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Blog Archives - 2006
coming city land sell-off bonanza -
by Pat Flannery
City employee union leaders
such as Ann Smith keep referring to compliance with the
City Charter as a Mike Aguirre "legal theory". Scott
Peters and most of our City Council agree with these
union leaders, they say Aguirre is wrong. Where does
that leave them with regard to the City Charter they
swore to uphold?
We should be outraged that our elected leaders are
thumbing their noses at the basic law of this City. We
don't need to go to court to know what the Charter says,
we can read! The simple fact is that this Council
illegally granted unfunded benefits to buy employee
silence in 2002. Disgraced former Mayor Murphy and
several other Councilors, particularly Scott Peters,
should presently be in jail for this crime.
"I think it would be
wrong for us to have negotiated benefits in 2002 at the
City Council and then take the position in court that
they're illegal" Peters told the
How else are we ever going to get out of this
pension mess? Sell off city land of course. That is what
Sanders' developer friends are urging on him. That is
what Ann Smith and the unions are urging, knowing the
developers will push for it. And guess who is patiently
sitting there waiting for the big sell-off bonanza -
Individual ownership is under threat in San Diego -
by Pat Flannery
All this talk about
relocating the airport 100 miles out in the desert is
part of a strategy to make the airport expansion seem
not so bad after all. The developers are patient and
thorough. They want to get their greedy hands on that
whole area from I-5 to Dog's Beach and from I-8 to
the Airport. That would make the NTC deal look small.
Any developer worth his salt knows that the way to do
big deals nowadays is to exploit an emotive public issue
like the lack of an adequate school, a dysfunctional
airport, a ballpark or anything else where the public
will vote their emotions not their minds. The people
want their airport near at hand not out in the desert.
The developers know that.
It will be portrayed by
the developers and some money-hungry Councilors as just
a few rich local residents along the coast bellyaching
about increased noise mixed with nostalgia for the
razing of older apartment buildings in the Midway and
Rosecrans area together with the removal of now
unsightly WWII industrial buildings along I-8 and
Even if you fall for the inevitable slick PR
and you come to see the whole airport expansion project
as "progressive" and "forward thinking" there is still a
serious issue that is less obvious. It is present in all
large redevelopment projects around the country.
Tens of thousands of individually owned titles to small
pieces of urban property are being extinguished every
day. The subdivision of yesteryear is being reversed.
It is a bit like what happened in rural America when
millions of individual farm holdings were merged into
single titles held by large agricultural corporations.
It changed America slowly but irreversibly. Most of the
agricultural land of America is now owned by large
corporations, many of them foreign. Is that what is in
store for urban America.
Take East San Diego for
example. If Sol Price and the redevelopment kings have
their way all that area from I-805 to La Mesa and from
El Cajon Blvd to I-94 will be corporate owned. Tens of
thousands of formerly individual city lots will be no
more. They will disappear from the County Tax Assessor's
Roll. Corporate apartment owners and shopping mall kings
will become the urban equivalent of the agricultural
Is that good for America? I don't
think so. Individual property ownership is what made
America the great country it is. Will "redevelopment" do
for the capitalist system what Stalin's "forced
collectivism" did for Soviet communism? Will it
concentrate power in the hands of a few? Stalin knew the
power of individual ownership. That is why he killed 20
million of his own people to destroy it, in order to
It is time We the People took a
serious look at what is happening under the banner of
"redevelopment". We are heading in the wrong direction
with regard to ownership.
lobbyists destroy a free market place -
by Pat Flannery
outsourcing are here to stay. All around the world
people trust the free markets more than they trust their
In Ireland for example most
people are opting to purchase prepaid trash bags
from private trash collection companies rather than pay
their local authority a flat fee per household for trash
collection. They prefer a pay-as-you-go private system.
Some local authorities are trying to close them down -
for costing the Councils "business"!
people are winning because an unexpected consequence of
trash privatization in Ireland was a dramatic increase
in recycling. People found they could cut down on the
number of pre-paid trash bags they needed to purchase by
exactly the amount they recycled. So they recycled.
That's why I like free markets.
What then is the
role of governments in today's market-driven world?
Simple: supervision. Government's job is to ensure a
level playing field for competition and then stand back
and let it happen.
Unfortunately many governments
around the world are not playing referee or striving to
ensure a level playing field, they are abusing their
power to rig the markets in favor of their political
contributors. Nowhere is this more evident than in
America and no party is more guilty than the Republican
Party, who tout themselves as the free market party.
A reader recently sent me
dramatically illustrates Republican abuse of
power while in government. To so blatantly rig the
markets in favor of their friends, on such as massive
scale, strikes at the very heart of our democracy.
The writer quite rightly points out that the marvel of
it all is not that they did it, but that WE are letting
them get away with it. Every day we allow favored
companies to "beat their competition, not in the
marketplace, but in the lobbying place" we put our
democracy, not to mention our economy, in mortal
It is time we tackled the whole
question of lobbyists at local and national level.
little advice for City Attorney Mike Aguirre - 02/17/06
by Pat Flannery
As Mike Aguirre sizzles in
the hot seat Mike Conger has so cleverly fashioned for
him (Mike has to decide whether to turn around and
defend City Hall on the very charges he so eloquently
leveled at it in his seven famous "Interim Reports") I
may have a suggestion for him on how to dampen down the
fire if not actually put it out.
Why not put the
monkey on Levitt's back? After all he is getting well
paid for it.
