Have you ever had two friends you really like but who can't get along with one another? It sucks. You find yourself having to listen to each of your buddies carping about the other. You have to lend an ear, but you can't really take sides. And you usually don't want to take sides because what your two friends fight about is usually insufferably silly. They just don't like each other, and that's that.
Such is the case for me and my close chums, Scott Peters and Mike Aguirre. OK, so neither of them is actually my close chum, but I do feel a special fondness for Scott and Mike, which is why I'm pretty bummed that the two of them can't play nice together.
Take a recent spat on the dais, for example. A few weeks ago, Mike got himself righteously upset over the fact that Kroll Inc., a New York firm hired by the city to direct an inquiry into possible illegal acts by former city staff, still has not produced the report that was originally promised for last January, this despite soaking the city's coffers for a cool $20.3 million. Mike said, in a nutshell, that those Kroll bastards had best deliver a product pronto, or he might sue them for breach of duty. You go, Mike.
But Scott, who no doubt wants Kroll to get on the stick as badly as anyone else, chided Mike, saying, among other things, that his threats aren't likely to motivate a leviathan like Kroll to do anything it doesn't feel like doing. Scott's probably right, but that doesn't mean Mike is wrong for getting so pissed off.
I like Scott because, for starters, he's really, really smart. Like, he uses big words and he seems to know what they mean. He has also taken on his duties as San Diego's first-ever City Council president humbly and performed those duties with grace and decency. In so doing, he has generated at least a modicum of hope that the scandals, murmurings and backbiting that have plagued city government for so long might finally be behind us. Under his leadership, the City Council shows signs of effectiveness and reasonableness-two things they lacked in abundance for a good long while. Sure, he's none too fond of marine mammals, but I'll let that one slide.
Then there's Mike. I like Mike because, well, there being no genteel way of putting this, he's one ballsy dude. Like Scott, my buddy Mike is really, really smart. But unlike Scott, his own brand of smart doesn't leave much room for those who disagree with him. That's a common enough condition for really smart people, and I think it's forgivable. But the fact that he's adamant, tenacious, a bit cantankerous and rock-solid sure of himself to the point of arrogance does not mean he's wrong. He's right just about all the time. Whether or not you like hearing what he has to say, and whether or not you like his manner of delivery, he knows what he's talking about.
Mike's a lawyer, after all. And in his position as the lawyer charged by his constituents with rigorous defense of our commonwealth and close, strict scrutiny of our public processes and practices, he has a tough mandate. To him, the law is black and white. It sets forth prescriptions and proscriptions adherence to which is not optional. Sure, the law is subject to interpretation, but vagueness is the exception, not the rule.
Scott is also a lawyer. But Scott's approach to the law is different from Mike's. Whereas Mike's a bulldog, an enforcer, a taskmaster, Scott, by contrast, is a negotiator, a mediator, a consensus builder. Whereas Mike's duty to the law is absolute, Scott's is utilitarian. Scott treats the law as a process, not a script. For him, it's a path to resolution and mutual benefit. Anyhow, that's how it seems to me.
Of course, I don't really know that for certain because, as I admitted earlier, Mike and Scott aren't my drinking buddies. I wish they were, but so far, they haven't dropped by Nunu's to shoot the breeze. I've met Scott several times. I especially enjoyed visiting with him at a post-election shindig thrown a few years ago in the ballroom of the El Cortez by local developer Peter Janopaul.
I've also met Mike a few times, most recently when I butted my way into a conversation between him and my old friend Gordon Clanton at Golden Hall on election night. Mike was gregarious, approachable and an altogether interesting cat.
So, guys, I'm asking you, in front of everybody. Why don't you just come on down to Nunu's in Hillcrest and iron this funk out? Let's get together and knock back a couple of cold ones. Y'all squabble, I'll arbitrate. I'll even buy. Once we get a couple of cocktails in us, we can start checking out girls. That's fun. And when it's all over, we can slap backs, shake hands, say "Drive safely," and get on with life. I'm betting you'll enjoy it. I think we might even want to make it a regular thing. Tell the mayor to stop by, and we can all be chums.
I recommend next Tuesday, July 18, at happy hour. Come hungry. We can get burgers and tater tots (Jerry will like that). I'll get there by 5 and save us some seats. Park at a meter. They're free after 6, so you'll only need a few quarters. I'll give you a call a few hours before to confirm, but put it on your calendars, because, dammit, we're getting to the bottom of this crap come hell or high water. See you Tuesday.
Tony Phillips blogs at www.fifthavenuegazette.com. Write to fifthavenuegazette[at]yahoo[dot]com and editor[at]SDcitybeat[dot]com.