San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer didn’t hurt anyone when he vetoed parts of the City Council’s budget and replaced it with funding for the special election of his dreams.
The mayor overtly targeted City Council Democrats who had rejected the push for a special election and its funding before the topic had even come before the Council. If they were afraid of constituents and labor unions, he wanted them afraid of him too.
He had been setting up a special election for months, and felt they owed him the opportunity to consider it.
Not only did they ignore him, they sneered at spending money on an election and offered myriad better ways the money could be used. It became a classic “who started it” exchange on Twitter between Convention Center Corp. Chairman Gil Cabrera and Mark Cafferty, CEO of the Economic Development Corp.
If you really want to understand who started it, you have to go back many years. Because what the mayor did was not just a nasty little shot at the opposition on the City Council. It was an innovation – a power move that will change the politics of city budgets for many years to come.
And it was only the latest of many such moves provoked by novel interpretations of, and actual changes to, the City Charter.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
I used to be a supporter of VOSD but I stopped because of the kind of journalism I was seeing.I looked at it today to see if there was any news about the City Council vote on the Special Election and I noticed an opinion piece by Mr. Lewis and reading it reaffirmed my decision.I realize this is an opinion piece but Mr. Lewis tosses out comments that I think are inappropriate without additional detail.
In this one piece, Lewis said:
Of Mike Aguirre – “Nobody needs a reminder of his tenure.” What does that mean and was it necessary for this piece?
Of Filner – “Filner could get that builder to spend money supporting his pet causes.” What pet causes? Is this just a reference to the taking of public land by the developer in Kearny Mesa? I don’t recall any others.
Of Filner – “it’s rather unsettling to think what he might have achieved.” What does that mean and why is that unsettling? To many in San Diego, what he might have achieved is a lost dream. Comparing Filner to Trump? Was it really necessary to kick a man who is already down with that one?
Of Faulconer – “has been obscenely predictable.” I am no fan of Faulconer at all but really, “obscenely?” Aside from this being one of those red flag words journalist’s should avoid, it isn’t even used correctly.
Of Faulconer – “There’s nothing illegal or even unethical about what the mayor’s done.” Maybe not illegal but if Mr. Lewis doesn’t think what Faluconer has been doing it punishing council members, who voted for the public, not for their own pet causes, is unethical, I have to wonder what Lewis’s ethics are.
It’s a shame that writing like this got in the way of a decent point Lewis was trying to make.
I enjoyed this article and really like the historical take on the recent events; however, there's one thing that I find unsettling about it. When discussing the Filner debacle, you write, "had women working around him not exposed him as a sexual abuser, it’s rather unsettling to think what he might have achieved." In framing the incident like this, it seems like you see the problem was that women came out and accused Filner of sexual abuse, and not that he sexually assaulted women. This has the effect of excusing his actions and places the blame on the victims of his abuse. Not trying to nitpick, I just think it's a minor fault in what otherwise is great analysis.
I don't read the sexual abuse comment as you do. To me Scott is saying that had the women involved not spoken out Filner would still be Mayor. I don't think Scott was minimizing Filner's behavior or excusing Filner in any way.
@Joe Armenta What sexual assault was Filner guilty of?
Even if the mayor's claimed veto power is upheld at city hall, it will be tested in the courts. The "strong mayor" charter is full of things that need to be tested in the courts. Otherwise it will just become a matter of politicians grabbing as much power as they can.
Even if the council votes to put this on a special election ballot, opponents will sue, forcing a delay that will put it on the November, 2018 ballot, so why waste political capital voting in support of putting it on the ballot in a special election this fall?
@Don Wood Just curious, what would the grounds be for the lawsuit? It can't be Measure L, which specifically stated: "Shall the Charter be amended to require qualified citizens’ initiative and referendum measures to be submitted to voters on the next November general election ballot and not at a June primary election, unless the Council chooses to submit the measure to voters prior to that election?" Genuine question, by the way.
As I read the history of San Diego, it seems to me this started long before the strong-Mayor or Kevin Faulconer. Seeds were planted in the last century and the fruit is dropping from the trees.
It doesn't take a wizard to understand that there's much more behind Faulconer's decision with the veto. It would be refreshing to have Faulconer - or any politician - give a straight answer to a question regarding the public good, something besides "I'm doing this because I can."
@Molly Cook It's very possible there are ulterior motives, and there are enough Faulconer detractors that I'm surprised there aren't a bunch of hate comments here already claiming as much. But perhaps he has seen the future projected budgetary shortfalls and is actually trying to do right by the city to get something going ASAP to minimize the pain or completely avoid it. Or maybe it's politically motivated, for his own future aspirations, so he doesn't become that mayor who let his (tourism based economy) city fall behind in revenue by not funding convention center expansion, losing an NFL team, not getting the stadium site out of the liability column and into the revenue column, losing the chance at MLS and international matches on a world-class grass field with perfect weather, and of course not improving the situation with the homeless population or the busted-up streets. Unfortunately as these different groups "flex" their muscle, they seem to be forgetting how much of our local economy is funded by visitors, and if you look closely you'll see all these items are directly related to it in some way (NFL meant free TV advertising and lots of visiting-team tourist money coming to town, for example). In the short-run they might get their special interest desire, but in the long-run everyone loses if the money dries up.
@Jeremy Hansen @Molly Cook --Except we haven't lost the chance of getting an MLS franchise. You sound like the FSI guys. 2 teams will be awarded later this year, and the other 2 teams awarded next year. And it is doubtful that we would have any international matches of note, considering that the stadium will only seat 22,000 plus standing room (without SDSU involvement), which wouldn't lead to much in the way of visitors coming to see those matches.
Regarding the homeless and streets--put those issues on the ballot separately. If you want to increase TOT to do it--fine, but don't try and bundle things together under one proposal like Faulconer wanted to. You could still raise TOT, but have separate ballot measures. A dedicated 2% TOT increase for an expanded convention center, 1/2% for infrastructure, and 1/2% for the homeless. Give the people a choice, instead of an all-or-nothing proposal.
I understand there is a proposal in the works to do exactly this - put the homeless issue (and possibly infrastructure) on the ballot separately. Much more effective and responsible way to deal with the need for funding than Faulconer's attempt to "sweeten the pot" and appeal to voters who would otherwise be against Soccer City/Convention Center.
Maybe we should dump the 'strong mayor' form of government and go back to a city council-led government?
Be careful what you wish for. The city manager form of government brought us the pension fiasco, the ticket guarantee and pot holes galore.
@barb graham Good idea!