San Diego City Manager Says He'll Quit – If the City Attorney Will

August 17, 2005 ( - Things continued to heat up in San Diego - with City Manager Lamont Ewell saying that he would heed City Attorney Michael Aguirre's call to resign - if Aguirre would also resign.

The exchange followed the unveiling of Aguirre’s 15-point plan to get the city’s pension system and finances back on track (see  SD City Attorney Posits 15-Point Plan ).  Among other things, that plan includes having the City by the Sea enter into a consent decree with the Securities and Exchange Commission, admitting that it made “material” misrepresentations and omitted facts related to the pension plan and the city’s wastewater rate structure during the offer and sale of city bonds – a move that Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins characterized as “premature and irresponsible, because at this point we don’t know what the SEC is going to conclude. That would be the same as pleading guilty before you’ve been charged.”  

Aguirre’s plan would also place on the June 2006 primary election ballot a charter amendment to change the pension board’s composition so it would consist of seven independent members.   However, pending that change, the city council would:

  • remove the current pension board members and appoint seven new independent members who would replace the pension board administrator;
  • end the payment of what Aguirre calls illegal pension benefits;
  • require the city to pay all legal benefits and make required annual payments into the pension system; and
  • restore the city attorney as counsel for the pension board.

The plan also calls for placing a charter amendment on the June 2006 ballot that would require approval of a majority of the city’s voters for any pension benefit increases.

According to the, Atkins said “Mr. Aguirre continues to be the only official that has concluded that the city’s pension benefits are illegal.   “It is irresponsible to base a financial strategy on rolling back pension benefits before any court has determined their legality.”

Atkins also said “We’ve had indications from the SEC that we’re on the right track.”  

Regarding Aguirre’s call for Ewell’s immediate resignation, along with replacement of the city treasurer and financial manager, Ewell responded, “Mr. Aguirre has got to go. He has been detrimental to our citizens, business community and city employees. He has absolutely no regard for the people of San Diego, just his own personal political agenda. I am so committed to the best interests of this city that if he agrees to resign today, I will resign as well. It’s time to end his ridiculous accusatory behavior that continues to harm this fine city.”