When San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor announced in January--one year into a four-year term--that she would not run for reelection, it appeared as if she were abdicating her role as mayor. She tried to offset the considerable liabilities of such a long lame-duck status by saying it would allow her to work more freely for City Hall reforms.
But just eight months later, those reforms have gone nowhere. Last week, in a sort-of midyear State of the City address, O'Connor said that the "San Diego tradition of stability, civility and community" is being destroyed by a "mindless smorgasbord of silliness."
Few who followed the recent redistricting fight would dispute that.
But we are troubled by O'Connor's response to the frustrations. Instead of redoubling her efforts, she has decided to absent herself more often. The ambitious international travel schedule she announced--with trips to Japan, Mexico, France and New York City by the end of the year--is likely to exacerbate the instability.
If abdication was too strong a word in January, it isn't now.
Ironically, stability was what O'Connor originally promised to bring to City Hall, which had been plagued by scandals and the felony convictions of former Mayor Roger Hedgecock.
But O'Connor has had trouble providing the leadership to sustain the initial stability she brought to the office.
Instead of building coalitions, she turned her attention to the Soviet arts festival.
If O'Connor's attentions are concentrated on international goals to the extent they were on the arts festival, there will be little time for the responsibilities she was elected to carry out.
O'Connor deserves credit for her personal diplomacy skills. And if she is able to use them to move along the idea of a binational airport, the whole San Diego region will benefit. But however meritorious her international agenda is for San Diego's economic future, the city needs a full-time mayor.