On April 10, the San Diego City Council, acting as the successor agency for the defunct Redevelopment Agency, made two appointments to the oversight board for that successor agency. The two appointees were Mark Nelson and former District 2 City Councilman Michael Zucchet. Examining the resumes for these two appointees suggests that both appointments were based on political calculations and not on practical considerations. Both appointments are troubling, but Zucchet’s is especially so.

While Nelson was appointed as the City’s “at-large representative,” Zucchet was appointed to represent the former employees of the Redevelopment Agency. The trouble here is that San Diego’s Redevelopment Agency did not have any employees. The agency contracted with the city, which provided the managers and planners for redevelopment activities. According to Mayor Jerry Sanders’ deputy policy advisor David Graham, who contacted me personally by phone about why the mayor chose these nominees, the mayor relied on an opinion by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith (see video at the 37:50 mark) that Zucchet, the current head of the Metropolitan Employees Association, was an appropriate candidate to represent the nonexistent former RDA employees.

Another troubling aspect of Zucchet’s appointment is encapsulated in this one sentence in U-T San Diego’s Roger Showley’s recent article: “Ironically, some of the decisions Zucchet made as a councilman he will now have to reconsider as an oversight board member.” This can certainly be an ethical quagmire for the former councilman. Especially when it seems that the city is trying to sneak items onto the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule, which may not be legally obligated payments of the former Redevelopment Agency.

The layers of oversight for successor agencies are: the oversight boards, the county auditor-controller, the state controller and the Department of Finance (the ultimate authority). It would be nice if at least one of these appointees had at least the appearance of representing the best interests of the citizens, rather than the political interests of the mayor.

Brian T. Peterson, is the CEO of the Grantville Action Group.

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