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Time to Go, Bob.

Sunday, September 20, 2009
posted by Vito Andolini

Many in San Diego have said for years that Bob Watkins had a promising future in elective office.  He did of course serve on the County Board of Education, but that clearly was for him a low-level stepping stone to something higher profile, such as County Supervisor, State office, or even Congress.

As far back as 1988, Watkins toyed with a shot at State Assembly, but in more recent years hung his future on his stature as a well-known downtown establishment business type, GOP donor, Lincoln Clubber and member of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, while biding his time on the County Ed Board.

His appointment by the County to the Airport Authority, followed by Mayor Jerry Sanders’ trust in Watkins as the Chairman of the body, spoke to his reputation.

When the senior Duncan Hunter announced his retirement, Watkins was ready for an East County Congressional seat, but underestimated the power of the Hunter name to carry a junior to victory.  He also sorely misjudged the expected momentum a downtown-oriented background and a slew of establishment GOP endorsements would mean in an East County seat, even when you live in Alpine.  Inexplicably, he gave up the school board seat in the process, voluntarily handing away an elected title that might still serve him well someday, even if not Congress.

Yet, the respect was still intact, as well as the Airport Chair gig and a great rolodex.

In the last few weeks, the respect has gone out the window, with story after story of first class junkets on the public Airport Authority dime, a lack of public disclosure of potential financial conflicts of interest, and questionable forgetfulness about whether he was wining and dining a member of British Parliament or a family member at an expensive overseas Chargers exhibition extravaganza.

Given San Diego’s recent reputation as the Enron by the Sea, following major flaps with Duke Cunningham, Cheetah’s Strippergate and other soily incidents, Watkins’ apparent behavior is not just surprising, it is unacceptable.  Forget higher office.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob says Watkins’ reappointment to the Airport Authority will not likely take place.  Mayor Jerry Sanders will meet with him this week to get his side of the story.  Courteous protocol, that’s nice.

When the public trust has been violated, no amount of obfuscation and dancing can easily restore it.  Bob Watkins needs to do the right thing and resign.  Short of that, Sanders and Jacob should insist on it.


13 Responses to “Time to Go, Bob.”

  1. K. G. D, says:

    There are only two things you can judge Bob on.

    1) Whether he has had a successive impact in his role on the Airport Commission & his previous acts of public service. No doubt, it’s a unanimous yes from all parties concerned.

    2) Were his expenditures in-line with what has been common practice given historical precedence, were they in line with the framework for the commission and has Bob responded properly to quell the concerns. All three of these are also yes.

    I’m sure anyone else would have loved to write off these kinds of expenses, but they are part of the responsibility that comes with these types of positions. Bob didn’t go all out and extravagent, he stayed within the normal means of the situation and has reimbersed the comission for expenses that some have preferred he not make, regardless of the fact that they were at some level legitimate.

    If you want to call for persons to resign, there other folks in leadership positions with cause for greater cocern. Bob’s a respected community and business leader with many years of public service ahead of him.

  2. Conflict? says:


    Just curious, is Bob, or has he ever been a client of your company or of a company you did work for?

  3. Paul O'Sullivan says:

    It’s not about the expenditure – although it was politically tone deaf. It’s not about Bob’s effectiveness – although it is doubtful he can now be a very effective commissioner even if he could get reappointed. Nor is it about his qualifications – he should be one of the most effective port commissioners we’ve ever had. It’s simply about Bob’s credibility.

    Bob Watkins said he took a member of the British Parliament to a Chargers game. It was a bald-faced lie. Now, we’ve all been dishonest, so it’s not about uncovering moral inferiority. But when any of us tells a big, fat lie to a news reporter (they are paid to check these things) and everyone – everyone – knows it, it’s impossible to defend particularly by those with the power to reappoint. It’s not that he has to go – he’s already gone.

    The sad irony is, Bob Watkins is an experienced, consummate deal-maker who knows exactly how to get things done. The Port needs doers – not empty suits. It seemed Watkins was the right guy at the right time. But, what is it they say – hubris before the fall? Trade a Port Commission appointment for two tix to a Chargers game in England? What a pity for San Diego. Yes, Bob is a respected leader with many years of public service ahead of him. Now, it’s just not at the Port.

  4. The Lie Is The Story says:

    “Were his expenditures in-line with what has been common practice given historical precedence”

    Didn’t the article mention “Enron by the sea”? Sure, Watkins extravagant, unnecessary, and untruthful expenditures were all completely in-line with common practice given our city’s past, but shouldn’t the result of resignation, expulsion, or prison be in-line with that also?

