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Blog Archives - 2005 First Quarter

 

The Vortmann memo - again   -   03/20/05

 
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Have you seen this man? His name is Dennis Gibson and was last seen in January when Mayor Murphy reassigned him from a senior policy advisor position at the Mayor's office to go manage Petco Park on behalf of the City.

The Manager's Report appointing him says: "In his role for the Mayor, one of Mr. Gibson’s primary policy responsibilities was to advise the Mayor and support all City and other agency efforts to complete the construction of Petco Park."

It is interesting that he was Murphy's choice to "staff" the Blue Ribbon Committee.

If you have any emails "in any way concerned with Dennis Gibson" the U.S. Attorney's Office and the SEC would like to talk to you. They have issued blanket subpoenas for any communication with this guy.

They are trying to find out if Mr. Gibson shared with his boss, Mayor Murphy, the contents of a letter he received on April 29, 2002 from Dick Vortmann of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on City Finances which said "we possibly did a disservice by not ringing a very loud bell that . . . the city's fiscal health is not what it appears" ... requiring .... reduced services and/or increased taxes and fees."

The importance of this memo is that it was received by Gibson, and three other city staff members, BEFORE the City Council's disastrous vote to further increase the under funding of the Pension Fund, allowing the Petco Park financing to go ahead. Mayor Murphy claims he did not learn about it until after it was discovered by Deputy City Manager Patricia Frazier in February of this year, when she was changing offices.

It looks like the FEDs don't altogether believe him. That's why they have subpoenaed anybody's email to or from Dennis Gibson that might determine the truth.

The interesting thing is that if Gibson had told the Mayor and the Mayor had told the City Council of Vortmann's concerns, Petco Park would not have been funded and Gibson would not now have his job managing it. If I were Murphy and an employee withheld something as important as that from me, I'd fire his ass. Why doesn't he?

But of course we all know that Petco Park was always "more than a ballpark", remember that slogan? It has to do with a
surrounding 26-block redevelopment area called The East Village.

How could Murphy have shown his face again down at the Lincoln Club if he let a little old memo derail their porky project?

After all Murphy became Mayor to deliver the ballpark, Valerie Stallings having got her finger caught in the cookie jar. Valerie wanted it all now. So "they" needed a smoother operator. "Boss" Moores would simply have found somebody else - like Ron Roberts for example. Despite his campaign rhetoric Ron was always "eager to please" too. But Murphy was "better qualified".

Murphy still owes "them" a library in their little East Village. That was part of the deal: it will enhance the livability and therefore the property values. And they haven't forgotten.

But that was the good old days when the good old boys at the Lincoln Club had Casey Gwinn to take care of people like Don Bauder who might dare raise questions about bonds for ballparks or libraries. And Leslie Devaney was supposed to take it from there. How they must hate Aquirre. A Certified Fraud Examiner for God's sake!

Did they ever receive a "unqualified" legal opinion from their bond attorney Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe for those ballpark bonds by the way? Or just a "qualified" opinion? There is a big difference. Hmmmm. I don't hear their names mentioned and they would be on the hook if anything went amiss, and boy have things gone amiss.
 
 
 

Hedgecock to the rescue   -   03/19/05

 
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Now Murphy is teaming up with Roger Hedgecock. And he used his wife to justify doing so, just as he used his daughter to justify his bogus Shannon Sister City.

He arrived at the
Mount Soledad cross with a present of 10 signatures his wife had collected (at her exercise club) and presented them to Hedgecock who was campaigning on his live radio broadcast for the retention of the cross.

This has nothing to do with the cross: this has everything to do with Murphy trying to stay out of jail and he could seek no better advisor in that regard than Hedgcock.
 
 
 

Murphy is no Irishman   -   03/07/05

 
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Mayor Murphy had to cancel
a March 11th fund-raiser with the Iranian-American community that his dubious appointee to the Port Commission, Kourosh Hangafarin,  had been promoting.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune "Hangafarin's office faxed copies of the invitation to potential donors with a personal note asking for maximum contributions of $2,500 a couple to support Murphy and the legal defense fund he needs to fight legal challenges to his election last November."

Presumably they mean his Port Commission office. Hangafarin is broke and does not have an office. That means Murphy was set to benefit directly from his appointment of Hangafarin, at the Port's expense. How much Port staff time was spent on this?

