The State of the City address given by Mayor Dick Murphy this week was underwhelming. Those of us who are long-time city hall watchers or who are required by our professions to cover these yearly performances, have noted how irrelevant the State of the City yearly message has become. Some mayors in the past, knowing how insignificant these yearly gigs are, have at times tried to be entertaining or to use the occasion to make an effort to be visionary, even though they knew it was all hyperbole.
This year, the usual political groupies were in attendance, as well as political hacks who have a symbiotic attachment to the position of mayor. For the others who dragged themselves to the dreary performance, all we can suggest is "get a life"! The minimalist version of the SOTC (State of the City Address) was graciously granted space in the local section of the Union-Tribune and politely mentioned by the electronic media. After all, how much can you really say about the infamous ten 2001 goals (This is 2002)!
THE 2002 GOALS
Goal #1: Ethics Commission: This Commission was created in 2001. It is a totally powerless commission comprised mostly of lawyers, even though the Mayor had stated he was not going to appoint lawyers. A couple of token minorities were appointed, and the lawyers totally out vote them. The Commission has no power, hasn't said a single thing all year long nor has it met publicly since its inception. Unless you have a friend in the Mayor's office you don't even know who they are. The Mayor, for the year 2002, proposes to place a measure to give them subpoena powers on the March ballot. THIS IS A GOAL? This is more of an administrative detail.
(Perhaps the Ethics Commission will have the ETHICS 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).
Goal #2: Library System: The San Diego Library System has been a goal of San Diegans for the past 40 years. Of all the issues that are confronting the city, the library (main and branch libraries) is the issue that is most talked about. Where is the new vision of recapturing taxpayers' money from the City Treasury to bring about building a library system worthy of San Diego? A better goal for 2002 would have been to publicly make it a goal to stop financing private business such as the PADRES and CHARGERS WITH PUBLIC MONIES and to, instead, utilize those funds for the PUBLIC GOOD!
Goal # 3: Traffic Management Program: The Mayor missed the boat on this goal. According to his vision, the way to eliminate traffic congestion on our city streets is to promote car pooling, working out of your home, and having flexible hours. Wow! What a goal! The Mayor and the rest of the city hall brain trust must have not seen the last 15 years of goals to improve traffic. DONE IT, DID IT, DIDN'T WORK! How about stopping the promotion of San Diego to the whole United States and NOT ENCOURAGING outsiders to move west! Stop the money spigot... Stop being the cash cow to CONVIS, the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE and all the rest of the public relations hacks who keep luring more and more people to come and live in San Diego. It's a NO-NO for bankers and developers to even stop to think that WE ARE OVER POPULATED IN THIS CITY AND COUNTY. But it takes courage to bite the bullet and say NO MAS!
Goal #4: City Villages Plan: Read Goal 3 again! BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME! Of course THE DEVELOPERS, AND REDEVELOPERS, FINANCERS, THE USUAL PEOPLE will love anything that says growth. If I lived in Rancho Santa Fe, I would also love growth down in the South Bay, of course. When will we have a Mayor and City Council that have the guts to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Or, en Español NO MAS!
Goal #5: Clean up the Beaches: WOW! Did the City Council, the Mayor, and the massive bureaucracy they control, come up with this one on their own??? This issue has been hammered to death since I moved to San Diego in `45. One more time Mayor Murph, WE HAVE NO MONEY FOR THE SEWER SYSTEMS. You know why? If not, read our hometown newspaper. Somehow the city never has enough money for public works such as water mains, pipes, sewer lines, street maintenance, street lights, signal lights, curbs, sidewalks, parks, removing pollution, eliminating blight and ghettos, etc. These are the reasons for your existence - every day, every month, every year!
Goal #6: Building a new Airport: I won't dignify the Mayors statements on this goal.
Goal #7: Completing the PADRES BALLPARK: Suffice to say IT WOULD BE BETTER TO LIVE WITH A HUGH HOLE IN THE GROUND THAN TO BANKRUPT THE CITY!
Goal #8: Making San Diego Safer: Finally a goal that makes sense. Totally agree with the need to maintain a level of protection within the city by sustaining the number of professional police at the ratio required. (Currently 1.67 per 1000 residents). Would suggest that with the way that population fluctuates with tourists, Mexican workers, migrants, and non-resident military, a higher ratio is required.
Goal #9:Multiple Species Conservation Program: Unclear just what this goal is. Homo sapiens are a species that need "space conservation." What is in this plan for them? Goal is too vague to make any comment on.
Goal #10: Energy Independence Plan: Goal is too vague to comment on.
The SOTC presents a substantive lack of insight into the problems confronting the City of San Diego in year 2002. The SOTC is a disappointment and demonstrates a lack of vision and leadership on the part of the Mayor and City Council. Ignored was the current economic slump. What steps is the city taking to mitigate the fall-out from unemployment and lack of affordable housing? There are no solutions to solve the high costs of gas and electricity, nor the unresolved issues generated by homelessness and the failures of our major school systems. Some municipalities have taken over failing school districts. How long do we have to suffer incompetence in our Unified School District?
The SOTC totally ignored the problems along the San Ysidro/Tijuana border. The Mayor totally overlooked a market worth billions to the San Diego area. Perhaps San Ysidro should really think about incorporating back into its own city. It is incomprehensible how the Mayor could ignore one of the most pressing problems of our area. Vision was totally lacking in the Brown Field and Lindberg airport issues.
How much longer do the minority communities have to wait to gain representation within the City of San Diego? Mr. Mayor, how long do you think the diverse communities can wait for representation? There were no goals for increasing the number of city council seats, no movement to increase minority hiring, no easing up of the "Jim Crow rules" that deny the Mexican American Community and other minorities an active role in the governance in our city. How long, Mr. Mayor, before JUSTICE, EQUALITY, AND FULL MEMBERSHIP IN AMERICAN SOCIETY become a fact in AMERICA'S FINEST CITY?