April 25, 2005

Mayor Spins Out, Explodes

Last November - and December - I told you about Our Crazy Mayor's Race.

The "winner" was incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy, who, after half a million votes were counted and re-counted, came out on top of a goofy 3-way race by about 2,000 votes.

The race was goofy because a write-in candidate was allowed to join a Two Candidate Run-Off Election. The result was that the expected clear winner of the campaign, Ron Roberts, somehow ended up 3rd after splitting the vote with the write-in. Amusingly, the write-in all but won except that 5,000 of the voters who wrote her name on the ballot didn't fill in the bubble.

To be fair, Dick Murphy didn't even want the job. Really. He announced a couple of years ago he wouldn't run for re-election. Later he changed his mind. He came in second in the primary, and was bound to lose the run-off to a popular, enthusiastic critic. Then came the sneaky hippie write-in trick and Murphy's hopes for a quiet retirement were dashed.

After protracted and somewhat ridiculous legal maneuvering on all sides, Mayor Murphy fell across the finish line in December and was sworn in to his office, with a smile on his face.

That was stupid of him.

An SEC probe into city finance fraud, a U.S. Attorney and FBI joint investigation into public corruption, repeated city bond-rating downgrades by Wall Street, and a burgeoning recall effort have combined to tear the wheels of Murphy's vehicle. All in just 4 months.

This morning he resigned.

His interim replacement will be Deputy Mayor Michael Zucchet.

In case this fact isn't too exciting to anyone, Zucchet's own trial on Federal Corruption Charges begins next Tuesday.

I am not making this up. See?


At 6:51 PM, Blogger Omni said...

We San Diegans need to stick with female mayors; wasn't our last male mayor Roger Hedgecock, who also came to a bad end?


Granted, Susan Golding was less than ideal too, but STILL.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Don Sheffler said...

I was thinking of doing a separate post on this but I'll drop this here. I was thinking along the same lines as you were, Omni.

We'll skip Pete Wilson. Just cuz. He doesn't fit with the theme of skullduggery and failure.

Before Pete, we have to go back to a San Diego election from 50 years ago to find a CLEAN, EFFECTIVE, Mayor.

Anybody remember Charles C. Dail? He helped found the precurser organizations vital to the redevelopment of downtown San Diego, including the San Diego Convention and Vistitors Bureau. He also helped pull the San Diego Chargers down here from Los Angeles in 1961 and the previous year had enticed Jonas Salk himself to the area with a San Diego City grant of 27 acres near the La Jolla Coast on which to build the Salk Institute. But enough about the clean guy.

The two women mayors in San Diego's history, Maureen O'Connor and Susan Golding, were passable as leaders. No major tribulations. No major progress. I'm not going to get into further analysis here about them, because I want to get to the juicy stuff - our pathetic and scandalous San Diego Mayors:

After Dail came Frank Curran.

“On October 8, 1970, a grand jury returned bribery and conspiracy indictments against Mayor Frank Curran, local Yellow Cab president Charlie Pratt and seven sitting and former city council members. Pratt was accused of funneling campaign contributions and liberally dispensing Yellow Cab scrip books and other gifts to the city officials, who three years earlier had unanimously approved a fat 22 percent rate hike for the local cab company.”
- San Diego Magazine Online

Curran OUT.

In 1983 after Pete Wilson left for the Senate, Roger Hedgecock easily won the special election. Less than a year the infamous J. David Dominelli Ponzi scheme was unearthed, and at the center of it, laid bare, was new Mayor Hedgecock's illegal campaign funding.

“As he imposed sentence, Judge William L. Todd Jr. said he had no doubt of Hedgecock’s guilt. 'Your conduct ... is reprehensible in every sense of the word because you violated the public trust, completely, over and over again.' Facing automatic ouster under state law, Hedgecock had resigned at 3 p.m., December 5, 1985, just minutes before being sentenced....”
- San Diego Magazine Online 1998 retrospective

Hedgecock OUT.

Oh, and Bill Cleator. He was Interim Mayor for a short bit in 1983 during Hedgecock's campaign to succeed Pete Wilson. Bill Cleator’s claim to fame?

[Cleator] “caused an uproar in February 1983, during a visit by Britain's Queen Elizabeth, when he briefly touched the queen's back as he said ‘This way, Your Majesty.’ A British tabloid story was headlined ‘GET YOUR HANDS OFF OUR QUEEN.’”
- The Political Graveyard

Ahhh, so Cleator wasn't so bad. He was only Mayor for about 5 minutes anyway.


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