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Filner and Gloria Squabble Over Appointments to Port Board of Commissioners

Filner announced Friday afternonon that he vetoed the appointments of businessman Marshall Merrifield and lawyer Rafael Castellanos to the Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners.

Another clash over appointments to outside agencies broke out on Friday between Mayor Bob Filner and City Council President Todd Gloria.   

In a statement emailed to the media after 5 p.m. on Friday, Filner announced that he vetoed the appointments of businessman Marshall Merrifield and lawyer Rafael Castellanos to the Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners.   

The two were poised to replace San Diego's representatives on the port district's governing body. Lee Burdick was hired by Filner and Scott Peters was elected to Congress.   

Filner cited problems with the appointment process and suggested a meeting with council members to hash out priorities for the port. Gloria, however, responded that the City Council might just try to override the vetoes.   

Merrifield and Castellanos beat out a field of six candidates when they were appointed by council members at a Jan. 7 meeting.   

Filner called the appointment process “flawed.” Among other things, he pointed to the vacancy in District 4 created by the resignation of Tony Young that left some residents of southeast San Diego asking for a delay in the port appointments.

The mayor called the port district a “unique and important role in the economic and cultural life” of the area.   

“It is of such importance that the City Council and the mayor should convene a workshop to discuss and establish a consensus on the city's vision and policy for our port,” Filner wrote. “This workshop would allow an open and frank dialogue which, combined with the input from stakeholders, will enable us to develop a set of goals and objectives for our waterfront.”   

He also said the council should set minimum qualifications for appointments, including education and work experience, and set common applications and review procedures.   

Filner made the port a centerpiece of his economic development plans during his campaign for mayor.   

Gloria released the following statement in response: “After the `State of the City' address where the mayor stressed the importance of the port to our economic future, he appears to want to leave the city of San Diego unrepresented on the Port Commission for the foreseeable future.

“I maintain my belief that both Rafael Castellanos and Marshall Merrifield would serve San Diego's interests well, and will schedule a hearing for the City Council to consider overriding the veto, as the law requires,” Gloria said.   

Councilman Kevin Faulconer said he will vote to override the vetoes when the time comes.   

“I'm proud to have cast a bipartisan vote for two port commissioners who will protect and promote San Diego's environment, economy, shoreline and bay,” Faulconer said. “Leaving two of San Diego's three Port Commission seats vacant is a disservice to San Diego citizens.”   

Councilman Scott Sherman said he was disappointed to learn that the appointments of two “moderate, diverse, well-qualified candidates” were vetoed.   

“The Port of San Diego is too important to our regional economy to be held up by partisan, Washington-style political games,” Sherman said.   

The mayor and City Council clashed last week over appointments to the San Diego Association of Governments Board of Directors and committees. Filner contended that Gloria usurped his power to make appointments and interrupted him and other council members several times.   

The two sides came together later in the week to agree on SANDAG appointments, which were approved on Monday.

—City News Service

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