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Bob Filner offered so many jobs to Nathan Fletcher during the mayoral primary it was hard to keep track. In a Filner administration, the 69-year-old Democratic congressman said, the 35-year-old assemblyman could be his “czar of innovation,” for instance.
At first, Filner used the job offers to highlight Fletcher’s lack of experience. Toward the end of the primary campaign, though, Filner insisted he was serious about bringing Fletcher on board. As the two spent so much time together on the trail, they struck up quite the bromance.
Filner made another offer to Fletcher, who finished third in the primary, Monday morning during his three-hour hosting spot on an AM talk radio show. Filner said he was formally offering Fletcher a job to coordinate big civic projects, such as the Convention Center expansion and new Chargers stadium.
“And as mayor I’m going to create a position that’s concentrated on these big projects … Nathan Fletcher is my first choice for such a position,” Filner said. “I think he would have the trust of all the community in dealing with that.”
It’s unclear how much Fletcher, who became a darling of the folks who like big civic projects during the primary, is interested. He said in a statement later Monday that he would “seriously consider” a job with the next mayor, but made no firm commitment and didn’t mention Filner by name. Filner said in an interview that he spoke with Fletcher as recently as Sunday and Fletcher also told him he’d seriously consider the job.
Since his loss, Fletcher’s taken the typical defeated politician vacation — a hike in the mountains. He also hosted a fundraiser on Sunday for victims of the Aurora, Colo. mass shooting. As soon as the primary ended, Fletcher was noncommittal about supporting Filner or his opponent, Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio.
Still, the continued outreach to Fletcher from Democrats shows his cachet. Fletcher left the Republican Party to become an independent in March after failing to block the local party from endorsing DeMaio. The local Democratic Party recently sent an open letter to Fletcher asking him to join its team.
Filner told me in an interview for the profile we published Monday that his opposition to big controversial efforts made him the most likely to negotiate deals to implement them.
He conceded that his idea sounds counterintuitive. As the conversation continued, I asked if he was talking about Nixon-to-China type moments.
He agreed and referenced the city’s federal environmental waiver for its sewage treatment plant.
“Who brought the environmentalists along on getting a waiver to the Clean Water Act?” Filner said. “I negotiated a way we’ll get the waiver, but we’ll do more in recycling, for example. Only I could have done that. Nixon to China.”
The principle extends to Filner’s current embrace of civic efforts he decried in the primary, such as the Convention Center expansion. As mayor, he now says, he’d push it forward if a judge says the financing plan is legal.
“The council has voted on this Convention Center plan,” Filner said on the radio Monday morning. “I did not like the financing mechanism. But if it is validated by the court I will support that. In fact, I think I’m the mayor who will bring that project to fruition. Because I have the ability to work, I think, with all the stakeholders, whether it be the business community or labor.”
Filner saying that he “did not like the financing mechanism” is putting it kindly. Here’s how Filner talked about Convention Center expansion in a May op-ed (emphasis added): “The only mayoral leadership we have seen in this city for decades has been on behalf of special interests – developers, lobbyists and downtown interests who have had free reign at City Hall at the expense of our neighborhoods, our schools and our middle class. The stadium ticket guarantee, ‘Enron by the Sea,’ and just last week, the billion-dollar convention center giveaway to private, out-of-town hoteliers. Enough is enough! It’s time to turn the page to the 21st century!”
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5663.
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