San Diego city auditor Eduardo Luna, an eleven-year veteran of rooting out scandals at what insiders assert is an increasingly dysfunctional city hall, is heading for Beverly Hills to assume a similar role in the super-rich city of the stars.
Luna's move, which he confirmed by phone, has city observers worried that the city of San Diego under the problematic governance of Kevin Faulconer may be in for more turmoil if a new auditor, to be selected and nominated by the Republican mayor for council approval, is less resistant to special interests than Luna has been.
“He looked like he was going to be a quiet pushover," La Jolla commentator Norma Damashek said of Luna during a 2014 battle with then-mayor Jerry Sanders, "and he turned out to be a tough guy in the best sense of the word. So, now [San Diego’s leadership] is trying to humiliate him or make his life so hard that he will resign before his time is up.”
Sanders and his friend and protege Faulconer became foes of the auditor after he called out irregularities in the handling of real estate development fees administered by the city's Development Services Department in 2012.
Since then, the auditor's office has uncovered scores of fraud and mismanagement cases leading directly to the mayor's doorstep.
Luna's exit comes just weeks after Faulconer began advertising for a headhunter to lead an executive search to replace the incumbent auditor, whose ten-year term - enacted by voters to protect the office's integrity - runs out early next year.
Luna had considered remaining in his position, but the mayor and his backers made it clear that he should look elsewhere, per several insiders.
The city's audit committee, currently consisting of Republican council members Lorie Zapf and Scott Sherman, along with three public members, including Republican Lincoln Club honcho and real estate consultant Tom Hebrank, will review Faulconer's pick for Luna's replacement.
Hebrank has contributed $10,921 over the past decade to city politicos, including $1875 to the campaigns of Kevin Faulconer, per disclosure records. The full city council gets final approval, per the headhunting solicitation.
Faulconer and his GOP backers are said by several sources to be fast-tracking the process in what appears to be an effort to get the replacement through the council by the end of this year.
Luna will resign his San Diego position on September 28 and become Independent City Auditor for Beverly Hills October 1.