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— Prescient, that. It took the city until January of 2004 to admit it.

One sentence in the Vortmann letter is a smoking gun: "The city's unstated [italics mine] concern of the ball-park financing and any impact to the city's credit rating in general are now behind us," he wrote.

"This committee, made up of the mayor's camp followers, obviously had concerns about the effect that this huge bond offering at this huge interest rate would have on the city, but they preferred not to state it," says attorney Stanley Zubel, who tried unsuccessfully to block the bonds' issuance because the terms violated what voters had approved. "Murphy got elected because he said he would make sure the ballpark wouldn't be financial suicide. If it's not financial suicide, it sure as hell didn't help the patient."

Committee members were "pressured and manipulated by the city into keeping quiet about the fact that city finances were veering dangerously out of control," says Carl DeMaio, head of the Performance Institute, an efficient-government think tank. "It's a close-knit circle trying to cover their rear ends -- wink, wink, nod, nod. If they are not culpable, at least they are the enablers."

"The good news is that the blue-ribbon folks in 2002 understood how truly bad things would be if the city did another underfunding deal," says pension-board whistle-blower Diann Shipione. "The bad news is that they stood by mute as the council did just that."

April Boling, vice chairman of the commission, said that she and Vortmann had gloomy projections while other committee members had rosy ones. The end product was the consensus. Meanwhile, the committee got incomplete information from the auditor's office.

"April is one of the smartest persons in San Diego. I don't think she was hoodwinked," says DeMaio. So much for San Diego's smart money.

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