3 Takeaways from the Explosive City Council Meeting

3 Takeaways from the Explosive City Council Meeting

File photos by Sam Hodgson

Bob Filner and Todd Gloria

 

City Council members have long jockeyed over SANDAG appointments behind closed doors but the battle went public in a big way on Tuesday, transforming a rote afternoon City Council meeting into an explosive event furiously chronicled on Twitter.

Mayor Bob Filner made his recommendations for key posts on the regional planning agency’s boards in a Thursday memo. Council President Todd Gloria followed with a memo of his own on Friday.

Their selections didn’t match up.

At Tuesday’s Council meeting, Gloria said Filner had verbally signed off on the council president’s recommendations.

“That was a misstatement of fact,” Filner retorted.

That set off a tense exchange.

Filner argued that the city’s rules required the two to come to an agreement, and that Gloria hadn’t gotten his approval. He urged Gloria to hash it out with him rather than have staffers broker a deal.

“Mr. Mayor, I am sorry, I am running the council meeting at this time,” Gloria said.

Filner’s reply? “Give it to someone else to run, or meet another day. I am telling you this is not a staff issue.”

Council member Sherri Lightner temporarily took over as the two met behind closed doors. They returned 30 minutes later with no deal but agreed to discuss the issue at next Monday’s council meeting.

Twitter lit up as political watchers from across the city collectively gasped at the heated display.

Chris Cate, vice president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association who once worked for Councilman Kevin Faulconer, tweeted: “My jaw is literally on the floor right now…uh-mazing. #SDCouncil.”

One council staffer created a hashtag, #SANDAGcliff.

The chairman of the county Republican Party gleefully weighed in on the bickering between the two Democrats:

Here are the key takeaways from Tuesday’s exchange.

This mayor won’t be pushed around.

Mayor Bob Filner isn’t exactly known as someone who plays well with others.

In a November post, Voice of San Diego contributor Randy Dotinga described Filner as “loud, abrasive and about as liberal as you can get without running an LGBT studies department.”

That side of Filner was on display Tuesday.

He chided Gloria for pressing ahead without an agreement.

“Because SANDAG asked for it doesn’t mean we have to do it,” he said. “We have our own rules.”

Filner and the City Council need to figure out how to handle appointments.

In the past, former Mayor Jerry Sanders held a series of behind-the-scenes meetings with the council president and then the two submitted a joint memo listing their recommendations for the regional posts, a move the city attorney’s office decided was kosher.

Council aides and others were well aware of any inside-baseball arguments but residents missed out on that drama. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday.

Confusion over the appointment process also emerged at a Monday meeting where the City Council selected two new commissioners to represent San Diego on the Unified Port of San Diego board.

The two appointment processes follow different protocols but it’s clear there’s room for review.

Perhaps Filner will be willing to work in a similar fashion on future votes but that certainly didn’t happen Tuesday.

Two Democratic leaders doesn’t necessarily spell harmony.

Our Scott Lewis predicted potential conflicts after the election:

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a rivalry — maybe friendly, maybe tense — arises between Gloria and Filner.

Gloria understands the city and its policies much better right now. He’ll be the Council member both representing an area with major projects in the pipeline and others it wants.

More importantly, Gloria gets to be the guy who decides which of the mayor’s proposals go to the Council. It is, after all, the Council that controls the budget.

Lewis got it mostly right: A rivalry seems to be emerging. It won’t necessarily be friendly.

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

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Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa@vosd.org or 619.325.0528.

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27 comments
Eva Vargas
Eva Vargas subscriber

Gee, I felt like I was watching a wrestling promo--talk loud and stomp even louder. You go Mayor Filner. God! It feels good typing that name with Mayor in front of it. But, I digress, we can disagree, but as long as there is a handshake at the end all's well in San Diego.

evavrgs
evavrgs

Gee, I felt like I was watching a wrestling promo--talk loud and stomp even louder. You go Mayor Filner. God! It feels good typing that name with Mayor in front of it. But, I digress, we can disagree, but as long as there is a handshake at the end all's well in San Diego.

fryefan
fryefan

I support both of them. When I saw Todd at the bagel shop recently, I asked him to play nicely with Bob. Together, they can do great things for SD.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

I support both of them. When I saw Todd at the bagel shop recently, I asked him to play nicely with Bob. Together, they can do great things for SD.

Audie de Castro
Audie de Castro subscriber

I don't understand the shock and suprise about two politicians arguing, even in public. Whoa!

adecastro
adecastro

I don't understand the shock and suprise about two politicians arguing, even in public. Whoa!

