Dear Readers: I encouraged San Diego resident who could, attend two panel discussions that were related to each other by the goal — determining how the city would get out of its financial quagmire. Richard Rider has been instrumental in focusing attention on local matters, and he kindly publicized the importance of these discussions with local politicos.
Richard provides this report:
Today (10/22/09) I did a forum debate before the subsidy-seeking San Diego Downtown Partnership group. They discussed the three downtown pyramids they want to build.
I critiqued the new city hall and convention center expansion, while SDCTA CEO Lani Lutar expertly dissected the fatally flawed new downtown library proposal (she did much better than I did).
Actually it was a surprisingly fair and largely civil forum. Given that the Partnership and I never agree on anything, it went pretty well.
They had selected crusty old real estate mogul Malin Burnham as the spokesperson for the new city hall. If nothing else, Malin is candid.
Painfully so for his side, as it turns out. See the damning SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE article below.
Malin made a FABULOUS admission. Here’s the opening excerpt of the article:
A key backer of building San Diego a new $432 million City Hall argued against a public vote on the project Thursday, saying the general public won’t be able to understand it.
“There’s less than 1 percent of the citizens in the United States of America that understand the complexity in how to put these kinds of projects together, so why would we want to ask the other 99 percent?” said real estate mogul Malin Burnham.
Malin’s continued to turn on the charm. Richard reports that he came over after the debate, yelling and calling Rider and SD City Councilmember DeMaio “idiots”!
I have a free PR tip for Malin and other business leaders. In the new era of Tea Parties and citizen activism, you will probably want to AVOID a headline such as this in the future….
The arguments for and against three specific city projects are detailed in the signonsandiego piece, which I linked above (and is essential reading for city residents). A sample is below:
Lani Lutar, president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, questioned the wisdom of approving a project when fundraisers acknowledge they remain $36 million short of their goal. She said the city could easily end up paying the operating costs of a huge library it can’t afford.
“We can either be realistic and really be honest about the trade-offs or we can push through a project that is going to repeat the mistakes of the past,” Lutar said, referring to the 2002 decision to significantly increase city employee pension benefits without identifying a way to pay for them.
MUT Note: The title from the piece comes from “Blazing Saddles”. “Badges…We don’t need no stinkin badges.” Today, I discovered this line has its origins in the Humphrey Bogart Classic – Treasure of the Sierra Madres: