God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Yes, Virginia, There is No Paradise!
You say you would love to call San Diego home? 24/7 sun--sand and beaches galore--athletes of the waves riding the boards--home to 4 Nordstroms--more boat marinas than you can count (lots of $$$$'s here, folks)--backyard pools by the 100's--world's best Mexican food and not at all bad Italian.
Yep-sounds like paradise to me. So--why would we want to leave paradise by the sea, even for colorful, glorious, unfathomable Italy?
..perhaps because sunland has become a parody of what a major city should be.
It has always seemed that we resemble wannabe's--wannabe be taken seriously as a metropolian area; wannabe grown-up; wannabe sophisticated and worldly wise; wannabe contenders in any sport; wannabe savvy and in the know; wannabe culturally important. The truth is that a parochial, old boys network, rule by developers, a refusal to make hard choices, non-principled, weak willed and no convictions politicians along with a complacent,let the sunshine in citizenery has really kept us as a backwater, backwoods city with a mentality that sees no further than city boundaries. We take ourselves so seriously with such hubris.
Let me enumerate the situation that now exists here:
1.) Our last election was a circus. The actual top vote getter for mayor was an envirommentalist write-in candidate who received more votes than the encumbent mayor. However, many who voted for the challenger,while writing in her name, did not bubble in the circle; thus, after numerous court appeals from both candidates (the law was not clear on the issue and so either side needed court verification in order to be declared winner), the encumbent was declared mayor while the challenger with the majority of votes was cast aside.
2.) Shortly thereafter, the mayor was named by Time magazine as one of the 3 worse mayors in the United States. He announced his decision to step down two months ago--just several weeks after fighting for his right to be mayor.
3.) We are in the midst of a HUGE pension scandal with the probable placing of the funds into receivership. Several pension board members are under indictment. That board has taken out a restraining order against the city attorney who has surfaced some of the questionable dealings of the board and who wants them to cooperate with the federal investigation.
4.) In December the aforementioned mayor selected the councilman who would serve as Deputy Mayor.
5.) At the time the mayor did this, that councilman, along with 2 others, was under federal indictment on a corruption charge. This was from a federal investigation indicating that these men had accepted money from a lobbyiest for a Las Vegas and San Diego strip club owner. The quid pro quo was to be the rescinding of the no touch ordinance between dancers and customers. Needless to say this was a fascinating trial--straight from a seedy magazine story, certainly worthy of the Enquirer.
6.) One of the above mentioned men died before the trial.
7.) Last week the trial of the two remaining councilmen was sent to the jury after 7 weeks of testimony.
8.) Friday was the mayor's last day in office. With little fanfare, he packed up and left--after enumerating all that he is proud of during his tenure.
9.) The councilman who was awaiting the jury's decision on the federal corruption charges became THE mayor.
10.) Monday the jury verdict came in. GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY. It seems the taped phone conversations between the councilmen and the lobbyiest told the story.
11.) Today both councilmen resigned. By law they did not need to; although, by law they could no longer receive pay, sit on the council or conduct city business.
12.) We now have no mayor and only 6 out of 8 council seats filled.
13.) There is an election for a new mayor next week but there is a large field of candidates and so the expectation is that there will be no elected mayor until the November elections. The write-in candidate from the previous election is in the lead but probably will not get a majority.
14.) In the meantime, the eight term local congressman who campaignes on integrity and outrage at others' immorality and dishonesty, has been found to be bought and owned by a Defense Contract company whom he has served well. He is under investigation and has announced his retirement. It is probable that he will be forced out before retirement time comes. Of course, he is being "persecuted" as he did no wrong.
15.) Our city attorney is a meglomanic who believes that single-handedly he can right all the wrongs of the city; hold every polictican, businessperson, and whomever accountable for every sin and misdemeanor and more. And the truth is, he is making a difference and appears to be the first honest person on our political scene in many years. The problem is that he makes more enemies than stars in the sky so who knows how long he can be effective.
16.) Our very popular right of right-wing, revered radio talk host was mayor several years ago but was forced to resign when he was found guilty of, I believe, tax evasion--or maybe some shady land deal, can't quite keep it all straight.
17.) Our bond ratings are in the tank--but that should come as no surprise.
18.) And developers keep getting richer and richer and richer with no city masterplan. What was once beautiful San Diego is becoming a jungle of hodgepodge buildings, ugly and massively huge apartment buildings strategically built across from such shopping meccas as Costco and Ikea, major shopping malls built in river bottoms which flood with each rainfall and a regentrified downtown which is falling on hard times.
So--Italy here we come--or at least Arizona or Nevada.