Friday, February 24, 2012

Swindle City

San Diego’s been my hometown for decades and I want the best for it, for my kids and grandkids who live here, for my co-workers and friends and neighbors, and for everyone else I share this city with, whether I’ve met them or not.  

That’s why I hate to admit that San Diego is, at its core, Swindle City -- the spitting image of a limited liability company where no one is held accountable for the actions of others and -- even worse -- where no one is held accountable for his or her own actions.  

In a Swindle City like ours, public resources are routinely transformed into private and/or political capital and profit.  Flowing throughout San Diego history is a non-stop stream of  grifters, scammers, users, and double-talkers.  Experts at shaking down the public.

Starting way back with the behemoth robber baron John Spreckels, our city has been ruled by business magnates, shysters, and seductive con artists who manipulated, controlled, and (mis)appropriated San Diego public assets to enhance their personal fortunes, financial and political.  
Do these names ring a bell?  Aggressive entrepreneurs like Reuben Fleet, 'Pappy' Hazard, and Jim Copley.  Defrauders like John Alessio and C. Arnholt Smith.  Changeling politicians like Pete Wilson and Roger Hedgecock.  Ponzi-schemers like J. David Dominelli and Nancy Hoover.  Underworld dabblers like Dick Silberman, Allen Glick, and Bob Peterson.  Ruthless top officials like Susan Golding.  Greedy wannabe potentates like Alex and Dean Spanos, John Moores, and 'papa' Doug Manchester.  

Not a single mensch among them.

And always, the city’s second-tier elected officials (our city council) are putty in the hands of the masters.  They go along…acquiesce…play the game…protect the hustlers… perpetuate the scam.  

And always, the public never sees it coming.  

But it's back!  It's happening again!  This time two big-time swindles are in the making.  An historic double whammy. 

The first is the initiative on the June ballot with the flimflam moniker, Comprehensive Pension Reform.  It was created by mayor Jerry Sanders and council members Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer.  This ballot measure leaves in place self-serving abuses of the old pension system while scamming the public with a $94 million bill to install an alternative, inferior pension system.

Yet, dutifully signing on to this scam are 3 out of 4 mayoral candidates: Nathan Fletcher, Bonnie Dumanis, and the aforementioned DeMaio.

But stop the presses!  Our termed-out mayor has just given birth to the biggest pull-the-wool-over-your eyes sham of all! 
Today, (he says) I delivered some terrific news about San Diego’s fiscal recovery: After years of cutbacks, we see the light at the end of what has been a very long, dark tunnel. The city’s decades-long structural budget deficit is history.
The depth of this deception takes your breath away.  But the bar has been set very high in our city for hucksters, tricksters, con men, scammers, and fibbers.  This one is surely going for the gold. 

Details and explanations to come.  Meantime...psst...I know a bridge you can buy...