By Norma Damashek
I know, I know, we’re only human. We all make mistakes. Everyone’s been known to lie or cheat or steal (only for a good reason, of course). At times we’re devious or lazy. Sometimes greedy. Vindictive, too.
Given our shortcomings, I ask you this: is it fair to demand higher standards from our elected officials than we might impose on regular folk like you and me? Here’s my answer: it’s more than fair; it’s self-evident common sense to hold out for brain-power and high ethical standards from politically-inspired individuals who climb into the public arena and vie for the prize of holding the public welfare in the palm of their hands.
You look for professional standards and expertise from a dentist, don’t you? from your trainer at the gym? the butcher at Vons? Does it make sense to accept anything less from your elected politicians who have the power to shape, improve, or make a mess of your daily lives and surroundings?
You’d prefer them to be hard-working, conscientious, open-minded, practical, and honest, right? To honor their responsibilities as public servants, no? To surround themselves with trustworthy and intelligent advisors who respect the welfare of the public, true? To be a cut above the least among us, yes?
So how come we countenance moronic decisions that purport to be in the best interests of San Diego’s 1.3 million residents but, in reality, stick a thumb in the public eye?
Refresh your memory with a look back at city council actions from 1996 (and again in 2002) that underfunded the city employee pension system. Council decisions catapulted the city into a whirlwind of financial crises, legal indictments, SEC sanctions, and national derision. The belly-whopping technique of an artful city manager (Jack McGrory) willing to take huge risks with public resources to placate his politically-driven boss (Susan Golding) effectively swamped a passive, lazy, and gullible city council.
Review the years of negligent posturing by ensuing city council members who (with the notable exception of Donna Frye) lapped up deceptive data and willfully closed their eyes to rational, honest information and analysis. Notice the what me worry? attitude of the first-ever president of the city council (Scott Peters), a perfect dance partner for the reprehensibly unqualifiedfirst-ever ‘strong’ mayor (Jerry Sanders). This duo set a low benchmark for public responsibility and honest problem solving.
Now turn your head in the direction of recent inanities. Less than a year ago the same mayor (Jerry Sanders) made the irresponsible decision to sidestep the public and award control over Balboa Park planning to a private philanthropist (Irwin Jacobs). The city council (except for Sherri Lightner), goaded onward by the current council president (Todd Gloria), climbed over one another’s back to ratify the mayor’s harebrained, anti-public proposal. The aftermath: more lawsuits, cynical and divisive manipulation of dedicated museum supporters, setbacks to plans for the upcoming 2015 Centennial celebration, and an ongoing bitter taste in the city’s collective mouth.
It’s not the end of it, folks. Once again we’ve got a reconstituted city council.
- Once again they’re preoccupied with a lunatic business deal, crafted by our former mayor (yes, Jerry Sanders) for a legally-suspect contract between city government and the hotel industry.
- Once again our city council has donned blinders and are on the brink of condoning another anti-public proposal that lavishly subsidizes San Diego’s over-the-top-earning-hoteliers with public money.
- Once again the city council is jeopardizing the financial health of our city, despite demurrals by the city attorney (Jan Goldsmith), who appears terrifically queasy about the legality and potential consequences of the contract.
- Once again the puckish presiding officer of the city council (Todd Gloria) is doing his darndest to flex his muscle, push this measure through to fruition, and declare victory over the newly-elected mayor (Bob Filner)…the public be damned.
What do you call people who keep repeating the same mistake over and over and over? Nutso? Stupid? Untrustworthy? Corrupt? Here’s one of the few times I’m at a loss for words.