Murphy targets ethnic communities and finds one of their number, the greedier and broke the better, who understands the "influence" game. The quid pro quo is simple: you help me and I will help you. You raise money for me and I will use my powers of appointment to reward you.

One of the avenues he has found for raising money (and he will need a lot of it for his upcoming legal battles) is something he describes as "underrepresented ethnic groups"; you can imagine how well that goes down at an "ethnic" dinner: "Dick is our friend".

He tried it on the Irish in San Diego. We rejected him. Read the Shannon link.

What he did not realize is that the Irish are neither underrepresented nor an ethnic group. If we ever were an ethnic group we became the most integrated ethnic group in America. The Irish built this country and gave it much of its personality. We certainly gave it its democracy. Without us America would have been dominated by the old Anglo monied class. We fought them tooth and nail because we knew them of old. And we beat them. We wrested democracy from them. Their class heard the word democracy and shuddered just as we now shudder at the word communism.

And so it is today. Murphy may have an Irish name but he does not have an ounce of what makes an Irishman. He is every bit an old Anglo with a superiority complex and a huge appetite for money and power, at any price. We want nothing to do with him.
 
 
 

Time to 'fess up Murphy   -   03/03/05

 
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The SEC aren't as dumb as Murphy seems to think they are. They know why he hired their former
accounting chief at $750 an hour plus $900 for his supervisor.

Murphy dispenses more radar-disrupting "chaff" than the antimissile system on the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. Only his "chaff" comes in the form of thousands-of-dollar-an-hour lawyers hired to confuse the Feds. But they're not buying it.

Kelly Bowers, assistant director of the SEC's Pacific Region office in Los Angeles, is no rookie. He called a meeting of "all the Mayor's men" in the Federal Building downtown yesterday, letting them know that he wasn't having any more of their bullshit.

He wants to know when they are going to have some answers for him. So Dick Murphy, your honor, you can appoint every (Republican) lawyer in town until the town goes bankrupt, but it is not going to save you from the inevitable. Heads have to roll.

That was Kelly Bowers' point yesterday. He wants a scalp. And he could care less whose. All the lawyers in the world can't save whoever lied to the SEC.
 
 
 

Phil LaVelle must get permission to discuss Aguirre's press conference? - 03/02/05

 
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When Mayor Murphy did not get the City Attorney he wanted (Leslie Devaney), because we the people had the audacity to elect the one we wanted, he simply appointed his own, Paul Pfingst, and will send us the bill! That is the state of democracy in America's Finest City today!

Our "fair and balanced" Union-Tribune newspaper reported that Mike Aguirre gave a press conference on Tuesday "accusing Mayor Dick Murphy and the City Council of violating the city charter and interfering with his duties, and (that) he took some liberties with recent political history."

Their staff writer, Philip J. LaVelle, skipped whatever Mike had to say about the city charter being violated and used the rest of his long article defending Paul Pfingst and telling us exactly how Mike Aguirre took "liberties". So great was his indignation at Mike's "liberty-taking" that he ran out of space without getting around to telling us what Aguirre actually said, or exactly how Murphy and his "officials" violated the city charter.

I suppose little things like violating the city charter are of small import compared to the effrontery of somebody thinking they can attack Murphy's appointed attorney, Paul Pfingst, especially when that person happens to be the real City Attorney, the one elected by we the people.

Phil LaVelle apparently took his lead from Murphy's spokeswoman Colleen Windsor, who said "The mayor will not discuss Mr. Aguirre's press release." Nor did Phil.
 
 
 

It takes a certain kind of guy to earn Mayor Murphy's trust   -   02/20/05

 
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Now we all know Murphy's defense (God knows he keeps repeating it often enough): it was all former City Attorney Casey Gwinn's fault.

All poor Dick did was sign what was put in front of him. Any one of us would do the same. How could a Mayor be expected to worry if some lowly clerk might mistakenly put down that the pension fund was funded at 97% and not 80%?

It's not a Mayor's job to look for little details like that, now is it?

Strange though that he had such confidence in the last City Attorney, he never even looked at what he asked him to sign but he scrutinizes everything this new guy does!

I wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that he knows Aguirre would have caught that little item about the missing $2.4 billion. Was Murphy just as pleased that Gwinn missed it? Petco Park would never have happened without that little lie.

