Monday, November 28, 2011

Who let the cat out?

Mayors across the nation seem to be quaking in their boots as large groups of remarkably decent and polite OCCUPIERS assert their constitutional right to assemble peaceably -- for the distinct purpose of expressing deep discontent over perceptions that government domination by a fabulously wealthy and powerful elite stratum of corporate and Wall Street monied interests produces negative public consequences. 

The overall discipline and good nature of the people in the OCCUPY movement (there are at least 400 ‘occupied’ cities across the nation) continue to be a marvelous, even miraculous, thing to behold.  

Still, it’s understandable that city leaders get nervous when unusual things happen within their jurisdictions, particularly if those things threaten to disturb or in any way recalibrate the status quo.

So maybe it’s only to be expected that a certain degree of conspiring has been going on.  Let me clarify that: conspiring not by the perpetrators of the OCCUPY movement but by the nation’s mayors and experts in law enforcement.  Plus other movers and shakers, as well.  

This is not idle speculation on my part.  It turns out that a series of conference calls and other communications have been taking place over the past months among mayors, law enforcers, and security-minded agencies on how to respond to (snuff out?) OCCUPY-related activities and events.  

The hapless mayor of Oakland inadvertently let the cat out of the bag in a recent interview when she acknowledged her participation in at least one conference call with the mayors of 18 other cities across the country.  The purported purpose of these calls? to trade notes, discuss best practices, share information, indulge in mutual therapy and moral support…simple things like that.  

What about certain confirmed conference calls from Homeland Security and the FBI to local police chiefs and mayors?  Therapeutic?  Guess again.  

Another high-powered caller on the communications circuit was a formerly obscure (at least to me) Washington, DC-based policing think tank known as PERF (Police Executive Research Forum).  They're on record as a coordinator of conference calls among 40 city police chiefs.  Their contribution?  Tactical and planning advice on cracking down on the OCCUPY movement.  

Maybe it's just a  coincidence, but here’s what happened: within days of these therapeutic and PERF conference calls, in more than a dozen cities, using the same police tactics (riot gear, middle-of-the-night clampdowns), and similar legal justifications (zoning, health, sanitation, curfews) -- law enforcement officials swept through and forcibly evicted OCCUPY gatherings and encampments in cities across the nation.  

Yes, San Diego was one of the pack, in lockstep with New York City, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Atlanta, Oakland, and others.

Collusion to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to peacefully deliver a message the "establishment” disapproves of?  Behind-closed-doors-coordination of political crackdowns?  Granted, this is pretty chilling information.  But wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall during one of those conference calls…??  Stay tuned for updates.   

Also stay tuned for a description of the nation-wide conference call I WISH had taken place.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wanted, for Mayor or otherwise

San Diego could be a place that unfolds like a rose.  Look at our city’s assets: strong neighborhood cohesion, entrepreneurial vigor, accommodating social values, renowned academic institutions, unique geography of canyons and hillsides and coastline, diverse communities, great climate… 

Now look at the mess we’re in: galloping public debt, collapsing city streets, shrinking libraries, accretions of homeless people, cracking water and sewer pipes, scarcity of good jobs, practical jokers passing themselves off as journalism moguls...

So here’s my question: How can it be that there is NOBODY in a position of responsibility in the city of San Diego who is willing to be open, frank, truthful, and honest with the public about the facts of life in our wilting city?  

Isn’t it odd that there is NOBODY in a position of responsibility who risks saying: 
I’m fed up with useless lip-service, let’s get serious about our shrinking public services and imploding communities.  
Time to stop fooling around the edges, let’s get started restructuring our crushing financial debt.   
You gotta be kidding about a 500-foot tall bayside erection.
Ditto for a pumped-up $800million super bowl-sized downtown football stadium.  

Isn’t it peculiar that there is no one in a position of responsibility, or in a political campaign vying for a position of responsibility, who will step up to the plate and speak the truth? 

Isn’t it mortifying that the public is an absolute loser when it comes to effective political leadership in San Diego?  

Despite it all, I'm an optimist.  So who’ll help me put the finishing touches on the following ad for Craig’s list? 

 A public-spirited leader who genuinely cares about San Diego and is eager to make a positive contribution to the city and to the people who live and work here.  
  • Must be experienced, smart, energetic, and thoroughly willing and able to tell and face the truth
  • Must be reasonably independent of political, monetary, and ideological ties that bind...inevitably
  • Must be bold enough to tell it like it is, call a spade a spade, and take the lead in the process of digging our city out of the muck
  • Must not be a procrastinator, bully, or higher-office seeker
  • Must revive and elevate the stature of ‘public servant’
  • Must go along with the metaphor of San Diego unfolding.  Like a rose.