San Diegans seem to be in for another early political showdown between Mayor Bob Filner and the San Diego City Council.
In a game of political hardball at City Hall, will council members vote to override Filner's first exercise of his veto power?
The mayor claims he's not disparaging the two men appointed by the Council to fill vacancies on San Diego's three-member delegation to the Unified Port District.
He says his issue is a lack of guiding city objectives and clear qualifications for candidates to fill those positions.
"They represent the city,” Filner told reporters in a Monday morning news gaggle before delivering the keynote address to the “All People’s Celebration” breakfast in Barrio Logan, in observance of Martin Luther King. Jr. Day.
“They ought to represent the whole city, including (Council) District 4,” the mayor added. “And they ought to represent the policy and the vision. So I propose to the City Council that we have a joint mayor-council workshop, summit, on developing a policy … we should have a plan, and develop a plan before you appoint the people who are hopefully going to carry out the plan to the Commission. So I want them to be judged relative to our policy and our vision."
But critics accuse Filner of a partisan hidden agenda, of wanting to stall the appointment process to insure that both Port Commission vacancies are filled with Democrats.
Council Republicans voted last week to appoint Democrat Rafael Castellanos, an attorney, while Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat, joined them in approving Republican businessman Marshall Merrifield.
Filner says, given the Port's economic and environmental importance, that whoever wins the special election to fill the Council's empty 4th District seat -- likely a Democrat -- should have a say in the appointments.
Two prominent candidates in that election agree.
"Somewhere along the line in this process, there needs to be data associated with these nominations,” said businessman Barry Pollard. “There has been a 'good old boy network' from both sides of the house, from the Democrats and the Republicans."
Said Dwayne Crenshaw, who leads San Diego LGBT Pride: "Our candidates should have those credentials. They should know that -- not just who gave the most campaign money, or who's popular, or who's the Democrat or Republican, but who's going to serve the citizens, all the citizens of San Diego, effectively."
The Republicans argue that the special election process could leave only one San Diegan and four delegates from other bayfront cities on the port's board for up to four months, if no candidate wins an outright majority on March 26th special primary, and a late-May runoff election is needed.
"We've had outstanding men and women that have served the city of San Diego on the Port Commission,” says Councilman Kevin Faulconer. “That process works for our city. So to call in question that process now, at the 11th hours, doesn't make a lot of sense to me … let's not get caught up in squabbles and disputes. I don't think anybody has any time for that.”
Gloria, who declined comment Monday on Filner’s proposed summit, has four weeks to schedule an override hearing.
Besides the Council’s four Republicans, he'd need to persuade one of the three other Democrats to join him in defying Filner, for the override to carry.