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Sometimes you have to wonder about San Diego's city council and its mainstream media. On Tuesday (March 23) Councilmember Marti Emerald complained that a newsletter, Bottom Line/Personal, which covers both finance and romance, had quoted an analyst telling people to sell municipal bonds of cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and San Diego that are vulnerable to Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Other councilmembers seemed aghast that any publication could print such a thing. The council wants the newsletter to retract the statement. First, why should any publication retract a statement that is made by an analyst it is quoting? Analysts have a right to express opinions about any kind of bonds, especially muni bonds of cities like San Diego that have had to confess their fiscal sins publicly. But most importantly, much bigger media outlets than Bottom Line/Personal have discussed the topic of a possible bankruptcy for San Diego. On Feb. 18 of this year, none other than the Wall Street Journal did a story on Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy. Said the story, "In San Diego, political leaders have faced outside pressure to file for Chapter 9 as a way to get around benefits packages for public workers. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has publicly dismissed the idea." But the Union-Tribune said in a story today (March 24) that talk of bankruptcy "ended when [City Attorney Jan] Goldsmith defeated former City Attorney Mike Aguirre in the November 2008 election." Huh? Such talk has NOT ceased among financially sophisticated media and observers that can see how San Diego continues to cook its books and refuses to face its excessive employee benefits. Will the council ask the Wall Street Journal for a retraction? It hasn't asked the Reader for one. This blog quoted the Journal the day its story came out Feb. 18.

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Comments

Visduh March 25, 2010 @ 8:50 a.m.

One would think that Emerald, with her broadcast/opinion background would know better than try to muzzle a newsletter or a publication of the stature of the WSJ. That city council is riding a wildly bucking bronco, hoping to outlast the crisis. Rodeo riders know better and these politicians should, too. Brain dead is more like it.

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SurfPuppy619 March 25, 2010 @ 9:03 a.m.

One would think that Emerald, with her broadcast/opinion background would know better than try to muzzle a newsletter or a publication of the stature of the WSJ.

One would think....but it was the Bottom Line/Personal newsletter she tried to muzzle...the WSJ would have probably busted out in uncontrollable laughter if Marti tried to muzzle them.

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Don Bauder March 25, 2010 @ 10:21 a.m.

Response to post #1: Several things are laughable, if it weren't such a pathetic reflection on San Diego. First, the U-T declares that the subject of bankruptcy hasn't come up since Aguirre's defeat in 2008. But in November of 2009, an all-establishment task force appointed by the mayor issued an 11-page report on San Diego's "dire" (its word) fiscal situation, outlining the phony accounting that the city uses to pretend its budget is balanced. Some examples: deferral of current expenditures, underfunding obligations of future benefits, pushing liabilities into future years, raiding of reserve accounts, etc. etc. That report specifically mentioned the possibility of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, thus enraging the mayor. Do U-T reporters do their homework? (Short answer: no.) Second: any analyst or publication, seeing such information, and aware of ongoing bankruptcy suggestions, SHOULD warn investors of the risk of investing in San Diego munis. Indeed, San Diego is obligated to warn of such risks in any investor information that it publishes. But as long as the council and local media are living in a dream world (or a thieves' world), San Diego will continue to drift toward that BK. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 25, 2010 @ 10:28 a.m.

Response to post #2: I would hope the Bottom Line/Personal newsletter, whatever it is, will break out in uncontrollable laughter, too. That publication -- and the Wall Street Journal -- should tell readers that the point of the Securities and Exchange Commission disciplining of San Diego, including the appointment of a monitor, was to make sure that San Diego was honest with potential investors, as well as honest with itself, in evaluating and publishing data relevant to bond issuance. Now the city council is sticking its head in the sand again. Best, Don Bauder

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jerome March 25, 2010 @ 11:28 a.m.

mentally bankrupt.......thats the UT... their account is empty....

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Don Bauder March 25, 2010 @ 12:14 p.m.

Response to post #5: Some of this comes from the big staff slashes; reporters don't have time to do their homework. But that's not the main reason. The U-T is still in the pockets of the establishment. It doesn't want to reveal anything that might be uncomfortable to Mayor Sanders and the establishment puppeteers that control him. I don't even know if the U-T covered that big task force study when it came out in November. Out of sight, out of mind -- and unseen by readers. Best, Don Bauder

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remora619 March 26, 2010 @ 12:17 p.m.

"Do U-T reporters do their homework? (Short answer: no.)"

"I don't even know if the U-T covered that big task force study when it came out in November."

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/dec/15/citizen-panel-rips-budgets-gimmicks/

Stay bitter, Don.

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Don Bauder March 26, 2010 @ 2:32 p.m.

Response to post #7: Yes, the U-T did cover it after it came out in December. I suppose I should have checked that before I wrote that I didn't know whether the U-T had covered it. It was actually leaked in November. I don't know if the U-T covered it then.

As to bitterness: I must repeat again that I was not fired by the U-T. You may be confusing me with Neil Morgan. As I have said many times, the U-T was delighted to see me go, as it was delighted to see any anti-establishment writer go, but it didn't shove me out the door, and as far as I know wasn't even plotting to do so when I left in 2003. I may be wrong on that last point: there were so many who wanted me out -- Klein, Winner, Bell, Chuck Patrick -- that there may well have been plans afoot to boot me. Had I been booted, I would almost certainly have received $100,000 or more to keep my mouth shut. In retrospect, I'm glad that didn't happen. Up to my last days there, I had one thing going for me: readership. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering March 27, 2010 @ 7:56 a.m.

"One would think that Emerald, with her broadcast/opinion background would know better than try to muzzle a newsletter or a publication of the stature of the WSJ."

Ms. Emerald was handled by producers back then who pulled the strings. Today she's managed by staff, at taxpayer's expense, who keep her from stepping in it most of the time. But every once-in-a-while the real "Emerald" lets loose with, pardon the pun, some real gems proving that air is what occupies the space between her ears.

Is our Council Cerebrally Bankrupt? There's little if any doubt our Council is at the end of its resources, intellectually and morally. Sadly, term limits only come around every eight years, but elections come in half that time.

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SurfPuppy619 March 27, 2010 @ 8:22 a.m.

But every once-in-a-while the real "Emerald" lets loose with, pardon the pun, some real gems proving that air is what occupies the space between her ears.

Wow JW, I am surprised you would knock Marti like that-especially since she seems to back the public unions.

I was interviewed by Marti once (at random) and she was smart and intelligent (to me).

I also liked the work she did as an investigative reporter at KGTV 10.

I supported her on these different blogs when she ran for office-even though we seem at odds on our political views. But the bottom line is I want an independant and smart person in our elected positons over someone who would tow the line with no brain power.

Taht is why I liked Marti before- and still do today.

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Don Bauder March 27, 2010 @ 12:50 p.m.

Response to post #9: What's really sad is that the one councilmember who has consistently represented the interests of the people is termed out: Donna Frye. And she is not running for the board of supervisors. Next time I talk with her, which should be soon, I'll see if she is interested in running for mayor again. The establishment would try to steal it from her again if she won, but it's worth the effort. (She might not think so.) Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 27, 2010 @ 12:55 p.m.

Response to post #10: I shared the dais with Marti several times when we were both chasing crooks -- she on Channel 10, I at the U-T. Sometimes we worked on the same story and would compare notes. I always thought she was savvy. She seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid being distributed by Goldstone et al. She should know better. However, at Channel 10 she basically pursued small-time crooks. Maybe she doesn't know fraudulent accounting. On the other hand, since she is bright, she could learn how to spot it. Best, Don Bauder

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