First thing: Some regular readers of NumbersRunner questioned last week's harsh assessment of how San Diego is faring under our ‘strong mayor’ system. Actually, I understated the problems -- they're much worse than you think.
While it’s not unheard of for city leaders to sweep messy problems under the rug, the lack of professional management inside City Hall and the disintegration of public accountability and honest disclosure under our current mayor are -- without a doubt -- San Diego's most closely guarded secrets since Diann Shipione (former board trustee of the San Diego City Employees Retirement System) spilled the beans about gross mismanagement, lack of disclosure, and deceptive practices shrouding our pension system.
Honestly, I went much easier on our mayor than he deserves. After seven years of inverse leadership, his legacy to the people of San Diego consists of a dismantled, hollowed-out city...ripe for the picking by wily political and corporate opportunists.
So woe to the public -- UNLESS our next mayor surrounds himself with experienced people, skilled at managing a big city. And woe to the public -- UNLESS he surrounds himself with people of integrity who value our neighborhoods and communities and can be counted on to reestablish more public right-of-ways into his office at City Hall.
Second thing to clarify: A few other readers said they didn’t get last week's Sigma Chi allusion -- especially the sweetheart part. What, they asked, does a golden-oldie college fraternity song have to do with the San Diego mayor’s race?
Look at it this way. We already know what a tight-knit town San Diego is, manipulated by a shadow government of bankers, developers, lobbyists, and tourism folk. A kind of home-grown fraternity.
Turns out that an influential contingent of San Diego's men-about-town really are bonded and united...by a fraternity pledge. “Once initiated, Sigma Chi is for life.”
Here's a sampling of local movers and shakers bonded in the brotherhood of Sigma Chi (with apologies to the brothers I left out):
- Doug Manchester, hotel developer and owner of the Union-Tribune
- Bob White, senior advisor to Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Jim Schmidt, executive VP of San Diego Federal Savings Bank
- Ben Clay, founder of San Diego’s preeminent lobbying firm Carpi and Clay
- Bob Page, CEO of San Diego Ranch & Coast newspaper group
- Mike Morton, owner of the Brigantine restaurants
- Harry Summers, residential, commercial & industrial real estate developer...you get the picture...
As for the sweetheart ritual -- in much the same way they anointed their fraternity sweetheart in the days of old, the now-grown-up, big-men-on-campus get to handpick their very own political candidate for mayor (and anything else that runs).
This year something went awry. The designated winner on Doug Manchester's dance card is Carl DeMaio. But on Bob White’s it's Nathan Fletcher. (What about Bonnie Dumanis, you ask? It looks like whoever brought her to the dance has unchivalrously retreated.)
Obviously, the voters will have the final word on this beauty pageant. But despite differing styles as they strut their stuff on stage and TV, it's not so easy to distinguish candidate Fletcher from DeMaio from Dumanis.
Take a look at their voting records, campaign promises, stump speeches. What picture emerges? A threesome, joined at the hip by identical political agendas, goals, objectives, plans, proposals, philosophies, and political persuasion. And each of the three wants you to know he/she'd be one TOUGH sweetheart:
-- the one who hammers city workers the hardest
-- the one who interrogates foreign enemies the fiercest
-- the one who targets child molesters and sexually-violent predators the severest
-- the one who says what he means, even when you don’t like what he says
-- the one who tells you whatever you want to hear, even when it isn't true
-- the one who packs the meanest pistol
Psst... I know a mayoral candidate who doesn't choose to terrorize, strut, swagger, bully, double-talk, or self-aggrandize. He's getting my vote. Final hint: he's not one of the above.