about naming the embedded fixers and paying closer attention to their methods.

Today's story revisits the 1984 San Ysidro massacre.  Tomorrow's story revisits the Bob Filner trauma.

Yes, many of us remember that horrific day on July 18, 1984 when a single gunman had the luxury of spending one hour and 17 minutes in a shooting spree that killed 21 people (adults, teenagers, children, and an 8-month old baby) and wounded 17 others before he, himself, was killed by a San Diego Police sniper with a single shot to the chest.

There was a police review.  But many questions about the way the San Diego Police responded to this emergency went unanswered.  The overriding question--how come it took 77 minutes before a SWAT team sharpshooter was given permission to do his job?—managed to slip through the cracks.  

Who was the featured player in the San Ysidro story (second only to the psychopathic gunman)?  It was San Diego’s former mayor Jerry Sanders.

The official storyline goes something like this: on a sunny Sunday afternoon, while scores of San Ysidro residents were being terrorized by a lone and vicious gunman, the Commander of the San Diego SWAT team— Police Lieutenant Jerry Sanders----was relaxing over a beer (or two or three) at the beach in Mission Bay.  It was the end of a daylong Command Staff retreat.  The deputy police chief (Norm Stamper) approached Sanders to inform him about what was happening in San Ysidro.

The official story says that while Lieut. Sanders was enroute to San Ysidro and stuck in heavy rush hour traffic, he made the sober decision to deny permission to the police snipers--who were poised for action on the scene--to shoot the killer who was shooting customers trapped in McDonald's. 

The official story says that not until he arrived at the scene more than an agonizing hour after the shooting started did Sanders personally give the green light for his SWAT sniper to shoot and put an end to the horrific mass killing.  

The official story concludes with Sanders taking a road trip around the country to share with others his wisdom about this ordeal.  Summing up the lessons to be learned from this violent tragedy, Sanders offered his four keys to good leadership: 
  1. set the tone with a (cool, collected) demeanor
  2. give calm and direct orders
  3. take care of your team
  4. always rely on your people
➜➜➜➜A semi-official film documentary of the San Ysidro ordeal was created by Charlie Minn.  It's called  “77 Minutes.”   Watch this video.  It's well worth your time and attention.⬅⬅⬅⬅

The unofficial storyline goes something like this: Lieut. Sanders was most likely inebriated at the time of the shootings.  He was not carrying his beeper and was therefore unreachable at the onset of this emergency.  Twenty-five minutes of murderous activity and terror elapsed before the deputy police chief was able to locate him to give him the news.  

The unofficial story reports that SWAT team members were in attendance at the Command Staff retreat on Mission Bay.  They were unable to deploy their armored vehicle because it required two keys to operate it and, somehow, the backup key had been "misplaced."  

The story goes on to say that Lieut. Sanders scurried home to retrieve the key, don his uniform, and finally get on the road.   

The story also relates that—still enroute to San Ysidro--Lieut. Sanders reversed the order of a field commander already at the scene to let sharpshooters take down the murderous shooter.  It says that Lieut. Sanders chose to deny permission  to his field commander and wait until he, himself, could make his entrance at the scene and personally give the order. 

The official story informs us that--despite his impaired and supremely questionable judgment, and despite 13 subsequent refusals by the Police Department to promote him--Jerry Sanders was subsequently hand-picked in 1993 by city manager Jack McGrory (and confirmed by Mayor Susan Golding and the City Council) to be the city’s new Police Chief.

The story tells us that by 1999 Jerry Sanders was appointed President and CEO of the United Way.  In 2002 he was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Red Cross.  By 2005 he moved into the mayor’s seat.  After terming out as mayor he was awarded the position of President and CEO of the SD Regional Chamber of Commerce, a post he still holds.  

It’s a quintessential San Diego story of how a less-than-ordinary, establishment-protected good old boy--a regular guy who knows how to set the tone and take good care of his team--gets passed off as a thoroughbred and wrapped in cotton batting to keep him cozy and secure in his waning years.  

But don’t be lulled into thinking that the protected status of Jerry Sanders is a one-of-a-kind shaggy dog story.  

There’s much to be written about how other anointed, favored, protected, less-than-ordinary good old boys make it big in San Diego.  Just take a clear-eyed look at current mayor Kevin Faulconer--the Sanders heir and protege.  

And try not to be too starry-eyed about another anointed, protected, favored guy currently chomping at the bit--mayoral hopeful Todd Gloria.  He's a different type of pony, maybe, but he's been brought to you the same old San Diego way, via: selective inbreeding, deft maneuvering, and discrete fingers on the scale.

The official San Ysidro story has no bright ending.  All these years later and there've been no satisfactory or substantive changes to citizen oversight of Police practices and performance.  It's still under discussion at City Hall. 

(see Story #2, next...)