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Envision San Diego

Our brilliant San Diego summer teems with joy: Boomer surf, wondrous theater, music indoors and out, an armada of boats at every dock, night schools and branch libraries with enough computers, a new ball park, big green public parks with ocean views and golf courses, and museums.

So how can we can keep San Diego this lively and lovely, live up to old promises, and make the core of this city as good as its pleasures? There is no more urgent civic inquiry. You and I are the only ones who can make it.

Would you be proud if the world were marveling now at San Diego's city management, our brilliant new central library or our airport?

In Seattle, a new downtown library soars like a crystal mountain. It is mirrored in the glass walls of a dozen neighbor towers. Buses unload schoolchildren tours every hour.

That library has become the signature of a proud city. In San Diego, we have been planning a new airport for 50 years. A new library? We passed the bond issue years ago, but still no library.

The list of broken promises makes San Diegans distrust City Hall. In these same years, city taxes have helped build a new ballpark and soothe the Chargers owners. Who does this mean that we, as a city, are trying to be?

We grumble about a lack of leadership. But that complaint bounces right back at us. It really is our own fault. We vote for these people, then don't hold them to their promises. Bill Gibbs, an aviation pioneer and civic activist, is like a lot of us. He says it's a gorgeous summertime and he's through wasting time in trying to pound sense into City Hall.

That's fine for Bill Gibbs. He's 94. But other San Diegans are mounting serious initiatives to make things better.

Envision San Diego seeks to inform and unite San Diegans. It is an unsalaried, volunteer effort whose founders include Stephen Weber, Doug Myrland, Ron James and John Eger. Envision has enlisted all the media. A recent briefing was attended by TV, Web site and radio executives and editors of newspapers and magazines, even alternative papers.

We knew each other by name, but we'd never met in common cause. Such mutual interest has been rare among the feuding media.

Envision San Diego's ideas are basic: Finish what we start. Set civic priorities that go beyond our own neighborhoods. Try harder and aim higher. Study how other cities have succeeded. Alert us to crises and opportunities before it's too late. Try to restore faith and trust in local government.

We need independent interpreters. The public needs its own research. Government is too complex for us to follow. This time, Envision San Diego hopes to leave San Diegans and our elected politicians with no excuses for failing this city.

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