continued Susan Golding.
Okay. And I say to myself, "Well, they didn't do so good."
They weren't the CEO of the city.
Oh, baloney. They were still very much in charge when it came to the budget. Don't you kid yourself, and you know it to be a fact as much as I do. The city manager did not just put that budget together by him- or herself. That budget was directed directly by the mayor, and no one's going to tell me otherwise.
I've watched it too many times. The memos used to show up at the end of the budget [hearings], and all of a sudden the mayor would have the memo that would show up for the additional revenues that came in for all the special programs.
You think it's the same type of system, essentially? The same type of authority and control? I mean, the department heads are reporting to you, and...
No, no, no, no, no. The difference is, is that the mayor actually has the ability to hire and fire, where the mayor and the council did not have that ability before. And that makes a huge difference in how things operate.
For example, say somebody comes in and lies to you. Right now, as a member of the city council, or if you're the mayor, then you've got to go to the city manager and say, "Bob just lied to me." And then the city manager would say, "Oh, I'll go talk to Bob." Then the city manager comes back and says, "Bob said he'll never lie again." And that takes three weeks. Then you say, "Okay." Then you're sitting in the council and Bob lies again, and you go through the drill. It's quite a bit different under the strong mayor, where you have the authority to say, "Bob, you lied. Good-bye. See you later. Have a nice day, and have a lovely life."
So the department heads who have lied to you on the council, will they be gone when you're mayor?
Can you give us some names?
You know, it was funny, the last time I gave an interview, it was Bruce Herring, and he was gone. He resigned very shortly thereafter.
City Manager Lamont Ewell?
Yes. Well, Lamont's leaving anyway, so Lamont's gone, yes.
What about the planning director? Do you think she should stay?
Who's there now?
Um, we'll talk about it.
Yeah, keep him for now.
Absolutely, yes. Jeff Bowman? He stays. No doubt. Honest! Honest!
Water and sewer, Richard Mendes?
[Mendes resigned subsequent to this interview.]
Parks and Rec head?
Who is it now?
I don't know.
See, I don't either. They're moving around so much, I don't know. And again, that's today. If I get another dump of documents, I might be giving you a different answer tomorrow.
Do you think that you have any responsibility for the poor financial condition that the city's in?
To the extent that I'm not a very good crystal-ball gazer. I think under the circumstances, I did a good job. Do I wish that I had noticed it sooner? Of course I do. But when I go back -- and I'm not beating myself over the head with a baseball bat, you know, why didn't I -- shoulda, coulda, woulda.
When Diann Shipione showed up that fateful day in November of '02 [the day the council voted to increase pension benefits, which Frye opposed], why I was headed that way was because of the sewer costs, the service study. Because they were trying to shove that into closed session, and I was really focused on that. There were a lot of other issues that I was really focused on too, 'cause we have hundreds of issues that we deal with each week, as you know. So it's hard sometimes. You're doing your best to understand every inch of minutiae, but it's hard.
But on the sewer costs -- the service study -- I knew that that should not be a closed-session meeting, so I had written a letter to Casey Gwinn, and it was November 18, 2002. It's just funny that this stuff came together at that point in time. Essentially, I said, "I don't think we should be in closed session." But the other thing is, I was filing a public records request because I wanted these documents. I couldn't get these documents. So you have an elected official filing a Public Records Act request. So maybe the mood was set by other events, so that when Diann showed up and said what she said, you look around and you say, "I don't think [they're] telling me the truth about the sewer stuff. Are they telling me the truth about this stuff?"
It's hard when you work with people and you really try to rely on the information they're giving you as being accurate, as being factual, as being honest, or at least being half correct! A little correct? In this case, not correct at all! I guess I wasn't that cynical at that time, so.
Donna Frye -- CEO?
You mentioned minutiae, keeping up with minutiae. One of the criticisms of you is that you are too focused on minutiae and that maybe you micromanage. How would you manage a $2 billion corporation and deal with the minutiae?
By hiring people that don't make me read all the minutiae because I can rely on the information they're providing to me, just like I do on the San Diego River Conservancy, where we have an executive officer that puts stuff in a document and it makes sense and it's honest and it's truthful. You hire people that aren't going to lie to you, so I don't have to go, "Gee, does the ordinance match the manager's report? Does the such-and-such match this? Hmmmm, I wonder what they've got in there. This doesn't add up. This document's missing." That's how. It's not by choice. It's almost out of self-preservation of the public. If I don't read them, who will? If the public interest's supposed to be served, aren't I supposed to be reading those documents and making sure that what I'm voting on is actually what I [read]?