In June 2002, the L.A. Times’ Tony Perry wrote that San Diego seemed like it was “rising to the challenge of preventing the Chargers football team from moving to Los Angeles.”

The big development was that Mayor Dick Murphy had formed a task force “to ponder how the city can keep the NFL team without unduly raiding the civic treasury.”

Scott Lewis on Politics LogoPerry might as well cut and paste the story this week.

Twelve years and a much-hyped first speech from Mayor Kevin Faulconer later, and that was the big news again: Faulconer is forming a new task force to, well, ponder how the city can keep the NFL team without unduly raiding the civic treasury.

Perry’s words work fine, no need to strain myself to come up with new ones.

Here are Faulconer’s:

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

“They will explore all possibilities to finance the project, with the clear direction that it must present a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers,” he said, according to his prepared remarks.  He said he would introduce the members of the Chargers task force in a couple weeks.

But there was an interesting turn when he described the decision it would make.

“They will study two different options: Building a stadium at the current Mission Valley location. Or building a stadium along with an expanded convention center downtown,” according to the prepared text.

That’s an interesting way to put it. “Along with an expanded convention center” doesn’t mean that the new stadium will be built with or part of the Convention Center. He’s left himself some room. The task force could decide to build a stadium and a convention center in that framing.

The Chargers were not impressed: “After 13 – now going on 14 – years of work by the Chargers, the speech contained no specifics, and so there is nothing for us to comment on,” said Mark Fabiani, the team’s special counsel, in a statement.

The old task force’s page on the city’s website is still live and filled with interesting, if aging, documents. I asked Geoff Patnoe, the former head of the Taxpayers Association and a member of that defunct committee, what he thought. Were we getting the band together again?

“It has been 12 years since the last public task force looked at this question and we have a very different civic and political environment today, so why not pull a new diverse panel together to help tackle this question?” Patnoe said.

It’s hard to see what insights they’re going to pull. Had Faulconer just said he was going to try to put something together that kept the team in San Diego while protecting taxpayers, which is what every mayor since Murphy has said, I’d have taken that as a simple message to the team to just leave.

But the task force gives him some room, I guess. It did take two task forces (and two National League championships) before the Padres got their park.

In six months, however, we’ll be back to where we are. The team threatening to leave. The city’s infrastructure still crumbling. Tax increases still requiring two-thirds of voters to support.

It’d be nice to see a new idea – a proposal of some kind. It’d also be refreshing to see a leader just be honest that he doesn’t want to give the Chargers what they’re demanding and so they should just leave.

When that last task force was formed, Perry described it like this in the Times:

In announcing that he will ask the City Council to form a 15-member Citizens Task Force on Chargers Issues, Murphy is following the political playbook of his mayoral role model: Pete Wilson, who was mayor from 1971 to 1983 and gave Murphy his start in local politics.

When faced with a controversial issue, Wilson often had the issue vetted by a committee or commission, whose chairman was invariably a close Wilson ally. Few recommendations were made by such groups that were at odds with what Wilson wanted.

Faulconer’s speech was a potpourri of things that had changed in San Diego over the last decade since Murphy resigned in disgrace.

But some things just don’t change.

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Kevin Faulconer, News, Politics, Quest, San Diego City Finances, Scott Lewis on Politics

    Written by Scott Lewis

    Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently breaks news and goes back and forth with local political figures. Contact Scott at or 619.325.0527, and follow him on Twitter at @vosdscott.

    TJ Apple
    TJ Apple subscribermember

    Yikes, this is one issue that has been studied repeatedly. . . The answer is a joint effort by City, County, Port, Chargers and NFL - just get it done!

    JoeBalboa33 subscriber

    That new task force has the easiest job in the world. All they would have to do is turn to page one of the old report:

    "The Task Force recommends that the City and Chargers focus on negotiating an agreement

    leasing the 166-acre stadium site to the Chargers. The Chargers would pay 100 percent of the

    costs of constructing a new stadium. The lease also would require the Chargers to construct a

    riverfront park and an active recreation park as set forth in the Mission Valley Community Plan.

    The Chargers could seek additional entitlements to develop portions of the site for commercial

    and/or housing uses. Any new tax revenues generated from this new development could be used

    for payment of infrastructure, the parks and existing bond debt.

    The Task Force believes the negotiating principles in the Final Report represent fiscally

    conservative guidelines that (1) protect taxpayers, (2) provide the Chargers an opportunity to

    construct a new stadium, and (3) create the potential for two parks on the site."

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    And the first thing Fabiani did was not only whine about another task force, but he really whined about Steve Cushman being on that task force.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    Just what did you expect the mayor to do, Scott, write a personal check to Dean Spanos?  One  thing I wish he’d done was to lay down a non-negotiable marker, that any public funding for a new stadium must be on a county wide basis, period.  That might shut up the smug, over-age-in-grade Ron Roberts, who had the chutzpah to praise Faulconer’s “leadership”.

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Bill Bradshaw Maybe I'm being naive but I think it's pretty clear what the choices are. There are a few visions for the stadium on the table, pick them. Or tell them it ain't going to work. I wish he'd express a preference. I think he's decided it's not politically palatable to support a stadium with the demands the Chargers have. I understand the choice he's making not to just confront that but that doesn't mean I like it.

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    Faulconer's ticket to office has been and will be that he is likeable and inoffensive. He has to play from his strength.

    Deb Porter
    Deb Porter subscribermember

    Why don't we just say "No" to a new stadium unless it is fully paid for by private funding?? It would be quite an expensive luxury while the city of San Diego can't even fix its streets or bury its utilities. 

    JoeBalboa33 subscriber

    I'm going to bet that the end of that original task force, never did they ever recommend "Make another Task Force in 14 tears" =)

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    In football parlance, the mayor "punted".  He may want to put a task force together, but the Chargers will have their own timeline.  Whether the two mesh remains to be seen.

    madathe subscriber

    It was refreshing to hear that the group would be formed within the month, and that a recommendation would come by the fall, with the final word coming from the voters. That's sounds to me like the Mayor is very serious about getting this issue resolved. 

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @madathe yes, but I think there's a very real chance that he will neither support or oppose the recommendation. He may just shuffle it onto the ballot without comment. I don't think the task force will come up with anything we haven't already heard. He could indicate his preference much sooner.

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    He is leading from behind, not usually seen in the GOP playbook but part of the persona that got Faulconer elected.

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    @David Cohen I like this strategy with regards to a new stadium.  Now I just hope Inglewood's June ballot measure passes and the Chargers move north after the 2015 season to share a stadium with the Rams.