Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
Goldsmith Appeals Suit He Ridiculed Aguirre for Filing
Early this month, the city attorney's office filed to appeal a cross-complaint in GIC841845 that had been filed by former City Attorney Mike Aguirre. The judge had ruled against Aguirre in 2006, and the case had sat in the judge's chambers for technical reasons for four years. Current City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, in running against Aguirre, had ridiculed him over the merits of the cross-complaint. Jerry Sanders had joined in the jeering, too, as had then-Union-Tribune reporter Alex Roth who now -- surprise! -- is a flack in Sanders's office.
Here, in abbreviated form, is what the complex and long-running case was about: the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System (SDCERS) first sued Aguirre on two points: it wanted him to stop saying negative things about the pension plan and it wanted to block his desire to become lawyer for SDCERS. The pension system lost on the first point but won on the second. Aguirre then filed the cross-complaint, making two major points: that SDCERS board members had a conflict of interest voting for their own increased benefits, and that in agreeing to boost benefits in 1996 and 2002, SDCERS officials were violating debt limit laws in the California Constitution and City Charter. Aguirre argued that the benefits boost created a future debt, and voters should have been able to vote on it. Thus, those increases were unenforceable. Aguirre lost.
What I find quite interesting is that the appeal will be handled by Walter Chung of the city attorney's office. Chung assisted Aguirre and Don McGrath in the original cross-complaint. This morning (Jan. 19), I called Goldsmith's public relations assistant and said I needed answers quickly. Had Goldsmith changed his mind about the suit or the theories supporting it? Would the appeal only focus on part of the cross-complaint? If he was contemptuous of the cross-complaint, why did he appeal it? I called the PR specialist back in mid-afternoon and said I needed the information. After hearing nothing, I called Chung. He said I would have to go through the PR specialist. I said I had. He said he would send an email to her. I made a third call at the end of the day and heard nothing. If Goldsmith has any explanation for his action, I will print it as soon as I hear.