City Attorney’s Stance Threatens Street Repairs, Library Construction, Fire Station
By Doug Porter
Credit goes to UT-San Diego for breaking this morning’s top local story, yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of the feud between Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. Taking a page from Filner’s standoff with the Tourism Marketing District, the City Attorney is refusing to endorse documentation attesting to the legality of a $35 million bond issue.
At stake is funding city officials expected to use for repairing city streets ($5.15 million), library expansion/construction for facilities serving the Hillcrest and Paradise Hills neighborhoods ($7 million), a new fire station serving east Mission Valley ($3.7 million) and restoring the Mission Beach sea wall at Belmont Park ($1.4 million).
Goldsmith included a written warning to bond underwriters, in what should have been a routine endorsement, saying:
“Upon taking office on December 3, 2012, Mayor Bob Filner implemented new policies involving the role of the City Attorney over the City Attorney’s objection… Among the practical effects of these policies are that the City Attorney’s knowledge of the activities of the Mayor and the City and the opportunity to provide legal guidance are limited. These policies heighten the risk that there may be material facts involving legal issues of which the City Attorney is not aware and has had no opportunity to affect.”
Filner responded in the UT-San Diego acount, saying:
“Because of all the problems that cities and corporations have had with issuing bonds, there are new federal laws that require the chief executives, personally, to attest to the honesty of the information in the bond issue,” Filner said. “Here’s what Mr. Goldsmith has, essentially, written: ‘Because the mayor doesn’t talk to me… I don’t know what’s going on in his office, therefore I cannot attest to the legality of his actions, therefore I can’t sign about the legality of this bond issue.’
“Tell me that’s not incredibly destructive. We may not be able to issue bonds.”
The dispute from between the Mayor and City Attorney is multidimensional. On the surface there are partisan differences. Digging deeper, the conflict is rooted in the mayor’s desire to open up city government to constituencies beyond the downtown/developer set that has traditionally ruled the roost.
And ultimately, it’s become obvious that this is personal: Goldsmith has been ratcheting up the pressure, penning a scathing op-ed last week and using his legal authority to disrupt city operations this week.
Filner, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and it’s pretty obvious that’s what he considers Goldsmith to be. The Mayor’s dispute with the City Attorney goes back to a fundamental disagreement over their respective roles.
From the UT-San Diego article, posted after today’s print edition went out:
Filner says he is not comfortable speaking to the city attorney because Goldsmith views himself as representing the people, not the mayor.
“An elected attorney sees his or her role differently than an appointed attorney,” Filner said. “So how do I talk to Mr. Goldsmith if he doesn’t believe that these communications are privileged? You can’t. That’s at the root.”
Issa’s Bluff on IRS Investigation Gets Called
One story you won’t see get much play in UT-San Diego will be House Oversight Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings’ appearance on CNN Sunday morning.
The Maryland Congressman told CNN host Candy Crowley that Committee Chairman Darrell Issa refuses to release the testimony of a “conservative Republican” IRS manager because it indicates that the White House was not involved. Cummings added that if Issa wouldn’t release the transcripts by week’s end, he would violate protocols be releasing them himself.
From Raw Story:
Crowley observed that in a portion of the transcripts that had been released, an IRS screening group manager in the Cincinnati office told Issa’s committee that he had “no reason to believe” that the White House had ordered the targeting of conservative groups.
“He was a 21-year veteran,” Cummings said of the IRS manager. “He described himself in the interviews in response to a Republican attorney’s question as a conservative Republican. Very significant. He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think these interviews and these statements go a long way to showing the White House was not involved in this.”
“Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on.”
NSA Disclosures Lead to Historical Agreement
The nature of the beast in American reporting is that the ‘human elements’ always transcend discussions of fact and questions about policy. And nowhere is that more true than in the coverage of the current revelations regarding the activities of the National Security Agency data collection programs.
For a few days at the end of last week Guardian reporter/columnist Glenn Greenwald became the focus, as this New York Times article (which was one of the more modest efforts) demonstrates.
Now that Edward J. Snowden, the Booz Allen Hamilton employee behind the leaks, has emerged from the shadows, it’s his turn. Already the words “incredibly naïve’ are being bandied about, and I’m sure if the guy ever had more than a traffic ticket we’ll be hearing about it exquisite detail.
That’s a shame. I think this issue IS worthy of discussion. And we can’t talk about it because even the tiniest details are secret. Our national obsession with secrecy is at the heart of the issue.
There is a fundamental distrust of government’s role here, one so broad in scope that Glen Beck and Michael Moore find themselves on the same page, describing the whistleblower as a ‘hero’.
A Kangaroo Court with a Rubber Stamp
As HBO’s Bill Maher (He’s okay with it because ‘I’m scared’) and others have pointed out, there’s a trade-off at play here when it comes to evaluating the ‘threat’ posed by the NSA disclosures. It’s privacy vs. security. And it’s not an easy subject for most Americans.
A New York Times article today about reactions from various players in the tech industry reminds us of a quote many Americans have come to accept as reality:
In 1999, Scott McNealy, the chief executive of Sun Microsystems, summed up the valley’s attitude toward personal data in what became a defining comment of the dot-com boom. “You have zero privacy,” he said. “Get over it.”
Daniel Ellsberg takes to the pages of The Guardian today, saying, ‘wait a minute, this is a big deal’:
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”
Talking Points Won’t Do
Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald is pushing back. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he went toe to toe with host Mika Brzezniski (via Buzzfeed) :
MIKA BRZEZNISKI: “I just want an answer, yes or no. Isn’t it the case that reviewing of emails or any wire tapping cannot take place without an additional warrant from a judge and a review. It’s not like there’s haphazard probing into of all our personal emails. Can we put this into context so we can understand exactly what’s going on?”
GLENN GREENWALD: “Yeah, I’ll put it into context for you. The White House talking points that you’re using are completely misleading and false.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the rounds of news shows over the weekend, saying the recent disclosures were “literally gut-wrenching” and that they had caused “huge, grave damage” to US intelligence capabilities.
He dismissed media reports about threats to privacy and civil liberties, saying, “a lot of what people are seeing and reading in the media is a lot of hyperbole.”
Greenwald’s promising even more revelations this week, tweeting this morning, “Clapper: leaks “literally gut-wrenching” – “huge, grave damage” – save some melodrama and rhetoric for coming stories. You’ll need it.”
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrán, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1776 – The Continental Congress appointed a committee to write a Declaration of Independence. 1925 – The state of Tennessee adopted a new biology text book that denied the theory of evolution. 1966 – The Beatles were first heard using reversed tape in the song “Rain.” It was a ‘B’ side to the song “Paperback Writer.”
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