  5. Chuck Taylor says:

    I have known Bob professionally for quite a few years. He is an honest and effective leader and does not have a dishonest bone in his body. It is amazing to me how so many revert to the “Tigers eat their young” philosophy and jump to conclusions. If Bob made an error in reporting, he is not the first and won’t be the last. In the two minor political positions I have had the honor to serve in, I have been chastised for filing late simply because I forgot. As for whom Bob did or did not take to a game, I really have to write the lapse off to the fact that he met so many people on so many subjects that the past becomes less than crystal clear.

    Bob gets things done. He is a “doer”. Many people resent that.

  6. The Lie Is The Story says:

    Chuck Taylor is right, I confuse my nephew for a Member of Parliament all the time, must have been an honest lapse.

  7. Same Clowns says:

    I logged on because Barry is involved, but it looks like “Rostra” is just a new CIRCUS for the same small group of controlling, self serving, self promoting, vendetta carrying CLOWNS,

    Could we not find ANY fresh blood? Even after leaving town, couldn’t “Mighty” have created enough distance from his record locally to find new victims elsewhere?

    In retrospect, I think many agree that Red County with Duane on the “delete” key, became just a tool that was used to promote the business interests of a small group of insiders who also used the site the stifle internal dissent, not to promote it.

    The Result? All the money going to one guy who lost all the races.

    Now they return. “Fool us once …”

    Few will be convinced that a come back from the SAME GROUP OF LOSERS is a good thing.

    Could we not have tried to make it appear different and independent by choosing ONE new contributor? Or by NOT rubbing our noses in the Mighty Mouse BS?

  8. QuonMane says:

    San Diego Rostrum? Your website is pretentious and pathetic. You are self-appointed judges, not orators. There is no spirit of Rome here, unless it is the imperial spirit of thumbs up and thumbs down. Get some facts. Get some self-respect. Think
    Chinatown because that’s what you really represent. Local thugs.

  9. Barry Jantz Barry Jantz says:

    Good morning! Actually, some different clowns have been added, and we are growing the list of blogpenners. The announcement sent out last nite includes at least four individuals that were not Red County contributors. There are folks included and being added now that very much disagree with each other on some fundamental issues. Also, we are seeking anyone that wants to provide reasoned thought, regardless of where they may stand on personalities or leadership within local GOP circles. You may not agree with some particular contributors, but the only stifling of dissent will be for those that choose to get into crude and/or inappropriate language, spam, or using the site for other than spirited discussion and debate. Thor (whoever that may be) will act as a moderator only. If you have any suggestions as this progresses, please let me know. Thanks.

  10. michael mcsweeney says:

    I’ve known Bob for something like 15 years. I find it curious that all the piling on and calls for his head.

    I agree with the other posts here with regard to his effectivness and getting things done.

    It seems this was all started by Bob explaining to a “voice” reporter about entertaining clients and how the reporters frame of reference didn’t allow them to view the larger picture. Entertaining clients (schmoozing) is how business is transacted. It’s about relationships and building those relationships. Anyone who has ever served on a Board of Directors, run a business, or been involved in civic affairs knows it’s about relationships.

    Since the “Voice” folks think of themselves as the conscience of the community, they were pissed at Bob and the full anal examination commenced.

    Did Bob screw up? Yes. Was it a crime? No. Is he embarrassed? You betcha. Is this all just a tempest in a teapot? You betcha.

    So we make a big deal about the trip to London, a Chargers game ($ 600 for a ticket was certainly a rip off for the crumby game they played) and some meals.

    So where is the outrage, indignation and balls to the walls investigative reporting regarding the rip off of public money to Acorn? The obscene robbery (legally of course) of local public employee pensions? The foot dragging and obfuscation regarding managed competition for city services by the labor unions?

    I’m sure they’ll get to that right after they add Bob’s scalp to their wall.

  11. Honesty

    I am certain that Mr. Watkins is a nice guy. Was his act as a public servant, a slip in judgment or a character flaw? Either way you spin it, he took public money for personal use and tried to cover it up.

    Call it anything you want, but it is dishonest.

  12. Pretentious says:


    The only thing pretentious and pathetic is the pretentiousness of someone pathetic enough to call something pretentious and pathetic simply because they don’t agree with the content, as well as not being intelligent enough to have a debate about the issues. Either join the discussion, or crawl back under your rock.

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