Mike Aguirre rarely has time for pleasantries. When he calls, he doesn't say, "Hey, so-and-so, it's Mike." He launches straight into whatever's on his mind like an oncoming train and reckons you'll identify him soon enough on your own. He, apparently, is a very busy man.
Aguirre, of course, is San Diego's city attorney, elected in November 2004 amid much municipal chaos and controversy. Things blew up some 10 months earlier, when city leaders admitted their finance people had made big-time blunders on bond-disclosure documents, an announcement that caught the attention of the U.S. attorney, the FBI, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and the county district attorney, all of whom launched investigations.
Visions of Bobby Kennedy and Eliot Spitzer dancing in his head, Aguirre campaigned on a pledge to sweep away the corruption at City Hall like so much dirt from a porch. He declared that a city-commissioned investigative report was a "whitewash"-an opinion that was later supported by the city's outside auditing firm, which essentially said the multimillion-dollar report was not worth the paper it was printed on-and he focused his attention on an alleged illegal quid pro quo between the City Council and the city's employee-pension system's board of administration. He's dedicated most of his time and energy to his scorched-earth attempt to invalidate the fruits of that scheme-ill-gotten employee retirement benefits the city can't afford to pay. (Oh yeah, the city's pension fund is about a billion and a half bucks in the red.)
Eliminating these benefits, so closely guarded by the employee unions, is his holy grail. He thinks it'll save the city hundreds of millions of dollars in pension obligations. His legacy could hinge on whether or not he wins that case. He'll be arguing its merits in court next Monday.
Along the way, Aguirre's put himself at odds with a cadre of city officials he's deemed part of the old guard that'll stop at nothing to halt systemic reform, including, but not limited to, former Mayor Dick Murphy, former City Manager Lamont Ewell, former and current City Councilmembers Mike Zucchet, Scott Peters, Toni Atkins, Jim Madaffer and Brian Maienschein, numerous lawyers formerly in the city attorney's office, just about everyone at the City Employees Retirement System (SDCERS) and pretty much all consultants hired by the city to help solve the pension mess.
Within just a few months, he started releasing investigative reports that, in part, accused the City Council of violating securities laws, setting a no-holds-barred tone for 2005, which he spent waging bitter battles with public officials in full public view, particularly Ewell, who's among a crowd that thinks Aguirre's mentally off-balance.
The members of the City Council in his sights have fought back, accusing Aguirre of bullying, political grandstanding and crappy lawyering. They don't trust his legal advice, and they complain that he's too slow in responding to requests for opinions. In Aguirre's mind, the city attorney represents the citizens of the city; members of the City Council say he's supposed to be representing the city government. Reconciling the two ideas has been a painful public process. Indeed, they appear irreconcilable.
Recently, the city lost an important case involving an affordable-housing law (putting millions of dollars' worth of low-cost housing funds at risk), and then a judge in a major pension-related matter (the McGuigan case) fined the city roughly $20,665 for carelessness in the city attorney's office, and things weren't looking good. But then Aguirre announced a big win (against developer Roque de la Fuente) that saved the city $100 million, and a couple days later, he and a lawyer-for-hire settled the McGuigan case in a way that Mayor Jerry Sanders called a "major accomplishment."
CityBeat talked to Aguirre twice over the span of three days, once at a conference table in the mayor's office-a relaxed chat that ended abruptly when Sanders poked his head and said he needed to use the bathroom-and again over the phone in a more keyed up conversation on a Saturday afternoon.
CityBeat: What will be the impact on the various cases you're working on of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?
Mike Aguirre: I don't know that it'll have too big an impact. I haven't had a chance to fully assess that.
So you have no ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq?
How would you assess how things have gone in the last year and a half? How would you characterize your tenure so far as city attorney?
I would say it's been very positive and very successful. If you take where the city was when I first got here and you look at the amount of change that I think the city attorney's office has certainly helped to induce, we have a completely new leadership structure in the city. The people that were in positions of responsibility are gone. Our relationship with the authorities has been dramatically improved. The public is completely informed now of what the vital facts are that are affecting the city. We're sitting here in the mayor's office right now for this interview; we have a positive working relationship with the mayor.