It takes a certain kind of person to earn Murphy's trust. What does that say about our former City Attorney? Isn't it time we heard from Mr. Gwinn on this?
 
 
 

They have banded together to cover their asses   -   02/16/05

 
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The debacle downtown shows the total disconnect between this City and its citizens.

Our City Council has unanimously voted to pay a guy called Lynn Turner from the New York law firm of Kroll Inc., $750 per hour and $900 per hour for his supervisor, to do a snow job for the City. They already have signed an initial contract to pay these guys a minimum of $250,000! I guess the bigger the snow job, the more it costs.

Turner is going to look at the disclosures our City officials made to Wall Street and tell us "somebody" made a mistake but no one individual is responsible. Nice work when you can get it. Then we, the long-suffering taxpayers, will have to pay the legal costs of any official we might be rash enough to accuse of having done anything illegal.

I think it is time we all went out and joined the San Diego Taxpayers Association. It is time we demanded a proper accounting for our hard-earned City tax dollars. This nonsense has gone far enough. We need to get together and stop it.

Right now I cannot think of anybody other than the Taxpayers Association that might offer us any hope (short of a popular uprising).

They have circled the wagons and got us locked out pretty good.
 
 
 

Murphy was "walking a dangerous path"   -   02/11/05

 
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This rogue Mayor and City Council are about to discover that the City Attorney represents the City as an entity not the Mayor and City Councilors as individuals. Aquirre is doing his job. We elected him, he works for us, not Murphy & Co.

We may also be hearing from former City Attorney Casey Gwinn pretty soon because Murphy has now blamed him by saying that he "advised us that the bond disclosure documents complied with federal securities laws".

According to Murphy the mass of information put before him by others, that the Pension Fund was under funded, was negated by Gwinn saying that there was no need to disclose it to Wall Street. I wonder what Gwinn will have to say about that.


Aquirre's enemies are saying that everybody is afraid of him at City Hall, I think it is any former association with Murphy they should be afraid of. Anybody who did his bidding and now expect loyalty are in for a rude awakening.

Bully boys always defend themselves by pointing at others. Murphy has started with Gwinn. But bully boys are always brought down when those they try to scapegoat turn on them. Peter Q. Davis was right that Murphy was "walking
a dangerous path".
 
 
 

91 pages of damning evidence against Murphy   -   02/10/05

 
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Murphy will be "sleepless in San Diego" tonight. Aquirre's 91 page interim report is out.  Aquirre says Murphy knowingly lied about City finances. Dick will be looking at that Harvard MBA hanging in his den out there in San Carlos and cursing the sight of it.

How could a Harvard MBA not know what was going on?

He appointed
Ron Saathoff, president of San Diego City Firefighters Local 145, an organization which endorsed Murphy for Mayor, onto the San Diego City Employees' Retirement Board (when he wasn't even a City employee) where Saathoff voted himself the right to retire at age 55 at $116,436 a year on a current salary of $84,000 (from his union) in return for his Pension Fund vote to let the City defer a giant balloon payment to the Pension Fund that would have bankrupted the City!

How could this little detail have escaped the notice of a Harvard MBA?

And now our Dick Tater has the gall to call Aquirre doing his job for the people of San Diego "political grandstanding". Throughout history dictators, when they get caught, have protested that they were victimized by lesser human beings. Well Aquirre received a master's in public administration at your same Harvard alma mater.

Get yourself a good lawyer Murphy. From your years on the bench you would have known the best, during which time you should also have learned right from wrong.
 
 
 

Dick Tater does it again   -   02/09/05

 
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In the early days of American democracy, meeting places such as the United States House of Representatives were known as "People's Houses". Legislative Assemblies, State Houses, County Councils and City Councils were sacred places.

In recognition of the People's primary place in legislative assemblies the San Diego City Council used to start its regular Tuesday meetings with an open forum for the people of San Diego at 10:00 AM. Yesterday Mayor Dick Murphy changed all that. You and I now get to speak at the end of the Tuesday session, whenever that might be.

An ordinary person who wishes to challenge the might of the Mayor and City Council now has to sit around the Chamber all day until the session ends, which could be anytime up until midnight. The likelihood of Murphy or any City Councilor, other than Donna Frye as usual, staying behind to hear what you or I might have to say is nil.

