I am surprised that the U-T hasn’t yet endorsed a city attorney candidate. The paper has let it be known who it supports for mayor, most of the City Council districts and countless other seats. I figured it was a given that the majority of the paper’s editorial board would support Superior Court Judge Jan Goldsmith given how much they’ve trashed incumbent City Attorney Mike Aguirre and Council President Scott Peters. They’ve been less harsh to Maienschein but I figured their constant reminder that he was part of what they dubbed the “Negligent Five” would mean they ruled him out as well.

That left Goldsmith, who seemed like the Republican they would like.

Maybe not. Or maybe it will come Sunday.

The paper has endorsed for the city attorney primary before, of course. In 2004, there were three candidates in the city attorney primary: Aguirre, Leslie Devaney and Deborah Berger. The paper endorsed Berger in the primary.

Here were its reasons (emphasis mine):

Although San Diego’s city attorney is popularly elected, the job is not to set public policy. It’s to provide expert legal counsel to the city so taxpayers don’t wind up paying for municipal mistakes. The main responsibilities are to keep the city out of court or, if that fails, to win legal cases. It’s not a soap box.

Deputy City Attorney Deborah Berger has the best credentials, commitment and proper attitude for this job. Attorney Mike Aguirre doesn’t, and he also has the wrong idea about what the duties of the job are

And there was more:

Aguirre would wind up costing the city money rather than saving it money.

Everyone remembers the bizarre change of heart the paper had when more than seven months later, the editorial board endorsed Aguirre over Devaney, who had continued with him to the general election:

In our judgment, Devaney lacks the depth to deal with the broad-ranging crisis at hand. Aguirre, on the other hand, is ideally suited — provided he remains focused constructively on the proper role of the city attorney and does not try to exploit the office for political self-aggrandizement.

He went from not having the “credentials, commitment and proper attitude” for the job to being “ideally suited.”

Now of course, he’s persona non grata to the paper.

The U-T‘s editorial board recently gave Steve Francis some grief about his lack of consistency. They are one to talk.

SCOTT LEWIS

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