San Diego Business Journal

It's apparent that San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre has made few friends at City Hall.

Otherwise he wouldn't have been blindsided last week when District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and a corps of top public officials made an unscheduled visit during the public comment period in the City Council's chambers, unbeknownst to Aguirre, to offer her services in taking over misdemeanor cases from the city attorney's office.

Dumanis' backhanded attempt at olive branch diplomacy backfired badly, sparking yet another round in an endless display of political infighting at San Diego City Hall that's now inexplicably spilled over to the County Administration Building.

Aguirre had no prior knowledge Dumanis was about to unveil a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation , the average Joe gets just three minutes during the city's public comment period , even after she had notified several council members, San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne and Sheriff Bill Kolender of her intent several days before.

Aguirre, the city's lead attorney, received no notice of Dumanis' intent , no e-mail, not even a phone call from his peer.

It's more than good business practices to call before dropping by with a plan that potentially will save several million dollars a year. It's common courtesy.

Dumanis' well-orchestrated plan, and her subsequent rejection of Aguirre's invite to an April 14 community forum on the issue, only lends credence to his claims that her proposal is another attempt to impede his office's ongoing investigation of several City Hall scandals.

It's also another in a growing list of public relations gaffes at City Hall, from whistle-blower Diann Shipione's ouster from the city's Pension Board to an attempt to nix write-in candidates. What public confidence remains in City Hall is shredded some more. It's confrontation an already volatile City Hall does not need.

Rather than seeking to seize a key mechanism Aguirre needs to fully investigate the ongoing billion-dollar pension under-funding scandal, Dumanis instead should offer her office's services to assist in the investigation.

Aguirre already wants the state attorney general's office to get involved with the probe. Well, there's plenty to investigate.

Butting heads solves nothing. San Diego's two leading attorneys should instead be putting them together to pull the city out of its ever-deepening crisis.

, Rick Bell