In the office itself, we've replaced about 80 percent of the lawyers in the office with, I think, a very dynamic new group. We're handling an unprecedented amount of litigation-even though people have read here and there about pieces of it, there's not really an overall appreciation, I think, of the massiveness of the litigation, most of which is primarily focused on undoing a lot of the past mistakes.... We've put a lot of things in motion.
Overall, I've tried to re-instill the office with a sense of what its true role is, as being an independent representative of the public interest with the ultimate duty and responsibility to the city, and through the city to the taxpayers, and to look out for the taxpayers in everything that happens. These struggles that we're involved in are going to be long and hard and difficult, but I think every single day, the office is now much more committed to trying to advance the overall best interest of the city as a whole than just looking for ways to find excuses for anything the council wants to do, or anyone else that we represent.
You do not enjoy a positive working relationship with certain members of the City Council, and part of that is over the scope of the city attorney's duty. Would you agree with that? And how would you respond?
I would say that it's getting better. Some council members we work very closely with-Kevin Faulconer, Donna Frye. [With] others, things have been a little bit more strained. It really all comes out of what happened with the pension [plan]. It really has nothing to do with the arguments that are made about what the proper scope [of the city attorney's office] is. If there's something that the council members who I've been adverse to want me to do, then they have no problem with [the issue of] scope. If it's something that they don't like that I'm doing, then all of a sudden it's a scope issue. The real issue is, who [selects] the attorney for the city, and the biggest issue that we are going to try as hard as we can to get reestablished is that the voters select the attorney, and that's such an important thing. If we had an independent... city attorney, we'd never be in the position that we're in today.
I have a picture of a former city attorney by the name of DePaul over my left-hand shoulder behind my desk every day, and Ed Miller came in the other day-former city attorney, former D.A., former U.S. attorney-and he was just really emotionally taken by that because when he worked here, he worked for Mr. DePaul, and Mr. DePaul was a conservative Republican, but Mr. Miller told me, he said, "You know, he had me go after SDG&E and make SDG&E really toe the line." He would come over at council meetings and if council members started going off on a track that involved violation of law, he would speak up, "You can't do that. I will not permit it." And so he really played that really important role of keeping the council within the boundaries, and, yes, you could abuse that, but that's not where we are right now, and that's really the big challenge of the office-to reestablish that respect and that role of the office.
I guess the trouble arises when you're saying members of the current City Council broke the law in the past, and then you're asking them to listen to your legal advice on present-day issues. A common-sense reaction to that paradigm would be to say that it seems dicey.
Well, let's look around and say, well, why are people here who have done things that were not legal before? Why are they still in positions of responsibility?
Because a court of law hasn't determined that they've done anything wrong.
Then I guess the flip side of that [is]: Would it be better if I didn't investigate what had happened before? Would that be better for the public? Because that might embarrass council members? I guess the answer to that is that my job is to represent the city, and if any council member, or any elected officials, or any city official does something that's in violation of their duty to the city, then I have an obligation to investigate it. It's absolutely the duty of the city attorney to be able to report what happened, as an independent source, so that we can reestablish our relationships with outside parties [such as credit-rating firms and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] and show them that, in fact, we have corrected what's happened....
What's the difference between having a city attorney who tries to cover everything up and a city attorney who tries to put everything out on the table. The answer to that is that the difference is the attorney who is trying to cover everything up-they're violating the duty to the city, and I think that's a critical, important reality that hasn't been focused on. The duty to the city is paramount to any individual, and the council members, I think, are starting to realize-maybe not, but hopefully they're starting to realize-that it's better to have someone advising them honestly, and therefore keep them out of trouble, than have someone just come in and find excuses for anything they want to do, and the next thing they know, they're under investigation by the authorities, and then they come back and what do they say? "Why didn't the city attorney advise me?" I've taken the deposition of many city attorneys, and every single one of them, I've asked, "Did you advise the council at any time that it was legal for them to increase pension benefits in exchange for an agreement from the pension board to decrease contributions?" And every single one of them have denied ever giving that advice.
Including [former City Attorney] Casey Gwinn?
I haven't deposed him yet. But [lawyers formerly in the city attorney's office] Les Girard, Rick Duvernay, Sharon Marshall and maybe a couple others, they all said that, but yet you hear council members saying, "Well, I just relied on counsel." If the council members had it over to do again, if I had been their city attorney in 2002, I would have advised them that under no circumstances can you increase benefits in order to decrease contributions-you can't do it, I won't permit it, it's illegal, I will not allow you to do it.
