The maxim “Nothing but perfection” may be spelled “Paralysis.” —Winston Churchill
It took squeaky new Padres skipper Andy Green one game to figure out his honeymoon was over. By contrast, Mayor Kevin Faulconer—764 days into occupying the city’s top political catbird seat—still seems hip deep in champagne toasts on the ghost ship U.S.S. Victory Lap.
Green, at least, has something tangible to put in his memory basket: On Monday, the Padres managed to reach the nadir of Major League Baseball’s Opening Day barrel-bottom by losing, 15-0, to the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers, the worst first-day shutout in history.
For all his youth, Green took the loss like a man. One loss, albeit a nationally broadcast Mount- Everest-type loss. But still, one clunker amid a season of 162 new days. Petco Park, while perhaps blushing, did not implode.
Judging by social media, it appeared that a good portion of City Hall’s brain trust took the afternoon off to attend the team’s public dismantling by a superior, much-wealthier opponent. Spin Cycle can only hope that some valuable lessons were learned— and not simply that bottled water at Petco costs a ridiculous four bucks.
Perhaps these workers had time to peer beyond the walls of the ballpark, assessing a booming East Village and what its future may hold should a hybrid stadium/convention center annex be plopped down just to the east. (Some call this idea a “convadium,” a term Spin Cycle believes should be forever relegated to the Periodic Table of Elements under the category “inert gases.”)
The mayor, like the new manager, certainly has plenty on his plate. While Dodger cleats tapped home plate 15 times to the Padres’ zilch on Monday, it’s less obvious how many times Faulconer has crossed the plate, let alone set foot on the diamond.
Delving into the mayor’s calendar is something akin to deciphering ancient hieroglyphics, in that some understanding can be gleaned of the mayor’s priorities but much remains unknown. Plenty of staff meetings to be sure, but lots of mysterious holes as well. Days typically begin no earlier than 9 a.m., and Fridays are frequently light on time constraints.
The January calendar, for example, highlighted Faulconer’s obsession with perfecting The Big Speech, aka the annual State of the City address. From Jan. 4 until he stepped on the stage at the Balboa Theatre 10 days later, Faulconer spent a portion of every work day (22 hours total) prepping for the speech—including 6-and-a-half hours practicing with a TelePrompter and another 5-and-a-half hours rehearsing in the theater, according to his calendar. The speech ran about 50 minutes.
In among the proverbial mayoral duties as ribbon cuttings, meet-and-greets and the occasional media interview, Faulconer’s calendar is peppered with people and organizations but rarely the topic at hand. Some subjects are nebulously vague, such as “messaging” or “stadium” or “Spanos” or “Speaker Atkins.” Other time slots are simply marked “OOO,” meaning “out of office” with no further explanation.
Now, maybe voters—particularly the lethargic, San Diego kind—care little about the daily putterings of the city’s top pol. No one’s expecting a mayor to run a marathon every day followed by a brisk mountain climb. But it is, after all, an election year, when traditionally even the most dilatory electeds get off their duffs and act like they’re doing something.
Hell, even mayoral candidate Ed Harris, a city lifeguard sergeant, jumped into the fray this weekend while attending the county Democrats’ annual Roosevelt Dinner. During an otherwise underwhelming night, a gentleman in attendance collapsed, several sources said. While few details were available, Rollin Bush, the candidate’s newly anointed campaign consultant, confirmed that “the guy had a medical issue.” Harris and two others, a firefighter and the head of the firefighters union, “stabilized his status until medics arrived,” Bush told Spin.
Did Harris run out and hold a press conference? Nope. Would Faulconer have? Magic 8-Ball says, “Most likely.”
This is not to say that anyone running for mayor should be considered above it all. The three running—Faulconer, Harris and former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña—are far from perfect human beings, and two of them will tell you so. The incumbent, however, seems surrounded by minions who shudder to think someone might consider their employer— dare Spin say it—fallible.
As this column heads to deadline, there is considerable chatter of a pending settlement between Faulconer’s pals at the Tourism Marketing District and the attorney he loves to hate, Cory Briggs.
This comes at an interesting time, when Briggs continues to push a proposed November ballot measure that would raise the city’s hotel tax from its current 10.5 percent (plus a legally shaky 2 percent surcharge added by hoteliers) to 16.5 percent while reforming how tourism dollars are managed and creating a path that city leaders could follow to bring the Chargers downtown, expand convention center space north of Harbor Drive and lead to new, promising uses for the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, possibly as a park and extension of the San Diego State University campus.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have piece-mealed out their own ballot measure proposal for November, which aims to hike the hotel tax to 16.5 percent and spend the bulk of the boost on a stadium/convention-center-annex hybrid that remains a work in progress. While the Briggs proposal sought to tightrope delicately among many interests, the Chargers plan seems like Godzilla stomping on fleeing villagers.
If one believes the rumors, the hoteliers among us are ready to run to the Briggs measure, but a mayoral sign-off is desirable. “No settlement,” proclaimed TMD board chairman Bill Evans when Spin asked Tuesday. But he declined to say if meetings were planned, ongoing or done and buried.
Faulconer’s defenders can continue their path toward omitting the words “on visitors” when they denounce the idea of a “tax hike,” but it just seems to be placing the mayor on a smaller and smaller island of indecision, where time and progress freezes.