By Ronald. W. Powell
Staff Writer

November 11, 2008

 — Termed-out San Diego City Council President Scott Peters wanted to continue his career in public service, and yesterday five of his council colleagues voted to give him a new venue – the Port Commission.

Beginning in January, Peters will serve a four-year term on the volunteer commission, which oversees development, environmental stewardship and police enforcement along the shores and the waters of San Diego Bay.

But Peters – who sat out the decision – didn't get what he desired without enduring some scalding criticism from the public and one of his colleagues.

“This is a pathetic attempt to have this council appoint a person who sits on the same council,” Councilman Tony Young said. “The public confidence (in the council) is lacking because of this kind of maneuvering.”

Young, along with Councilwoman Donna Frye, argued that appointments to boards and commissions should be handled by the new City Council, which will be sworn in Dec. 8. At that time, the eight-member council will have four new members.

Yet the majority of the council supported Peters, a former environmental lawyer who was nominated by council members Toni Atkins and Ben Hueso and backed by Mayor Jerry Sanders. Atkins and Hueso were joined by Kevin Faulconer, Brian Maienschein and Jim Madaffer in appointing Peters.

Members of the public criticized Peters for his role in voting to underfund the city employee pension fund, contri-buting to a more than $1 billion deficit. Others said he had been too cozy with developers.

Nonetheless, Peters beat out bank executive and Centre City Development Corp. board member Robert McNeely for a seat on the Port Commission. Madaffer said the city will still benefit from McNeely's service on the CCDC board and suggested that he can seek appointment to the Port Commission next time.

The commission has seven members – three from San Diego and one member appointed by the city councils of National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, and Coronado.

Also yesterday, environmentalist Laurie Black was reappointed to the Port Commission with less acrimony than Peters faced.