You talk about two kinds of city attorney-one who covers things up, and one who lays everything out for the public. I would think there would be a middle ground between those two, maybe one that doesn't cover up, maybe one that investigates but does not make public the results of the investigation immediately, but instead goes a more typical route and passes the results of the investigation on to the prosecuting authorities. Do you have any regrets about any of the things you've made public?
No... the reason the information was released was that the audience involved was the SEC, the U.S. attorney, the credit-rating agencies, the public at large. The idea was: How do we jumpstart our credibility in light of the fact that the Vinson & Elkins report [which was supposed to investigate wrongdoing in the pension deal] has been completely discredited, and the [city's] accounting firm [KPMG] is demanding that we have an independent investigation. If you remember, the Vinson & Elkins report had been released with a great deal of fanfare in September . I wasn't really so much looking to get individuals in trouble as I was trying to get the information out to all the concerned parties that we in fact did have someone in the city, in a critical role, that was going to be a reliable source for information about the city, and was not going to allow any more behavior that would discredit us in the credit-rating agencies' eyes or in the securities market's eyes. That was the thinking behind that, and, no, I don't regret it. I think it was a good thing.
Some opinions that you made public-that the city violated the law when it granted benefits it couldn't pay for-became an issue in the McGuigan case, in which a retired city employee sued the city to compel it to pay the pension plan roughly $175 million that it failed to pay in recent years. Can you talk about that?
In the McGuigan case, the issue was, did I make a statement that basically agreed with the [plaintiff's] allegations that are in that case, and the allegations are that the city intentionally under-funded the pension plan and owes the pension plan money. Every single member of the City Council... and the mayor, the actuaries, the SDCERS board and most, I think, of the commentators have all said the city owes at least $1.4 billion to the pension plan, so the $175 million that we're talking about was within that $1.4 billion.
The judge had harsh words for how you handled that case, and observers have said you "bungled" the case. How would you characterize how you handled it?
There are 12 lawsuits that are being handled by our city attorney's office defending the city, and three that we've brought. I oversee a number of attorneys that are handling [various aspects of these cases]. So when someone says I mishandled the case, the suggestion is that somehow I was the individual who was responsible for [the work that irritated the judge]. At that level, that's not correct. Ultimately, if someone makes a mistake, I'm definitely responsible, and that happens every day. Sometimes people make mistakes and I get worried because I think we're going to get in trouble, and nothing happens. Other times people make mistakes, and something happens, but it's not something I can't handle; it's not something that you ever hear about. This was a rare situation where the judge took a very, very, I think, very aggressive position-and I'm not disagreeing with the judge, and I understand why he did what he did-but it really was something that caught me by surprise. Those things can happen. Sometimes when you're dealing with lots of personalities and lots of different complexities in litigation matters, sometimes you can not get a good read on a situation, and that's going to happen, no matter how diligent you are, it will happen; mistakes will be made.
What's important is that when it does happen, when that critical moment occurs, you have someone there who knows what to do-it's like being in a trauma room, an emergency room-and that you don't panic, and that you keep things together, and that you are coherent in your response, and that you step up and take responsibility. I didn't send somebody else down to argue the case; I went down personally. The judge was very critical of what had happened; he let it be known in no uncertain terms. But the point is, today, after having responded... I think settled on very favorable terms for the city.
Speaking of the statements you've made, you believe that City Councilmembers Toni Atkins, Jim Madaffer, Brian Maienschein and Scott Peters broke the law, right?
Well, let me say it more like this: I believe that giving unfunded pension benefits in exchange for an agreement to allow the city to pay less than what is required under the law speaks for itself as a violation. My advice has been to admit it and correct it. I think that's all you can do. Whether they did it knowingly, intentionally, all the other things that you'd have to find, you know, that's something for a court to decide.... At this point, it's one thing to say, "Well, I didn't understand what Diann Shipione was saying then," but to understand now, today, what in fact happened, and then to refuse to set the benefits aside and correct the situation really makes it much worse.