Omar Passons
Omar Passons subscribermember

r one or the other to assert political victories, fine. If the answer is that one or the other side has a deep personal interest in the subject matter, that's fine too. I don't suppose we'll ever know the 'whys' of this issue, so instead we'll just need to move along to the more important issues related to how our city moves forward on things like growth and the economy and infrastructure.

omarpassons
omarpassons

r one or the other to assert political victories, fine. If the answer is that one or the other side has a deep personal interest in the subject matter, that's fine too. I don't suppose we'll ever know the 'whys' of this issue, so instead we'll just need to move along to the more important issues related to how our city moves forward on things like growth and the economy and infrastructure.

Fred Williams
Fred Williams subscriber

San Diego has never been divided between Republican and Democrat. It's always been insiders versus the outsiders. Gloria represents the insiders, and Filner and Frye are the outsiders. If you don't understand that basic dynamic, you'll never understand San Diego politics.

Fred_Williams
Fred_Williams

San Diego has never been divided between Republican and Democrat. It's always been insiders versus the outsiders. Gloria represents the insiders, and Filner and Frye are the outsiders. If you don't understand that basic dynamic, you'll never understand San Diego politics.

Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson subscribermember

I think that Mr. Alvarez is a better choice. I like his track record in representing San Diegans on other regoional boards. He seems to have a heart, while at the same time watching out for the taxpayer.

Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson

I think that Mr. Alvarez is a better choice. I like his track record in representing San Diegans on other regoional boards. He seems to have a heart, while at the same time watching out for the taxpayer.

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman

No way should Strong Mayor Bob Filner allow someone else to make the SANDAG appointments. As La Playa Heritage points out, chapter and verse, the City Charter says it's the Mayor's job.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones subscriber

My, what an innovative perspective. Given that the two combatants are both liberal Democrats, and that the birth of one precedes that of the Tea Party by a millennium or three, methinks we're a tad off the mark here.

jad555
jad555

My, what an innovative perspective. Given that the two combatants are both liberal Democrats, and that the birth of one precedes that of the Tea Party by a millennium or three, methinks we're a tad off the mark here.

joe vargo
joe vargo subscriber

Thank you, Mayor Filner for your years of tireless effort now and over the years. Best vote I ever cast, besides O's.

joev
joev

Thank you, Mayor Filner for your years of tireless effort now and over the years. Best vote I ever cast, besides O's.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

For the record: I wrote the sentence about Filner being loud and abrasive, and I'm neither young nor well-dressed. Heck, Bob, I took your journalism class at UCSD when dinosaurs roamed the earth. (Present company excluded). -Randy

Dotinga
Dotinga

For the record: I wrote the sentence about Filner being loud and abrasive, and I'm neither young nor well-dressed. Heck, Bob, I took your journalism class at UCSD when dinosaurs roamed the earth. (Present company excluded). -Randy

Carolyn Chase
Carolyn Chase subscribermember

GOOD to see this happening IN PUBLIC and not per usual behind closed doors by who knows who

Carolyn Chase
Carolyn Chase

GOOD to see this happening IN PUBLIC and not per usual behind closed doors by who knows who

Jim Abbott
Jim Abbott subscribermember

Can't we all just get along? Who left the Tea Party handbook lying around in the Council chambers restroom? Shame, shame, shame.

SanDiegoNative
SanDiegoNative

Can't we all just get along? Who left the Tea Party handbook lying around in the Council chambers restroom? Shame, shame, shame.

bob dorn
bob dorn subscriber

And does VOSD think it "kosher" for elected officials to bargain and make deals out of sight of press and public? That's an odd thing for journalists to support. Let Filner be "loud, abrasive and about as liberal as you can get," as one of your own said about him; your job is report what he's doing, and he's making your job easier by doing it in public. Democratic politics is not so dainty as young and well-dressed reporters might think it.

dorndiego
dorndiego

And does VOSD think it "kosher" for elected officials to bargain and make deals out of sight of press and public? That's an odd thing for journalists to support. Let Filner be "loud, abrasive and about as liberal as you can get," as one of your own said about him; your job is report what he's doing, and he's making your job easier by doing it in public. Democratic politics is not so dainty as young and well-dressed reporters might think it.

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster subscribermember

It’s nice to see the public’s business done in public. That hasn’t happened in San Diego in awhile. (see: Bahia lease)

B Chris Brewster
B Chris Brewster

It’s nice to see the public’s business done in public. That hasn’t happened in San Diego in awhile. (see: Bahia lease)