Sunroad to Perdition

It’s true, all that stuff they say about Mike Aguirre. He’s about as warm and cuddly as a wolverine. When he was 6 he sued Santa Claus for breach of contract for not bringing him a pony. If his dry cleaning is late, he announces there’s a conspiracy against him by the petrochemical industry. If he has a choice of walking through a door or blowing a hole in the wall, well—kaboom.

So what.

Aguirre may be abrasive, self-righteous, paranoid and whatever other epitaph you might want to hang him with. But he’s still popular with the public because he’s still the lone voice in the municipal wilderness, shouting that things still reek in the city of San Diego. And that fact chafes his legions of downtown detractors to no end. Especially with his possible reelection in 2008 looming.

It amazes me how much time the powers that be—the City Council, the Union-Tribune and the other nattering nabobs of San Diego insider negativity—spend bashing Aguirre, demonizing Aguirre and all but gathering up the bramble and bracken to make a bonfire and burn Aguirre at the municipal stake. (And, if the spate of anti-Aguirre articles in the news and blog pages of the U-T is any indication, they have started gathering the kindling.)

And how little time they spend actually dealing with the messy, smelly, oozy, oh-god-look-what-was-under-that-municipal-rock issues that Aguirre—and only, most of the time, Aguirre—talks about.

Take the current Sunroad flap. Isn’t it interesting that the U-T and powers that be, from the council to the mayor to even the police chief, are jumping all over Mike for asking (albeit it in his usual shotgun-to-the-face style) the teensily-weensily uncomfortable question: How did a business that just hired the former mayor’s former chief-of-staff get the city to approve a building that violated FAA regulations and should not have been approved? The real story in this story is named Tom, not Mike. But it’s Mikey the downtown crew wants to play piñata with.

The downtown lunch-at-the-Westgate insiders pooh-pooh the oft-repeated Aguirre corruption rant. But the public, poor misinformed saps that they are (count me as one of them), looks at Aguirre and has to say either he’s right and that crowd downtown is crooked as a $3 bill or they must be a bunch of incompetent jerks.

How else do you explain the unbroken string of incompetent moves the city has made? Charger stadium renovation and ticket guarantee flop. Pension-fund fiasco. SEC investigation and San Diego being drummed out of the bond market. Indictments by the fist-loads. Losing money on Liberty Station.

Cripes! How do you lose money when you’re handed some of the most valuable real estate on the West Coast by the Navy? Oh, that’s right. If you’re the city of San Diego, you negotiate a sweetheart deal with a local, well-connected developer, giving him the profits and you the costs. Duh.

And now our Sunroad to perdition. The Sunroad case represents everything that has been wrong in this city for the last 50 years. The same crowd of bankers, developers and little-league politicians that used to sit around swilling martinis over lunch at old Lubach’s restaurant while making imperial decisions to do things like gut downtown and move the entire retail center of the city out to the cow pastures of Mission Valley are still doing their backroom, old-pal-network deals. And this crowd of white, conservative, churchgoing cronies still bristles at the slightest suggestion that there might be the merest whiff of impropriety—much less the foul reek of corrupt conspiracy—in anything they deem to do.

So they beat up on Mikey instead.

Speculation has it that termed-out Council President Scott Peters is an insider favorite knight in shining armor to defeat and de-seat Monster Mike in ’08. Supported by the triad of downtown pols, municipal labor unions and the U-T, Peters has everything he needs to win—except the trust and support of the public. Mike’s still got that. And that, the downtown crowd knows, has got to end.

If the recent barrage of anti-Mike propaganda is any indication, the race to replace Aguirre will be an epic of mud and blood slinging all aimed at showing the ignorant masses what a mean, miserable little creature Mike is for not playing well with his colleagues downtown. Though maybe the anti-Mike crowd is too anxious and nervous to wait that long. Already the “R” word—recall—is being bandied about (in the hypothetical tense, of course). Mike seems to have touched an ultra-sensitive nerve in pulling on the threads of the Sunroad saga. Maybe those at the other end of those threads would just as soon be rid of meddlesome Mike sooner that later?

I wrote years ago when Aguirre ran for City Attorney that he would become the Savonarola of San Diego, burned at the stake for his accurate heresies. Sunroad may be the spark that lights the fire.


5 Responses to “Sunroad to Perdition”

  1. Jeffrey Davis Says:

    So what? Such a great question.

    Can you be right about things and still not accomplish anything to fix them? Well of course, and this recent incident goes a long way toward showing why Aguirre apparently hasn’t and probably won’t. Suppose Mike had responded to the SDPD request for clarification with common professionalism? Why, I’d bet his investigation would have continued without comment. (Though he wouldn’t get to look one bit the Savonarola.)

