Monday, April 15, 2013

Belly-whopping off the deep end

I know, I know, we're only human.  We all make mistakes.  Everyone's been known to lie or cheat or steal (only for a good reason, of course).  At times we're devious or lazy.  Sometimes greedy.  Vindictive, too. 

Given our shortcomings, I ask  you this: is it fair to demand higher standards from our elected officials than we might impose on regular folk like you and me?  Here's my answer: it's more than fair; it's self-evident common sense to hold out for brain-power and high ethical standards from politically-inspired individuals who climb into the public arena and vie for the prize of holding the public welfare in the palm of their hands.  

You look for professional standards and expertise from a dentist, don't you? from your trainer at the gym? the butcher at Vons?  Does it make sense to accept anything less from your elected politicians who have the power to shape, improve, or make a mess of your daily lives and surroundings?

You'd prefer them to be hard-working, conscientious, open-minded, practical, and honest, right?  To honor their responsibilities as public servants, no?  To surround themselves with trustworthy and intelligent advisors who respect the welfare of the public, true?  To be a cut above the least among us, yes?

So how come we countenance moronic decisions that purport to be in the best interests of San Diego’s 1.3 million residents but, in reality, stick a thumb in the public eye?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Keys to the Kingdom

For the first time ever, the San Diego public has been awarded the Keys to the Kingdom.  The grantor of this unique gift to the people of San Diego is former council member Donna Frye and her Open Government project, developed during her three-month stint in the office of Mayor Bob Filner.

Finally, regular citizens and ordinary folk (you and I) have ready access to just about everything we wish to know about the ins-and-outs of City Hall.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how you can get formerly-hidden public information, including ingress to the services and attention you expect and deserve from your city government.  Okay now, time to follow the bouncing ball.

  •  First, go to the city’s website at  Once there you’ll find the downtown skyline and Mayor Filner’s engaging smile -- amidst a cluttered hodgepodge of disparate offerings.  Ignore them all and let your gaze wander to an oasis in the middle of the screen that says Open Government.
  •  Then click your heels together three times.  An additional click of your mouse on the Open Government box will transport you instantaneously to a serene page where you can calmly pick the path you want to pursue. 
  •  Could be that the only thing you wish for is to be able to watch the City Council in action.  Or replay reality to check on how your council member voted a few months ago.  Let’s say you’re wondering what your neighborhood planning group is arguing about (presumably on your behalf).  Perchance you want to know what the city's 50 or so appointed Boards and Commissions are up to.  It’s all there at your fingertips -- click where it says Meeting Agendas and Minutes to begin your journey toward enlightenment.
  •  Information about the California Public Records Act?  The ‘open government’ Brown Act?  Easy as pie -- click on the Outside Resources link. 
  • Not everyone wants to know the size of San Diego retirees' pensions... but if you do, read on.