Here’s my drive-by on that:

  • Jan Goldsmith.
    I don’t know this guy but he presents himself as a smart, rational fellow who would like to have a measured and collaborative approach to city government. He should be considered for the job immediately after all the needed reforms are completed.

    Word to friend Goldsmith: This is a place that bridles, hisses, and spits at cleaning up its act. As in Monty Python’s 1972 Flying Zirkus, the government and the newspaper here operate under wise old King Otto’s “Happiness Law” which requires those unhappy with government be hung by the neck until they become happy, a program that produces by all accounts “the happiest of  folk that sing and dance all day long.”

    Don’t think you can nicely be suggesting that everything isn’t just peachy and get away with it. We have probably spent over $75 million of the public’s money so far on consultants, accountants and lawyers hired primarily to pretend that nothing is, or ever was, wrong.

    The phony financial statements and the massive build up of off balance sheet debt — our sacred geometry, the virtual elimination in perpetuity of all city services, all of it was and is intentional. This is a street fight. Hard lines need to be drawn. If you draw them you will be hated and some camps — maybe several — will be out to get you.

    On the other hand if you will be cooperative and collaborative, well … Some of your statements during the campaign thus far show some insight and backbone so maybe you could be a right guy, but I sense even your own support group expects you to be far more rubber-stampish.

  • Scott Peters.
    Peters has always been the clearest competitor to Aguirre in this campaign. Smart guy. Knows exactly what he is doing before he does it. The Union-Tribune recently asked council members what they saw as the four biggest priorities of the city. Peters’ response was something like: “more money for firefighters, more stuff for firefighters, more money for police, more stuff for police.”

    He is the political guy for the municipal unions. No fudging about it. Has put about $600,000 into his race so far and received a lot of union money and support. Serious and unashamed. I like that. If elected, I’d expect all the pension litigation to be promptly dismissed, pension deficit backloading to resume and be regularly used in the future, all city debt borrowings to be promptly approved, and all labor requests to be supported. Doesn’t get any easier to understand than that.

  • Brian Maienschein.  Probably the nicest person of the candidates (at least of the ones I know). Has recently taken some puzzling hits from the Republican establishment on pretending to be a Republican, which of course is exactly what he always has been. Not as pro-union as Peters and apparently not as Republican as Goldsmith. Hard to see how that works out for him.

    Maybe his district support gets him into the general show. And even if not, if his candidacy pulls R votes from Goldsmith to get Peters into a runoff, he would be well remembered by Peters and his powerful union constituency.  Not a bad chit to hold onto for the future.

  • Amy Lepine.  Other than her considerable disagreements on a personal level, her legal positions surfaced during the campaign are very similar to Aguirre’s. And she has a fight in her, which she would need to be the person I think she could be in that office. Might be good, but hard to see it happening especially since she and Aguirre have the same legal concerns on issues where certain camps would prefer the old fakey-fakey legal approach. Wish she could resolve her stuff with Mike.

Let’s see how these folks play out in real time legal strategy on the city’s pension litigation issue according to the latest U-T campaign comparison. Goldsmith would “settle” the pension cases to avoid the cost of the litigation n- which is exactly the approach that got us here in the first place (remember?): underfund salary and benefit increases which the city clearly couldn’t afford or possibly budget into the future, followed by litigation, followed by a “settlement” (can you say “Corbett”, can you say “Gleason”?) confirming massive backloaded floating debt that has to be paid someday by somebody in the future. Maienschein thinks the “statute of limitations” ends the case so taxpayers should just buck-up and pay the billions, which sort of misses the point of the “debt limitation” law which protects municipalities from being saddled with billions of secret floating debt in the first place. Lepine would proceed with the appeal — like Aguirre. And Peters says it’s the City Council that should decide whether to proceed or not n- the exact same people and process that got us into all the billions of floating debt in the first place. How do you think the vote would go there?

Of the leading four, only Aguirre intends to continue the pension litigation on appeal to reverse the public’s (your) exposure to paying the artfully hidden billions of debt. So, you decide how that all works out for you.

—PAT SHEA

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