You’ll remember a while ago my complaints about the San Diego Opera’s effusive gratitude to particular local politicians who had either engineered or merely rubber-stamped approval of pretty large government subsidies for the organization.

Once again, in the latest edition of its Performance Magazine, the opera slathers praise on County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price.

It is very rare to find a leader like County of San Diego Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. Not only does she have a strong commitment to the arts, but she is actively working to bring the arts to the schoolchildren of this region.

Thank you for setting such a high standard!

Thank you for your unwavering dedication to the arts!

Thank you for all you do for the San Diego Opera!

Thank you for bringing opera to the children of our region!

Oh jeez. I wish I could roll my eyes with words.

I finally figured out how to articulate my frustration with this. Organizations get grants all the time. And they show their gratitude for the donation in various ways. But they never just thank the specific employee of whatever foundation or company gave them the money.

For instance, the opera itself gets a significant amount of money from San Diego National Bank. It displays the San Diego National Bank logo with a very praiseful rundown of the generosity of this particular organization.

But somebody at the bank had to approve, perhaps even engineer, the donation that the bank gave to the opera. That person was Robert Horsman, the bank’s president and CEO.

The opera thanks him, but only as an aside to the gratitude it gives to the company as a whole — the San Diego National Bank.

So why the particular praise for Pam Slater-Price? They should mention her, perhaps, but it was the county as a whole, and taxpayers, who ended up giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the opera.

Can you imagine how the owners of San Diego National Bank would feel if Horsman got all the credit for giving the opera so much, when really it was the bank’s money?

Consider me an uber-minority shareholder of the county of San Diego, who is upset that the county isn’t mentioned at all when the opera lavishes praise on one of the county’s employees for handing out $350,000 in county money.

The fact is, the opera’s advertisement for Slater-Price reflects the true purpose of the supervisors’ slush fund. Each of them get $2 million in taxpayer funds to hand out each year however they please. They may give to some good causes, but it’s a way to get nauseating public praise like this from organizations that people respect — like the opera.

If she just wanted to help the opera, she’d insist that instead of her glowing picture and exclamation points of love, the opera would publish gratitude to the county of San Diego and perhaps a public service announcement that the county wanted to communicate to the opera’s influential clientele.


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