City no longer finest of them all

first_img San Diego proclaimed itself America’s Finest City in 1972 – ironically, to get through another rough patch. The Republican Party had moved its national convention from San Diego to Miami Beach with less than three months notice. There were allegations that the Justice Department dropped an antitrust suit against International Telephone & Telegraph Co. after it pledged $400,000 to the convention. Then-mayor Pete Wilson ordered a weeklong of America’s Finest City Festival in San Diego during the Miami convention, complete with boat races and concerts. The festival was an annual event for several years, and the title survived even longer. “One scandal gave rise to the slogan, and another, even deeper scandal has erased it,” said Carl Luna, a political scientist at San Diego’s Mesa College. Wilson, who later served as a U.S. senator and California governor, said dropping the title was “too defensive” and “very shortsighted.” San Diegans, he said, should just fix city government and “get on with living.” Most San Diegans agree. A KPBS/Competitive Edge poll last year found 57 percent of residents believed the city was still the country’s finest, mostly because of postcard-perfect beaches and nearly endless strings of sunny, 72-degree days. The finest-city slogan remains popular among weather forecasters and talk-radio hosts in San Diego, but others say it only makes the city the butt of jokes. “Even the Chamber of Commerce shies away from it,” said Steve Erie, a political scientist at University of California, San Diego. “This is a city that has run away from its slogan.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The San Diego Union-Tribune recently asked readers to coin a new slogan. Among nearly 500 responses: “Scandalicious,” “An eruption of corruption,” “All major unmarked bills accepted here” and “Bunglers by the Bay.” Headline writers have weighed in with “Enron-by-the-Sea” (The New York Times) and “Paradise Insolvent” (Governing Magazine). Lew said the finest-city title was erased from the Web site in August – leaving a blank blue space next to a photo of the downtown skyline – in response to the federal investigation of the city’s troubled finances. The investigation led to the resignation of Mayor Dick Murphy in April, and days later the two councilmen were convicted of taking bribes in exchange for efforts to allow touching at nude bars. And just one week ago, Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-San Diego, resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to pocketing bribes that helped pay for a Rolls-Royce, a yacht named the Duke-Stir and antique furniture. SAN DIEGO – America’s Finest City? Not any more. One of its congressmen admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes, the FBI has investigated City Hall, the mayor resigned when a $1.37 billion pension shortfall damaged the city’s credit rating and fueled talk of bankruptcy, and two councilmen were convicted of taking bribes from a strip club owner. Faced with all that ill repute, the city has quietly dethroned itself and dropped the self-bestowed title of America’s Finest City from its official Web site. “We couldn’t stake that claim anymore,” said Gina Lew, the city’s director of public and media affairs. “We were taking too many hits.” last_img read more