Morning Report: City Comptroller Unplugged

Morning Report: City Comptroller Unplugged

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Bob Filner

You want to know how much money the city comptroller has in his own bank account? Well, he gives a pretty classic description here. He told our Liam Dillon that it helps him stand up to the mayor.

Dillon talked to him about the flap over the mayor’s office use of a city credit card, which the city attorney is trying to argue is an offense great enough to actually throw the mayor out. The interview has loads of nuggets about some of the other brewing scandals around Filner’s short time in office, which we summarize here.

The City Charter’s a Mess

At Politifest recently, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith admitted that his attorneys do not regularly look through the City Charter to update it and fix contradictions or problems with state and national law.

He said he thinks we should have a charter commission fix some of the holes.

Today we give you a peek at some of those holes.

“We have one of the worst city charters in the country,” said James Ingram, who teaches urban politics at UC San Diego and San Diego State University. He helped with the last revision leading to a strong mayor form of government.

What are some of the problems? Unlike most, we let politicians decide how hard it is to recall them. Crazy how it’s turned out to be much harder to do here. We may have a new strong-mayor form of government but the charter still gives very little time for a transition of new mayors, unlike other cities.

Other rules are still in the charter even though they’ve been made moot. One passage even still refers to the mayor as a member of the City Council.

Port Commissioner vs. City Attorney, Rounds 3 and 4

That Goldsmith comment at Politifest was only one of the many interesting things said on stage. (By the way, we posted the video of that main discussion at Politifest here.)

Another was Goldsmith’s claim that he would give the mayor an “out” as his legal challenges mounted. Earlier this week, Liam Dillon explained just how complicated this supposed out would be to put together.

This included a not-too-kind volley between Port Commissioner Bob Nelson and Assistant City Attorney Paul Cooper about the performance of the city attorney.

Dagny Salas regularly pulls and highlights some of the best comments on our site. Today she pulled another response from Nelson. As she writes, Nelson “turned up his critique of Goldsmith from burn to incinerate.”

And then, yes, Goldsmith responded.

• Salas also has the comments of the week, featuring one reader who thinks all the comedians hammering Filner deserve our thanks.

• And one last point: San Diego Uptown News had a nice roundup of the Politifest discussion. (You might be able to tell I’m a big fan of Politifest. Helps that I just learned it paid for itself again.)

Explainer: Principal on Special Assignment

After a troubling audit about special funds at La Jolla High School came out, Principal Dana Shelburne got a new title: “principal on special assignment.”

Shelburne and the district’s leaders insist it wasn’t a result of the audit. But Alex Corey took the opportunity to explain what a principal on special assignment actually is and what we know about this arrangement.

Chargers, Chargers, Oh Chargers

Is it too early to worry about the fate of our football team?

This week’s Sports Report tackles the question head on. There’s a lot of pain. Actual pain.

On the one hand, you’ll be relieved to know that the team realizes it should not give the ball away to the other teams it plays.

On the other hand, in his oft-hilarious pre-season tour of “why your team sucks,” Drew Magary has included the Chargers. Sorry. It’s pretty brutal.

File photo by Sam Hodgson

File photo by Sam Hodgson

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers

Court: City Doesn’t Have to Do Social Security

You might remember that the state passed a law requiring cities that got rid of guaranteed pensions for their employees — like San Diego did for many of its workers — were required to enroll in Social Security.

(City employees do not get Social Security.)

Oddly, this split San Diego’s employee unions. Some don’t want Social Security and want to help their employees manage the full retirement contribution the city is willing to make in exchange. The city attorney won a victory for that side Friday.

Quick News Hits

• A judge delivered a vicious blow to the state’s high-speed rail initiative.

• A Chula Vista pitcher threw a no-hitter in the Little League World Series.

• The state killed redevelopment last year. That was the program that created investment for blighted communities but kept money from flowing into schools and other needs. There’s a proposal to bring it back in a new form, and this U-T column explains it well.

• San Diego’s unemployment rate is going up.

Quote of the Week

“The scenarios of how this could work out is more complicated than a Rubik’s Cube and I’ve never been able to solve a Rubik’s Cube so I won’t even try to predict the outcome of all of this.”

— Lee Burdick, the mayor’s chief of staff, on how Filner might resolve all his problems.

Quote of the Week II

“I’ve got a lot of fucking money in the bank. It allows me to sleep at night. It allows me to do my job with a whole lot integrity and not worry about losing it.”

—San Diego City Comptroller Ken Whitfield.

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Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit that depends on you, our readers. Please donate to keep the service strong. Click here to find out more about our supporters and how we operate independently.


Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis

I'm Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it's a blast!): @vosdscott.

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