We haven’t done that because we have this old system, and it’s an old system that’s a coalition of the developers and some of the credit sources, the old-boy network in downtown San Diego, and they literally have run the City into the ground. And I think that the demise of the Union-Tribune — because it built its financial model, its business plan, on the old system — I think your seeing that go down the tubes is perhaps the most stark example, the most clear demonstration of the loss of viability of the old business plan. And yet it still is hanging around; it hasn’t quite been swept away yet, although I think it will happen. And that’s where we have to build into the future this whole new and I think really promising infrastructure focus, as opposed to a single-family-housing focus.
You know, that is what the political struggle is about. I think that, in many ways, that’s what my election is about, that’s what the election in the first, third, and the seventh districts is all about. A lot of what Donna Frye has been fighting for, and I’ve been fighting for now, has become a lot clearer to people. And that’s what this election’s going to be, really, a referendum on, do we want to have a city that’s moving forward and transitioning over to infrastructure and away from the old development model? Or do we want to continue to perpetuate what we’ve had in the past? It doesn’t seem to be financially or politically viable anymore.
What about this Tenth Avenue Terminal project? What’s your take on that?
Well, again, I would say that that is part of the old way, where you promise everything to everybody. You know, you can have a shopping mall, a football stadium, a basketball stadium, you’re going to have plenty of parking; then, the cargo is going to be all in place. And it’s not going to cost anybody anything. And it’s going to be nothing but profit, and it can be done very quickly. And it’s all about helping the community. And when you start to look at it, you realize it’s being presented as whatever it has to be in order to get people to support it. And that’s exactly the approach that has happened in the past in San Diego, a pie in the sky. And it doesn’t work.
Right now what we need is to come back and focus on the fundamentals. In my judgment, the Port needs to focus on what business activity is going to give us the most solid economic foundation going into the future that helps create good jobs. What they’re talking about at the Tenth Avenue facility is more low-wage jobs. I think that’s the opposite direction. The idea that [we could] really squander hundreds of millions of dollars more on corporate sports, that really doesn’t seem to be at the forefront for a whole variety of different reasons. I think that the Tenth Avenue Terminal right now is a big political, high-profile issue, but to me it’s more demonstrative of the old guard who continues to try to control the agenda rather than having something that’s viable and something that’s really needed in San Diego.
Speaking of the old guard, a lot of them are giving to your opponent. Obviously they are pretty smart guys, right? They made a lot of money somehow because they have it to give out. Why are you smarter than they are, or why is your agenda different than theirs is?
Well, I think that if you look at where San Diego is, I don’t think you would say that San Diego has made well-informed choices for a long time. I think that what we’ve done is, we’ve made violating the law a policy choice. So that’s meant that people that were not really competent and qualified to be in the various positions that they were in were able to administer their political offices because they were permitted to violate the law. They not only violated the law themselves, but they permitted others to violate the law, which really expanded the scope of what people could do to make money. It made it a lot easier. It’s much more difficult to have to stay within the rules and make money within the rules. And the other side of it, it’s much more viable and, in the long term, it’s much more profitable because you don’t have to look over your shoulder.
So I think that what my opponent is, is — if you think about it, he has no trial experience, no securities law or disclosure experience, no prosecutorial experience, no City of San Diego experience, and no relevant management experience. But what he does have is he has the backing of the economic power structure that seems to be on the wane. He has the Union-Tribune behind him and the Lincoln Club and the higher echelon of the Republican Party, and they’ve poured a lot of money into the campaign. But that’s to try to turn — in my opinion — San Diego back into what it used to be, when all the money in the world can’t make that happen. I think it’s more of a desperate effort to try to recapture what San Diego used to be.
Even with that, I think most people would look at the amount of money that he’s raised, and they’re kind of surprised that it’s not more. I mean, he has the backing of the mayor and the higher establishment, supposedly. But in my talking with them, I think many of the people that are in the establishment now are really worried. Many of them have been shaken by events. They look at the situation and think, “Well, wait a minute. Here’s a guy that’s being singled out — the city attorney’s being singled out by the Wall Street Journal for bringing a case — the Wall Street Journal — a pension case that was sending off the alarm that voters across America seemed to hear, and also holding out the office of city attorney and saying that other communities need a rabble-rouser, like the current city attorney is, raising these issues.” I think a lot of the establishment is stepping back and saying, “Well, wait a minute, here we have a Democrat that was César Chávez’s lawyer, you know, is from Berkeley, has a Harvard degree, doing things that the Wall Street Journal says is a national model.”