In announcing his intention to push the City Council to adopt all 121 remediation recommendations contained in the recently released Kroll report on San Diego's broken City Hall, Mayor Jerry Sanders said, “In summary, we can be victims and obstructionists or we can be pioneers. I choose to be a pioneer.”
It doesn't take a mayoral speechwriter to figure out whom he's talking about. The “victims” are the members of the City Council, a few of whom have blamed high-level bureaucrats for steering them wrong and causing City Hall's failures. One guess who the “obstructionist” is. No, silly, not Padres manager Bruce Bochy. It's City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who seems to have, at long last, gotten under Sanders' skin.
If you believe the folks who've been randomly sampling San Diegans lately, Sanders is a wildly popular guy-and he's cashing in on it. The Pioneer has eight vacant seats in his trailblazing covered wagon, and they've got the badly wounded City Council's names all over them. All they have to do to claim them is get over their victim complex and rubberstamp those 121 recommendations, which, essentially, seek to restructure the parts of City Hall that got San Diego in trouble with the feds. (Sanders made a point of noting that the fixes won't solve the city's dire, multi-billion-dollar financial crisis. Depending upon whom you believe, the city could be as much as $6 billion in the red within a few short years. Sanders says the remediation plan would cost $45 million over the next seven years.)
As for the Obstructionist, Aguirre, he can climb aboard, too, says the benevolent Pioneer—all he has to do is quit shooting at the wagon from the sagebrush.
Indeed, the Pioneer is sitting pretty and proud right about now, and followers (the wagon train?) are lining up behind him. There's small-government advocate Carl DeMaio warning four City Council members to get in line behind Sanders or incur the wrath of the recall (see Page 9 for more on that). And there's Union-Tribune gasbag Bob Kittle recommending blind allegiance to Sanders and firing a preemptive strike against City Councilmember Donna Frye on KPBS' Editors Roundtable. Perhaps thinking she might sway at least three of her colleagues against some of the Kroll recommendations, Kittle attacked Frye. She “votes no on almost everything,” he said. “If you vote no all the time, you'll be right only when you're voting against bad measures.”
Kittle's insulting commentary reminds us of Jim Madaffer, who, in his interview with Kroll, was similarly condescending toward pension whistleblower Diann Shipione, saying, “She got lucky.” What an insufferable little turd.
On KPBS, Kittle said “the only sensible course is to embrace the remediation plan” and that the City Council “must have learned something from their negligence and their mistakes.... I think they dare not try to impose impediments to [Sanders' proposal].”
Has Kittle not been paying attention? City Hall plunged itself into this quagmire in large part by the City Council's failure to ask tough questions of the people who claimed to have their best interest at heart—Are you sure? Where did those numbers come from? What will the future impact be? Is that against the law?—and by their refusal to engage in meaningful debate in open session, under the public's watchful eye.
The Kroll report praised Frye, for attempting to have information aired in public and for voting no at critical junctures, and Shipione, for having the courage to blow her whistle amid attempts to discredit her as a kook and a political malcontent (sounds an awful lot like what Kittle was doing on the radio last week). Kittle wants the City Council to do precisely what got us into trouble in the first place: Shut up, get in line, don't ask questions, don't debate and don't you dare vote no-because the “only sensible course” is to do what the Pioneer says.
And what says our intrepid Pioneer? Here's what: “We debated whether or not we should choose certain remedial actions over others. It would have been far too easy to rationalize our way out of some as too onerous or financially costly. In the end, I thought it was important enough to implement them all.” And, he adds: “I don't anticipate any problems, but I will not hesitate to speak out if I think that anyone is holding up the implementation of any of these reform efforts. The public expects us to work as a team to fulfill their long-awaited expectations of reform.”
Translation: Some of these 121 recommendations are debatable, and some might be too expensive, but don't get in my way or I might support a campaign to recall your ass.
We find that sort of pioneering troubling.