Discussion over a mayor as manager, the value of media stunts, the utility of the Film Commission and problematic parts of the city charter make up this week’s highlights in the comments.
• Ron Donoho on “The 3 Most Absurd Media Stunts of the Filner Scandal“:
Cheap shots, bad jokes and media stunts are keeping the spotlight and the pressure on Bob Filner to resign. When the public loses interest is when the mayor has the best shot at dodging the bullets. The pragmatic reality here is that his legion of accusers deserve respect. But the citizens of San Diego who want to get back to doing civic good deeds owe pundits like Conan O’Brien a thank you for every “Weiner vs. Filner Perv-Off” joke they air. Keep ‘em coming!
• Tom Fengler on “San Diego Should Be Proud“:
Fifty years ago, when I was a high school student, San Diego civics instructors extolled the “California model” of a strong city manager/weak mayor form of government because it both relieved and prevented a mayor from the minutiae of hands-on administration of a city’s various departments, including the hiring and firing of personnel within them. Leaving aside arguments pro and con for either a strong or weak mayor, it appears, given our current mayor’s compulsion to micro-manage (the lesser, certainly, of others) that in the current instance, San Diego might have been better served by a strong manager form of government.
• Carolyn Chase on “‘Are We to Limit Elected Office Only to Businesspeople?’“:
This is a really good example of why the “strong mayor” change was always going to be problematic. This system lends itself to politicization of things that shouldn’t be politicized and increases cronyism — by its very design. By giving such powers to an elected office for which the qualifications are not technically based on management experience — you always leave the door open to the candidate pool. It also removes the mayor from the critical relationship with City Council that used to happen in public hearings. Now such relationships are either behind closed doors or not happening at all. They are actually not put where they have to work together in public and that’s a bad thing.
• Larry Westfall on “Without Film Commission, S.D. Is Just a ‘Little Cow Town’”:
With all the problems associated with overcrowding in San Diego, why do we feel the need to publicize San Diego and cause more people to move here? What is the benefit to local residents when the swells come to town and shut down streets? If San Diego hotels and restaurants need more out-of-town patrons, why don’t they pony up advertising money? Why do film companies lobby Sacramento for tax breaks while stars make millions and demand that citizens pay more and more taxes? I doubt if the true costs to the city are really known, and as for supposed revenues, it sounds a lot like the arguments cited for the city building a stadium for a Super Bowl.
• Dwayne Crenshaw on “The Most Problematic Pieces of SD’s City Charter“:
Interesting article. The first piece of legislation I worked on many moons ago in Sacramento was an Assembly bill to clean up various California codes. We affectionately dubbed the legislation the “JUNK” law bill. JUNK = Jurassic Unproductive Negligible and Knucklehead laws. It was a tedious, several-month junior-staffer assignment to identify the JUNK laws, but the effort worked its way through the Legislature and was signed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. We could use a similar effort locally. …
P.S. Having lived through the special election you reference in the article, I still hold the City Council, on poor advice from the city attorney and city clerk’s office, actually acted inconsistent with law in consolidating the Council District 4 runoff election with the Assembly District 80 special election, but not in doing so with the state Senate District 40 special election in the primary. More importantly, as a charter city, the governance of local elections is actually one of the clear “municipal affairs” where the city can act independent from state law. The issue of the conflict between state law and local law on recall provisions has more to do with constitutional questions than inconsistency between the laws (ex. state law calls for the 160-day signature-gathering timeline, but as a charter city, San Diego has adopted a confusing and ridiculously shorter timeline).
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