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Friday, September 16, 2005 | Einstein said (something like), “Problems cannot be solved by the minds that create them.” In our situation, that is way more than true.

There is gravity that attaches to being even in the vicinity of wrongdoing. You either fight it compulsively and relentlessly, or you inevitably join it, at the center or maybe just in its orbit. It becomes familiar. There is security in familiarity, even when we know the source of the gravitational pull does not stand close scrutiny. Funny world that way.

It’s like old Frodo Baggins in “Lord of the Rings,” who knows the “ring” brings him to evil, but goes through excruciating pain in actually distancing himself from the ring to become clean.

Atkins, the council, pension thugs, and even some in the “big” press have not embraced the reality that much of the source of our troubles now exist in an automatic pilot like directional device that comes from the concentric orbits of those who have for so long participated in, or failed to confront, the wrongs that have brought our city to where it is today, and who are truly not committed to its remediation.

For a Diann Shipione to nominally “participate” in such a venue is not possible. And, for those who oppose the “what” of “who” she is, it is not tolerable. So, why go through any more of that theater unless those in charge are as committed as she is to bringing that pension circus right? If they are not, why bother?

The idea that the pension board can remain with the addition of a couple new pawns to be ground up by the thugs that run that shop is silly. Worse, it is cowardice.

We have a problem over there but it is a city problem, not a pension system problem. In the same way that a kid’s drug habit is often a parent problem or your dog’s attack temperament is an owner problem – not a dog problem. The city created that little monster, fed and empowered it in a manner intended to do some city dirty work, and is now faced with the difficulty of bringing it back under leash. It won’t come back without a fight. This council simply isn’t up to the fight. The pension thugs know it, and in that situation they would be crazy to give up anything unless compelled to do so without the risk of incarceration. That is pretty much where we are on the “cooperation” model.

Folks responsible for adverse conditions either grow up and deal with the problems, or not. And they are more likely to take the “or not” road if they were involved, in the neighborhood, or witnessed it from a distance without objection.

That is why the council will not replace any of the remaining pension trustees, remove the chairman, or do anything that would remotely bring the pension system into sync with the city it is supposed to serve. That will not happen unless, and until, new leadership emerges intolerant of the situation we find ourselves in, or the people that got us there.

This is a worthy yardstick by which to measure the mayoral candidates and lesser political forms of life. Would you throw the rascals out, or just try to work around them in order to “heal” or “make peace?” And, when did “making peace” with thugs ever produce an agreeable result?

As in New Orleans, we are viewing the inability of our local government to respond to a real but inconvenient crisis of our own making, our anger at the absence of talent and resolve, and the resulting chaos which has and will inevitably come from the games we are served in lieu of real leadership. This is the San Diego of today, separately, collectively and systemically. It will get much worse before it starts getting better.

Frankly, those not prepared for radical changes in the lineup won’t have a successful season, no matter how long they play. The team needs to be radically altered, not just to change the execution of the plays, but to convince the team itself that is has the ability to succeed by force of will.

Pat Shea, a local attorney and businessman, has served on numerous city boards and commissions. He is married to former Pension Board member Diann Shipione. He finished fourth of eleven candidates in the recent mayoral primary.

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