In Ireland the words "murphys" or "taters" are often used for potatoes. If you substitute the word "Tater" for Murphy our City's Mayor becomes Dick Tater.
 
 
 

02/07/05 Why not just ask Fred Pierce if the City Pension Fund has invested
in any of his various development projects?

 
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Murphy's appointment of Fred Pierce, a developer, as President of the City Pension Fund is like putting a pedophile in charge of an orphanage. This guy has been put in charge of a fund that has billions to invest in local real estate. He could develop half the county with the 40% of the pension fund that can be invested in San Diego real estate.

In today's editorial the San Diego Union-Tribune said: "Pierce
flatly denies that the benefit increases were tied to the pension board's vote on under-funding. But several documents that recently have come to light demonstrate a very clear connection."

They go on to quote three such documents:

(1) on May 9, 2002, Daniel Kelley (then the city's labor relations manager) wrote a memo to Mayor Murphy and the City Council explaining that the enhanced benefits contained in a proposed labor agreement with the police union hinged on the retirement board's lifting of the "trigger" requiring the $500 million balloon payment;
(2) Paul Maco of Vinson & Elkins (the lawyers we share with Enron) reported that city negotiators agreed in 2002 to a sharp 25 percent hike in basic retirement benefits for city workers over two years and that these new benefits were explicitly contingent upon the willingness of the Pension Board granting the City additional breathing room with respect to the balloon payment;
(3) Larry Grissom, retirement system administrator, stipulated explicitly in a staff report dated June 13, 2002 that "all of these changes are contingent upon the Retirement Board's approval of modifications to the trigger".

The San Diego Union thus conclusively contradicts Fred Pierce's protests of innocence, but they are still missing the point!

What about Pierce's development projects? Has any of them received City Pension Fund money? That would be a far more serious conflict of interest than even these glaring quid pro quo "enhancements" to retiree benefits that only cost taxpayers $48 million, a spit in the $3.8 billion pension fund bucket.

The San Diego Union-Tribune still has not pursued this (I have emailed them several times) or is Pierce just a very public-spirited guy giving of his valuable time, taking on the onerous civic duty of managing a tiresome pension fund for an ungrateful public?
 
 
 

The difference between San Diego and Chicago   -   02/03/05

 
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What is the difference between Chicago and San Diego?

Dead men vote in Chicago - dead men draw pensions in San Diego; in Chicago the streets get cleaned - under Murphy the citizens get cleaned.
 
 
 

The reluctant whistle blower   -   02/03/05

 
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The Vortman memo is the best answer I have heard to San Diego's soaring real estate prices: who would want to live in a city that must now adopt "painful" measures "in terms of reduced services and/or increased taxes and fees" to make up the $1.3 billion deficit in the City Pension Fund, apart from all the other problems Vortman mentions.

But the Ballpark got funded before the Feds found out, Murphy got reelected and everything worked out. City Auditor Terri Webster did her job for Murphy and I am sure she can expect other juicy appointments during Murphy's second term.

This Terri Webster lady seems to be a particular favorite "appointee" of Murphy. She seems to have a knack of knowing what he likes in his reports.

According to herself she tried a dozen times to get Vortman to say the "right thing" on the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee. Murphy had very wisely appointed her to that Committee in addition to already having her on the Pension Board. Who better to make sure that the Pension Fund came out smelling like a rose. The Mayor likes roses.
 
 
 

Murphy got in on a minority of votes   -   02/02/05

 
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While we await the Judge's decision on the un-bubbled ballots (which I expect to go against Frye) it is well to remember that the then pro-Murphy City Attorney and City Clerk allowed the Frye write-in vote in order to split the anti-Murphy vote between Ron Roberts and Donna Frye. It worked. Murphy got in on a minority vote.

He now complains about the thing that got him reelected and wants it changed. This guy brings hypocrisy to whole new level.
 
 
 

We want our City back    -   01/29/05

 
 

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It is highly significant that the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune used the word “rogue” to describe the current City Pension Board. I would go further and apply that word to our Mayor unless he explains his extraordinary fondness and protection of the current Pension Board and particularly its President, Fred Pierce.

