Today is the launch of a new column, “Eyes on the Bully’s Pulpit.”
Most political wonks involved in City of San Diego politics have heard numerous stories about the actions or inactions of Mayor Bob Filner, with many experiencing some of the most interesting incidents first hand. Some of his actions may very well cross the bounds of political ethics. If it all continues, it could set San Diego’s reputation back for years.
Could Filner be the Lindsay Lohan of San Diego politics? You can be the judge.
Some of this could be attributed to being new in office and the related learning curve for Filner, with all those nuances of protocol at City Hall as opposed to the halls of Congress. Yet, now that he has settled in, it is time for the Mayor to either start acting mayoral or to alternatively provide continuing fodder for SD Rostra and its readers — and ultimately, the larger mass of citizenry.
If you are aware of any items or actions concerning Mayor Filner that you feel the public needs to know, you can either share them with me via Rostra or submit them as a post. I will post information if is legitimate and worthwhile. Rostra will always respect anonymity, per our rules, while also considering the credibility of the source and the information provided. I completely understand why those close to any of the stories may have worthwhile information, while needing to remain anonymous.
I would also be pleased to share the opposing views of Mayor Filner or any of his supporters.
As a discussion starter, the Mayor has a tendency to speak first and get the facts later — or ignore the facts from the start. He accused the City Attorney and members of the San Diego City Council of having a conflict of interest on the Tourism Management District (TMD) agreement because they received campaign contributions from hoteliers. Those involved in politics for even a short time know that campaign contributions do not create a conflict of interest for elected officials. Check with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which is the enforcement agency of the State of California. If San Diego has a different ruling on contributions, I would appreciate being directed to it.
So, as not to appear a hypocrite, Mayor Filner needs to immediately withdraw from participating in labor negotiations on the pending contracts between the various labor groups and the City of San Diego if he has accepted more than $250 (directly or indirectly) in campaign contributions from any of those organizations.
According to a U-T San Diego article published shortly before the general election Filner was the beneficiary of at least $2 million in union campaign contributions, which includes direct and indirect support.
These organizations are currently negotiating new contracts with the city. Did any of them help Mayor Filner get elected?
- American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
- Local 127 (AFSCME Local 127)
- Deputy City Attorneys Association (DCAA)
- San Diego City Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 145
- San Diego Municipal Employees’ Association (MEA)
- San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA)
- Teamsters, Local 911 (Teamsters)
Mayor Filner’s apparent ethical schizophrenia on the matter of campaign contributions has already been pointed out by many including the U-T.
Has Filner apologized yet to the council members, or is it beneath him to say the words, “I am sorry”?
For the sake of his newly found concern for ethics, the Mayor should lead by example and recuse himself from any further discussions in upcoming labor negotiations … or apologize to the council. Surely Filner wouldn’t want to have the contract negotiations tainted with the appearance of a political payback for so much help in getting him elected.
By the way, the most important aspect of legally required ethics training is not simply participating. The really important part is employing the training in your life as an elected public official. Mr. Mayor, now that we know you have recently taken the training, prove to San Diego that you are actually going to implement it in your own actions before you point fingers at others.
One bit of irony in the entire TMD agreement battle is that Filner has repeatedly called it an illegal tax, thus requiring a vote of the citizens. That is, of course, unless he gets what he wants in the agreement. His initial demands included – hold your breath – more benefits for employees represented by organized labor.
Mayor Filner would have you believe he is concerned about workers. That is true to a point, but there is one big catch. He apparently only cares about workers represented by labor groups. Need proof? Watch the TMD discussion from the March 26th city council meeting (click on Item S501). There were well over 100 people in support of the TMD and its funding. Many of the speakers addressed the situation and openly expressed their concerns they could lose their jobs without the agreement signed. Where is the concern for these employees? They must not be represented by one of the many unions owed for their election assistance.
Of course, labor has the right to participate in the election process and Filner has the right to accept the help. The double standard on the part of the Mayor is pointed out simply as a classic example of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
After being given the benefit of the doubt for his first 100 days, the mainstream media and others should hold Filner accountable. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith recently got that ball rolling when he correctly opined that Filner could not legally veto the city council’s Port Commission appointments. Since Mayor Filner is all about doing “what’s right,” it was great to see the mayor “allowing” the two appointed commissioners to be sworn in immediately.
We are certain there are many more stories to share that have not yet been made public. Help us, and help Mayor Filner by sending us any information that would be helpful for the citizens of San Diego to know.
We want to keep the Mayor honest, ethical and working for all of San Diego, not just those represented by organized labor. Tell Rostra what you know.