San Diego no longer so ‘Fine’

MONDAY, DEC. 5, 2005

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, 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 of San Diego has quietly dethroned itself and dropped the self-proclaimed title “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.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently asked readers to coin a new slogan, saying “America’s Finest” had turned “creaky.” Among the 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 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.


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