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In November, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders asked businessman Vince Mudd and his 10-member task force to evaluate the city’s unceasing budget problems. After four months of work, Mudd’s report, issued yesterday, called out all city leaders for not having enough urgency and political will to solve the budget deficit. Mudd put this year’s gap at $130 million — $86 million for the deficit and $44 million for fixing deteriorating streets and storm drains.

Mudd, who lives in Poway and runs an office interiors business, is the chairman of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. He has spent hundreds of hours volunteering for more than a year and produced three reports detailing the sorry state of the city’s finances.

Yesterday, Sanders’ spokesman Darren Pudgil issued a bland statement thanking Mudd for his efforts and for recognizing the work on the budget that already had been done.

On his Facebook page, Pudgil said something different.

“So Vince Mudd likes to question the courage of the mayor and city council,” Pudgil wrote. “It’s always nice to get a lesson in courage from a person who has made a career of selling office furniture.”

Whoa.

I reached Mudd this afternoon. He hadn’t read what Pudgil had written about him. But he said he didn’t know why his choice of business mattered.

“I don’t know what in the hell that has to do with anything,” Mudd said.

“I think the question is, when are we going to take care of the structural deficit?” he added. “We’ll deal with the courage and furniture later.”

This isn’t the first time Mudd has faced criticism — it’s happened after he’s issued each report. The first time, Sanders disavowed Mudd’s conclusion that the city faced bankruptcy if it didn’t make drastic reform, even though Mudd’s task force had at least Sanders’ tacit approval to write a report. The second time, those against a sales tax increase went after Mudd for saying that a tax hike and reform could close the city’s budget gaps. Mudd, they noted, lived in Poway, not San Diego.

“In my life now, being from Poway and selling office furniture is a bad thing,” he said. “I work out on the elliptical. I hope that doesn’t become a bad thing either. But none of that has to do with the $86 million deficit and deferred maintenance.”

Yesterday, I asked Mudd why he was critical of “city leadership” and not individuals in his report. I asked him if his report was an indictment of the mayor’s tenure, but Mudd deflected and said the deficit was everyone’s problem. Mudd didn’t go there again today when I asked him.

Pudgil has since removed the post. He told me in an email he deleted it at the mayor’s request.

Update: The Union-Tribune is reporting that Pudgil has called Mudd and apologized.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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