By Doug Porter
The significance of the struggle between City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and Mayor Bob Filner continues to become more apparent with each passing day.
Last week Goldsmith released edited transcripts purporting to show Filner as an irrational angry man who used his ‘taxpayer funded bodyguard’ to expel an ‘innocent attorney’ (how’s that for an oxymoronic word combo?) from a closed hearing of the San Diego City Council. By playing on the Mayor’s well-known unwillingness to suffer fools, Goldsmith and his cronies have sought to add to a undercurrent of resentment over the mere fact of Bob Filner occupying the top job.
For those of you unfamiliar with all the machinations of this high profile ruckus, the short version of what’s going on here is that all these headlines are symptomatic of a much larger behind the scenes battle between a progressive Mayor and downtown special interest groups used to dictating policy at City Hall.
Their hope is to trigger a recall election, something that was legally impossible until just two weeks ago. Within a few hours of the ‘breaking news’ the Lincoln Club, the veritable Mt. Olympus of downtown establishmentarianism, was flooding the news media with it’s breathless press release saying “The mayor is abusing his authority and ruining San Diego’s reputation in the process.”
Manchester’s minions at UT San Diego joined the chorus, running a ‘news account’ chock full of loaded words and an editorial condemnation of Hizzoner’s ‘bullying’.
Oh, For Shame! For Shame!
And, sure enough, a “Recall Filner” page went up on Facebook over the weekend.
In order to pull off this latest stunt City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had to perform a couple of ‘miracles’. The first act in this little play was for the City Attorney’s office to respond to a public records request in a mere two days.
This is the same city agency with a solid reputation for intransigence when it comes to public records request, to the point where they have been sued as recently as April of this year by citizens groups. Public advocates complaints are met with responses that public records requests are overly broad, following waits that vastly exceed the mandated 10 day limit.
The second act of this ‘performance art’ by the City Attorney was that he was able to release the transcripts of a closed hearing of them without the legally mandated approval of the City Council or a court order (Government Code Section 54957.2) . The Brown Act does say that non-confidential matters can be released, but it requires a vote by the legislative body involved. So, maybe, just maybe, Jan Goldsmith skirted the law in his rush to create public judgment.
But Wait! There’s More!
At the center of the Mayor’s alleged monstrous deed, we have Executive Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones, cast as a public employee… Just. Doing. His. Job… Until he became: The Victim.
From the City Attorney’s press release:
This was a cruel act with no basis in law. It was an extreme abuse of power that should never be tolerated in a free and democratic society. Filner has gone far over the line of decent behavior in a civilized society. We will have more to say about this issue next week on the steps we will be taking.
Contrary to claims elsewhere, Jones is employed in the Civil Division of the City Attorney’s office. And he is empowered to represent that office in the absence of Jan Goldsmith.
But, usually, it’s NOT Jones who shows up for closed hearings.
The City Clerk’s closed session reports for 2013 indicate that, after City Attorney Goldsmith, Assistant City Attorney (ACA) Mary Jo Lanzafame was the primary lead lawyer for City Council closed sessions. ACA Worley also appeared when the initiation of civil lawsuits was being discussed.
But the case where ACA Andrew Jones did take the lead would be where the City Council sued Mayor Filner for not signing off on the Tourism Market District agreements. Finer wisely stood his ground in that case, forcing the hoteliers to come up with guarantees protecting city taxpayers should lawsuits over the legality of the program in question prevail in the courts.
Jones, according to one source close to the Mayor, leaked information during the ensuing negotiations that nearly derailed Filner’s efforts to build taxpayer safeguards into the process. The Mayor, furious about the disclosure, reportedly warned Goldsmith that ACA Jones wasn’t welcome in his presence.
The cuts in Filner’s city budget for the City Attorney’s office include Jones’ position.
From UT-San Diego:
Mayor Bob Filner used his veto to cut more than $500,000 in funding from the budget of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, a political rival at City Hall since Filner took office seven months ago.
The veto document dated Wednesday shows lines through the funding portions dealing with the City Attorney’s Office, along with Filner’s initials.
Hence we know a reason why Filner’s might get angry at ACA Jones, who’s recently been busy playing his part in this drama wielding the race card, telling 10News,
“He told me to go sit in the back of the room, and I’m a product of the south, born in 1952, raised in the segregationist South and that statement was derogatory and demeaning to me.”
