By John P. Falchi
It was good to have spent Monday downtown on one of the hottest issues of our time, the preservation of the historic integrity ofBalboaPark. For some time now the behind the scenes machinations of our local power elite have been working their way toward this day of decision on the part of our S.D. City Council Members. Many members of fine organizations like dan Soderberg’s Neighborhood Coalition to saveBalboaPark, Bruce Coon’s organization,SOHO, and Jeanne Brown’s League of Women Voters, have been fighting the good fight, and were there with members of their groups, yesterday. I was also impressed by the turnout of young people, many from the Occupy Together Movement, locally, who came to lend their support to those who chose to speak against the Jacobs-Sanders Campaign to fundamentally change BalboaPark.
I went without my nap, my normal food intake, and my workout at the gym, to spend endless hours mostly listening to a lot of development executives and cultural institution CEOs fawn over a key representative of the one per cent in our midst, Qualcomm owner and billionaire, Irwin Jacobs. These folks know which side their institutional bread is buttered on, so they spoke, to a similar script in most cases, in favor of a landscape damaging centennial bridge, a transportation arrangement in Balboa Park that encourages more traffic through it, and the dreaded specter of the inauguration of PAID PARKING, which had been prohibited by the park’s founding agreements.
We spent the better part of the first hour viewing a litany of propaganda about how the Jacobs Plan for the park was the best thing since sliced bread, but it was unconvincing to most people who have seriously studied what this plan will do to the park and the people who regularly use it. Of course, they proportioned time for opponents of the plan to speak their minds, also. However, only Mel Shapiro and Mike Aguirre, truly spoke their minds about how this City Council had been bought and sold by this pretentious philanthropist. Just like he received naming rights for Qualcomm Stadium, there no doubt will be a statue or a wall with his name on it somewhere in one of the eight new buildings to be erected in our cherished park.
They bragged about the 200 meetings they had about this matter all over town, but failed to say how little the public input was taken into consideration in formulating the Jacobs Plan, or any slight modification in it that they deigned to make. It was the way plutocracies turn democracy on its head in an inverted totalitarianism, as Sheldon Wolin would say. In any case, only one Council Member, Sherri Lightner, was able to speak truth to power and vote against this major usurpation of civic financial power, as Bob Filner so ably put it, and she has a massive Right Wing machine working against her re-election in the fall.
It was a real civics lesson on how democracy doesn’t work in the so-called nation’s finest city (that money can buy)!!!