During the course of the evening yesterday, I had several interesting conversations with city and county bigwigs about the political tenure of City Attorney Mike Aguirre.
I was collecting fodder for Aguirre’s political obituary, which I outlined in this story, but along the way I also picked up some interesting quotes from local power brokers about the maverick city attorney and what his ouster means for the city and county. Many of those people became Aguirre enemies during his four years in office:
Here’s a selection of quotes and points from those conversations:
- Sheriff Bill Kolender, looking as dapper as always and brandishing a huge glass of red wine, put his arm round me in a fatherly way early last night and outlined why he’s glad that Aguirre was in the process of being ousted by the voters.
“You have to care, and take your job seriously, but not yourself,” Kolender said. “I think the guy’s got real problems, he gets mad, he can’t control himself, and every decision he makes is for himself. He’s not the attorney for the people in the sense that he talks about, he’s the attorney for the government, who work for the people.”
(Kolender endorse Goldsmith and is an ally of two of Aguirre’s nemeses, Mayor Jerry Sanders and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.)
- Mark Sullivan, one of the directors of the Police Officers’ Association, had some sharp words for Aguirre, whom the police union endorsed in 2004.
“He came in with a lot of promises, we endorsed him, and now we feel vindicated to have a person of Jan’s stature as the new city attorney,” Sullivan said.
I asked Sullivan what he thought of Aguirre’s claim that Goldsmith has sold out to the city’s public safety unions by taking their endorsements in return for promising to drop Aguirre’s pension litigation.
“I can’t talk about the secret deals,” Sullivan said laughing. “That’s ridiculous. Why would a person of Jan’s caliber impugn his reputation over something like that? That’s just ridiculous.”
- I spoke a couple of times with Chris Crotty, who helped Aguirre’s campaign out as the election came to a close. Crotty had a few words to say about Aguirre’s style and San Diego’s reaction to it.
“Mike came across as a little too harsh and too aggressive,” Crotty said. “He’s got a great personality for New York or Chicago or maybe Boston, but it doesn’t play well in San Diego.”
- I spotted Dumanis walking across the civic concourse with an entourage of bodyguards, minders and friends. Back at the start of the campaign, Dumanis held a press conference announcing Goldsmith’s run for city attorney and I asked her whether she had ever supported Aguirre and when she decided he wasn’t right for San Diego.
“Everybody had great hopes for the city attorney, but he didn’t accomplish anything.” Dumanis said. “(When Aguirre was elected) I definitely was trying to work with the city attorney. Our offices work very closely together, so it’s important that we get along, but it broke down.”
Dumanis said she has high hopes for Goldsmith.
“I believe we’ll have a good working relationship with the City Attorney’s Office that will affect cost savings and efficiency,” she said. “We’ll have somebody leading the office in the misdemeanor area that will join law enforcement to better protect the public.”
- And I had a quick chat with City Councilman Scott Peters, who has long been a vocal critic of Aguirre. The councilman had some sympathetic words for the city attorney, whom he ran against in the primary election.
“One thing I’ll say about Mike is I never thought he was insincere about anything he was trying to do, I just thought he was wrong,” Peters said.