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Mayoral Race Heats Up As Election Draws Near

The week started off with Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio slamming his opponent, Democratic Congressman Bob Filner, for saying the city should take out bonds to pay off the pension debt.

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"Taking out another credit card to stretch out payments on the city's pension debt and racking up hundreds of millions in additional interest is exactly the kind of risky move that got City Hall into the pension mess to begin with,'' DeMaio said.

In response, Filner said he had dropped his pension bond plan already.

The idea is no longer necessary, thanks to savings from a five-year freeze on the type of pay city workers can use to later calculate their pension payouts, Filner said. That's one of the provisions -- called "pensionable pay'' -- in Proposition B that has yet to be implemented.

"These people apparently haven't been following the campaign,'' Filner said. "Two months ago I committed to implementing the five-year pensionable pay freeze -- a provision only I can implement through collective bargaining -- which will reduce the city's unfunded pension liability by nearly $1 billion, and which eliminated the need to consider pension obligation bonds.''

Additionally, Filner said DeMaio backed the bond idea in 2004 in a newspaper commentary on how to fix the city’s finances.

DeMaio has also hit Filner for accepting more than $38,000 in free trips to places such as Paris, Istanbul and Vietnam during his time in Congress. In a statement, DeMaio said he would not take such trips.

“From day one in office I have self-imposed a voluntary gift ban on myself and my City Council staff,” said DeMaio. “Bob Filner is in the pocket of special interests that have provided him with free travel junkets across the globe. I have not, and as mayor, I will not accept gift travel from special interests.”

But Filner defends the trips. In a statement, he said many were related to his position as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee.

“So, I plead guilty to doing my job as a congressman, informing myself about world issues, building relationships with world leaders and fighting for human rights. All of which strengthens my ability to be mayor,” he said. “It's ironic that at the very time DeMaio was holding his press conference criticizing me for addressing global issues, I was with the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, at an important international conference in Tijuana.”

In the meantime, Filner has launched a television ad linking DeMaio to developer and U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester.

Filner and DeMaio will get plenty of chances to level their charges at one another. They have at least a dozen debates scheduled through the end of October.

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