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May Musings – The Mayor & Padres

| May 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

“In the Matter of Kevin Faulconer,” my Sentinel column for last month appears to have displeased some people who admire the mayor.

They thought my column was way too one-sided, that my critique of his honor was partial because it failed to point out all the forward looking, progressive things he has done.

Perhaps.

A teammate of mine on the Marston Mets of the San Diego Adult Baseball League (yes, I’m 79, and I still play), was particularly vexed over my column, and said I should provide “balance” this month by presenting a more complete portrayal of Mayor Faulconer’s doings.

But, unlike other dissidents, my teammate actually took time to write down and send his thoughts on the mayor’s accomplishments.

Here, in part, is what he wrote:

“Many assumed the business community that supported Faulconer would get the mayor to water down San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, which [Todd] Gloria first introduced as interim mayor. He didn’t. In fact, it is one of the strongest plans to fight climate change in the nation.

“While other Republicans in this country continue to deny climate change exists, Mayor Faulconer believes it is real and actually wants to do something about it. The City’s proposed Climate Action Plan would cut greenhouse gas emissions in half and have renewable energy sources supply 100 percent of San Diego’s energy use by 2035.

“He supports same-sex marriage. In fact, he’s a national chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry and the only prominent Republican in that organization. And his wife Katherine is leading the fundraising effort to build San Diego’s first AIDS memorial.

“Faulconer’s budget priorities are also spot-on. Yes, I understand he benefits from a rebounding economy that gives him a lot more money to work with than former Mayor Jerry Sanders, who had the pension crisis and Great Recession forcing him to make deep cuts. But I also see what Faulconer is doing with that money.

“He has dedicated half of all new major revenue toward neighborhood infrastructure projects, from street repair to new fire stations. He’s doubling the number of potholes filled throughout the city each year. He has expanded library hours to their highest level in a decade.

“He has improved emergency response times in Encanto and South Bay (yes, both of which are south of I-8).

“He negotiated a much-needed compensation increase for our police officers to help recruitment and retention efforts.

“He created an after-school program at libraries in communities with the lowest test scores. “He created a nonprofit called One San Diego to bring our city together and its first act was to buy laptops for children to use at the library.

“I know these are all enormously positive things that have a direct impact on our neighborhoods and the people who live in them.

“Pick any one of those accomplishments and it would trump everything former Mayor Bob Filner was able to accomplish in his disastrous nine months in office. While Filner made many promises, he never delivered.

“Faulconer is delivering every day.”

Those things said, things that in the grander scheme trump my criticism, there remains the mayor’s puzzling failure to appoint even one Democrat to the Stadium Task Force.

The business establishment in our town remains overwhelmingly Republican, but Democrats play a major role here, and to ignore that fact is silly. (You do realize, do you not, the three greatest philanthropists in San Diego history, Joan Kroc, John Moores, Irwin Jacobs, are Democrats.)

 

That said, I have no criticism of those the mayor appointed to the task force, all good, decent, public spirited citizens, something I greatly honor; but at least one Democrat deserved to be on the panel (and I do not mean this Democrat, even though some think for me that’s the rub of it; not true).

How it happened, appointing an all-Republican panel, beats me. It should have been obvious, such a composition was way too impolitic.

But, I think the mayor missed it because, hastening to get something done – as he could not have afforded to do nothing – relied too heavily on his advisors; some of whom suffer from excessive partisanship, which hurts the mayor.

On the other matter, the mayor’s failure to back Todd Gloria for another term as council president, I have no apology. 

BASEBALL, AMERICA’S GAME, IS NOW IN ITS SECOND MONTH, and the Padres appear to have avoided the Angst of April, meaning a losing record in the season’s opening month, a problem since 2011.

Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler, among the ownership group, understood this challenge, that a repeat of April’s past, too many low scoring games and too many losses, would hurt the franchise, and so they and their partners made changes – significant changes.

The most important of which was hiring A.J. Preller from the Texas Rangers as their general manager, providing him with a budget to make the team competitive, and then letting Preller do his thing – and “his thing” has been pretty astonishing.

In the most amazing off-season in team history, the Padres acquired Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, and Will Meyers, to dramatically change their Punch and Judy lineup, and then, on the very eve of the new season, added baseball’s best closer, Craig Kembrel.

Just like that the Gaslamp Gang became a true threat to win the NL West title in 2015, and season ticket sales jumped.

Which is remarkably underscored by this:

Thus far in ’15, the Padres have played seven games at Petco Park vs. the Dodgers and Giants.

Those seven games drew 299,946 fans, averaging 42,894, while setting a record for both four and three game series (Giants and Dodgers).

So, here’s where we are:

The Padres will contend for the NL West championship, and will thereby exceed three million in attendance (for only the second time).

And, with the George Mitrovich leaving for Inglewood, the Padres will own the town.

George Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader. He may be reached at,gmitro35@gmail.com.

 

 

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