The mayor is at it again! On Tuesday, twelve prominent (if you consider "former" whatever's prominent) well connected, downtown money elite individuals, delivered a "draft" report to the mayor with solutions for fixing the city's budget deficit. The Voice of San Diego attempted to get a copy of the report from the mayor only to be told he did not have a copy to give them. To make this clear, the Voice of San Diego made a public records request for the report and was told the mayor's office did not keep a copy (I find this unbelievable).
In an article titled, "Private Task Force Delivers Report on Finances to Mayor" Liam Dillon of the Voice of San Diego, identified the members of the task force and attempted to shed light on the information being presented. In a prior post here, "The mayor's Legacy" I discussed the mayor's "Civic Leadership 2009-2012" an action team of "civic" leaders picked by the mayor to provide him policy suggestions and help push his agenda. I spoke about the various topics being discussed by these handpicked individuals, all behind closed doors and out of the public's view.
The names of those on the mayor's "Fiscal Task Force" are interesting to say the least. Vince Mudd, owner of Office Interiors; Neil Derrough, former Executive for CBS; Pete Garcia, former Executive with University Mechanical and Engineering Contractors; Mark Koop, Executive for Quan Investment; Marshall Merrifield, Founder of Clark Security Products; Bill Roper, former Executive of Verisign Inc; Dan Shea, Owner of Donovan's Steak & Chop House; Susan Snow, Executive with Odyssey Capital Group; Mark Stephens, Managing Partner with Ernst and Young; Bob Tjosvold, former Executive with Bank of America; Dick Vortman, former Executive with National Steel and Shipbuilding Co; and Barbara Warden, former San Diego City Council member.
Reading between the lines, it appears the mayor and his committee is at odds with who "owns" the report. Vince Mudd is the chairman of this Fiscal Task Force and said the report will be "comprehensive and free from any mayoral vetoes over its content." Sounds as if the mayor was not happy with the report and wanted changes. Mudd continued, "The concept of the report is looking at the fiscal situation as a whole from a real honest perspective, one that's not filtered in any way through a political lens." So help me mayor, the report looks at the fiscal situation of the city from a "real honest perspective" and because it was not in a manner that would be politically correct or in keeping with your agenda, you told this secret committee to take the report back?
Rachel Laing said the mayor created the "Civic Leadership Team" to push his (the mayor) agenda, not to promote the agendas of others. Laing is quoted in the Voice of San Diego article, "When you know it's going to change and you get your marching orders for change, then there is no reason to keep one." Even more light is being shined on this secret committee and their report. Laing is telling us clearly the mayor was not happy with the report and wanted changes. Laing continues, "If there's something in the report that's not accurate or not in keeping with the mayor's agenda then we don't want that out there." Trouble is brewing in Emerald City. Vince Mudd did not share Laing's views. Mudd said, "When the report comes out, I have a tremendously high level of confidence that the mayor is going to want to see what's in it, and there's going to be things in it that the mayor's not going to like it."
The bigger issue with all of this is the secret meetings and the public's business being kept from the public. The "Civic Leadership Team" put together by the mayor will no doubt be called an "ad hock committee" to avoid the need to follow the Brown Act. It is these exact types of actions that caused the California State Legislature to enact Government Code Section 54950-54962, known as the "Brown Act." In enacting this law, the legislature declared public commissions, boards and councils as well as other public agencies in the State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It was the intent of the legislature, actions be taken openly and the deliberations be conducted openly (in public). The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to those who serve them. The people, in delegating authority do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
The secrecy of these meetings, reports, discussions and actions, if not illegal are in the very least, appalling and destructive. "Open government and Transparency" is simply political double speak, lacking any semblance of reality relative to the mayor and his administration. The repeated lies, denials, and secrecy of the mayor have caused the council to keeps its distance and caused employee groups to distrust anything presented by him or his administration. Trust is easy to destroy and virtually impossible to restore. The mayor does not have time to restore the trust he never had. The only thing transparent in the mayor's administration is the mayor himself.