Monday, December 5, 2011

Make the call, already

Gotta hand it to the guy -- New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg knows how to lay it on the line.  “The difference” he recently told an audience at MIT “between my level of government and other levels of government is that action takes place at the city level." 

Of course he’s right.  That's the beauty of local government.  It takes place in the here and now.  City politicians take a particular action (positive, negative, good, bad) and sooner or later the results show up in your neighborhood, around your corner. 

Back to Bloomberg.  Whatever else you want to say about him, this guy's not shy about how he uses his power.  And he's not coy about who's in charge of what goes on in his city.  As he informed the Cambridge, MA citizens, “I have my own army in the NYPD.”  

Back to OCCUPY.  Last week I wrote that mayors across the country consulted with one another about how to manage and/or quell OCCUPY activities in their cities.   Concurrently, police chiefs and federal agencies were doing the same thing.

Back to San Diego.  This may explain why our own Mayor Sanders managed to keep a straight face when he denied participating in conference calls with other mayors.  

Maybe what he really meant to say was that he let the city's Chief of Police Lansdowne do the talking for him, which would be consistent with his power under our newish 'strong mayor' form of government.  Under San Diego's new rules the SDPD is the mayor's right hand...if not his own army. 

Which brings me to the conference call I WISH had taken place.  

I wish that all mayors who felt so threatened by the OCCUPY activities in their cities (never mind that they've been essentially peaceful and lawful public assemblies, marred only occasionally by minor problems) were holding serious powwows over the ACTUAL common threat to cities across the country.

I wish that these mayors would come together to discuss the unprecedented number of cities possibly facing bankruptcy (yes, even San Diego) and understand that there's a connection between municipal financial failures and the Occupy Wall Street message.  

These mayors should compare notes on how their city's practice of gambling in the stock market destabilized their municipal pension funds and created unsustainable pension debt, leading to crushing financial crises in their cities.  

I only wish San Diego's mayor was kidding about how he didn't participate in OCCUPY conference calls.  As our city's top leader he owes it to us voters to act like a prime-time mayor should.  He belongs on the phone with other mayors.  And I don't mean talking football! 

My final wish for the day: I wish that Mayor Sanders would seize the opportunity in his waning days in office to set an example of good leadership for San Diego's future 'strong mayors' and start the ball rolling with the following small but crucial step to revamp our dysfunctional city finances:  

I wish he would initiate a conference call to mayors across the nation with the agenda of getting city employee pension funds OUT OF THE STOCK MARKET and back into stable and dependable public investments.

Now that would be an honorable and productive use of the phone wires!