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If you’re a city of San Diego resident — and even if you’re not — chances are you’ve griped about one or more of the following in the past month: anemic city services, potholes, incompetent leadership, millions paid to consultants from New York/auditors/outside law firms, program cuts, water main breaks, the understaffed police department, “gold-plated” pensions, how no one recognizes what a total maniac the city attorney is/how nobody recognizes what an absolute genius the city attorney is.

The list of complaints is long and growing; the anger and dismay among San Diegans is palpable and undeniable.

It’s also becoming completely toxic.

For so many years, San Diego had an inferiority complex about its small-town feel and the reputation as a backwater Navy town that persisted long after the town ceased to be a backwater. That inferiority complex led us go along with a lot of ill-conceived schemes to raise San Diego’s profile while putting the city into debt (think: deals struck to get the Republican National Convention and Super Bowl here).

These deals, which probably seemed like brilliant plans at the time, sailed on through because the public was paying very little attention.

Well, now everyone is paying attention — most notably our only metro daily, which decided to wake up a couple years ago and launch its Watchdog Report series, in which the paper congratulates itself for doing its job.

Now, not only journalists, lobbyists and wonks are watching city government’s every move, but also Joe and Jane Citizen. For the most part, this is a very positive development. This is the heart of democracy.

But is the cynical prism through which we now view local politics distorting the picture? Are we in a negative spiral where we are long on blame and accusations, but short on realistic solutions?

Everybody’s got an opinion. If you pop into the Café today, you’re going to hear mine, so by all means, offer yours.

— RACHEL LAING

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