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A friend at City Hall took exception to me writing that Councilman Jim Madaffer missed this week’s important City Council meetings because he was “on vacation.”

So let’s clarify: Madaffer is part of a delegation with the San Diego Association of Governments that will be in Mexico City and other areas until Thursday.

The itinerary is jam-packed with meetings with important Mexicans, including President Felipe Calderón.

Setting aside my concern that Jim Madaffer is representing San Diego and the United States to foreign chiefs of state, I’ll admit his trip shouldn’t be described as a vacation.

Madaffer is joined on the trip by Mary Sessom, the mayor of Lemon Grove; Gary Gallegos, the executive director of Sandag; Lori Holt Pfeiler, the mayor of Escondido, and a representative of Caltrans.

Now, let’s remember that the San Diego City Council was unable to make a decision Tuesday on the salary and contract for firefighters because it didn’t have enough members present. Of all the issues the City Council faces over a given year, these contract agreements with labor groups are among the most important. Additionally, the City Council is required under the charter to get it done this week.

But City Councilman Brian Maienschein says he was too sick to show up — never mind that his stomach has been unable to handle sensitive discussions for the past couple of years.

Kevin Faulconer couldn’t make the vote because he went on vacation with his family — never mind that the City Council gives itself 15 weeks of legislative breaks to handle those kinds of excursions.

And then Madaffer couldn’t make the meeting because he’s reinvented himself as a diplomat.

We have congressional representatives, ambassadors, a president, but apparently the representative of a few northeastern neighborhoods of the city of San Diego just had to miss one of the most important weeks of his job to meet with Mexican government officials.

Madaffer had a choice to make: Rub elbows with international elite or do less exotic and intriguing work of making extremely difficult decisions about the city’s budget — the job he was elected to do.

None of us should be really surprised by his choice.

  • Finally, a P.S. I just got this comment about Faulconer’s trip:

A buddy of mine is on Vacation with Kevin, this trip has been planned for months, with a number of couples on board…it wasn’t like he skipped town last week because he knew a vote was coming…”

The votes on labor agreements and salary ordinances happen every year at this time. He did know the vote was coming.

Interesting the comment would say “a number of couples on board.” I’ve heard now from a few people that Faulconer’s trip is actually a cruise.

When I called Steve McNally, Faulconer’s chief of staff, I asked him whether it was a cruise.

McNally said no.

SCOTT LEWIS

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