The envelope, please
Oh, the irony of tap-dancers performing midway through Monday's inauguration ceremony for two new San Diego City Council members, Charles Lewis and Michael Zucchet, and two who were re-elected in March, Ralph Inzunza and Donna Frye. There was, in fact, little light footwork, as the quartet made clear their vision for the city with brash strokes of rhetoric and calls for an end to labor-bashing.
But enough about political platitudes about cooperation and focus. We'd rather hand out awards:
Cheap Hucksterism Award-Hands down, this goes to outgoing council albatross Byron Wear, who not only made way too many nautical analogies in his melodramatic parting speech (verbal chum like “weathered storms at sea,” “survived shots across our bow” and thanking his staff for being “my fellow crew members who worked diligently in the engine room of tough public policy issues.” Lifeboat, please!).
But Capt. Outtawork made sure everyone knew he was ready to hit the high seas again. “I stand ready when called to sail again as a crew member to provide my experience at navigation and assist you through difficult waters in making San Diego truly a city worthy of our affection,” he said with a straight face, we think, since we were busy searching for Dramamine.
Insecurity Award-This too, hands down, to Wear. It's one thing to go out with class (we'll get to George Stevens in a moment), but it seems a bit defensive to open your final public address by saying, “I am honored that the voters of the 2nd District placed their faith in me to elect me for two terms as their council member, and I survived an ill-conceived recall.”
Hello Toastmasters, we have a winner!
Best-Dressed and Best-Suited for Statesman Status-Sorry, Mayor 10Goals, we do think you're a natty chap, but we tip our fedoras to termed-out Councilman Stevens after 11 years in office. Not only has the guy made an art of breast-pocket fashion, but he also belongs in the city's Hall of Orators, if it had one (it wouldn't take up much space, really). Not to quote him directly does him a disservice, so here's how he describes the inspiration for his Speak San Diego program, which encourages locals to be friendly to neighbors, office mates and tourists alike: “I bonded with a parrot at the zoo. That parrot said, ‘Hello.' That was a sign. I figured if a parrot could say hello, on the streets, the people, at least the people could say hello to people on the streets of the city.... I wanted to start a love affair in this city of San Diego, and I hope you'll join me in that love affair, that we just love people in spite of their rotten selves so that this city as a whole makes progress in spite of people who are naysayers.”
George, please bottle that passion and pass it amongst the new flock.
Biggest Laugh Award-Council newbie Zucchet got it when regaling the crowd about one response to an otherwise effective endorsement letter sent by Frye. “Dear Donna,” Zucchet read, “I think the last thing that we need is another enviro-wacko commie labor lefty on the city council. P.S. You should get a haircut.” Zucchet then added: “Now, Roger Hedgecock lives in my district, so, uhm, maybe that was him....”
Solid Advice Award-OK, Mayor 10Goals, here you go. As is tradition, the mayor acknowledged a number of politicos in the audience, both past and present, early in the program. Later, he was told newly elected county Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister was sitting far in the back and subsequently gave him his nod. Advised Murphy: “Now that you're a politician, you've got to learn to sit up in the front.”
No library love... yet
A state board charged with doling out grants for library construction has for now rejected funding three county library projects, including a $20 million request for the new San Diego central library proposed for the downtown ballpark district.
Richard Hall, manager of the state Library Bond Act, said board members approved nearly $130 million in grants for new libraries up and down the state, but only one locally. Hall said the six-member grant board, which met Monday and includes only one San Diegan (state Sen. Dede Alpert), left open the possibility that it will reconvene later this month to distribute approximately $20 million left over from first-round funding, which had been set at $150 million.
“Whether or not we can get [another meeting] set up and whether or not they'll allocate what and to whom I don't know,” hall said.
In addition to the central library, the board also rejected requests for proposed branches in San Ysidro and Santee. State library construction officials had ranked the grant applications in categories ranging from “outstanding” to “very good” to “acceptable.” All but one of 14 “outstanding” applications were approved, including a grant for a library in National City. The three other local applications were deemed either “very good” or “acceptable.” Under Proposition 14, a total of $350 million is earmarked for library construction through 2004.
Mayor 10Goals, still bubbly from last month's council approval of a $312.3 million library-system funding plan, seemed undeterred by the news. “We are disappointed that San Diego did not receive any Prop. 14 funds in this round of grants,” Murphy said, “but we're hopeful that our library system will be awarded some of the remaining monies in future state actions. Either way, we will continue to seek sources to ensure our 21st-century library system is built.”