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Golden Fleece Awards finalists -- Metro

Metro category

* City of San Diego — City Attorney Interim Reports

This might be a case of “look before you jump.” After spending months aggressively preparing three controversial reports on the origin of the city’s pension-related woes, City Attorney Michael Aguirre now finds himself in the awkward position of having to affirm or deny his confidence in the findings he included in his interim reports. An early February ruling by a Superior Court judge forces the city to provide the court with the answer to a long-standing question during Aguirre’s tenure as city attorney: Does he speak for the city council? If Aguirre stands by his findings, then his reports stand a chance of aiding and abetting the plaintiffs in several lawsuits against the city, including one demanding an immediate payment of $175 million into the pension system. If he backs away from the findings he included in his interim reports, the city’s position in several lawsuits filed against outside consultants claiming negligence and breach of contract may be weakened. Perhaps a little more consideration should have been used so that city residents (also known as taxpayers) are not left holding the bag in a lose-lose situation.

* City of San Diego — Real Estate Assets Department

What property does San Diego actually own? It seems that for years the city’s Real Estate Assets Department didn’t really know, and certainly couldn’t share that information with the administration, the council or the public. Over the past 10 months, the Union-Tribune has revealed the department’s scandalous lack of record keeping and management in a series of stories. The city’s “inventory” identified property the city never owned, property that was sold long ago and omits land that the city does, in fact, still own. The city’s leasing system is in a similar state of disarray. How difficult would it be to log all of these properties on a computer? Even just on a simple Excel spreadsheet. It’s time to get the real estate assets house in order. The current state is sad commentary on “America’s Finest City.”

* City of San Diego — Legal Bills for Current and Past City Employees

City Attorney Michael Aguirre’s refusal to represent current city council members and more than 40 current and past city employees in investigations being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Securities and Exchange Commission and The District Attorney’s Office is costing the city nearly $3.8 million in outside attorney fees. Aguirre contends there would be no need for outside attorneys if city officials hadn’t approved materially false or misleading disclosures regarding the issuance of bonds. Regardless of which side one agrees with, the bottom line is that the bills continue to quickly mount at the expense of taxpayers.

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