Peace through victory - the American way.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Very Flappable Mr. Aguirre

Political junkies in San Diego have been on a high since the election. We had a close election, with a recount, and a lawsuit, and protests that "every vote should be counted." It was a mini-Florida 2000 right here in America's Finest City. The gift that keeps on giving is the election of Mike Aguirre as City Attorney.

He ran as a muckraking outsider who would use his office to ferret out official corruption on the City Council and get to the bottom of the San Diego's financial scandals. His bull in a china shop tactics have been the best political entertainment San Diegans have ever had. His relationship with the City has been so adversarial that the Council flirted with obtaining their own private counsel.

Aguirre's latest excellent adventure occurred at yesterday's City Council meeting when District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis made a presentation to have her office handle misdemeanors in San Diego that are currently prosecuted by the City Attorney's office.

As San Diegans have come to expect Aguirre went ballistic. He claimed the presentation violated California's Open Meetings Act. He called the presentation "a political assassination attempt" and alleged that Dumanis was in a "conspiracy" with the Council.

This is great stuff. Perhaps mild compared to other cities but for San Diego it's practically deserving of the suffix "gate."

Meanwhile, San Diego's fiscal crisis continues and the clock is ticking down to the date when supporters of City Council member Donna Frye can begin to collect signatures to recall Mayor Dick Murphy.

Murphy has been under the gun politically since the November election when he ended up with more legal votes than Frye, even though she would have won if several thousand incorrectly cast write-in votes had been counted in her favor. The city's financial scandal is also casting a pall over the mayor's tenure.

Frye and Aguirre are political allies in San Diego. Murphy has not done much overtly to undermine their political power base. Murphy is a very understated politician who presents an image of remaining above the fray. His problem, however, is that he is very vulnerable politically due to the financial scandals and Frye's supporters are waiting in the wings to take him down.

There is no evidence that Dumanis's presentation was a politically motivated shot at Aguirre. Yet it served Murphy's political purposes. Aguirre demonstrated once again that he has a very thin skin. By overreacting to Dumanis's presentation he showed a remarkable lack of self-control for a public official. And this is not the first time he has overreacted to actions by the City Council.

Perhaps that's the strategy. Keep pushing Aguirre's buttons to get him to lose control and undermine his own credibility. In comparison, Murphy looks like an adult.




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