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Ralph Inzunza is now headed to prison due to his conviction in 2005 for extortion, wire fraud and conspiracy related to “political favors” while a San Diego City Council member. While the sentence is certainly well-earned the matter raises other questions about the obvious lack of safeguards and accountability in city government.
It is perplexing to realize that it is difficult to apply “checks and balances” to politicians at any level. They are all well-insulated with cover stories, prepared misdirection alibis, lawyers and their own political camp. In the Inzunza matter not a great amount of money was offered and received illegally. By today’s standards, it amounted to “pocket change.” Influence peddling for cash is nothing new in political arenas and will probably never cease, barring execution of guilty parties.
The question that arises is simply:
Who is watching the politicians to keep them honest?
The city of San Diego commonly spends many millions of tax dollars on various contractual projects without significant scrutiny from an independent body or watch group. Is chicanery and malfeasance possible> But of course. It would be naive to assume otherwise in 2012. Some would say it is even probable given the lack of checks and balances in such matters.
Soon, the mayor and city council will be addressing the proposal to build a new stadium for the Spanos group while the existing facility is still buried in debt. There has never been a financial spreadsheet provided to justify why a new stadium is necessary nor data to support the city of San Diego being involved in the financing plan. The last fairy tale contract from the Chargers was eagerly endorsed by the City Council and mayor. It was a sham which is still on the backs of the taxpayers. As in the past, no open-book revelations are forthcoming about the new stadium proposal. How convenient and quite questionable!
No banking institution in the United States of America would sign off on such a contract bearing no collateral or fiscal safeguards for the lender.
The new stadium is a project costing one billion dollars (perhaps more). This vast amount is definitely not pocket change!
How can the citizens of San Diego be assured that there is no skullduggery involved in such a mega-project and others like it in the future? Might the county grand jury be interested?
Bob Jones lives in Clairemont.
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