Murphy appointed this man to head up the Pension Board which has $3.6 billion in assets, 40% of which can be invested in real estate, knowing that Mr. Pierce is the project manager of the giant Paseo project, which includes approximately 250,000 square feet of retail space including a multiplex theater, restaurants and specialty retailers above a 1,950-car underground validated parking structure, located at the gateway to San Diego State, which has 32,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff.

Murphy must be very sure there is no conflict of interest between Pierce’s role on the Pension Board and his leadership of this Paseo project otherwise he would never have supported an appointment that has such enormous potential for conflict.

I think he should explain to us why he thinks, after all that has happened, that Fred Pierce continues to be the best man for the pension job. What are Pierce's talents that have so impressed Murphy? Do they so outweigh the potential for conflict of interest?
 

 
 

01/28/05 - Follow the money: where are the Pension Funds invested?

 
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Mike Aquirre said yesterday: "Instead of having Mayor Murphy's appointees suing the city, Mayor Murphy should be removing these individuals from the pension board after they have proven themselves to be a rogue city agency." Retirement Fund Board President Frederick W. Pierce IV is a Murphy appointee and a property developer.

It seems to me that the whole downtown Republican legal establishment that elected Dick Murphy is "a rogue agency". They are all protecting each other. The Lincoln Club is running this City not our elected officials, with the notable exception of Mike Aquirre.

They are going after Aquirre as they went after Diann Shipione and anybody else who crosses them. That is the way organized crime behaves. Is that what this is?

Next thing we will be hearing that Mike Aquirre beats his wife or downloads kiddy porn. I am sure their "investigators" are hard at work. Murphy and his appointed wrecking crew are wrecking our democracy and this city. He loves appointing people.

Aquirre is right, the Pension Fund should be put into receivership and taken out of the hands of people like Pierce who thinks it is his own private development fund. Has anybody looked at the investment side of its portfolio yet? Has it invested in Pierce's College Area project for example? These guys are protecting something, and it isn't us.
 
 
 

01/26/05 - The City Attorney was not elected to represent crooks

 
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Mayor Dick Murphy said yesterday
"The City Attorney has advised the mayor and City Council that he does not represent us in the Securities and Exchange Commission's civil investigation and that we should retain our own attorney. I expect to follow his advice."

Fine Dick, but you are going to have to pay for your own attorney. We the people of San Diego did not elect a City Attorney to defend your wrongdoing. If you are being investigated by the SEC for lying to Wall Street you stay out of jail on your own dime.

We will be watching to see who pays for your attorney (consigliore). Get a good criminal one; try your friends at Shannon Development, they have lots of money.
 
 
 

01/25/05 - Our City's Bada Bing Club

 
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City Manager Lamont Ewell, a Murphy supporter, said he didn't believe "anything wrong had occurred" in the destruction of "duplicate records" at the city treasurer's office at a time when the SEC had subpoenaed ALL treasury records.

He then disputed Aquirre's information that 20 city people were involved in the document destruction that took place in early December. He said "not even half that number" were involved. So he knew about the destruction! But it is not so bad because only ten people were involved in tossing hundreds of files into the recycler? Well that's OK then. If only ten people were involved "nothing wrong" could have occurred.

And anyway, Ewell told Aquirre, it was a "record reorganization" and he will be happy to talk to the SEC, right after he talks to his attorneys Vinson & Elkins whom he was going to ask to look into this matter on Friday (remember the
$2.6 million Enron  lawyers from Houston
who wrote the 268 page snow job for Murphy, earning San Diego the moniker of "Enron-by-the-Sea" from the New York Times, the report that KPMG totally rejected out of hand? Yeah, that Vinson & Elkins).

City Hall is beginning to look more like the Bada Bing Club in The Sopranos than the seat of local democratic government. Record destruction is now record reorganization? Attorneys are consiglieri? When people start disappearing will we be told they are in the "witness protection program"?
 

 
 

01/24/05 - Democracy is on the way

 
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Great news! A Judge will hear the case for Donna Frye, starting January 31st.

He has ordered the Registrar to produce the 5,547 disputed ballots. That's a very good sign. I have every confidence he will rule that our right to have our votes counted trumps every other law, state or local. No legislative body can frustrate that right.
 
 
 

01/22/05 - Doesn't anybody care?

 
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This agonized picture of Diann Schipione in today's San Diego Union-Tribune sums up the feelings and frustrations of all of us who love San Diego.