And the other side of the coin is, I believe it's impossible to pay the benefits; I don't believe that we have the money to pay them. If you think about it, if you create hundreds of millions of dollars worth of benefits that you don't have any money set aside to pay for, it seems a priori that you're going to have a major problem with your pension plan. What we want to do is use the best available forward-looking information that we can, and do a cash-flow analysis and figure out where it's going to fall apart and try to make a correction now. I believe that's why we got in trouble with the SEC, because we knew that we had a major pension-plan problem, we didn't correct it, and then as the years went by, it got worse and worse and worse, and we borrowed all this money from the bond markets, and we never disclosed to the bond markets how precarious our financial condition is.
We're in a situation now where people want to do the same thing; they want to continue to understate it, because understating it makes it less of a problem, and if it's less of a problem, you don't have to have people solve that problem and you don't have to ask people to sacrifice. That's where we are right now, and that's what we've got to stop.
You brought up Diann Shipione, the former pension trustee who blew the whistle on the severity of the problem, and you also call for a plan to get out of the financial mess the city's in, and that conjures up Pat Shea, Shipione's husband, whose campaign for mayor was based entirely on a desire to declare bankruptcy. Do you consider them advisors?
Advisors. Friends. Really wonderful people.
You talk to them about your decisions?
And what do they tell you?
Well, a lot of what I do is what they tell me. I mean, I really trust them a lot. I don't agree on the bankruptcy side. It's kind of funny because Kristine Wilkes is a good friend of mine who helps out on legal cases, I was involved in intense litigation against her legal firm [Latham & Watkins] for years and years and years. Pat Shea and I did cases against each other. And [Executive City Attorney] Don McGrath and I did cases against each other. And yet the three principal people that I think I rely on now are people that I was up against when I was a private attorney. So it's not unusual for attorneys to disagree with each other in some areas and be completely in agreement on others.
I totally agree with what Diann Shipione has said about the pension plan; her analysis, I think, is superb. [Shipione and Shea] have done a wonderful community service with what they're all about. Pat's particular expertise is bankruptcy, and so we all tend to try to solve problems from the perspectives that we feel most comfortable with. [But] the idea of bankruptcy really is not, in my opinion, a good option right.... Bankruptcy, in a way, is an easy out, and what we need to do is to use this crisis as a way to rebuild our political awareness, our political sophistication, our establishment, if you will, in San Diego, and view it with a whole new focus and a whole new direction and leadership so that we have a more ethical leadership, and part of that is to go through the painful process that we're going through right now of getting people to actually come together and figure out how to solve this problem within the democratic system. And I think that that's a better way to go than to go the route of bankruptcy. Normally, you go to bankruptcy because your creditors are at your door. In this particular case, your creditor is a related party who we're able to get some flexibility with regard to the payment of the bill.
The city's consultant, the Kroll firm, is supposed to finish its investigation of what went on behind closed doors between the city and its pension board pretty soon. What do you expect?
I don't know. They're in a very difficult position because they've way overcharged, they've underperformed [and] they've allowed their independence to be compromised. If they come out with a report that basically whitewashes the city, then they'll fall into the same category of Vinson & Elkins. If they come out with a report that is more critical than the report that the city attorney has done, then that will be seen as something that they did in reaction to the criticism that they receive. To me, almost anything they say, they lack credibility. They've gone to the Union-Tribune editorial board; they've used that position to get the U-T to lobby the city to get them more money, things of that sort. They report to the U-T, but they don't report to the City Council. They've kind of worked the system. What they've basically decided is that their audience is the U-T... and I expect that they'll get very favorable coverage. I have every expectation that they'll leak it to the U-T early. Maybe I'll be wrong, and I'll be happy to admit it if I am, but as far as I can tell, they're not sincere, and they've done a lot of damage to the city.
[The people at Kroll] are very sophisticated political operators and readers of political situations-much more sophisticated than the people they're dealing with at the city, and they've used that political sophistication to put themselves in a position where they can charge the city 20-plus million dollars.
It sounds like you think these guys are just scam artists.
Well, they're doing what a lot of people that are sophisticated in that field do, and that's find ways to charge massive amounts of money, with a marginal basis for justifying the amounts charged.
But why would they do that?
To make money.
But a firm like this-their reputation is everything, right?
They're not worried about anything San Diego's going to say about their reputation; they're big national players. They're not worried about anything we say here. I mean, I issued a report that was highly critical of them; it didn't bother them.
You're effusive in your praise of Mayor Jerry Sanders. Why?
