It was a Bob Filner kind of crowd Wednesday night at San Diego’s second mayoral debate.
And it should have been. A coalition of labor, environment, LGBT, neighborhood, religious and immigrant groups sponsored it with Lorena Gonzalez, the city’s top labor leader, moderating. Filner, a U.S. congressman and the only major Democrat in the race, soaked up most of the cheers. Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, the only major Republican game enough to show up, joked that his staff provided most of his applause.
Filner, a bundle of bombast, told the crowd he would do lots of things if elected mayor.
By my count — and I might have missed some — Filner promised to:
• Create thousands of new living-wage jobs at the port.
• Power all city buildings and schools with solar energy.
• Solve homelessness in San Diego.
• Provide before-and-after-school programs for children.
• Abolish the city’s powerful downtown redevelopment agency and replace it with neighborhood investment programs even in areas that aren’t currently redevelopment zones.
• Develop a new rapid bus program that operates with the frequency of a subway system.
• Implement a pension reform plan that will save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.
• Help build a new stadium for the Chargers only if the team shares its profits with the city.
Oh, and Filner said he wouldn’t raise taxes, either.
You can’t fault Filner for the grandness of his vision. But some, or really any, specifics are in order.
He’s going to have to find a way to pay for all of this without raising taxes and working within the city’s (and the schools’, for that matter) financial problems.
His main money saving idea appears to be his still-unreleased pension plan. He’d need a lot of help from the city’s retirement board and that could be difficult because part of his solution kicks the pension can down the road again.
At the end of Wednesday’s debate, Filner seemed to acknowledge that he hasn’t fully developed his ideas.
“The key thing is what’s in our heart, where do we stand, how are we going to approach issues, even if we don’t have the exact answer tonight or even when an issue comes up as mayor,” Filner said. “How are you going to approach things, how are you going to look at the world?”
But as the months tick down to the June 2012 primary, it’s on Filner to fill in the details of his world.
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5663.
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