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Politifest: How Will San Diego Move Forward?

politifest wrap up
Politifest: How Will San Diego Move Forward?
Guests: Kevin Faulconer, San Diego City Councilmember Scott Lewis, CEO, Voice of San Diego

CAVANAUGH: coming up, what San Diego can do to get through the Filner scandal. Was the big topic at this year's Politifest. We will hear about that and it is 12:22. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. We don't expect to hear much from Mayor Bob Filner for the next few weeks yes of course attending a behavioral therapy clinic in an undisclosed location but that doesn't mean people in San Diego are going to stop talking about him anytime soon. Voice of San Diego's annual Politifest on Saturday focused its main forum on what San Diego should do to move forward through the Mayoral scandal. Joining us to give an overview of what the conversation was about are my guests, Scott Lewis is CEO of Voice of San Diego and moderator of the forum. Scott, welcome to the program LEWIS: Always a pleasure. Thank you for having me. CAVANAUGH: Kevin Faulconer is here he's the San Diego city Council member who took part in the forum on Saturday. And Councilman Faulconer, thank you for being here. FAULCONER: Thank you, it's good to be here CAVANAUGH: Scott I want you to start us by telling us what city leaders were on the panel and what specifically wanted them to address. LEWIS: City and state politicians in the city so there was Councilman Mark (inaudible) Councilman Todd Gloria Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, Kevin Faulconer the Councilman, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and then Lorena Gonzalez, the Assemblywoman. And I think the goal was just the basic question of what do we do now and there were some really interesting answers to that. I thought that I'm going to try to write later today about Jan Goldsmith's answer to one of those questions where he said he's the city attorney going to be going about all of these depositions from the witnesses and then he said I'm going to give the city, the Mayor and out. And I made a note in my head I've got to go back to that and I've got to go back to that and I did get a chance to go back to that very interested in what he meant when he said will the new panel was (inaudible). CAVANAUGH: That was one of my questions. You don't know what he's referring to? LEWIS: Ostensibly he's referring to a legal settlement he will be offering the Mayor to exchange his resignation are legal or monetary benefit the city Council chose not to pay for his legal bills. That carries with it some risk. Maybe the city would compromise differently on that. Will be interesting to watch. The other main point that I noticed was a discussion about recall there was argument against pushing a recall even know someone like Lorena Gonzalez called him a jerk and said she needed him to leave she was very adamant that she did support a recall. Does that mean she would not support it if it was the only way to get him out, I don't know. It was not that clear. Todd Gloria said he might go with it or something if that were to go forward. A lot of interesting nuggets. But go back and listen to the podcast and take some notes. CAVANAUGH: The members of the panel and I understand that this Politifest forum all in one way or another supported the idea that the Mayor had to leave. Why was there no one on the panel to defend the Mayor Filner? LEWIS: Well, there's a lot of people who don't, were not willing to say he should resign. But that's a big leap from someone who wants to get up and defend the Mayor had already confirmed to be that polygraphist and we work for weeks and weeks to see if he would still, and he didn't we had the planning director on in the panel before that the former Mayor of Ventura, Bill Fulton, was a fantastic guest for an hour to talk about the Mayor's vision for neighborhoods. So it was how it worked out. We try to throw something together to talk about how the future of the city should go if we do want to move on from this leadership. But I think it also strikes just how big of a movement this has become. This is seven of nine members of the city Council, you know, almost the entire delegation that I can picture of local, state and national representatives. I guess there are a few who are not like Shirley Weber, the assemblywoman but there's just a lot of push there. So I really wanted to ask them okay what know if this is what you really want, what now? CAVANAUGH: Now Councilman Kevin Faulconer, let me ask you what was your message (inaudible) do you think the city is able to function despite the Mayor's problems? FAULCONER: My main message was we are better than this. We are better than this as a city that Mayor Bob Filner he doesn't represent what we are and what we are about and we did talk about the need for the city to move forward as best we can in very difficult circumstances but make no mistake. While we will particularly as a Council come together and make sure that basic services are happening, trash is getting picked up when you dial 911 somebody will come and help you, with an absent Mayor, a Mayor who has effectively lost his ability to govern the city, a Mayor who has admitted that he has a problem, that he disrespected women, I mean it's going to be very difficult for us to move forward on a lot of policy important issues for the city. CAVANAUGH: If I understand this correctly, a lot of people at the Politifest asked for a more saying basically that well Bob Filner may be a disappointment, voters voted for a progressive agenda for the city in voting for Bob Filner. Now, you don't really share that agenda, do you? FAULCONER: I don't tell them, Scott and I were talking about that. I've been a very outspoken critic of the Mayor and a lot of his policies because I don't think they've been right for San Diego and right for neighborhoods. Some of the examples I gave at Politifest, I will just give a short detour I thought having the panel was the right thing for the city to do to have everybody have a conversation and Scott did a very good job of getting a bipartisan group up there to talk about this but one of the things I talked about Maureen was for example when you look at his policies and some that I strongly disagree with, the fact that we are skipping a year on infrastructure bond that we agreed to as a Council five years out means we are not doing street repair that we should be doing. The fact that I meet so many other things that I've talked about have nothing to do with the Mayor personally, but it was the wrong place for us to go with the city and I also talked about at Politifest, I use the example of a voter approved manage competition which was the ability for the private sector to come in and compete for city services. That is a program that we just really started about a year and a half ago and it is working. And