The picture was taken yesterday after she was barred from a closed door session of the Pension Board of which she is a member. How can this Pension Board get away with barring the only honest member among them while they commit nothing less than grand larceny? Diann Schipione was physically shaken at the sheer enormity of it all.

Apparently the pension fund deficit is much worse than previously suspected. The figures we had up until now from Ms. Schipione were for 2002 when the funded ratio was approaching the balloon payment trigger of 82% but since then they have been granting themselves all kinds of benefits so that the funded ratio is now more like 62%.

They dare not allow a whistle-blower in there to tell us what is really going on because there is no way the City will ever be able to make this up without massive special taxation. Aquirre is right, this will bankrupt the City if it ever has to be paid.

And meantime they keep adding to it! Behind closed doors!

Yet most San Diegans haven't got a clue or could care less. They are more interested in the Chargers next season or the upcoming Super Bowl. The fact that a few unscrupulous people are robbing their City blind does not seem to bother them.

No wonder Ms. Schipione is in tears. She seems to be the only one who cares.
 
 
 

01/18/05 - First fruits of Aquirre's raid

 
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The first of
 pension attorney Seltzer, Caplan, McMahon & Vitek supposed "private" papers found in the City Auditor's offices last Tuesday by City Attorney Aquirre, has been released today. It is from a member of Dick Murphy's Blue Ribbon Committee on City Finances, Richard Vortmann, to pension board President Frederick W. Pierce.

Vortmann's letter to Pierce on February 18, 2002 asked various questions regarding the pension fund and noted "a funded ratio at 85.6 percent is getting close to the 82.3 percent trigger".

The "trigger" he was referring to was an agreement between the City and the City's Pension Fund that if the system's funded ratio (assets to liabilities) fell below 82.3 percent, the City would have to make a balloon payment to boost the asset side.

So what was wrong with Vortmann pointing this out to Pierce in February 2002? Nothing, except that Vortmann then signed the Blue Ribbon Report saying that the funded ratio was 97%! Try explaining that one Vortmann.

And what was Murphy's response to this Blue Ribbon Report, showing a funded ratio of 97%? Did anybody tell him that the funded ratio was really down at 85.6% and nearing the trigger of 82.3% for a giant balloon payment the City didn't have?

They must have because Murphy abolished the trigger and boosted the entitlements to retirees, the price he had to pay to get it passed!

He can hardly say he does not understand these things, he has an MBA from Harvard.

No wonder the City Employees Union endorsed him in the November election. He keeps boosting their retirement - at our expense. But what does it say about all those City employees, particularly attorneys, who are willing to do anything he asks?
 
 
 

01/15/05 - Mike Aquirre deserves all of our support

 
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City Attorney Mike Aquirre deserves the wholehearted support of every citizen of San Diego. We should be eternally grateful that our City is blessed with an honest City Attorney at such a trying time. Murphy's plan was for Leslie Devaney to have Aquirre's job. But she lost the election. She and her husband Frank are staunch Murphy supporters and senior attorneys at the City, now forced to work under Aquirre.

Mike has launched his own investigation into the goings on at the City that caused KPMG (Klynveld, Peat, Marwick and Goerdeler, four of the oldest and prestigious names in international accounting) to refuse to sign the City's 2003 accounts.

Murphy's response was to pay $2.6 million to Enron's lawyers, Vinson & Elkins from Houston, to write a 268 page snow job, earning San Diego the moniker of "Enron-by-the-Sea" from the New York Times. KPMG rejected this Vinson & Elkins' snow job.

Since then there has been a standoff between KPMG and the City, with KPMG refusing to complete the 2003 audit until there is an investigation into potential unlawful activities by the City while City employees loyal to Murphy refuse to hand over anything, like the "Know Nothings". In the meantime the City's finances are in limbo.

Mike Aquirre, responding to KPMG's demand for this inquiry, started with the City Auditor's office last Tuesday and surprised the acting City Auditor, Terri Webster, who also happens to be on the City Pension Board, having a cozy chat, in her City office, with Jerry Coughlan a lawyer from Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, the San Diego law firm who represent the Pension Board. Whatever could they have been chatting about?

