Strong Mayor = Insider Deals

by on May 6, 2010 · 4 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Election, San Diego

sandiegomtnsnowEditor: Pat Flannery writes a blog – Blog of San Diego – that focuses on the inside deals of San Diego politics.  Here’s his latest.

by Pat Flannery / Blog of San Diego / May 6, 2010

Pat Flannery. jpgI went to a strong-mayor forum (Prop D) last night at the San Diego County Health Complex sponsored by Common Cause and Empower San Diego, with guest speakers Donna Frye and Carl DeMaio. It was well attended, informal, with lots of great comments and questions. Carl and Donna are a great double act and the crowd loved it.

For me, what emerged was a pointed reminder of the continuous struggle between a secretive privileged elite and the rest of us. Carl DeMaio, who by temperament should identify with the forgotten masses, seems to yearn for acceptance by San Diego’s ruling elite. It will never happen. Those of us who have lived here long enough know that San Diego is an elitist closed shop.

Carl doesn’t seem to realize that Strong Mayor = Insider Deals. Unwittingly he is supporting a Prop D that will condemn him to permanent outsider status just like the rest of us. No matter how faithful a servant he may become, he will never be the choice of San Diego’s ruling elite. They already have their yes-man – Kevin Faulconer. Ironically, DeMaio could actually be a popular mayor under the old system. His instincts are for open government, not Sanders-style insider dealing.

Frye argued passionately against the insiderism of a strong-mayor system. She contrasted the ready responsiveness of the old city-manager-style staff with the present bunker mentality of the strong-mayor system. She told how previously cooperative staff are now terrified to talk to Councilmembers for fear of being fired. Everything is routed through the Mayor’s office. Every staff member remembers how Jim Waring, an arch-insider and land use attorney, was fired for talking to Donna Frye about Sunroad. Jay Goldstone told him he was “not political enough”.

The fact is that powerful business interests already control City Hall. Prop D would just make it permanent and cheaper for them. Look at its  financial supporters .  It reads like a “Who’s Who” of San Diego’s insiders with McMillan and Sudbury topping the list. Under Prop D business interests would only need to own the Mayor and four Council Members to run the city. Control of local government is a business gravy train. It issues their permits and funds their projects.

A key part of Prop D power is the mayoral veto. It would expand City Council from 8 to 9 members which in turn would require 6 votes (not 5 as at present) to override a mayoral veto. Four compliant Councilmembers is all business would need to achieve a headlock on all city legislation.

Here’s how a strong-mayor would work. He/she would veto an item passed by the Council 5 to 4. A super-majority of 6 to 3 would be required to override that powerful veto. Insider money would easily own 4 of the 9 votes. They already do: Faulconer, DeMaio, Young and Gloria (the Lincoln Club just bought Young’s vote). The City Council would be effectively emasculated. That’s what a strong-mayor would mean. That is the plan.

Thus a bought and paid for Mayor and four bought and paid for City Councilmembers could deliver billions of our tax dollars to special business interests such as the Chargers, while we the citizenry go begging for city services. But first they must get Prop D passed!

Will an insider elite succeed in persuading enough ordinary San Diegans to vote for an insider regime that is the very antithesis of citizen services? It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas. I sincerely hope the citizens recognize Prop D as the developer Santa Clause that it is and reflect on the stuffed socks of those four bought and paid for City Councilmembers.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

nunya May 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm

“Those of us who have lived here long enough know that San Diego is an elitist closed shop.”
Mmmmmm hmmm.


fstued May 11, 2010 at 11:55 am

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of faith in the citizens/voters of this city. I suspect a strong mayor will pass. It is bad for the city. I have worked with the strong mayor now for 5 yrs and it is slow and anything but transparent. The Mayor is and should be the political arm of the City. The city manager should run the business of the city and yes the city is a business. It is not a profit making one nor should it be but it should be somewhat more efficient.
A strong mayor with term limits is asking for insider deals. the guy is out of work in 8 yrs if he needs another job his last 4 yrs are spent looking for lucrative work down the road. That is what I would do if I knew my job was going to end in 4 yrs. But term limits are another rant.
We need a mayor who can sweet talk the citizens and caress the council and a city manager who can work political deals with city staff and keep the trash picked up the parks clean and the sewage flowing and even keep the police and fireman happy with the help of the mayor. A Mayor just does not have time to run a city while being PC with all the citizens.
The citizens of America’s finest will get the government they deserve.


annagrace May 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Prop D is ill advised in every way that a citizen- that’s us- looks at. 1) It is expanding the size of government at a time when general fund services are being reduced and eliminated. It is a lie that adding a ninth council seat is cost neutral. 2) The strong mayor form of government jeopardizes the safeguards of the Brown Act. The mayor now essentially “lobbies” the City Council behind closed doors. Horse trading anyone? “If you don’t pass this budget forget about getting the pot holes fixed ( or whatever the district’s sacred cow may be) in your district.” This is not good governance. The City Council actions and policy debates are public, but the mayor is absent from that same public scrutiny. The mayor’s spokes person gives us the “spin” while we as citizens are removed from the actual interaction of the executive and legislative branch of our City government. 3) The department heads, who serve at the pleasure of the mayor, are kept on a damn short lease, and must swear absolute fealty to the mayor, from whom all blessings and job security flow. That means that they are not able to respond to the needs and desires of the citizens whom their department serves. Those citizens, again, are us. 4) If you are happy with the filibuster being used in Congress since Obama was elected, and with the yearly budget impasses of our own State legislature, you will just love Prop D with it’s own super-majority voting requirement.

Why in the world would any of us support Prop. D?

Donna Frye provides her critique here


sandiegosbest June 7, 2010 at 6:40 am

Jerry Sanders clearly has proven that disloyalty is the only characteristic that is strong within his governing. Under Jerry Sanders, San Diego has cut public safety at an alarming rate. We have lost police, and fireman putting the citizens’ safety at risk. At a time when prisoners are being released from prisons early, and the homeless population is skyrocketing the citizens are left to defend themselves. Jerry Sanders has proven that he cannot be trusted to do the will of the people with the strong mayor form of government. He has wielded his power on behalf of special interests, builders and developers who are partially responsible for the current economic crisis. We must ask ourselves how much more the citizens of San Diego can be expected to sacrifice for this mayor to continue to abuse his power by making the most vulnerable in society at greater risk. Power must be given to the people by having a representative to speak on their behalf. The strong form mayor of government silences the peoples’ voices. We see our streets becoming more and more dangerous daily; we see the potential for horrific fires with the current droughts. At this critical time in our cities history this mayor decided that it would be ok to fire both senior police officers, and veteran firefighters, and leaving our beaches completely unprotected without lifeguards. However he did not see it improper to attempt to have another stadium built with the same tax payer dollars that were used to pay those important public safety officials. How much more can Jerry Sanders expect the citizens of San Diego to sacrifice? VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION D PLEASE


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