Levitt and his so-called "Audit
Committee" were hired to "reconcile" the Vinson & Elkins
Report with the Aguirre Reports. That is what their
letter of engagement says. Let them determine the truth
of the whole pension mess. Isn't that what Audit
Committee's are supposed to do? Get to the bottom of
If Aguirre was mistaken in his findings let the
great Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the SEC
(together with his three wise men from the East) point
out the truth to us befuddled Westerners. If Aguirre
stands corrected, then so be it. I'm sure Mike will
gracefully acknowledge his errors and dutifully proceed
to use all his best legal powers to defend the City
against all-comers, including his own hitherto erroneous
findings if needs be.
Now if I were Mike Aguirre
that's what I would do. We should all accept the wisdom
of the $900-per-hour-guru to whom Scott Peters and the
rest of the City Council (excluding Ms. Frye) paid out
so much of our money - $17 million so far.
Put the ball in Mr. Levitt's court I say. Let's see
if the facts as determined by Mr. Levitt in his long
awaited Report, now promised for May 2006. What could be
more appropriate than our City Attorney, like a good
lawyer looking out for his client's best interests,
accepting the findings of such an eminent man as Arthur
the real Mike Aguirre please stand up -
by Pat Flannery
Just as whether Sanders
would pay $10 million ransom to Arthur Levitt and his
gang was the acid test of Sanders' sincerity (which he
failed) Aguirre's decision whether to stand by his
reports or run for cover will tell us who Mike Aguirre
really is - is he a genuine reformer or did he just use
the outcry for reform to claw his way to office.
Mike Conger knows this pension stuff
every bit as well as Aguirre does and has put Mike in
hot seat over his reports.
Now we will find out whose attorney Aguirre really is -
Scott Peters' or ours. Whichever way Aguirre jumps
Peters will crucify him. Peters smells blood. He wants
to bring Aguirre down. Remember Peters is owned and
operated by the City employee unions and we know what
they think of Aguirre.
Aguirre was very free with
his advice to Donna Frye when she was running for Mayor,
e.g. her taxation policy (which really was his policy),
now he should listen to her for a change. If he does I
am sure he will continue to represent those who elected
him - us.
is the mortal enemy of our quality of life -
by Pat Flannery
My apologies to those of you
who have been looking in vain for my daily blogs. The
cause: I went to my native Ireland before Christmas and
overstayed. I will have one leg in San Diego and the
other in Ireland for a few months as I work on a
wireless Internet project in the old country, at least
that's my excuse. Ireland really is a magical place.
I still read all the San Diego politics every day
whether I am in San Diego or in Ireland. The only
difference now is that I read the Irish stuff as well.
The interesting thing is the similarities on both
sides of the Atlantic. It seems that wherever one goes
nowadays the struggle is between the business community
trying to run everything and ordinary citizens trying to
protect their quality of life. Success or failure of
either party is directly related to the degree of their
participation in politics. There is no doubt that
political apathy is the mortal enemy of citizens'
quality of life.
A stronger and more direct
cause of my silence was my deep disappointment that Mike
Aguirre has abandoned his reform agenda. He is just
another ambitious politician now. Thank goodness Donna
Frye has not wavered. She still opposes paying ransom
money to Arthur Levitt and his gang and is the only one
at City Hall that can be relied upon to think as a
citizen not as a politician.
On the bright side
we do have some excellent civic watchdogs like Mel
Shapiro who do a wonderful (and thankless) job in front
of the Council every week. Let's hope they don't get
disillusioned - remember, apathy is the mortal enemy of
our quality of life.
A clash between Sanders and
Aguirre is inevitable -
by Pat Flannery
Jerry Sanders is faced with
a San Diego version of the "Know Nothings", a 19th
century New York gang. The Know Nothings preyed on
immigrants in New York as the KKK preyed on black people
in the South. When arrested for murder and other hate
crimes they clammed up and "knew nothing".
seems that Mayor Sanders cannot get a straight answer to
any question at City Hall. It is suddenly staffed by
Know Nothings. Nobody knows how many people work there,
what they do, what their responsibilities are, whether
they are management or staff. Nobody knows what
contracts the City has with anybody nor even what
properties the City owns. Can you imagine the employees
of a private company getting away with such nonsense?
But they will. Just watch.
They all know what
pension they will receive and how to go out on
disability. Of course Jerry already knows all about that
as he did it himself, from the police.
He is now the entrepreneur/mayor and is learning to
speak like one because it was Republican money that got
him the job. Do Republicans care about good government?
Of course not. All they care about is steering their
development projects through planning with the minimum
cost to them and the maximum grants of free public land.
The danger for the citizens of this lovely city over the
next year or so is that they will become distracted by a
phony hue and cry about reform while their city is being
looted out the back door in secret give-aways to
Sanders' developer backers.
A clash between
Sanders and Aguirre is inevitable. I can't imagine that
Aguirre is fooled for one moment.
These two men
may like each other instinctively, having spent most of
their working lives in law enforcement of one kind or
another, but they now serve two very different
constituencies. By no stretch of the imagination can
Sanders be considered a reformer. But Aguirre must live
or die (politically) by reform.
Republicans have never been reformers. Business is
their sole preoccupation. They always promise reform but
they always take what they came for and leave even more
debt and chaos than they found. They simply do not
understand the concept of government. To them all
government is bad therefore the least of it the better.
What we are likely to see therefore after a few years of
Sanders and his cronies is even more massive City debt
and a whole lot of excuses. That's Sanders job. And the
Know Nothings have it figured out. All they have to do
is sit on their hands and say nothing, do nothing, tell
him nothing. They know that Sanders and his gang will
take what they came for, lots of development dollars,
and leave everything as it was - only worse.
just hope Donna Frye will be still around to pick up the
pieces. Anybody who thinks that these Sanders guys are
here to clean up City Hall are living in cloud cuckoo
Copyright "San Diego Today"
November, 2004 -