“We have a long road ahead of us.”
No, Mayor 10Goals Murphy wasn't talking about his plans to run again as San Diego's top political punching bag. He did that last Friday, with family in tow, before a bank of cameras and reporters near the rising skeleton that will soon be Petco Park.
The lengthy thoroughfare Murphy referred to Tuesday morning was, in fact, the day ahead as the City Council buckled down to butt heads with the town's other major sports franchise, those public-relations-challenged Chargers.
It's been a heady few days for Murphy, who continues to chart his 10Goal course while waves of red ink lap at the deck of the Goodship San Diego. Fresh off his re-election announcement, Murphy even feigned paranoia yesterday shortly before Chargers task force Chairman David Watson read aloud his group's recommendations. 10Goals noted that Watson seemed to enjoy sitting in the mayor's seat in council chambers during the months the task force deliberated on the Chargers debacle-even going so far as to suggest Watson liked the mayoral vantage point a bit too much.
“You don't have to worry, Mr. Mayor,” chuckled Watson, a well-heeled land-use attorney. “I couldn't afford the pay cut.”
The comment elicited a good deal of laughter, but at a time when the city faces a $30 million budget gap-and perhaps more-for the fiscal year beginning July 1, any jokes about pay cuts will likely not be well received these days at City Hall.
Already there is grumbling from city observers that City Manager Mike Uberuaga is leaning toward hikes in various city fees and taxes and cuts in other vital services like police and fire, rather than attacking the fat that is the city's middle-management ranks.
One local resident who spoke before the council yesterday noted that there are seven middle-managers between the person who mows the lawn at city parks and the city manager. If cutting middle-management is good enough for the private sector, why not City Hall, the citizen pondered.
Meanwhile, local activist Mel Shapiro derided the city and its Housing Commission, which is nearing approval of its plan for new headquarters at the so-called Smart Corner multi-use development at 11th Avenue and Broadway in East Village. Taxpayer subsidy for the project, which will also include underground parking, condominiums and a transit center, is pegged at $12 million, Shapiro notes.
How, in good conscience, Shapiro wonders, can a city continue to turn its back on the homeless, particularly seniors, while the Housing Commission tells some 30,000 families on its Section 8 waiting list that it lacks the funds to find suitable housing for these folks-even as it feathers its own nest?
Shapiro provided his own answer, via a tape he played of an old Bobby “Route 66” Troup song: “Daddy!/ I want a brand new car/ Champagne, caviar/ Daddy! You ought to get the best for me.”
So, what will a second term look like for 10Goals, should he prevail? One long-time political insider puts it this way: “I think he will fail miserably.... He is in over his head on many issues, and being the indecisive type, the problems will pile up. Meantime, [Chief of Staff John] Kern will talk him into running for the U.S. Senate in '06, and he will do terribly. He will leave office in much the same way [former mayor Susan] Golding did.”
The mayor's office did not respond when asked if 10Goals would commit to a full four-year second term, if re-elected.
The ongoing court case involving four San Diego county supervisors and allegations that they violated open-meeting laws by deciding privately to rejigger their districts has many political observers giddy.
The redistricting plan, passed by the supervisors in a 4-1 vote two years ago this July, was roundly criticized as a boon to Supervisor Bill Horn's political fundraising base and a detriment to Supervisor Mel Shapiro, the lone dissenter and not a party to the suit filed in October 2001 by public-interest attorney Mike Aguirre.
Which reminds us of our favorite give-and-take between Aguirre and Horn during the lengthy deposition process prior to the current court proceedings. During Horn's deposition, Aguirre noted Horn's penchant for raising campaign dough. The transcript follows in bighorn sheep fashion:
Aguirre: “Mr. Horn, why are you so good at raising money? What do you think?”
Horn: “Because I can use the telephone, and I'm not afraid to call.”
Aguirre: “Does your pro-property-rights stance-do you think that helps you with the developers to get them inclined to put money in your campaigns?”
Horn: “I think my pro-property-rights stand is what got me elected in the first place. It has gotten me in public office. It is why the farmers and everybody else who supports the supervisor in the Fifth District re-elect me repeatedly.”
Horn: “I'm not afraid to back down, and I don't back down.”
Aguirre: “So, you're a tough guy.”
Horn: “I'm not a tough guy.”
Much has been made of Padres owner and Securities Exchange Commission poster boy John Moores appearing at a recent luncheon of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., where he reportedly said, “I don't know,” in response to a question about whether he would have pursued building a ballpark downtown knowing what he knows today, post-lawsuits and post-allegations that he offered former City Councilwoman Valerie Stallings stock options for her ballpark vote.
But nothing was mentioned of Councilman Michael Zucchet's introductory comments at the same luncheon. Zucchet said he had tremendous respect for Moores, knew all about him, in fact, because, after all, Zucchet had worked for Stallings. According to one attendee, the comment brought down the house and caused the Padres owner's face to turn “as red as any face I think I have ever seen.”