Look, Mike Aguirre made a mistake jumping all over the mayor’s announcement yesterday that he was going to embrace the Kroll remediation list. The mistake was simple: like I’ve noted before about his past actions, he didn’t compose himself this time and he didn’t find a way to properly disagree with the mayor to ensure that his complaints were actually listened to.
And that’s too bad because they’re somewhat valid complaints.
I was here covering the city in 2004 when the Vinson & Elkins report came out. That report, for those short of memory, also had a bunch of remediation proposals. It also was crafted by former top dogs in the Securities and Exchange Commission and it also was hailed as a way to make sure San Diego would never again make the same mistakes it did.
Within weeks of that V&E report, the City Council passed all of the remediation proposals and went around talking our ear off about how great they were. San Diego, after those new changes, had the best accounting and disclosure system in the whole wide world.
They apparently stunk.
Here we are two years later ready to blaze ahead and spend $45 million with a new set of proposals. These, indeed, are more ambitious and they are based in a certain type of logic.
But they include some major major changes. Can’t we stop and think about it for a minute?
The changes would consolidate virtually all the power and accounting underneath the mayor. Jerry Sanders may be a swell and decent guy, but what if his successor isn’t? Shouldn’t there be at least some outside checks?
The Krollers would counter that under the plan, the auditor, for instance, reports to the Audit Committee and only a super-majority of the council could fire him or her. And who makes up the Audit Committee under the plan? Two mayoral appointments and one City Council member.
And guess who nominates the auditor?
Who do we trust from the City Council to put on this committee? And will the mayor’s appointees really be at all independent from the mayor?
City Hall watchdog Mel Shapiro put forward the idea long ago for an independent elected auditor. Why not? Can we at least talk about it before we jump into a change that may already require a change of the City Charter and therefore a vote?
Now, I know the Kroll guys have nicer suits then the V&E guys and I know that they have a lot better relationship with the local newspaper, but let’s not forget 2004. We made a horrible mistake, apparently, with V&E. What makes Kroll so much more credible – that we paid them three times as much?
All I’m hoping for is that the City Council and others ask serious questions and consider all options before jumping hastily into something else we may not think was such a good idea a few years from now. These are major major changes. And, by the way, they cost a lot of money.