When they asked me to do this blog, I said the one thing I wasn’t going to talk about was the relationship between the mayor and the city attorney. Well, the fact is you cannot go anywhere in San Diego without someone talking about the “conflict” between our mayor and city attorney.

It is the issue on everyone’s minds and lips. It has become somewhat of a local sporting event. I am sure that someone somewhere is making book on the next eruption. So how can I pretend the 800-pound gorilla isn’t in the room and talk instead about the median price of homes or something as inane?

Here I am talking about it:

No matter what side of the debate a person is planted — with the Hatfields or McCoys — everyone talks about this curious relationship as if it is a public food fight that we should all be ashamed of, or some skeleton that should be quickly returned to the closet. The constant refrain is “the political system is broken and needs to be fixed.” I just don’t see it that way. The system isn’t broken, it’s just politics. Maybe because ever since I could vote, I have been a registered “Independent” and have always thought politics is more theater than reality.

In fact, you could argue that this is the way a democracy was intended to operate. Indeed, there could not be a more stark difference in demeanor, temperament, or approach between the mayor and the city attorney. Each has clearly defined themselves. The voters have plenty to go on when it comes time to decide if we want to return one or both to public office. You would have to have been on Mars not to have formed some opinion about these individuals by this time. Whether you are with the Hatfields or the McCoys on this issue, no one in San Diego can say “I just don’t know enough to make a decision.”

While it is just politics, from a purely civic perspective, one could argue that the collateral damage is unacceptable. In a perfect world we elect people to serve the public and to do the public’s work. A true public servant serves the public rather than his/her own interests.

A true leader does not stick his/her finger up every two days to see which way the political wind is blowing. Rather, a true leader picks a course and leads the way to the best of his/her abilities. Elections are the people’s way to make course corrections if they think appropriate. But the time between elections is the time we all expect leaders to lead. If they go in the wrong direction, the public will let them know. And if they have it mostly right, that too will be acknowledged. In the end, the collective wisdom is the direction we follow ….at least in a democracy. So lead, and we will follow or send you packing.

— CHUCK LA BELLA (by way of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Washington, DC)

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