Preliminary ruling favors mayor in TMD contract dispute–Updated below
During the first four months of his administration, Mayor Bob Filner has received precious little cooperation from other city agencies. And although he won’t say it directly, he is frustrated. In an interview yesterday with the San Diego Free Press, however, the Mayor made it clear that he was not going to back down, particularly in his battle with the private Tourism Marketing Authority.
He also sounded very much like a man on a deserted island.
Discussing the Tourism and Marketing District controversy ahead of the court hearing Friday that will determine whether Filner is to be compelled to sign a contract negotiated by the City Council and previous mayor, Filner stood firm in his opposition to the agreement as presented. It is a fight that has very much isolated him from the rest of the city’s government.
Last week, Filner presented a counteroffer to the original five year operating contract that was agreed to but not signed by former mayor Jerry Sanders before he left office. It was a compromise, according to Filner, which made only a handful of changes, yet would lead to the immediate release of advertising funds that the Tourism Authority is desperate to get their hands on. Asked if he had had any contact or discussion with members of the Tourism Marketing Authority board, he said he had not. Asked if he had received any feedback on his proposal, he again said that he had not.
“I’ve tried to meet with them,” said Filner, noting that he had reached out on several occasions.
On Tuesday, the Tourism board rejected the mayor’s offer.
“They’re used to getting their own way,” he said. “They’re used to having the City Council and the mayor in their pocket.”
His relationship with the City Council is similarly strained, having received no feedback or input on a potential compromise agreement. “There has been no discussion,” he said, pointing out that the Council approved the contract and has refused any further conversation.
The City Council was scheduled to vote again on the matter, but postponed any further action until after Friday’s hearing.
As for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, he receives a vote of no confidence as far as the mayor is concerned. In a unanimous vote, the City Council approved funding for outside counsel to represent Filner in the suit brought against him personally by the tourism board, a job that would normally fall to the City Attorney’s office. “The City Attorney is not acting in my interests as an attorney. He can’t pretend his office can defend me because he has taken a clear position on this issue,” said Filner.
Goldsmith supports enacting the agreement as is, despite admissions that the city is not adequately protected should the TMD funding mechanism be deemed illegal by the court. A lawsuit has been filed on the matter, but a ruling is not expected for at least a year.
In a preliminary ruling today, Judge Timothy Taylor has sided with the mayor, denying TMD demands that Filner be forced to sign the five year pact. A final judgment will come after oral arguments tomorrow, Friday, at 1:30 pm.
Read the judge’s ruling here.
Statement from Mayor Filner on Judge Taylor’s tentative ruling:
“I am grateful for the thoughtful consideration Judge Timothy Taylor gave to my position in the tentative ruling he issued today. I believe that the TMD contract is flawed and could potentially cost taxpayers millions, so I refused to sign it.
It is now time to return to the negotiation table.
I have maintained from the beginning that I am open to negotiating with the TMD representatives to come up with a deal that protects taxpayers. I also recognize the importance of the tourism industry and want to give the TMD board the ability to market San Diego with a full complement of employees.
I am prepared to work out a deal that is good for the taxpayers and the City.”