Dangling participle – a piece of a sentence in search of its true identity. Here’s an example: Sitting in the boss’s chair, deadly disease runs rampant among homeless people on the streets of San Diego.
What’s wrong with this sentence? Something’s missing. We can fix it this way: Sitting in the boss’s chair, Mayor Kevin Faulconer twiddles his thumbs while deadly disease runs rampant among homeless people….
An equally correct alternative might be: Sitting in the boss’s chair, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors lazily ignore their civic responsibilities as deadly disease runs rampant….
Once we get the grammar right, the picture becomes clear. Locally-elected officials – by choosing to ignore their political duty to protect the health and safety of the San Diego public – permitted a public health disaster to take hold of San Diego’s neighborhoods, canyons, and streets.
Instead of taking timely action, they permitted a preventable epidemic to spread far and wide – into Santa Cruz, Arizona’s Maricopa County, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City….
There are sins of commission and sins of omission. We know that pernicious actions by political actors can be punishable offenses. What about willful complacency and pernicious negligence that result in a deadly outcome?
I’ve commented on our mayor’s reprehensible delinquency in the past. Not much has changed. Kevin Faulconer, the man who’s supposed to be in charge of city affairs, is still incompetent and unequipped for the complex job of running a major city like ours. He sits at his desk in his 11th floor City Hall office in a state of suspended animation. At press conferences and speechmaking events, he play-acts the role of San Diego’s highest-executive elected leader.
But could our dangling mayor have gone AWOL in the face of San Diego’s homelessness crisis without tacit permission from certain other elected officials? To what degree are San Diego County Supervisors also guilty of pernicious complacency… bordering on deadly negligence? Has their complicity over the past decade compounded our city’s and region’s dual crises over affordable housing and homelessness?
Here’s one of our big problems – County government is practically invisible. Ask your neighbor, ask your co-worker: What’s the point of County government? Who calls the shots? What impact does it have on our daily lives?
You might see a lot of shrugged shoulders. How many of us really understand what County Supervisors do to earn their comfortable salaries and pensions? Is the Board of Supervisors just a cozy, self-satisfied nest for has-been politicians? Or maybe a convenient way-station along the campaign trail for political neophytes and marathon also-rans?
Possibly… but County government also happens to be an essential public entity with the power and resources to improve countless lives in San Diego. It’s worth our attention.
And since it won’t be long before we are bombarded online, on TV, in our mailboxes, on our front doorknobs by campaign solicitations and promotional endorsements on behalf of a bevy of candidates badly wishing to claim a seat on the County Board of Supervisors, shouldn’t we know a lot more about the job these candidates are knocking themselves out for?
The more we know about County government, the better our decisions might be about who’s best qualified for the job of running it.