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— When asked to name the best decision any past or present city council has made, Murphy said, "I think the decision to put an open-space bond issue on the ballot in either 1977 or 1978 had as much positive effect as anything that's been done." The bond issue created a $65 million fund to buy open space in the city. The city council used the money to acquire the land necessary to create both the Mission Trails Regional Park and the Peñasquitos Canyon Regional Park.

"At least a couple other decisions were good," Murphy continued. "I think the open-space plan that was adopted in the early '70s was good. The downtown redevelopment plan, which was started in the '70s but really didn't reach fruition until the approval of Horton Plaza, was good. And the decision to build the San Diego trolley system was good. All four of those decisions had long-term implications for the good of the city."

Murphy cited the deal with the San Diego Chargers on the expansion of Qualcomm Stadium as the worst decision a recent city council has made. "The idea of giving a sports franchise a guarantee sellout of all their games really flies in the face of common sense," Murphy said. "If you promise a sports franchise that you're going to buy every ticket they don't sell at $40 a ticket, they have no incentive to have a marketing plan, and they have really no incentive to put a quality product on the field. Although I think they are trying to do that, with limited success. This year alone, it's already cost the city $5 million, and the season's only half over. This was a very, very poor business decision."

How would Murphy have handled the decision differently? "I think the main difference is that I am an attorney," he said. "I would read the contract carefully. I would not rely on the advice of the city manager or the city attorney to make profound decisions that affect the future of the city. When Pete Wilson was mayor and I was on the council, we were both attorneys. When Roger Hedgecock was mayor and I was on the city council, we were both attorneys. We constantly challenged and second-guessed the city manager and the city attorney on their recommendations. We didn't follow their advice unless we were convinced it was good advice. And I'm not sure that the people who are running the city now have the legal knowledge to read contracts carefully and protect the taxpayers."

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