Filner Commits to Healing City Recovering From Fiscal 'Illness'

By Gene Cubbison and Lauren Steussy
|  Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013  |  Updated 9:33 PM PDT
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In his State of the City address Mayor Bob Filner began by comparing the city to a sick patient now recovering.

In his State of the City address Mayor Bob Filner began by comparing the city to a sick patient now recovering.

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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner delivered his first "State of the City" address Tuesday, giving a positive prognosis of the city's recovery. 

After more than a half-hour delay and a long list of "Living Legends" awardees, Filner began his speech by comparing the City of San Diego to a sick patient who has overcome illness and is now on the path to recovery.

“Many cities across the nation are only now acknowledging their fiscal challenges,” Filner said. “San Diego has created national model for confronting these challenges.”

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Filner noted that the city continues to face possible land mines, such as a potential $37 million deficit by 2014. However, he focused more on the future endeavors he and his administration will pursue to heal the city further. 

For example, in no uncertain terms, he said the Chargers will be staying in the city. He said the team will not terminate their lease at Qualcomm Stadium, and will not pursue relocation through the NFL. 

Filner also committed to being available to the public in the lobby of City Hall the first Saturday of every month, starting in February. 

Additionally, he said his administration has secured a location in Tijuana to work on urban policies between the two cities. 

Among his hopes for future growth, Filner said he will continue to pursue solar energy on all municipal buildings, to tackle homelessness and to improve infrastructure for walkers and bicyclists. 

His address comes after a rocky six-weeks in office, filled with criticisms of his transparency and a minor scuffle with another top Democrat on the council -- last week, Filner confronted Council President Todd Gloria and a senior assistant attorney over conflicting Council appointments to outside board and commissions.

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Referring to his own memo of appointments, at least one of which was in dispute at a public hearing, Filner barked: "It doesn't ask for someone to be appointed who is not a member of this council!  I just told you that -- you know it very well!  You're asking a phony question, and you'll get a phony answer!"
           
Those he considers fools and phonies try Filner's patience.
           
So do those, like City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who obstruct his agenda.
           
Filner ultimately prevailed over Goldsmith when the city’s top lawyer told him he could unilaterally suspend targeted code enforcement against marijuana dispensaries.

“I would like to re-set the button, as it were," Filner said in an interview with NBC 7.
           
While furthering the aims of the medi-pot community, the move might run afoul of  leading neighborhood activists and businesses -- as well as federal prosecutors.
           
But Filner has made it clear that what used to be business as usual at City Hall has been termed out.
           
And that's ruffled feathers.               

"In Washington D.C., if you're abrasive with people, that's seen as normal,” says Republican strategist Ron Nehring.  “But in San Diego and City Hall, where people are expected to work together, it's really standing out.  And he needs to adjust."
           
Filner's defenders say he was a "known quantity" to voters.

This, from Democratic strategist Jon Elliott: "Bob's critics?  I have one thing to say to them: 'Get used to it.'  If they don't like the way he runs it, vote for somebody else, but you're stuck with him for four years.  And I say, give the man a chance to see what he can do, and then assess him on his opportunity."
            

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