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Interesting week:

  • Sanders Support Fined: Seems twelve of Jerry’s guys put some big bucks ($18,000) into a “slate mailer” that touted Jerry and was sent to 39,000 people. Ethics Commission fined the mailer company a jillion dollars. Individuals can’t give over $300 and no corporate donation is the rule in the mayor’s race. Yeah, well. Elections are about winning. The whole limitations on political donations thing is a game for suckers these days. The big guys don’t play by the rules anyway. Unions and “political parties” can collect all the money they want from whomever and “back” their pics. So, the big dogs can send tens of thousands to the “groups” and let them do the rest. That’s why the “non-partisan” city races are now all “political” races. So, for the guys that got busted on the big donations to Jerry, it’s not about doing the wrong thing. It’s that they chose the wrong conduit. Frankly, the individual donations are becoming a nuisance. Candidates should be fined for fundraising from individuals that give little amounts of money. The whole thing is flipped on its head.
  • City Wins de la Fuente Appeal: The city dodges (for now?) a $100 million bullet. The U-T doesn’t cover it until and the TV run it. Why? Because it’s Aguirre’s deal and he and the U-T have something of a food fight going on at what appears to be a personal level. It’s gotten goofy. Even to the point where he is historically written out of events he not only attended, but played a focal part, as in the city/county joint effort on the Chargers, which I mentioned last week. Still, for the rest of us, it’s getting kind of entertaining. While the Rocky thing is opaquely mentioned two days late in a U-T item sandwiched between the obits and a really good weight loss program, we do get three part front page reports on Aguirre’s personal life dating back to his checkers trophy in junior high through his divorce of decades ago. When his office was fined $20,000 in a litigation matter, we saw that number and a good dope smack pretty regularly for awhile. His victory for $100 million might get a bit less ink. It’s a crazy place.
  • Are You Ready For Some Fruitbowl?: We all know the U-T supports building the Chargers a new stadium. (It’s like we all knew from the outset that the airport authority would select (ta-da) Miramar for the new airport.) So, the campaign is on, at least with the paper. Sunday’s front page of the Local section trumpets the fact that ” solid majorities” at both the city and county are already counted on the “joint powers” deal – it actually tells you how each person will vote several days from now. That’s pretty cool. And, that government entity has not yet even been formed, but the article mentions the outside law firm that has been chosen to do the legal work. Apparently it’s a firm the Chargers like – well certainly more than Aguirre. That’s pretty cool. Charger spokesman, Mark Fabiani, said,

…the team is debt-free but in need of additional revenue to compete against teams in larger markets…

So, at least one of the participants in this exercise is “debt free”. That’s a start. And, just to make a point, the front page of Sunday’s U-T “A” section also trumpets football with a big article on the fact that New Orleans is now focused on – football. Well, there you go.

  • The Homeless Must Stop Sleeping: Another U-T/Aguirre “dope slap” routine occurred this week regarding “the homeless” of all things. I swear, these two can party over anything. It seems the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in what the U-T describes as an “imbecilic decision,” that if the local government does not provide sufficient space for the homeless to sleep, it can not issue criminal citations to them for sleeping in public places. This is based on the “imbecilic” notion that people sleep every night, even if they are homeless. So, now the city is being sued in our local federal court to stop San Diego’s practice of ticketing homeless sleepers, and a federal judge has indicated that the homeless will likely win under the Ninth Circuit ruling. That’s because local federal courts view Ninth Circuit decisions as more than mere suggestions, even when the U-T finds them “imbecilic.” So, Aguirre tries to work out a settlement that would allow the council to identify some “citation free” zones for these folks. Not really a campaign in favor of homelessness, but you would think so by reading the U-T coverage. The result for now? The mayor, police chief and councilman for the downtown district all oppose the proposed settlement and insist on continuing to cite the sleepers. No word about providing sleep areas for the homeless. So, the homeless will now also be known as the sleepless. And, we can now get back to what’s important (see above item).
  • Losing Your Shirt – Nah!: The County Retirement System which is underfunded over a billion bucks lost just under $100 million this past week from an investment of just under $200 million in a hedge fund concentrated in natural gas commodities. Lots of news on this. Basically, both the County and City Retirement Systems invest aggressively to get enhanced returns on their money because they use it for other stuff – and, because they are intentionally underfunded. (The city System says it doesn’t have any “hedge funds” but they actually do – big surprise. They call them “market neutral funds that they sell short” and reflect them as “bonds”). When you risk more, you sometimes lose, and this week we see what that means. So, now there is talk about “knowing more” about these hedge investment and other alpha return vehicles before investing. Good idea, but not necessary. See, the way this thing works is, the public is obligated to backfill any deficiencies resulting from “investment losses.” (Not so for underfunding – which is illegal – or at least that used to be the law.) So, I’m thinking, if I was an employee/union type representative on a retirement board would I have any reluctance to bet on risky investments? The answer is no. If it works out, there are “excess earnings” to pass out to – well – us. If it craps out, the public must back fill the full amount. It’s not even a close question. The make up of the system governs its investment strategy. Do you remember the “Murphy reforms” last year, including the one to only have outside board members? That was “negotiated” away. The public lost this fight at that moment. In that light, I’ll be surprised if we don’t see some even greater gambling efforts in the future.


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