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Saying Faulconer did not take major stands in his speech is not the same as saying that he didn’t include many good things. Here are three big ones.
I gave the mayor some grief for proposing a new task force for the Chargers stadium quest, more than a decade after the last stadium task force.
And we got some pushback for saying his speech aimed to please everyone and not make any waves.
It went something like this.
I’m not going to lie, I thought some of the hype leading up to the speech indicated he might say something surprising – something bold or candid. When Council President Todd Gloria gave his speech last year, he laid out three major policy goals – a minimum wage increase, a climate action plan and an increase to the affordable housing fee.
Then Gloria steered the city to them. I was curious what Faulconer’s version of that would be.
He did not, however, take any surprising stands or announce a bold decision. But saying Faulconer did not take major stands in his speech is not the same as saying that he didn’t include many good things. The news and determination to focus on streets and infrastructure is good. (I think his critics have a point on whether it goes far enough.) I’m excited for the focus on investment in Balboa Park and it was nice to hear about the city’s high level of financial reserves.
Then there was this somewhat surprising line about the homeless: “San Diegans deserve more than a temporary tent when it’s cold outside.”
That’s a pretty striking commitment from a Republican not to let anyone be without shelter.
Now, here were my three favorite parts of the speech.
The mayor seems to have recognized immediately and taken seriously how embarrassing the city’s digital infrastructure is. Here we are touting San Diego as a hub of innovation and technology, and yet City Hall is a mess of competing platforms, offers a shoddy web interface and is behind on open data.
Unlike former Mayor Jerry Sanders, who wore his lack of interest in things like computers and email as a badge of honor, Faulconer is clearly embarrassed and determined to leave a better legacy.
He promised to take the city’s website into the modern age by working with Code for America.
He hired the city’s first chief data officer, Maksim Pecherskiy, who folks have flagged as a leader to watch in 2015. He’s opening up data that could help create not only a more accountable government but could fuel entrepreneurship as well. Who knows what kind of apps could be built from the vast trove of data the city is exposing to the world under Faulconer.
Faulconer also reminded us he created an office of analytics, to measure the city’s performance.
We’ve watched and chronicled the evolution of this effort for years. Faulconer is a true champion of it.
Liam Dillon’s 2013 investigation helped drive home the crisis in emergency response times some neighborhoods were dealing with. Not coincidentally, some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods were seeing the longest times between when an emergency call was made and when a fire truck or ambulance arrived.
It was nice to see it become a major topic in the mayor’s race. And it’s even nicer to see it come up as a major topic well into Faulconer’s term.
Here are the results the mayor trumpeted:
In San Ysidro, ambulance help is arriving a full minute faster than before.
In Skyline, we’re opening a temporary fire station to immediately improve emergency service.
In Encanto, we boosted fire-rescue response by three minutes.
Might be time to fact check those, but good stuff.
Two years ago, when Mayor Bob Filner gave his first State of the City address, he dropped some sentences in Spanish. The next morning, Chip Franklin, on KOGO, went after him for it.
It was a “what country is this?” moment, and it looked real bad on Franklin.
Fast-forward to Wednesday and Faulconer offered an extensive passage of his speech in Spanish. (I didn’t hear any complaints about it.)
In Spanish, he told the Mexican delegation watching his speech that he was going to continue to work with them to improve lives on both sides of the border. He said he would continue to support comprehensive immigration reform – including a path to citizenship – that he hopes Congress will bring up again.
He touted the cooperative agreement that he signed with Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazaran.
Faulconer, like Filner, seems not just to give Baja California lip service but to genuinely like it and be impressed with what can happen if we work together.
Many of us will continue to push the mayor to be bold and interesting. But it is nice to know that he’s got some great stuff going that everyone can agree on.