Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The City of San Diego in Crisis

If you haven't been following the political melt-down in San Diego government, you've missed some incredible drama. First, there is an on-going federal investigation into the city employee's pension fund. Seems that big increases in retirement benefits without adequately funding these increases paved the way to a $1.7 billion short-fall, which lead to the down-grading of municiple bonds to junk status. The pension board itself is the target of several criminal investigations, and many on the board have resigned.

This situation, several years in the making, lead to a very tight mayoral election in 2004 that gained national attention with the late write-in candidacy of a sitting council member, which was eventually decided by a state judge in favor of the incumbant mayor. However, the widening multiple scandals in town lead to the now re-elected mayor to resign, effective July 15th.

The deputy mayor, who, along with a fellow councilman was on trial for corruption, assumed the duties of the mayor on Friday, but before he could preside over his first council meeting as mayor on the following Monday, was convicted. He has since resigned, and his co-defendent on the council is expected to resign on Thursday.

The odd thing about this is that there was apparently no back-up plan by the council in the event that the deputy mayor was found guilty, so it's not clear who is in charge at City Hall.

Add to this embarassing mess the situation that congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham finds himself in regarding a highly questionable (the best I can say about it) real estate deal with a defence contractor who's business stands to gain from favorable treatment by Cunningham's Appropriations Committee, and you have a real political melt-down.

There will be a special election next Tuesday to fill the mayoral position, but there are over a dozen candidates on the ballot, and if one doesn't receive a majority (50% plus one vote) then a runoff will be held in November.

The pension fund is likely to go into receivership, no one wants to serve on its board, and there are lawsuits being filed seemly daily.

At least the weather is perfect!

This post also appears on Blogger News Network.

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