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San Diego City Council Approves Changes Over Commission Appointments

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council today approved policy changes aimed at improving the maritime economy and lessening tensions over how appointments to to city commissions and boards are made.

The changes approved by the City Council stem from a dispute with Mayor Bob Filner over his veto in January of appointees to the Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners.

Filner, who made job creation along San Diego's waterfront a centerpiece of his mayoral campaign, said the appointments should have been delayed until the city developed an overall policy on port matters.

The mayor said his goals including adding 6,000 high-paying jobs along San Diego's waterfront; reducing air, water and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent; increasing exports by one-third; and building infrastructure to move cargo from ships to ground transportation lines -- all by 2020.

Among his strategies are to make sure San Diego companies use local facilities for imports and exports, lead trade delegations overseas and welcome representatives of other countries; get manufacturers in Mexico to use San Diego's port; and make more effective use of port real estate.

Filner said San Diego lost a lot of skilled middle-class jobs when defense manufacturing giants like General Dynamics moved out of town.

"As I was looking at this problem over many years, it looked to me that the single most important way we could bring back those middle-class jobs was through our port,'' Filner said.

He said imports of Dole fruit from South America or automobiles from Japan did not make the port a "maritime center.''

Besides wanting a delay in the appointments, the mayor said nominees for the port commission should meet certain standards. He also objected to council voting procedures.

The new City Council policies set conditions for prospective port commissioners that include familiarity with the city's port policies, plus prior experience in the maritime industry, international trade, finance or public service. Once appointed, the port commissioners will be required to provide quarterly briefings to the mayor or his designee.

San Diego has three seats on the seven-member port board, and two positions remain vacant.

The new policies on the process of voting on appointments will apply to all boards and commissions. They clarify rules on how to handle situations in which there are several candidates nominated for multiple openings.

From now on, there will be one pool for all vacant positions, with separate votes taken for each vacancy. Candidates with the lowest vote totals will be eliminated, and the first ones to receive majorities will get the jobs.

According to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, the voting procedures are only guidelines, and can be changed by the City Council on a case-by-case basis.

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