The passage of time often has the effect of blunting the sharp edges of reality causing the mind to overlook the worse of ones experiences during the year. Fading memories, often times, are used to recall the passing years. As a Publisher, of La Prensa San Diego, I have published editorials that afforded a panorama of how we viewed and expressed our professional opinions on the issues that we perceived as being important to our City.
As I sit at my computer to bring life to the words that I will be writing, I recall the statement that we made and have adhered to: “La Prensa San Diego will report the news around us as viewed through our brown eyes, intelligence, culture, as conditioned by our history and experiences.” We can do no less to be true to ourselves. With that stated we now turn to Year 2002.
Year 2002 appeared on our screens
September 2001 still resounded in our hearts and minds. The visions and sounds of that terrible day still hunt our memories. September 11, 2001 (9/11) will forever be scarred in our being. But time waits for no one and the world marches on. San Diego County along with the rest of the Nation has to move on.
Mayor Dick Murphy had become the new elected leader of the City of San Diego. In fact, the Mayor of San Diego is the defacto leader of the entire County of San Diego. What he says, what he does and how he carries out his functions, as Mayor, is a matter that is of concern in the entire County, City and State.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we waited in anticipation for our newly elected Mayor to rise above the mundane, parochial concerns of the past leadership and lead our city by voicing and demonstrating that he would be capable to raise to the new challenges presented by the attack on the Military complex (the Pentagon) and the World Trade Center in New York City. An attack on them was an attack on all.
As his first duty, as Mayor, he was to deliver the “State of the City Address” in January. We waited to hear how Mayor Dick Murphy respond to the attack on our country. We wanted to know how he would lead us in this time of crisis. We were doomed to be disappointed. What the Mayor delivered in his address to the people of San Diego was a feckless, dry, uninspired laundry list of goals for the city.
San Diego home to the United States Naval & Marine Forces Pacific Fleet, the mightiest fleet of Carriers, Aircraft Squadrons, Destroyers, Cruisers, Submarines, Amphibious Forces and the United States Marine Corp, home to the Pacific Fleet, during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, & Desert Storm, and home to large contingent of Veterans, who had put their lives on the line for America, found no words of support from our Mayor. La Prensa San Diego found the Mayors State of the City Address under- whelming. With that inauspicious beginning, the rest of year 2002 went down hill and slowly sunk into obscurity.
Year 2002 Accomplishments
As the City stumbled on through the year, the State was going through an energy crisis, Silicon Valley went into the slumps, the State sunk into debt in the billions of dollars, housing in San Diego became gentrified and the working class couldn’t find homes that they could afford to live in. Our Public schools were a mess, students, teachers, parents rebelled against the San Diego Unified School District, and chaos reigned in the educational establishment. Unemployment hit the roof, the unemployment rolls grew, more and more, and people moved on to the grasslands in Balboa Park. Our City went along. It was clear that the leadership thought the whole world would fall apart if the City didn’t build a new Baseball and Football stadium for the PADRES and the CHARGERS at public expense.
Elections came and went and no one cared! The warning signs were flying through out the political establishment that something was wrong. Yet, the City and the local “head in the sand” political establishment went merrily along its way. Things are so bad that even La Jolla wants to de-enfranchise from San Diego!
In our review we could only find the Mayors 10 Goals to judge him by. You can’t judge him by any other way when he refuses to engage and lead. The year is over let’s see how the Mayors and his 10 goals survived:
Goal #1 - The Ethics Commission: This Commission was created in 2001. The Mayor outlined how he was going to appoint members. The Mayor had stated he was not going to appoint lawyers. Surprise! The Commission is comprised mostly of lawyers. A couple of minority tokens were appointed. La Prensa hoped that the Ethics Commission would have the courage to haul up the PADRES organization for filing a lawsuit to stop a private attorney from suing the city on the PADRES MOU [Memorandum of understanding] and stop the raid of the City Treasury. In fact the raids of the Public Treasury (taxpayers money) were never stopped. The City continues to support private business enterprise, the PADRE and CHARGERS organization with taxpayer taxes. The Commission is still powerless, still controlled by lawyers; the token minorities are just that ‘tokens.’
Goal # 2 - Library System: The San Diego Library System has been a goal for 40 years. Of all the issues confronting the City, the Libraries are the issues most talked about. La Prensa noted that public monies being used to finance the PADRES and CHARGER organizations should instead be used for financing the PUBLIC Library System. To date the Main Library is still just a piece of paper. The year is over and the City is still waiting for the State or anyone to step in and build the public library system.
Goal #3 - Traffic Management Program: The Mayor’s vision to eliminate traffic congestion on city streets was to repeat worn-out clichés like car-pooling, working out of one’s home, and having flexible hours, express lanes, etc. which haven’t work before. La Prensa suggested the city stop promoting the City to the whole country and encouraging outsiders to move and work here! Stop the money spigot; stop being the cash cow to CONVIS and the Chamber of Commerce and all the rest of the public relation hacks who keep luring more and more people to San Diego. The daily wall-to-wall traffic jams on our streets is ample evidence that the Mayor and City Council have been unwilling to bite the bullet on this issue. Their failure to control growth has been disastrous to the city and county of San Diego. San Diego workers spend more time on the road than on the job.
Goal #4 - City Village Plan: Build it and the people will come. Of course the Developers and Redevelopers and Financers will love anything that says GROWTH! When will the Mayor and City Council have the guts to say NO MAS? The only Village plans we see are all costing from $500,000 - $1,250,000. Perhaps the term Village was the wrong word. The Mayor is leading the drive to GENTRIFY the whole city and eliminates the entire working class out of the city! You ever wonder why so many of the working class people have to live 50 miles away from San Diego? You can’t live near your job when you’re earning $7.00 an hour! See Goal 3.
Goal # 5 - To Clean up the Beaches: It is obvious that our beaches are toilet sumps. We have more polluted beaches than Tijuana. There are more POLLUTION signs on our beaches than signs to MacDonald’s. Our beaches are sand-less entities littered with beer bottles, condoms, and dog poo poo. The City has no money to fix our sewer systems, water mains, and discharge systems. Our beaches are receptors of nuclear waste, industrial waste, and sludge from our untreated waste that comes from our homes. All this material is pumped into the oceans. Why hasn’t the City poured money into cleaning our beaches? And did the needed maintenance of our infrastructure?
Goal # 6 - Build a new Airport: Airports are a zero sum game. They are only needed when you have passengers. No passengers no money comes in. Airports are a loser for cities with a finite population and space to build them. There are not enough passengers and cargo to require expansion. Besides now you have an Airport Authority. Let them worry about it.
Goal #7 - To Complete the PADRES BALL PARK! La Prensa San Diego recommended that it would be better to live with a huge hole in the ground than to bankrupt the city!
Goal #8 - Making San Diego Safer: Finally a goal that makes sense. We totally agreed with the need to maintain a level of protection within the City by sustaining the number of professional; police at the required ratio. La Prensa San Diego suggested that because of the fluctuations brought about by tourists, Mexican workers, migrants and non-resident military that the City Police should have a higher ratio of the currently assigned ratio of 1.67 officers per 1000 residents. At any given time we have nearly 1 million cross border workers, students and shoppers coming into our City.
Goal # 9 - Multiple Species Conservation: Guess the Mayor didn’t have a clue what he wanted. No goals stated or were too vague.
Goal # 10 - Energy Independence Plan: Goal not defined. Perhaps the Mayor should have put Senator Steve Peace to formulate a plan. He is good on making energy plans. Comes well recommended by the State and Energy companies.
La Prensa San Diego noted that the Mayor totally ignored the issues along the San Ysidro/Tijuana Border. Nor were there any goals for increasing the number of City Council seats, no goals for increasing minority hiring, no goals for eliminating the “Jim Crow Rules” that effectively deny JUSTICE, EQUALITY, AND FULL MEMBERSHIP IN AMERICAN SOCIETY BECOME A FACT IN AMERICA’S FINEST CITY?
Score Card on Mayor Dick Murphy = 1 positive out of 10.
Adios year 2002. We await year 2003 and pray for better luck.