in fact are city employees have one those competitions. When fully implemented, the ones that we started will save taxpayers but $14 million. And I raise that because this Mayor has said he's not going to move forward on about five competitions that have been sitting on his desk since Jerry Sanders left office. And that's about $20 million that we could be using to put back into our neighborhoods and services. So I strongly disagree on some of the Mayor's policies and procedures because I think they've been wrong for taxpayers. CAVANAUGH: At this forum, Scott, what are some of the quotes or ideas that popped out of you during this discussion? SCOTT LEWIS: There was a moment toward the beginning when I asked Lorena Gonzalez and other Democrats what they know about him before they supported him and helped him get elected I mean there's probably no one in town who can claim as much credit for getting him into office as Lorena Gonzalez and her organizing efforts and decisions which were brilliant as far as political push. And I think that what she said was look, they knew a few of them said that they knew he had talked to women and but they knew that he was not all that great of a boss as far as a nice guy but in she said that he wasn't very good looking, he was not a very attractive man and she would make decisions about how to support somebody based on their attractiveness. So she was very frank and upfront. There was even a guy heckling a little bit and she took him on and I thought that stood out for me. There was a discussion for a while about who was going to be Mayor, and they were ribbing Councilman Faulconer a little bit about whether he would do it but also Todd Gloria said look I will think about whether that something I want to do is not what I pictured. I thought that was an interesting part. The city attorney needed to talk about some of the holes we've seen in the law and the strong mayor form of government and other things and he admitted that his office did do sort of regular auditing of the city's laws to see if they can form to state and national level it was a great hour of city facts, really. CAVANAUGH: Are you at least thinking about if there's a hole in the Mayor's office? FAULCONER: What I told everybody is we are all thinking about--- CAVANAUGH: Are thinking about it? FAULCONER: Maureen, what I'm thinking about is working together as a council and Todd and I stood up in a bipartisan way my friend and colleague Todd Gloria said we will get through this there'll be plenty of time to think about the next elections and when and whether those will happen or not but right now we have said as Scott just mentioned we have sent a very strong message, we have a super majority of the city Council who have said Mayor Filner it's time for you to go. I hope we actually get to a unanimous decision on that with my colleagues because you know the fact that we are now a laughing stock of the entire country, it's not the type of thing that we want people thinking about San Diego and unfortunately Bob Filner continues to put his ego before what's best for the city of San Diego if you truly wanted to do what was best for the city of San Diego, he would resign now. CAVANAUGH: Let me put this question to both of you, last week city attorney Jan Goldsmith stopped by and he said since the office is not dealing with Mr. Filner anymore they are getting more worth work done and one of your guests at the Politifest, Bill Fulton said he's been working with the city's chief operating officer Walt Ekard. So is the city really that hamstrung without a Mayor? LEWIS: I think the question is a good one in the sense that look if I left voice of San Diego would still work, if Tom Karlo left, KPBS would still function the question is a leader is what forces the community to think of new projects, new partnerships, adapt and change with the direction said that's what you elect a leader to do is to push an organization into certain directions and a bad leader often goes the opposite and ends up deteriorating a situation but that is where the leader is for. So sure, operations can be separated, daily operations from that. I would take exception to it Council phone or talk about with how embarrassed we should be of San Diego and how we are a laughingstock I'm actually very proud of the city. We are dealing with something very difficult. You can't tell me that in other parts of the country there aren't elected leaders acting as bad or not worse. We are facing a very uncomfortable situation often people from his own party and I'm proud that we are standing up and having a discussion about women in public affairs and women in the workplace are to be treated and we should broadcast that is something if you're embarrassed about this there's plenty of other places that is still being covered up. CAVANAUGH: I wonder, Kevin Faulconer, do you think the Mayor will resign? FAULCONER: I hope he does but only he can answer that question. You know, and to put us through what he is putting us through a no, all of the things that we should be talking about on this, and one of the reasons that I have been so outspoken about this and his need to resign as somebody who's been on the Council for seven years now I went through and got elected at the height of all the financial scandals so when I talk about national credibility and people looking at us nationally, we worked too hard to turn this city's reputation around. We were Enron by the sea. We had no financial audits for years. We were frozen out of the capital markets and we worked together as a Council and under our former mayor to pull us out of that. And to see Bob Filner dragging us back into the national morass that's what I'm talking about but I will say, we are better than him and I think we talked a lot about that at Politifest. This community, our neighborhoods have come together and here it crosses all demographics it's not partisan. San Diego is better than Bob Filner he needs to the right thing and step aside. CAVANAUGH: Really quickly, Scott, did the Filner problem energize Politifest? LEWIS: I think it's caused a lot of people to pay attention to narratives that they might not have paid attention to before just because of the interesting how this will play out for sure. But we had a better set up this year and just a better environment and I think it worked. CAVANAUGH: All right I've been speaking with San Diego Councilman Kevin founder and Scott Lewis the voice of San Diego thank you both very much.

Voice of San Diego's annual Politifest was held on Saturday. Six local leaders - Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, Council President Todd Gloria, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Councilman Mark Kersey - talked about how San Diego should move forward through the mayor's sexual harassment scandal. All agreed that Mayor Filner should resign.

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