That same year, longtime local TV reporter Marti Emerald ran for the soon-to-be-open District 7 seat on the council. Emerald said she would have the same watchdog mentality she had as a journalist in exposing scandal and bad behavior while working to build healthy consensus with fellow city leaders.
Both Lightner and Emerald won, and were re-elected last year. This year, they were joined on the City Council by Myrtle Cole, who filled the District 4 seat left vacant by Tony Young’s resignation. Cole promised to be a constructive force for change animated by an “our community can soar” spirit.
On Tuesday, they showed their campaign claims to be garbage.
The three enabled Mayor Bob Filner’s pathetic bullying of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith for his sin of insisting that Filner follow the law. Their votes sustained Filner’s line-item veto that cut more than $500,000 in funding from the City Attorney’s Office. Council President Todd Gloria and the council’s four Republican members had sought to restore the funding.
Gloria accurately called Filner’s cuts “petty” and “dumb.” But the actions of Lightner, Emerald and Cole are worse than petty and dumb. Their votes will only embolden the mayor.
This is terrible news. Residents of San Diego desperately need other city leaders to try to rein Filner in — to contain the damage from his outrageous behavior, such as his demanding $100,000 for his pet causes from a developer before granting a project permit or using police to force a city lawyer to leave a closed-session council meeting.
Goldsmith and Gloria, to their considerable credit, have tried to fill this role. Goldsmith has done so because he says he has no choice but to insist the mayor stay within the law. Gloria has done so because he appears to consider Filner’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to be counterproductive and Filner’s mistreatment of city workers to be unacceptable.
But now three other city leaders have basically given their blessing to Filner’s manic, angry, bullying management style.
Memo to Sherri Lightner: We deserve a better San Diego than the one your voting will yield.
Memo to Marti Emerald: Way to confront bad behavior and promote consensus.
Memo to Myrtle Cole: If you think having a mayor with a vindictive streak a mile wide will “help our community soar,” you have a much different definition of “soar” than everyone else.
The three should be ashamed. And if they offer the excuse that Filner’s line-item veto really was about reducing waste — not punishing Goldsmith for refusing to be bullied — they should be laughed out of office.