Peace through victory - the American way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Dick Murphy's Resignation: A Good Man Takes The Fall.

Monday San Diego's Mayor Dick Murphy resigned his office. It's a shame really. San Diego's problems can hardly be laid at his feet. The financial problems facing the city began well before his first term in office began. He became a convenient scapegoat, however, simply because he was the mayor. It didn't matter that under San Diego's weak mayor form of government Murphy was essentially just another city council member.

The bottom line on his tenure though appears to be that when the city's politics became overtly political he was unable to fight back. It started with the November election when City Councilmember Donna Frye ran as a write-in candidate and nearly won. She got fewer votes than Murphy did but a sizable percentage of San Diego's voters still believe she got more votes. When she lost and it became clear that some voters had failed to cast a legal vote for her, Frye's supporters took action and sued to have the election law be ignored and count the illegal votes for Frye. Street protests were part of the campaign. It was Florida 2000 in miniature. Murphy's legal team won the lawsuit but his failure to wage a PR campaign gave Frye a political victory and he entered office with the mantle of illegitimacy because people believed that Frye got more votes. He never recovered. Tuesday's San Diego Union Tribune printed 8 letters on the resignation and 5 of them mentioned Donna Frye as having "won" the election.

Now San Diego has lost its mayor. We'll either have a special election or the City Council will appoint a temporary replacement. The odds are leaning toward a special election. Frye has already said she'll run and others on the council, and perhaps County Supervisor Ron Roberts, will run as well. If we're lucky whoever wins will have the temperment and political skills to be successful as San Diego's first mayor under the city's new strong-mayor system.

We don't know who our new mayor will be yet. We do know this though. The scapegoat has been slaughtered. Dick Murphy didn't create the city's financial crisis and his power as mayor was so limited by the City Charter that he could not solve the crisis on his own. But he's the one who's leaving. Left behind is a City Council increasingly beholden to the labor unions that are becoming the real power brokers in this town; the same labor unions whose greed contributed to San Diego's financial crisis due to unreasonable increases in their pension benefits.

Watch your wallets everybody.




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