By Timothy P. Holmberg
Eds Note: The following commentary was submitted as a comment on Jim Miller’s column Selling Kevin Faulconer: The Big Bamboozle. We liked it and, with the author’s permission, decided to give the essay its own post.
As a former reporter, I have watched mayors of both parties come and go, and with them their various constituencies (in fairness, most have been Republican). I have also watched the heavy onset of partisan apparatuses. Over the years, these partisan machines have polarized this city and hijacked its legislative agenda. In its place, they have pressed agendas that have little if any affect on the quality of life of the citizens this government is supposed to serve.
But underneath that cyclone of hyper-partisanship, this city has slowly rusted. Streets have all but crumbled, sidewalks turned to rubble, sewer pipes spew their stew and traffic has slowly ground to a state of molasses. We have seen our city’s reputation tarnished and our credit rating trashed. Our treasures have either been plundered or are crumbling in disrepair. While John Moores, Corky McMillan, Doug Manchester and Dean Spanos prospered, San Diego’s small business community has received less attention than a stray dog.
It is quite true the party I have, and still hold fidelity to, looked sideways at the picadillos of a troubled man. While Filner’s past public career was indicative of some of the better virtues of public service, underneath that was something few could believe was more than shop talk and rumor.
But the story of San Diego’s fall from “finest” is not has not been written by him, or even the unions who are much maligned these days. San Diego’s future has been hobbled by a corps of greed that operates under the guise that what is good for them is good for San Diego. To whit, they have received an expanded stadium, an entirely new one, an expanded convention center (now on the verge of yet another expansion) all promoted as vital to San Diego’s future, and all of which we are currently still paying off the bonds for. By all rights, San Diego should be rolling in cash. We have done virtually everything that has been asked of us be these mavericks of capitalism. We have encumbered this city’s budget greatly in support of their visions of avarice. In order to afford these fancy baubles, we even underfunded our pension system (to our great peril). But the only ones who have prospered in this grand vision have been the ones who sold us this bill of goods.
We are now asked by these same people to place in power one of their choosing who will lead us to this oft promised land.
It is in this moment that experience is indeed instructive. Because it is the experience of Kevin Faulconer in delivering all that San Diego has not received to this point that must be of supreme importance. It is to Kevin’s own district that we must look to seek the evidence that will guide our votes. Because it is in his district that San Diego’s problems are most acute. This district is his resume, and it is as accurate a measure as any recent candidate for mayor has had. And what that resume shows is an utter neglect of the issues most prominent in San Diego. Whether it is streets, sidewalks, crime, or empowering local communities to reform and rebuild from this neglect, Faulconer has shown a complete lack of attention.
It is no surprise that this is his affect. One need only look at the company he keeps. His cosy ties to the SD Regional Chamber of Commerce speak volumes of his view of what our economy needs. Any small business owner will tell you that the only thing the SD Chamber cares for in terms of small business is their membership dues. Kevin’s posture is indeed ironic for someone whose wife runs a small business. But from Kevin’s Point Loma perch, the world that everyday San Diegan’s face is indeed far from view.
But this election is not about class warfare, because at the end of the day, the future of all San Diegans, rich or poor, is inextricably tied together. We rise and fall together. If San Diegans cannot earn a living wage, if they cannot afford reasonable healthcare, and if we continue to underfund our government while lavishing support on “capitalists” and all the while neglecting small business, San Diego will face a long slide into further decay.
David Alvarez has already shown that he understands what this city needs, what our neighborhoods need. Kevin Faulconer has already shown that he is not interested.