Well anyway, Mike Aquirre gives Coughlan his marching orders right out of the City offices and seizes several boxes stuffed with the very documents that were the subject of Ms. Webster's tete-a-tete with Mr. Coughlan and being sought by the Feds.

Coughlan's bosses at Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek and their client the Pension Board must have gone ballistic because Coughlan had to write an abject letter of explanation to his client, the Pension Board, protesting that when he tried to prevent Aquirre seizing the boxes, Aquirre told him to "vacate the premises" or "suffer the consequences."

Nice going Aquirre, the guy didn't work for the City, he had no business being there.

No word of what our City Auditor, Ms. Webstar, did. No doubt she saw the fire in Aquirre's eye and decided to keep her job, at least for another while. She was smart enough to recognize that any document in her City office was City property.

So now what? Aquirre claims that these documents are part of what was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission, but instead were sequestered in the office of the City Auditor/Pension Board member. Wow!

Then Michael Leone, one of the honchos at Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, lobs in a big threatening letter into the Aquirre compound, claiming that the seized documents are the property of the Pension Board not of the City (then what were they doing in Ms. Webster's City office, during City working hours, in her capacity as City Auditor? And what is in these documents that has Mr. Leone and the Pension Board so frazzled?).

Leone demanded the documents back, saying "If you fail to comply" he
"will pursue all available remedies against the City of San Diego in the courts, and if appropriate, the State Bar." I'm sure Mike Aquirre is quaking in his boots. Whose City is this anyway?

I think we should all write letters of support to Mike Aquirre and those of his staff who are still honest. They seem to be fighting a lonely and very brave battle against City corruption the magnitude of which we are only just beginning to glimpse.

And why is it not our elected Mayor who is conducting this urgent investigation required by his auditors KPMG? Whose Mayor is he? Who is he protecting? Himself?
 
 
 

01/14/05 - But there is help!

 
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Is poverty ruining your life? Is it threatening your job? Destroying your marriage?

Ask yourself these important questions: "How many times a day do I feel poor?";
"Do I feel poor the moment I wake up in the morning?". If yes to either, you need help.

But help is at hand! Become a Friend of Dick's! Join the Murphy Ten Step Program!

Here are the Ten Murphy Steps to Becoming Rich:

1.  Be rich already.
2.  Meet only rich people.
3.  Donate to rich politicians who understand rich people.
4.  Join organizations that promote the interests of rich people.
5.  Unlearn all Latin phrases you ever learned, like "quid pro quo" (it might slip out at
     the wrong moment).
6.  If anybody asks you anything (especially the Feds) say: "I know nothing".
7.  Don't use e-mail.
8.  Don't indulge in inter-state commerce, especially with Nevada.
9.  Get a rich lawyer.
10. Learn Dick Murphy's favorite karaoke song: "Pennies from Heaven".
 
 
 

01/13/05 - Murphy spawns a veritable new industry: fundraising

 
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Mayor Murphy announced today that he had to "very reluctantly" let his Chief of Staff and long time associate, John Kern, retire from his City job to go and head up the far more important (and lucrative) job of shaking the local money tree for Murphy's five legal defense funds.

I'm sure Murphy was heartbroken to see such a talented fellow leave the City.

In fact he was so heartbroken that he took time out last week, from his pressing duties trying to find the missing $1.2 billion from the City Pension Fund, to arrange for Kern to be the last pig at the DROP trough. (The notorious Deferred Retirement Option Plan supposedly designed to persuade talented City employees to stay longer, but which in fact enabled people like Kern to pick up checks in excess of $1 million. Kern only entered the program days before "reluctantly" retiring today and two days after Mayor Murphy was forced to drop the DROP in his State of the City address on Tuesday.)

Do they think we're all daft?

Kern earned $177,000 a year managing Murphy's mayoral office. I wonder how much the DROP deal is worth to him today. People in the know called the relationship between these two a "dual-mayorship" and that these two enterprising boys were like a "binary-star", two suns in the same orbit. Ah, isn't that lovely?

So Murphy established his five legal defense funds last week. He is now able to accept $250 per contributor for each of the five law suits that have been filed against him. Kern is going to be busy baling all that money. Of course Kern will have to reactivate his old political consultancy business, The Kern Co., just to collect the usual fund-raiser's fee and ensure that no political child of Murphy is left behind.

