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An anonymous e-mailer checked in with some perspective on my last two posts.

He/she wrote what seems to be clear: The mayor did do many of the things related to declaring a Stage 1 water watch without actually declaring one. The Stage 1 watch asks residents to voluntarily stop doing things like automatically serve customers at restaurants a glass of tap water.

But— despite what was printed in the recently released 2005 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report — he made a point of not declaring a Stage 1 water watch. And now the Mayor’s Office says he wasn’t even advised to — perhaps because of the other implication of the declaration:

Stage 1 applies during periods when the possibility exists that the City of San Diego Water Department will not be able to meet all of the water demands of its customers.

There has to be a reason the mayor chose not to declare that this was the case, and there has to be a reason his staff is scrambling now to correct the language that said he did.

The John Doe e-mailer went on with a couple of good points:

Even if the Mayor (as Fred Sainz contends) did not declare a Stage 1 water watch as purported in the CAFR, please note that this is not the same type of discrepancy that plagued the City several years ago. The statement in the CAFR is in the introduction section, which provides contextual information and is not part of the audited financial statements. See attached letter from the City’s outside auditor. This strikes me as being much more benign than an error or omission in the numbers. I’d hate to see this issue be cast in the same light.

This was what the Mayor’s Office contended and it’s legitimate.

While I don’t think that the discrepancy you point out is very significant (if in fact there is a discrepancy at all), the damning part of your blog is that the Mayor and his policy staff did not know what was written in the CAFR. This could have major fallout.

So, with that, a note to reader Say Scott… who wrote in the comments of the last post:

You say “That’s a pretty stark fact to just accidentally make up and then insert in such an important document.” Scott, are you expressing the opinion that the mayor or his staff is lying about it? Then just say it. It’s unsupportable, and offensive, but if you think it, just say it.

No, I’m not saying the staff is lying about it. What would they be lying about — that the mayor actually did declare the watch? I don’t think so.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting and there’s probably more to it. It’s not a typo or a decimal point in the wrong place. It’s an account of an interaction and resulting “declaration” that never occurred. For some reason, somebody thought that was the truth of what happened and the mayor, his COO and comptroller all put their signatures on it.

SCOTT LEWIS

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