Gentleman Jerry Sanders has had his full-on Bush moment. (That would be the kinder, gentler Bush 41 as opposed to the swaggeringer, already all but forgottener Bush 43.)
Jerry Sanders, Special Election Edition 2005: “Read My Lips. No New Municipal Taxes.”*
(*Offer does not apply to “fee increases” e.g. Sewer.)
Jerry Sanders, New And Improved Don’t Won’t The City To Go Bankrupt On His Watch 2010 Limited Edition: “New Taxes? Er, Okay!”
Now, the proposed sales tax increase is probably never going to see the revenue light of fiscal day. Come November, voters perched on the edge of a double-dip recession will probably prove reluctant to open their pocketbooks to bailout a city government that has proven reluctant to realistically deal with its financial problems for an entire decade. And the “Reform for Revenue” measure is about as Rube Goldberg a contraption as has ever been put on a San Diego Ballot. What with all its “privatize this” and “renegotiate that” provisions, this initiative has more moving parts than the Space Shuttle. And, for all the hand-wringing over budget cutbacks, firestation brownouts and pool drainings, the real pain voters will soon experience in municipal meltdown has but put off, if not for much longer.
But it’s interesting to watch the evolution from Jerry Sanders Running For Office: Pander to the voters by telling them you can have no tax increases, no cuts to city services and no municipal maladies of any kind; to Jerry Sanders Running For Legacy: Acknowledge that, while yes fiscal reform is needed at this late date it’s either steep cuts in services or some token increase in taxes.
The simple reality is San Diego is now several billion in the red, the economy is getting ready to tank again as the local housing market looks to drop into the next ditch and the only thing separating America’s Finest City and other basically bankrupt cities is time. How long, one must wonder, before the city starts turning off every other street light to save money like Colorado Springs?
Of course the politics of all this right out of the San Diego provincial playbook, with the two Republicans on the non-partisan council voting against the six Democrats on the non-partisan council thereby setting up the next GOP contender for the non-partisan Mayoralship to boldly campaign on the slogan, “Read My Lips – oh, heck, you know the rest.” (One can see Carl D practicing the line in the mirror every morning.)
By then though the game of San Diego municipal musical chairs may be over and a city that has been dancing on the brink for ten years may finally tip over. And by then a minor half-cent increase will do about as much good for San Diego finances as a roll of duct tape would have helped the Titanic.
In the interim it would be nice if mayoral mouthpiece Darrel Pudgil took a moment spent praising the mayor for his bold leadership in trying to close the near hundred mil budget gap (and gee, after only five yeas in office) to issue a small little apology to Darling Donna Frye. Back in 2005 His Gentlemanness, in a very ungentleman-like way, savaged the honest council woman for simply suggesting the city consider what Sanders himself has now embraced.
If you’re worried about legacy, Jerry, why don’t you go the whole nine yards and admit Donna was right a half-decade ago?