Aguirre Announces Murphy Probe

July 26, 2005 ( - Charges and counter-charges of wrongdoing continued flying in San Diego Monday with word from City Attorney Michael Aguirre that he plans a probe into whether former Mayor Dick Murphy committed wrongdoing while in office.

The focus of Aguirre’s investigation is whether Murphy entered into what Aguirre called “an unlawful quid pro quo relationship” with San Diego’s firefighters union – an allegation Murphy quickly denied, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Specifically, Aguirre wants to look at whether Murphy unlawfully agreed last year to torpedo recommendations by the city’s Pension Reform Committee in return for political backing from the union.  The board would have been reduced from 13 members to seven and beneficiaries or their representatives would have been barred from the panel.

According to the newspaper, Aguirre’s charges drew a swift denial from Murphy, who has kept a low profile since he left office July 15, three months after resigning (See  San Diego’s Murphy: ‘The city needs a fresh start’  ). Murphy also called the difference between the committee’s recommendation and the current composition of the board “a compromise that nobody liked.”

Aguirre cited a 2004 Union-Tribune report to bolster his allegations.   During last year’s mayoral race, a Murphy opponent, county Supervisor Ron Roberts, said he had been told by Ron Saathoff, president of Fire Fighters Local 145, that the union would endorse Murphy if he agreed to leave the board’s makeup unchanged.

Aguirre also accused the pension board of being the “tiny tail wagging the entire dog in this city,” by trying to obstruct his probes into the management.