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Thursday, November 03, 2005 | Ever had one of those experiences where something you’re told turns out to be, well, not true?
Not everything in modern politics is sincere, and it’d be naïve to think it was. But there is still kind of a puzzling sensation that accompanies the realization that you have simply been misled.
And that was what it felt like when Voice of San Diego learned that it would not, after all, be given an interview with Ronne Froman – the retired Navy rear admiral, who mayoral candidate Jerry Sanders says will take over the city’s “day-to-day operations” if he wins the race.
Froman is currently the CEO of the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial counties. Her management skills and acumen for identifying efficiencies in large organizations is so well-regarded locally that the idea that she would be put in charge of what is the simultaneously chaotic yet paralyzed state of San Diego city government created a buzz among insiders.
Sanders’ campaign staff had said that Froman would be able to talk with Voice this week. But along with the rest of the journalists gathered for another of the many press conferences Sanders himself has held, Voice reporters learned Wednesday that Froman would not be talking to the press – nor the general public – at all.
She doesn’t want to be involved in the politics, it has been explained.
She apparently doesn’t mind that her name is being used to sell Sanders’ candidacy. She apparently doesn’t mind meeting with some of the elite groups of the city’s opinion leaders to help them understand how well a Sanders administration is going to work. She doesn’t mind attending fund-raising events.
But talking to the public? No can do. Asked about her inaccessibility Wednesday, Sanders said she has a job to do with the Red Cross and can’t be disturbed.
“She’s been helping us when she’s off. But she has a full-time job dealing with all the issues at Red Cross right now, including the support of Hurricane Katrina victims who are in San Diego,” Sanders said.
Does that mean that in a week, if Sanders wins the election, Froman won’t need to deal with those same victims?
Yep: “I think that Ronne Froman will be very open and accountable to all of you starting Nov. 9 should I be elected,” Sanders said.
There are ways to stay out of politics and there are ways not to. One of the ways to stay out of politics, for example, is to stay out of politics.
And there are ways to get into politics, to prepare to revolutionize a city and to assemble a team that can do it. One of the ways to get into politics, for example, is to get into politics and sacrifice what must eventually be sacrificed including, for example, the duties of your present profession.
Froman has chosen to do neither and both. Along the campaign trail, Sanders has invoked Froman’s name many times. Froman will be to Sanders what a chief operating officer is to a chief executive officer, or, as a sailor would understand it, what the XO is to the CO on a combat ship.
Sanders has had Froman by his side at fund-raising events and, sources say, she has begun to outline the inner workings of the office of the first “strong-mayor” in San Diego’s modern history.
Yet she wants to stay out of politics.
Unfortunately, her inaccessibility gives the impression that what she actually wants to stay away from is the public.
And for someone as eminently qualified to handle the intractable problems at City Hall as she apparently is, that seems like an unfortunate way to apply for a job as a public servant.