Friday, September 16, 2011

Back in the saddle

The official end of summer doesn’t happen until next Thursday but our Mayor and City Council are back in the saddle again after their 5-week break for R&R.

What did everyone do over their long vacations?  We know about the Mayor, since he stole the headlines with a summertime journey to the midwest to check out how other people pay for new football stadiums. The quick answer? by dipping into public funds and imposing new taxes -- not a great option for a broke city like ours.  But that’s the way the football crumbles.

And our other elected officials?  Some were transitioning into campaign mode, particularly the odd-numbered Councilmembers -- Sherri Lightner/district 1, Todd Gloria/district 3, Carl DeMaio/district 5 (actually, he’s running for Mayor), and Marti Emerald/district 7 (actually, she’s running for a new seat in district 9) who are up for election/reelection in 2012.

As if there isn’t enough confusion about who’s a candidate for which district on our newly redrawn City Council map (not expected to go into effect until December 2012), our 4th district Councilmember Tony Young seems to have spent his summer vacation mulling over how to throw a wrench into the whole process. 

In a heated exchange with the City Attorney, Council president Young defended his position that sitting Council members should take over responsibility for the newly-drawn districts immediately and divide up responsibility for the new district 9.  His motives are mysterious.  Ditto for his employment plans for the near future, which may put district 4 up for grabs sooner rather than later.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Here’s some more confusion.  Councilmember Emerald is serving in her first term in district 7 but she isn't running for reelection to a second term.  Instead, she's running for the new 9th Council seat.  

Since we’ve got term limits in our city: “…no person shall serve more than two consecutive four-year terms as a Council member from any particular district,” if she won in the new district 9, it would reset her elective clock, which might work out fine for her and maybe even the district, who knows?  

But in the terrible possibility that the nefarious, deceptive, misleading, and misanthropic Comprehensive Pension Reform initiative promoted by Councilmember DeMaio (and shamefully endorsed by the Mayor, Councilmembers Falconer and Zapf, and Mayoral candidates Bonnie Dumanis, Nathan Fletcher, and DeMaio) qualifies for the ballot and gets voter approval, it might also result in negative consequences for her, for other newly elected officials, and most importantly for the city's future.  

You can deduce what I think about this initiative, but more about it later.

This brings us back to naming the real and only issue that dominates and exerts full control over our city -- the growing mountain of debt that jeopardizes San Diego’s existence as the pleasant and promising city we call home. 

The cynical “pension reform” initiative promoted by DeMaio et al. will not touch, not even tickle, the multi-billion dollar city debt that hangs like an albatross around our necks.  In fact, this “pension reform” initiative, in conjunction with other attempts to delegitimize city government, will hasten our city’s demise.

Will the facts be addressed during the upcoming campaign season when candidates for Mayor and 5 odd-numbered Council seats start strutting their stuff? 

 Or will the usual political game orchestrated by insider power brokers and self-serving special interests go about their usual business as if Rome weren’t burning and the Titanic not sinking?  To them, the city’s health and well being may be just another cliché.  Russian  roulette, anyone?