I see that he really is trying to do the right thing. Obviously, we don't always agree, but... he's struggling against the same forces that I am; he's having to deal with the same pressures that I am, and I have sympathy for that. I would have taken a different tack on some [issues], but I think the difference between him and Murphy is that... [Sanders] genuinely wants what's good for the city and is trying to work for that, but it takes a lot of internal fortitude to stand up to the pressure. And that's what people have to realize is that the pressures to do wrong, the pressures to continue to cover up, the pressures to misuse the city to give lots of benefits to a small group of people-those pressures are here every single day. I see him struggling with that, but basically being a decent human being, as opposed to Murphy, who I thought was really not trying to do what was right for the city [and] was completely political....
You've had a couple of legal setbacks recently-the affordable housing lawsuit [in which the Building Industry Association sued to invalidate the city law that required developers to price some homes in their projects at below market rate]....
I wouldn't say that. I would say just the opposite. I think that my advice on the affordable-housing lawsuit was very good. The fact that there was a defect in the ordinance-I proposed a quick solution that would have solved the problem.
But you lost the case.
But the way in which the ordinance was drafted was defective. I don't think there's any argument about that, and that's not my doing. If I had been the city attorney [in 2003], I would have drafted it correctly.
How would you characterize your win-loss record up until now?
I would say that what we've done in court has been pretty remarkable, really. Win-loss record-it's not like we're churning out misdemeanor cases; that's not the nature of the legal problems. We have what I'll call brain-surgery-type litigation going on right now. To get the Roque de la Fuente case turned around, I don't think anybody would have thought that that was possible. And we had a team of people that did it, and I was the person responsible for directing that team... and I think that turned out to be very, very successful. We had a number of great lawyers working with us. [De la Fuente, a South Bay developer, had won an initial $100 million lawsuit against the city, having argued that the city broke a development agreement for an Otay Mesa business park.] Most people have no idea of what's going on in terms of the warfare that's taking place on the litigation front and what we're doing to turn things around.
On the McGuigan thing, people missed the entirety of what happened. McGuigan was a lawsuit in which they were asking for $175 million from the city on top of everything else that we did. I was having other people defend that case. When I heard about the problem with the court, I stopped everything else I was doing and devoted myself to that case morning, noon and night. I'm the person who selected Kris Wilkes to come in and help me because I worked with her so closely on the Roque de la Fuente case. She and I [got together] two Saturdays ago; I had crafted out a legal strategy she completely agreed with. I drafted points and authorities [and] she took it and turned it into a fabulous piece of work. We dropped that on the other side, and they came back and substantially were willing to change their negotiating position so that we got credit for $100 million [that the city had already planned to pay through tobacco-securitization bonds] and we didn't have to pay the $75 million for five years. That was a remarkable turnaround that nobody even understood-they got sidetracked on an insignificant aspect of the case....
People focused on it because it came along with harsh comments by the judge, saying the city attorney's office was being careless.
I have 12 cases that we're defending and three cases that we're bringing and scores of motions, and in one particular case, having to do with one pleading, the judge made an adverse comment-and I went down and took complete responsibility for it. But that has to be compared to what actually happened. There was no focus-and the Union-Tribune covered this up-on the paperwork that we filed, our defense. If you're going to cover a story, you should at least cover both sides. They didn't even do that.
When I hear people complain about you, they often say, "He hasn't won anything in court."
That's stupid. We win all the time. What about the Roque de la Fuente case? Are you kidding? Take the case of People v. Grissom [the former executive in charge of the pension system]. The judge had initially dismissed our case. I then brought a motion to reconsider. We were given [the opportunity] to file an amended complaint. We battled our way through that for months, and now we got the court to reinstate the case in its entirety. The case against [Larry] Grissom, [Ron] Saathoff and [Terri] Webster [both former pension trustees]-that case is an altogether separate basis for setting aside the illegal benefits-no one ever covered turning that around. On the [case to determine] who's the attorney for the SDCERS board-the judge initially ruled against us, I brought a motion to reconsider and that case is still pending before the judge. In terms of the day-to-day stuff, I have not had a single loss in court.
But you lost the affordable-housing case.
No, I did not lose the affordable-housing case. That was a question of who drafted the ordinance. The ordinance was not drafted correctly, and my suggestion was to immediately correct it. And if we would have done that, that would have been behind us now. That's what the judge told us the other day.
