A New Day at San Diego’s City Hall?

by on September 5, 2013 · 2 comments

in Election, Politics, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

San Diego City Hallby Ernie McCray

The other night while watching tv I heard interim San Diego Mayor, Todd Gloria, mention that it’s “A new day at City Hall.”

Well, I’ve witnessed many a “new day” in my life and what’s going on today in City Hall doesn’t look anything like any one of those days to me. Instead, it looks like the same old same old to the millionth degree.

Oh, but there was a new day at City Hall. Not too long ago. And it wasn’t like any “new day” I have ever experienced before. It was something to behold. True blue. I mean no mayor, as in none, before Bob Filner, had ever cited visions for our city that coincided with mine, a vision that included people like me, many of us South of 8, activists, artists, performers, non-profit folks and business folks of common means, all trying to meet our community’s needs.

We, for the very first time in our lives, had a mayor who had shown us how much he loved us and cared about us and had done so for decades, unfailingly, unflinchingly. He made us part of the loop alongside the fat cats. He let us know what “A New Day at City Hall” looks like up close and personal.

But boy, did we drop off that high suddenly out of nowhere one day when some friends of the mayor stood before cameras telling the world that he couldn’t keep his horny thoughts to himself – and before you could say, as they used to say, “Jack Johnson,” they asked him to resign and then Gloria Allred rolled into town like an actor stepping onto the red carpet at the Academy Awards, in tailored clothes and fine hose, leading a parade of women who painted soft porn descriptions in our minds of unwanted sloppy kisses and un-slick come-ons and salacious propositions and we learned about the “Filner Headlock” and sang “Do you love me now that I can do the Filner Dance?” in the shower. Well, I did.

And recall petitions were hustled around and finally people had steamy sultry stuff to post on Facebook to which they received many a thumb up for “Like” than thought imaginable. And our mayor became the talk on talk shows pretty much anywhere there are talk shows on the planet. And San Diegans pitched in against him like citizens in chapters of Mark and Luke, crying “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

And in the time it takes to swat a fly, it seemed, the brother was gone. Due process thrown to the wind. Sad story if there ever was one. All that went on, by anyone’s definition, had to be the epitome of “A new day at City Hall.”

I can only hope my friend heals. And I hope the women heal too. And, although, I wish it could have all been handled in a different way, I can’t find any animosity in my heart against people I love and respect, like Donna Frye, who brought us the bad news like town criers. And if the allegations are true, as they’ve been presented to us, the people, I simply hope Bob finds a way to make amends with himself and just be a better man when it comes to relating to women.

And I hope there comes a day, just in case men haven’t made any significant changes, for the better, in being the dogs we can be, that women someday feel free enough to say to some wise-guy: “What did you just say? Take my what off? Tell me you didn’t say ‘panties.’ Mofo, I will take these spiked heels off and knock your ass out if you come up with some crap like this again! Get me some coffee!” But no one should have to tell a man that. Hey, I’m just aspiring out loud.

Todd Gloria. I’d really like to hear him describe what’s so new about City Hall right now, considering that no leaders, during all this, chose to speak for the politically second class citizens in the city who, up until a few months ago, have always felt disenfranchised, disconnected. And now we feel that way again.

And what about the media who just went along for the show, National Enquirer style, zeroing in on the raw bits and juicy pieces of a sex scandal they ended up aiding and abetting – as though they were afraid that investigative reporting might cause leprosy. Nobody wanted any part of truths other than who got saliva on their face. No one delved into what Bob Filner’s demise really means.

No one from the media asked or seemed to wonder, as we were teased with snippets of news, as to who might someday take over the city, if any of them might, like Bob, stand up to the power brokers when they’re taking resources from needy communities needlessly which is pretty much the status quo for how it goes in our city.

No one asked Todd if City Hall would continue, as the previous mayor had done, providing a place at the table for neighborhood activists, non-profit folks, academics, progressives.

Surely some talking head or field reporter or news anchor must have been impressed enough with Bob’s willingness to serve the needs of regular San Diegans to inquire as to will someone continue meeting with citizens on Saturday mornings (and do what I saw Bob do with my own eyes, assign someone to look into our concerns right on the spot – I don’t know how many people I’ve heard, throughout his political career going back to his days on the school board and on the City Council and in the House of Representatives, rave about some matter that he took care of personally, directly).

Will we see the new mayor participating in our community meetings, listening and learning from us because we know he or she will be at the elaborate conclaves the big boys hold?

Will the new mayor share Bob’s concern about the environment and try to keep dirty industries out of areas like Barrio Logan in conjunction with organizations like the Environmental Health Coalition? Will the new mayor be a friend to labor aka the people? Who will stand up, within reason, against doubling down on the Balboa Park transformation, Convention Center expansion and a new football stadium?

Put simply who will protect us from these projects that the big boys dream and scheme, now, under the guise of “A New Day at City Hall” and consider other notions and learn to make big decisions based on the best thinking of everyone.

“Nobody” is the answer to that question which makes a story that was already very bad sadder still. Unless we, who felt so emboldened with Bob Filner in office, find a way to keep his vision of San Diego on the minds of our civic leaders and fellow citizens – at all times.

We, because the politicians in this town, based on my years here since 1962, will just shuck and jive, have to keep the real “new day” alive.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm

A blessing for me, Ernie, to hear your distinctive literary voice.
“Before you could say, ‘Jack Johnson,’ they asked him to resign…and in the time it takes to swat a fly, it seemed, the brother was gone.”
So many thanks for this honest and decent reflection.


Toby September 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Extremely well said Ernie! I, too, had high hopes for this city. So very sad.


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