March 4, 2005


Are San Diegans Having Second Thoughts on a Strong Mayor Form of Government?

Without much forethought the voting residents of the City of San Diego passed a Proposition to change the way the City was governed. In essence, it seemed appropriate to move away from having a City Manager form of government, to one that would be run by an elected Mayor and a City Council. In essence the title of City Manager would no longer exist.

The City would in fact be governed by the City manager who did all the hiring and firing of city personnel, created the City Budget, and assumed the responsibility for the functioning of the City. In other words running the City was mostly accomplished by professionals who were specialists in the running of Cities of differing sizes. Most municipalities in America were City Manager form of incorporation.

The elected positions such as Mayor, City Councilman were the point of contact between the residents and the City Administrations. The Councilman and the Mayors were not and are not a professionally trained group of individuals that were not specifically trained in city management or organization. The old clichés were actually true: The elected officials went to ribbon cutting ceremonies, kissing new born children and essentially dealt with the social aspects of running the City. They were no experts in any particular area. That is probably why there were no specific requirements to be elected to office other that it helped to have a nice personality.

Over time, the elected officials began to feel rather useless like they were the 3rd wheel on the car/buggy and began to take some of the chores of running the City. The time came where rules/laws had to be created, where by, over zealous politicians could be restrained from interfering in the city’s business. They had no authority to interfere except in approving or disapproving the annual budget. If the City faltered, they had the power to fire the City Manager. And in times past they have.

San Diego is soon going to have a Mayor form of government. The City Manager will be departing very soon and it will be up to the Mayor, with input from the City Councilman (in case they are talking to each other) to hire staff, managers,and run the whole City! I don’t know how the rest of my fellow residents of San Diego feel, but I am very fearful of the outcome. Mayor Dick Murphy, and his City Council, strikes fear in my heart, that we are going to soon be confronted by the biggest donnybrook in this City’s life.

The results of this experiment will haunt us for decades. You see, WE DONT HAVE A STRONG MAYOR, WE HAVE A VERY WEAK ONE! We don’t have a City Council that is capable of running this City. IF THINGS GO THE WAY THEY ARE, HALF OF THEM MAY BE IN JAIL BEFORE THE CITY CHARTER IS CHANGED!

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