January 20, 2006

Editorial:

Mayor Sanders State of the City Speech Mostly Disappoints

It has been a week since Mayor Jerry Sanders’ State of the City speech. There were no real surprises in his speech. After years of bad news, this was a speech that had already been written by circumstances and it was just a matter of delivery. In that sense, Sanders delivered the speech with aplomb.

The Mayor made the point: Pension Board members have to go! They have been a huge stumbling block to rooting out the problems with City’s finances and they appeared to act, on a whole, with complete disregard to the plight of the city. It appeared as if their primary concern was protecting their backside. Replacing this board was something that the former mayor, Dick Murphy, should have done and something that this paper had recommended in the past.

A new Pension Board that has no association with the past Board members, and most importantly no financial liabilities or ties with the past Pension Board is a priority! A fresh start is sorely needed and the right thing for the Mayor to call for.

His call for City Attorney Mike Aguirre to serve as chief legal adviser to the Pension Board was, again, the right call! A no-nonsense approach to the problems facing this Board is needed and this is what Aguirre brings to this problem. Aguirre may not be pretty in the way he goes about his business but he does produce results.

While there were no surprises with the speech, there were plenty of disappointments!

Mayor Sanders campaigned on a platform of no new taxes and it didn’t take Sanders long to break that promise. True a rate hike on the sewer and water system upgrades are not technically a tax but it serves as the same exact thing. And it places an unfair burden on the poor. Prior being sworn in as a Council member, Ben Hueso was quoted as supporting this rate hike despite the fact that it would increase the financial burden carried by the residents of District 8, which is one of the poorest in the city.

What is equally disappointing is that the “strong Mayor” did not address the root of the problem!

The financial problems of the City started when the City Council began deferring payments to the City Pension Fund to pay for the largess of former Mayor Susan Golding to the Republican Party and the Corporate elites to support such things as the GOP Convention, the Chargers Stadium upgrade, the Chargers ticket guarantee, and financially supporting the Padres Petco Park with monies that should have been used for sewer and water upgrades and for maintaining the City infrastructure instead of using the City treasury to pay for projects that were beneficial to the Corporate and Financial Elites.

No where in his speech did Mayor Sanders acknowledge or address the City’s willingness or ability to fund such projects. Nor did he explain how projects, such as these, were a priority with the needs of the city and/or its citizens!

Sanders has spread the financial pain amongst the middle class and working poor, now we are waiting to see how he spreads the pain amongst the, Corporate Elites, the Upper Class and wealthy? The City’s financial problems were not caused by the working class of the city.

Until we get to the root of the problem, chance of these issues raising its ugly head will continue. Take the payments to the audit companies that are bilking the city out of tens of millions of dollars with no accounting, for example!

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