    The ‘abrasive’ description is a straw man. If he we’re abrasive and effective, it wouldn’t matter. But grandstanding is counterproductive, and letting righteousness get in the way of judgment is counterproductive. Come on Luna, the City Attorney has no business calling anyone corrupt outside of a criminal charge.

    Now, not everyone can be Eliot Spitzer, but it’s not hard to imagine someone /like/ Spitzer stepping into the City Attorney’s role here and really fixing things. However hard I try, I just can’t see Lansdowne and others as being out to stymie Honest Mike at every turn. It’s Mike who is responsible for his anemic record, all posturing aside.

    Until we see some goods, I’ll consider Aguirre a pundit. A fine one, but that’s not what we’re paying him for.

  2. mlaiuppa Says:

    Can you be right and still not get anything done?

    Well, yes. When the very system you’re fighting blocks you at every turn.

    Will *I* vote for Scott Peters? NO. I won’t vote for our lovely Mayor either. (Didn’t vote for him either time and TOLD YOU SO.)

    Would Donna have been able to accomplish anything? Well, I think Donna and Mike together would have accomplished more than Mike on his own.

    Is this city crooked? Yes. What can be done? Even a clean sweep by the voting public wouldn’t do much because the very corruption is in non-elected offices. It in the upper escheleons of the city and it’s in the private sector. The good ol’ white boys running finance and construction.

    Anyone, ANYONE, that lists any developer as a campaign contributor is NOT getting my vote.

    Now I look forward to seeing what the City intends to do about the Mini-Dorms. What a loophole! That alone will destroy San Diego neighborhoods. And who’s behind that? Gee….real estate developers? Go figure.

    Mike lack social graces?

    So what? Politeness might get you liked but it still won’t get THIS job done.

    I say go get them Mike. I’ll vote for you every time.

  3. mlaiuppa Says:

    Who’s looking out for the public and who is looking out for the developers?

    “In April of 2006, when they told the FAA they wanted to build to 180 feet, the FAA said no that will be a hazard. In June of 2006, they said we’ll keep it lower at 160 feet which does not violate the critical airspace and then behind the FAA’s back, Sunroad went ahead and built to the higher level”

    “Mayor Sanders would not respond directly to Frye’s request that he enforce a stop work order against Sunroad. But Jim Waring of the city’s land use department says by allowing Sunroad to continue construction, the city is lowering its financial exposure in a potential lawsuit by the developer.”

  4. BlueIsland Says:

    The facts about Sunroad, Tom Story, and, for that matter, all of Jerry Sanders’ past grooming by the downtown cabal for leadership of the developer cabal of today, are available and have been published in account after account, by serious journalists and bloggers alike. Along with Carl Luna, we have local journalist heroes in Gerry Braun, Don Bauder, Pat Flannery, Matt Potter, and David Rolland.
    It is time to stop writing bemusedly or indignantly or resignedly about the culture of corruption in this city. I want to stop it now!
    What can we do? Who can take action against the police for failing to comply with a court-ordered warrant? I want action!
    Who can initiate action against Story and Escobar-Eck for breaking regulations concerning lobbying and illegal permitting? I want action!
    I can’t even bear to involve myself in local politics because it’s all talk. Who can do something about it? Now!!!!

  5. mlaiuppa Says:

    Well, we can. We the voters. The trick is to get enough of us together to vote in a block to send a message. I think Donna’s write-in campaign was an indication of voter disgust and a wake-up call. I think the reaction to that was quite telling.

    What can we do? Instead of choosing from the candidates that decide to run you go out and find your own candidate. You recruit. Because the kind of person you want probably isn’t going to think about running for office. If they do, they probably don’t think they can win. And they certainly can’t afford to run on their worn. You want someone WITHOUT amibition. Someone who doesn’t really want the job. Someone who isn’t looking at the job as a stepping stone to another job up the food chain, or to get something out of it like money, prestige or “fame”. You need integrity, honesty and humility. You need a public servant. You need to beat the bushes and recruit.

    But you’ll need to do a lot of it and it will have to be a coordinated effort. Because you’ll need to cover a lot of offices. Not just the mayor. Not just a council seat or two. You need to do it across the city; a coordinated clean sweep.

    And while you’re finding those candidates and trying to get them elected, you’ll need to work at the same time to defeat the kind of candidates you don’t want. I don’t want to see Scott Peters replace Mike Aguirre. I don’t want to see Scott Peters as Mayor, President of the council or on the council at all. But that’s just me. Maybe those he represents really like the job he’s doing. Or maybe they’re just not informed.

    I haven’t been happy with my representation on the council since Christine Kehoe left. I wonder if there’s way to get her back. Maybe as Mayor.

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