I hope poor Kern will be able to pick up a little more than the measly $177,000 a year he was forced to live on while he was serving the public so diligently at the Mayor's office for the last four years. I am tempted to go down there myself and file a couple of more law suits just to help them out, so they can legally get another couple of $250 from each of those generous public spirited "supporters" at the City Club on Broadway.

Kern and Murphy must be fair exhausted from all the heavy work they had to do last week: setting up five legal defense funds, arranging a DROP program for Kern at such short notice, figuring out how much five times $250 is, (the amount they can now pick up from each of their "supporters"), counting up how many are on their "client list" and checking it twice. I bet they didn't get to bed until after midnight one night last week.

Ah don't you just love free enterprise? I think I'll become a Republican.
 
 
 

01/11/05 - Murphy's fiddles while the City burns

 
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With the exception of Neil Morgan (the best editor the San Diego Union-Tribune ever had, so they fired him), local press and radio have swallowed whole Mayor Murphy's cover-up speech last night. He spoke of
"intolerable lapses" in City government but attributed none of them to himself.

He spoke of his determination to get the 2003 City audit completed in the first quarter of 2005, when he has resisted every attempt to do so. The fact that it has not been completed is an "intolerable lapse" right there and he is responsible.

He has steadfastly refused to conduct the internal investigation KPMG has called for before they will complete the audit.

He knows that some City official lied to auditors and that that is the reason for the delay. He now has to either them cough up or put the City into bankruptcy. KPMG are not Enron. Somebody has to take the fall. In the meantime the City can't fix broken sewers.

Instead of addressing these horrific questions Murphy demagogued us by promising a new downtown library. He knew that would raise a cheer from the fuddled masses.

He knew he cannot fix our sewers so he threw us brass coins (depicting himself as our very own Ceasar) in the form of false promises like a new downtown library.

He told us that he would use CCDC money for the library, $100 million of it, as if the CCDC has any money! In fact they owe the City $100 million!

He says he will "reconstitute" the Pension Board. I am sure that is his way of saying that he will get rid of Diann Shipione, the whistle-blower who started all his troubles.

Then he announced a bogus two year freeze on City wages, contributing $40 million towards the $1.2 billion pension shortfall, but forgot to mention what he knows only too well: that the City Employees Union (who endorsed him) will never agree.

His PR person must have come up with this one: he will now have the Pension Fund Board meetings televised! Who cares? We all know that the real meetings take place elsewhere. We all know that real City business is conducted in the clubby dens.

I believe he is starting to conduct his own defense in the certain knowledge of being charged with malfeasance by the Feds. A city just can't lie to Wall Street and expect to get away with it. His lawyerly mind is now totally occupied on saving his own skin.

In the meantime the City burns.
 
 
 

01/10/05 - Murphy's last chance

 
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The Union-Tribune has called on Mayor Murphy to lead in his inaugural speech tonight. They have put him on notice that this is his last chance. Bob Kittle and his editorial crew have it right. No more political claptrap, the City is in trouble and Murphy is the Mayor. The editors will be listening to him very closely.

As for the rest of the over 66% of us who did not vote for Murphy, we are not holding our breath. We know that his only concern is his own political survival and staying out of jail. He will not take on the crooks who got us into this mess because they are his cronies and can put him behind bars if he turns on them. America's Finest City? Maybe, when Murphy and the cadre who put him in power are run out of town.

Feds, what's keeping you?
 
 
 

01/07/05 - Murphy has lost the ability to lead 

 
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The case for counting the "unbubbled" votes will revolve around whether
Bob Ottilie's (Murphy's lawyer) assertion that the City Council vote on July 26 2004 to consolidate the municipal election with the statewide election brought the entire election under the control of the state Elections Code and Fred Woocher's counter assertion that the municipal code clearly says that any name written on a ballot "shall be counted" and that in municipal elections city law in a charter city such as San Diego overrides state law.

So the the judge will have to decide if this was a state election or a municipal election. I can't imagine how he can invalidate our municipal code where it does not correspond with state code when that is the whole point in having municipal codes in the first place.

As for Murphy's pleadings to be allowed to lead the City out of its present mess without legal distractions, if he had led the City since 2000 instead of pandering to his rich cronies we wouldn't be in this mess. He is the last guy to lead us out of it.
 
 

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