4 p.m., Dec. 5
Big people talk about issues; small people talk about people
Filner's issues should remain in forefront, but he has tough battle ahead
People are correctly attacking Mayor Bob Filner for personality problems, but citizens, including those of his own party, should not forget the issues on which he was elected. Wisely, he is eating humble pie on the sexual harassment revelations, apologizing to the City and seeking professional help. There is no doubt the media -- especially those beholden to the downtown corporate welfare crowd -- will continue beating this drum. Remember Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky? The public can understand a sex scandal but, unfortunately, often doesn't realize it when its pockets are being picked.
The Union-Tribune, in particular, is slamming Filner over the $100,000 quid pro quo to benefit Sunroad. But you won't find the U-T referring to a very similar case, earlier revealed by the Reader. In 2010, U-T owner Doug Manchester's Texas wing, on a zoning matter, agreed to donate $750,000 to nonprofits beautifying downtown Austin near the hotel Manchester is building. The U-T claims that under the law, government can't condition permit gifts unless the payment is related to the project. Thus, Manchester's $750,000 gift (which of course the U-T doesn't mention) would pass legal muster, but Sunroad's $100,000 gift to nonprofits would not, because those gifts aren't related to the project. This seems a rather silly distinction. If the U.S. Attorney is investigating, it should drop the matter, just as City Attorney Goldsmith should have dropped his asinine pursuit of the chalker. As Charles Dickens's Mr. Bumble said, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass." Filner or his aide should have known the law, but this should not be a major issue.
The third matter is Filner's trip to France. Filner should explain who paid his way, and reveal whether or not the City paid to give him security. In any case, the supposed $22,000 that the City paid is not a BIG issue. The $300 million gift to the Padres was BIG. The proposed $520 million convention center expansion is BIG.
Filner was elected -- despite his prickly personality -- because he favored moving money from downtown corporate welfare projects to the neighborhoods and to the infrastructure, which has a billion dollar deficit. But the politicians whose names are being thrown around to replace Filner, if he can't overcome these obstacles, are those who would turn the City back to the downtown boosters. Now that is a BIG problem.