San Diego's Murphy: 'The city needs a fresh start'

April 25, 2005 ( - San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy, who has been at the center of that city's widening public pension crisis, on Monday announced that he would step down from his post July 15.

Although voters last year kept the former judge in the city’s top spot for another term – albeit by a razor-thing 2,108 vote victory – Murphy said a new city executive was needed to unravel the political and legal mess, according to an Associated Press report.

“It’s clear to me that the city needs a fresh start,” Murphy said, holding back emotion as he made the announcement at City Hall, surrounded by his staff and family. Murphy’s resignation speech is here .

Not only does San Diego’s pension system currently confronted with a nearly $1.4 billion deficit, but local authorities, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), federal prosecutors and the FBI are all looking into the city’s finances, including the possibility of securities fraud and other corruption (See San Diego DA Kicks Off Pension Probe ).

Murphy has publicly clashed with the newly elected city attorney, Michael Aguirre, who has previously called for the mayor’s resignation and issued a scathing report that found he and the City Council violated federal securities laws by hiding key information about city finances (See San Diego Benefits “Void” Says City Attorney Report ). Last week, Murphy was called one of the country’s three worst mayors by Time magazine, which said the mayor was “discredited” by the pension fund crisis.

In announcing his resignation, Murphy referred to a change in government that was approved by voters last fall to give the mayor greater power. Currently, the city manager wields control over city functions. “I now believe to be effective the city will need a mayor who was elected by a majority of the people and who has a clear mandate to take this city forward,” he said.