You don't think the judge ruling in favor of the Building Industry Association amounted to a loss for the city?
No, because the way in which he did it-if you look at it, the BIA had four bases for their attack; they lost every other basis except for one, and that was, we had not put in some boilerplate language as far as [allowing builders to apply for a affordable-housing-fee waiver]. That was at best a cosmetic victory. All the city had to do is redo the ordinance with one sentence. That's why I say you have to look at what happened. The only mistake that's been made is that the council didn't follow my advice to correct it immediately. Litigation isn't just about a victory or a loss. It's about what you do with the litigation and how does it affect you. The only thing [the BIA] won is the thing about the waiver. And, again, that was blown completely out of proportion by the [U-T] because the paper is a tool of the old guard that doesn't want to change. They want to keep the same people in power, and so what they tend to do is to make little things big and big things little.
You've taken some heat for unfinished investigations.
That's a ridiculous-that was an absolutely absurd article ["Wrap it up, Aguirre," on the Voice of San Diego.org daily news website]. I've been in office for 17 months. We've done more investigating and more reporting on our investigations in 17 months than the previous city attorney did in eight years. That's absurd. We have a fire department investigation, in which we've just charged two individuals and which we're continuing to pursue. Some investigations take longer than others, but we've prosecuted more cases out of our public-integrity unit-we have a $300,000 budget. We did the Food Bank case. We just did the Albertsons case. Those people work 24/7.
So there are no investigations you've started that you've dropped the ball on?
Absolutely not. That's absurd.
In the classic Greek sense of the term, loosely defined, a tragic figure is someone who ascends to power but is brought down by the very quality that brought him up. [That might not be precise, but it works well enough for our purposes.] Sometimes I wonder if you might end up being such a tragic figure, where your tenacity and aggressiveness and maybe hubris might actually wind up doing you in.
Well, let me tell you something. You have to be completely open all the time to constructive criticism, which I am. I would say just the opposite; I would say that I'm growing in office, that I'm meeting my responsibilities better than I had been. I hear people tell me that all the time-that they're very supportive because they think that I am more effective now than I was before and that I am growing, and I think that's true. That's why I constantly read. That's why I constantly study the lives of other elected officials and people that have performed previously, to try to learn from their experiences. That's why I have people surrounding me that are free and open in their constructive criticism, and that's why I try to remain as open as possible.
But I would reverse it and say: The struggle in San Diego is to move us from the really unhealthy narrow-mindedness that has gotten us into so much trouble, and to open us to a whole new way of thinking, with new people looking at things in a much healthier way, trying to get the system to work for everybody. My focus is on how do we get the system to work for the greater good, and that's what's missing, and what has been missing. The more you're in office and the more you have time to practice and to learn from your mistakes the better. But I would say that overall people have no sense, particularly because of the coverage of the Union-Tribune, they have absolutely no sense of what's taking place within out office. We have a very healthy office. I'm sitting down here today [on a Saturday, and] I've got 10 lawyers down here working on the effort to set aside the illegal benefits-that would have been impossible a year ago.
I heard a rumor that Scott Peters might run for city attorney in 2008. What about your future? Will you run again for city attorney, or are you thinking about something like mayor?
Right now, because of my background and the kind of person I am, I think about, what do I have to do today, tomorrow and this week-there's absolutely no way I can think about any other political option right now until I get through several problems that we have.Peters vs. Aguirre would be kind of fun to watch.
You know what, that's all great and good, but that's not where I am right now. I'm in the city attorney's office right now; I'm not even thinking about the reelection. I have summary-judgment motions that are going to be heard on the 26th of June. We have 12 other lawsuits. We have a massive amount of work to do. And I would underscore that that's really one of the major problems of our times-people get elected to office and they don't do their job. They spend their time thinking about what they're going to do. Peters is the president of the council; I'm sure he's focused on trying to do a good job. [Spokesperson Pam Hardy told CityBeat that Peters "does not currently have plans to run for city attorney in '08, but he would not completely rule it out. He won't make up his mind for another year or so about what to do after he is termed out."]
I would say right now my biggest objective is to bring about as much change in the direction of reorganizing government so that it works for the broad interests, and not for just the narrow interests in the city of San Diego, and to get the city functioning again. If I do a good job, it doesn't make any difference who runs against me, and if I do a bad job, it won't make any difference, either.