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During the primary season, then-candidate Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith found themselves speaking at the same event. Goldsmith went first, and when it came time to introduce Filner, Goldsmith told a story about his days as a New York City cabbie, when a young man got into his cab and struck up a conversation. That young man was Bob Filner. (Goldsmith, with tongue in cheek, swore it really happened. Filner said he didn’t remember.)
Filner spoke next. At one point, when he was discussing the Convention Center expansion, an audience member questioned one of Filner’s statements and even suggested that the City Attorney correct him. Goldsmith declined to show up Filner. But what he did do, in a private conversation after the event, was graciously invite Filner to his office for a briefing on the matter. Filner accepted, and for the rest of the campaign, when Filner spoke about the issue, he got it right.
Now that the election is over, there is much speculation about who won’t get along with whom in the new City Hall landscape. That’s normal and to be expected. But what I didn’t expect was this headline in Voice of San Diego: “San Diego’s Top Prosecutors Don’t Like the New Mayor.”
The story, by VOSD CEO Scott Lewis, had nothing to do with the U.S. attorney, the district attorney or the city attorney “liking” Filner. It was about their decision to endorse his rival.
Now, before you accuse me of placing too fine a meaning on the word “like,” let me repeat something that I’m sure Lewis has said in the past: Words matter. To suggest someone doesn’t “like” someone implies a dysfunctional or at least strained working relationship. Not only is it too soon to tell whether that will come to pass, there is evidence to the contrary.
Well before Election Day, the city attorney got together with City Council President Tony Young and both mayoral candidates and secured everyone’s agreement on 10 fundamental principles for an effective and transparent city government. Those principles were intended to help keep everyone on the same page as we move beyond one of the most contentious elections in the city’s history.
It’s no secret that Goldsmith endorsed another candidate for mayor. But to suggest that might cause problems down the road is speculative and serves no useful purpose. Especially when Goldsmith and Filner have already demonstrated that they can work together.
Filner and Goldsmith may or may not have shared a cab back in New York City 30-some-odd years ago. But one thing is certain: Today, they share the common goal of ensuring that City Hall functions smoothly, effectively and transparently, to the benefit of all.
Jonathan Heller is the communications director for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
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