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Navarro Economics Criticized in Report : Politics: Analysts for taxpayers group say the mayoral candidate’s plan is ‘lost in its own complexities and contradictions.’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

San Diego mayoral candidate Peter Navarro’s economic program “gets lost in its own complexities and contradictions,” according to an analysis by two consultants, who are sharply critical of the UC Irvine business professor’s past policies and plans for the city’s future.

Though they praise Navarro for “the most broad-based, sophisticated” economic plan of the four major contenders in the mayor’s race, Louis M. Rea and Richard A. Parker accuse the managed-growth advocate of numerous “internal policy contradictions” and say his past unfriendliness to business renders his campaign proposals suspect.

“Navarro has not really ever demonstrated a sufficient ability to work effectively with those who oppose his point of view,” the consultants wrote in a study prepared for the San Diego Taxpayer’s Educational Foundation. “As such, his policy of bringing together various interest groups in a cooperative problem-solving arena is not as credible as it might be for others who have demonstrated such abilities.”

The foundation is an adjunct of the San Diego Taxpayer’s Assn., a downtown research and lobbying group that represents taxpayer and business interests.

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Navarro labeled the study, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, political propaganda, and called the two consultants “hired guns” who would write anything they were paid for.

“The Taxpayer’s Assn. is going to try to hide behind the facade of this being an educational exercise,” Navarro said, “but it’s a thinly veiled political attack on Peter Navarro.”

The study is scheduled to be released at a news conference today.

Two of Navarro’s rivals, San Diego City Councilman Ron Roberts and County Supervisor Susan Golding, fared better in the review. The proposed economic policies of the fourth major candidate, financier Tom Carter, were dismissed as impossible to analyze because Carter has not committed them to writing.

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“Roberts’ small business proposal is a straightforward, implementable program with relatively minor cost implications,” the review concludes. “His other policies are less refined, but are still focused upon job creation and business enhancement within a relatively realistic framework--the possible exception being his TwinPorts (airport) proposal requiring the cooperation of the Mexican government, which has been lacking.”

Roberts’ campaign consultant, John Wainio, said the result “comes as no surprise. It’s Ron’s experience, 20 years building his own business, that gives him the hands-on knowledge that the other candidates lack.”

The report maintains, however, that there is “almost no evidence” that the downtown sports arena Roberts endorses will spur the development of restaurants and hotels. Roberts also fails to address replacement of middle-level manufacturing jobs the city is losing, the report concludes.

Golding’s proposals, which consist largely of calls for new attitudes toward economic issues and city committees to facilitate change, is “not yet sufficiently specific,” Rea and Parker said.

“In the final analysis, its potential for success can only be assessed in terms of (Golding’s) own ability to achieve consensus and to effectively and efficiently mobilize the various interest groups which she has incorporated into her proposals,” they wrote.

The consultants warn that Golding’s proposed commissions could add to bureaucratic cost and that past reliance on public-private partnerships such as the ones she proposes “have generally led to private profits and public costs” if “forged out of desperation or without adequate forethought.”

Golding was also criticized for failing to address the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Golding spokeswoman Nikki Symington contended that the proposal is “quite specific” and that the two consultants had not “read it well enough.” The Golding program proposes that the city use its bonding capacity to help expand the city’s manufacturing and industrial base.

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Carter campaign consultant Luke Breit said his candidate has spoken at length about his economic proposals and was under the impression that the study’s authors considered those statements sufficient for their purposes. Carter has no plans to issue an economic plan in writing, Breit said.


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