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Why 'Bash' Mayor?

September 13, 1987

In his commentary "Mayor Is Going Places, But What About City She Promised to Lead?" (Sept. 6), Mr. McDade does not prominently publish his credential as former chief of staff in Mayor Hedgecock's Administration, nor does he state that Mayor O'Connor was forced to take the helm and become the captain of a ship that was literally run aground by Roger Hedgecock.

Indeed, I invite the reader to inquire of any Navy captain who has had the unenviable task of succeeding a predecessor who has run a ship aground. The situation is chaotic at best. The crew, for one, is uncertain of their future. They are embarrassed, and overall the mood is not one of tranquility. Maureen O'Connor found herself in a very similar situation after the felonious misdeeds of Mr. Hedgecock. She now fills an unexpired term, not a full term. In so doing, she has acted in a commendable fashion--given all of the problems she inherited.

For one, Ms. O'Connor ran into a series of crises that can only be described as unbelievable. The "M" crises, namely Martinez and Murray, were an unusual turn of events and yet another troublesome chapter in the history of the City of San Diego. Mayor O'Connor, in the Martinez case, was faced with an unexpired term that had to be filled. Co-equally, City Manager Sylvester Murray's departure was another time-consuming crisis the mayor had to meet head-on. Nonetheless, she did so successfully.

Literally, since she has been in office, Mayor O'Connor has been a caretaker for her predecessor. She has not been fortunate to have a City Council that is fully intact, in that many of the council members are lame ducks. It is hard to understand how one can lead a City Council that truly will not become a recognizable body until after the November elections.

The commentary goes on to knock the mayor for being away on various trips. Indeed, these trips have ripened into a relationship with Mayor Koch of New York, which she has now parlayed into a tremendous advantage for the America's Cup. At Mayor O'Connor's request, Koch called upon the attorney general of the state of New York to intervene in a court proceeding there regarding the Cup.

Mayor Hedgecock's former aide forgets that Mr. Hedgecock and his predecessors left this city in a tremendous abyss as far as trash and sewage handling. Indeed, the errors of prior administrations in not sidling up to federal government officials concerning our sewage treatment plant has now doomed us to an albatross of more than $1 billion that must be spent to build a sewage-treatment plant to meet federal guidelines. The mayor is in continuous negotiations with federal officials to obtain federal monies to help build the much-needed plant so as to spare the taxpayers of this city the total bill.

The criticism in your commentary piece is totally unwarranted. Mayor O'Connor enjoys a rousing 90% support from the citizens of this great community. To "bash" her after little over one year in office with a lame-duck City Council and a myriad of crises, most of which were created by the Hedgecock Administration, is unfair and unwarranted.

DONALD McGRATH II

San Diego

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