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— "When have we hidden anything from [Webber's law firm]?" Vattimo shot back in an e-mail. "I think we all need a rest from each other."

Says the report, "The city staff continued to believe the proposed disclosure [of pension problems] was unnecessary and potentially harmful." Vattimo said in an e-mail to Webber, "We are in an environment where mountains are made out of molehills, and true credit issues could easily be overshadowed by this one issue."

Says the report, "Eventually, however, the city acceded to [Webber's] views." In January of 2004, San Diego admitted that it had been giving out false information. Shortly, bond-rating agencies began dropping city credit ratings, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice launched investigations.

Says the report, "The exchanges [of testy e-mails] indicate both institutional stubbornness and the degree to which Financing Services and others had yet to fully grasp the dimensions of the problems in the pension system."

In its interviewing for the report, Vinson & Elkins asked Ewell about the "polarized environment" -- one area of city government not knowing what another area was doing, and finance officials resisting full disclosure of the pension mess. Ewell allowed that the culture seemed inexplicable but said, "Questioning the process was sometimes like questioning the Bible."

I asked the city's public relations representative, Gina Lew, for an interview with Ewell. I wanted to know why these people are getting and keeping cushy jobs in this so-called restructuring. And what will Wall Street think? According to Lew, Ewell told her, "This restructuring was not meant to address anything in the Vinson & Elkins report." Ewell added that "of the people named in the Vinson & Elkins report, no one has been found guilty of anything. The restructuring changes were made to put people in places to utilize skills that are important for the city's needs."

This was hardly responsive to my questions. Now I know how attorney Webber felt.

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