The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
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Couple of points of news.

  • Ron Saathoff’s last day as president of the city’s firefighters union is Monday and Frank DeClercq’s first day as president is Tuesday.

    I just got a hold of DeClercq, who said Saathoff is retiring.

    “There was a provision that allowed him to stay on and run again for re-election. He made a decision to move on,” DeClercq said.

    And DeClercq?

    “I’m honored to be in that position and elected by my peers. I did a lot of campaigning and I was happy they believed in my and have given me a chance to lead them for the next three years,” he said.

    Despite his legal troubles, the firefighters gave Saathoff the thumb’s up for years.

    Saathoff has been a unique figure at City Hall for a long, long time. I could ramble on, but Andrew Donohue, in a great piece from 2006, really nailed how — despite legal troubles from here to the moon — Saathoff was “still wearing the pants” at City Hall. Saathoff is facing both federal and state criminal charges for his role as undoubtedly the strongest member of the city employees’ pension board during the years.

    In fact, it was Saathoff’s own benefits that are the focus of the U.S. attorney’s criminal charges, which allege that he and four others illegally manipulated the system to ensure he could collect the special retirement perk known as the “presidential leave” benefit.

    As Donohue wrote after the charges came out:

    The benefit allowed Saathoff to combine his union and city salaries to calculate his final retirement checks. Prosecutors said the detail allowed him to increase his pension by more than $25,000 a year. Without the benefit, Saathoff could only have used his salary as a fire captain on leave toward his pension.

    He was also charged by the district attorney for violating the state’s conflict of interest laws. The charges, though, have been held up now for more than two and a half years as courts wait to decide whether the district attorney has the law down correctly.

  • On another front, I’ve been told that Democratic City Council candidate Marti Emerald has dropped her campaign consultant, Larry Remer, pending dissolution of their agreement.

    I called Remer to ask him about it and he said he had no comment.

    I asked why.

    “I have no comment about that,” he said.

    It wouldn’t be too surprising. Many supporters of Emerald were shocked that she came in second to Republican April Boling in the primary. Remer himself had berated me months ago for suggesting it was going to be a contentious and close race when I ranked the most interesting political stories to look for this year. He was sure it would be a landslide.

    So when she finished second in the primary, it seemed there might be a shakeup. I’ll keep you updated but look for a little different campaign no matter who’s running it.

SCOTT LEWIS

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