Guess Who’s Not Playing Nice with the Tourism Tax?
If you believe the reports coming out UT-San Diego, the city’s tourism plans are in danger because the large corporations that own hotels in the region have refused to sign off on the Indemnification Agreement that is the key to full funding of the TMD in San Diego.
Of course, it’s still very early in the process and multi-national corporations are notoriously slow to respond to these sorts of requests. But it would seem that, having been asked to back up their scheme with taxpayer protections, enthusiasm is waning for a program recently being touted as essential to the industry’s financial health.
From the UT-San Diego account:
Trouble is, major hotel corporations are balking at signing the legal documents, forcing the tourism agency to prepare a worst-case scenario spending plan that would rely on just 60 percent of the funding it normally gets from the city’s hotelier-run Tourism Marketing District via the room surcharge. The looming problem is unrelated to the earlier freeze in marketing dollars that stemmed from an on-again, off-again feud between hoteliers and Mayor Bob Filner over operation of the district.
To date, the city has received just 15 of the 226 waivers it needs to reach full funding, said Lorin Stewart, executive director of the marketing district.
Local hoteliers Terry Brown and Bill Evans did sign.
Not on this list is Papa Doug Manchester, publisher of UT-San Diego. My attempt to verify that his Del Mar hotel property was included in the City’s Tourism Marketing District was foiled by a ‘web page under construction notice.’
Climate Change Denier Tsunami Coming
There maybe be a deadlock over just about everything in Congress, but there are still things that a President can do administratively. And fighting the ongoing changes to our climate is among them.
President Obama is set to make a speech Tuesday announcing measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, increase appliance efficiency standards and promote renewable energy development on public lands
From the Washington Post:
In the speech at Georgetown University, according to individuals briefed on the matter who asked not to be identified because the plan was not yet public, Obama will detail a government-wide plan to not only reduce the nation’s carbon output but also prepare the United States for the near-term impacts of global warming.
They said those measures would include programs to enhance the resilience of coastal communities as well as Agriculture Department “climate adaptation hubs” that could help farmers cope with changes in temperature and precipitation.
“Taken together, these actions indicate an entirely new sense of urgency in addressing the threat climate change is posing to our economy and security,” said Paul Bledsoe, a senior fellow on energy and climate at the German Marshall Fund and a former White House climate adviser under President Bill Clinton.
Get ready for a week of news stories on KUSI and Fox news telling us climate change is all made up bullshit.
The Cops Were Just Hungry, Right?
The San Diego Free Press had a little potluck picnic yesterday afternoon in Golden Hill Park to show our appreciation to some the folks who’ve helped us make it through our first year.
It was hardly a secret affair, announced on this site, via email invitations and an events page of Facebook. We ate burgers and dogs, played a little croquet and spent a beautiful San Diego day on a spot overlooking the city skyline.
Early in the afternoon, one of our attendees walked her child to restroom in the park and came back with a rather startling report: the marked SDPD car sitting under the shade tree was taking pictures of our shindig.
Maybe the cops were just shy. If they’d come over we’d have been glad to share some the abundant and delicious food on our table. Maybe they were just taking pictures of the skyline behind us. In that case, I can only hope that smoke from our grills didn’t spoil the picture.
To be truthful, other vehicles, including an ambulance, were parked under that tree at various times in the afternoon. I’m sure it’s a great place to take a break. It’s just the camera part that makes me wonder…
Forty years ago activists in this city expected that the local “Red Squad” would come take pictures. Hell, they even parked out in front of my house in OB on a regular basis. They never seemed to be there when rightwing nut jobs would vandalize our cars and offices, but you could pretty much count on regular visits the rest of the time.
I don’t miss the kind of paranoia prevalent back in those days one bit. I did, however, send a request via Twitter to see if Mayor Bob could persuade them to cough up a few prints of the photos. We’re big on taking pictures of our group activities and proud of what we do here at San Diego Free Press.
In the meantime, check out just how subversive looking myself, Patty Jones and Frank Gormlie were yesterday.
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: 1896 – Booker T. Washington became the first African American to receive an honorary MA degree from Howard University. 1922– The American Professional Football Association took the name of The National Football League. 1972 – “I Am Woman,” by Helen Reddy, was released.
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