"I basically want to be about the business of good government," Pratt said. "I will continue to do that. I don't feel I have to wave a big flag. Wes Pratt is not going to be here forever. People have to take up the mantle and serve."
Bruce Henderson has taken a prominent role in some important citywide and district issues. Henderson was the architect of Proposition K, the advisory ballot measure calling for a mandatory, citywide program of staggered work hours to reduce peak-hour traffic congestion.
Along with several other council members, he has championed an ordinance to preserve single-family neighborhoods, which make up a sizable part of his 6th District, which includes Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Clairemont. He led the fight to equip the city's police force with two helicopters captured from drug runners. One chopper is now operating and the other is being outfitted.
Henderson continues to be the council's maverick on its $1.5-billion sewer system upgrade, insisting that the effort is not necessary. He also led opposition to a $1.5-million consulting contract to publicize the issue, narrowly losing his effort to sharply reduce the program, but managing to pare $300,000 from the price tag.
Despite that sizable first-year agenda, Henderson is best known inside City Hall for the publicity stunts, his long, sometimes unfocused speeches and his class-clown tendency to interrupt colleagues during council sessions.
Blowup Sharks, Posters
Henderson has filled the council chamber with the ominous background music from the film "Jaws" and adorned the room with inflatable sharks to make his point that "consultant sharks" are feeding on public tax dollars. He altered a "Jaws" poster to show the shark munching a dollar bill.
His "Fly Me" poster focused attention on the helicopters. He handed out a commuter survival kit at a press conference to exhort voters to approve Proposition K.
Henderson has "a sense of humor, a different way of doing things," said O'Connor, who concedes she has at times become exasperated trying to silence Henderson at council meetings. "He has fun and doesn't take it personally. . . . He does make you laugh.
"He tries to exaggerate to make his point. And, through his exaggerations, he makes his points. That's his way of doing it."
Henderson agrees that he's trying "just to have a little fun" during council meetings that can stretch eight hours or more.
"The sharks captured the council's attention," he said. "I didn't win, but at least I saved the city $300,000."
Admits to 'Fine Line'
But, he acknowledges, "I have to be careful because there's a fine line between using them and amusing (council members) and over-using them and irritating (council members)."
Behind the clowning, council members agree, is a keen mind and a financial acumen that many other council members lack. Henderson has also concentrated on his district, focusing on a traffic study of Mission Bay, Pacific Beach and La Jolla and closely scrutinizing requests for exemptions from the city's Interim Development Ordinance in his neighborhoods.
He has also maneuvered himself into the chairmanship of the Public Facilities and Recreation Committee, where he will have a more direct impact on Mission Bay Park.
Henderson was perhaps the council's most outspoken opponent of the growth-management plan, though he did vote for it after weeks of negotiation. "I didn't like H . . ., " he said of Proposition H. "I was very pleased by the voters, that they rejected it." Henderson called the voters' decision "a reaffirmation of representative democracy," because it put the future of growth management back in the council's hands.
Henderson, "I think, has been less of an environmental supporter than we had expected," said Barbara Bamberger, the Sierra Club's conservation coordinator. "And we didn't expect much."
This has not been Bob Filner's month.
It started Nov. 29 when a coalition of five council members relieved him of $1.7 million in Community Development block grant funds that City Manager John Lockwood had recommended for his 8th District. The following day, the same group turned down O'Connor's suggestion that Filner head a council committee and installed Henderson as chairman instead.
A week later, they were at it again, refusing to allow Filner to represent the council on the Metropolitan Transit Development Board.
Filner's colleagues say they were trying to teach him a lesson. They say he is abrasive, that he takes political and philosophical debate and raises it to the level of personal attack.
"Bob tends to personalize it: 'you're evil, you're bad, you're mean, you've broken the law, and I don't like you, and I'm going to take my football and go home,' " Henderson said.
Roberts, one of the group of moderate-to-conservative Republicans who engineered Filner's thrashing, claims he was motivated by Filner's attempt, during back-corridor wrangling over committee chairmanships, to put together a slate that would have left Roberts without a chairmanship.