City attorney candidate Jan Goldsmith today waded into the ongoing scandal at the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., saying his opponent, incumbent Mike Aguirre, “failed miserably” in protecting the city of San Diego’s interests.

He said the city attorney should never have sued SEDC President Carolyn Y. Smith to recover $260,000 in hidden bonuses, a suit Aguirre has since dropped.

Goldsmith said in a statement:

That lawsuit was irrational.  Mr. Aguirre had the City of San Diego suing Ms. Smith for breach of her contract with SEDC, which is a separate corporation.  Since the City was not a party to that contract, a first-year law student could see that Mr. Aguirre’s action would be a waste of time, effort and money.

Goldsmith said stronger action was needed to assert legal control quickly, saying that the city should’ve asked the courts to appoint a receiver to temporarily control SEDC’s finances as the agency was reorganized and taxpayer money accounted for.

From the statement:

That would have prevented last-minute deals, release of claims and a $100,000 severance bonus. The City Attorney should have advised the City Council and Mayor of this option at a very early stage and made arrangements, with their approval, to protect the City’s interests.

Goldsmith released the statement today, about two and a half months since we uncovered SEDC’s hidden system of bonuses and extra compensation. To the best of my knowledge, he issued no public recommendations as the scandal has rapidly unfolded in that time frame and Smith has been fired, given her severance package and some legal protection by the SEDC board.

The challenger also criticized Aguirre’s behavior at an SEDC meeting this week.

From the statement:

Mr. Aguirre’s recent verbal outburst at an SEDC Executive Committee meeting underscores the fact that Mr. Aguirre is not even pretending to be a lawyer. … His behavior is erratic, and his constant empty threats are ineffective.  He failed to protect the City.

Update: I accidentally wrote “Goldstone” once instead of “Goldsmith,” confusing the city’s CFO with the city attorney candidate. I apologize.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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