So what have we learned about Jerry Sanders over the last several weeks?
Jerry is a dreamer/optimist. Just look at his budget. With no new taxes (just read his lips, I dare you–sewer rate fee increases, and hotel occupancy tax increases, of course, not included) reductions in staff and increases in overall spending, Gentlemen Jerry promises to move towards a balanced city budget, no reduction in overall services and a closing of the pension funding gap. (Of course calling the current underfunding of our pension a gap is like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch.) Perhaps his Honor might next show San Diegans how they can eat all the Ben and Jerry’s they want, exercise not a wit and still lose weight.
On Friday the City’s Reality Fairy (aka independent budget analyst Andrea Tevlin) will release her take on the Mayor’s wish list. Given that the Mayor’s budget is well below the over quarter billion in additional cuts Tevlin has already called for, I expect she will be popping a few of the mayor’s fiscal fantasy balloons.
Which leads to observation number two:
Jerry is just another politician after all.
Part of former top cop Sanders appeal during the 2005 election was the fact he wasn’t just another downtown politician. As a former police officer he seemed almost Colin Powellesque: above petty politics, dedicated to public service. Now we know better. Politicians from 202 C street to Pennsylvania Avenue have been selling American voters the same “have your government services cake and let others eat the taxes” line since Ronny Raygun blasted his way onto the national stage. Why should Jerry be any different?
And he’s not.
Donna Frye lost her bid for mayor in no small part because she was willing to state the obvious: San Diegans either have to face higher taxes (or fees, surcharges or whatever euphemism you like) or reduced services or both. Being honest did her about as much good as it did Paul “I am not Santa Claus” Tsongas running against Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic primaries. Given the choice between reality and political promises the voters always go for the latter. Jerry understood that in 2005 and still understands it in the run up to 2008. The truth about San Diego finances? Jerry’s decided the voters can’t handle the truth.
Jerry as politician takes us to observation number three:
Jerry the politician is off the fence on Aguirre. And he’s not on Aguirre’s side.
Police Chief Lansdowne politicized his office to an unprecedented extent when he not only refused to serve a lawful warrant (something even former DA Ed Miller reportedly felt was way out of bounds) but then went behind the City Attorney’s back to his Honorable Jerry. That Lansdowne would go the extra yard to stick it to Mike Aguirre is hardly surprising. Just look at the Chief’s participation in the misdemeanor melee in which he, the County Sheriff and Bonnie “My Turf” Dumanis carried out a coup d’etat fait accompli, stripping Mikey of his M powers. But the audacity of Lansdowne’s role in what is sure to become Sunroadgate was, well, audacious. That Jerry would then leak the whole thing to the ultimately stabilizer of the San Diego status quo – the UT—is simply unbelievable and inexplicable.
Unless, that is, you accept that Jerry has thrown in his lot with said status quo – the one in which connected developers continue to get sweetheart deals at the public expense thanks to the politicians they put and keep in elected office, in case you were wondering—selling out his independent-man-of-the-people personae for the political support he seems to think he’ll need in 2008. One minute he’s supporting the Miamization of Pacific Beach through the lifting of coastal height limits, next he’s going around the City Attorney’s back to derail an investigation of a developer who played fast and loose with the FAA and the City (not to mention the public) in pursuit of profits at the cost of public safety. What other conclusion can one reach?
Over the last month the Jerry Sanders Show has shown us the real Jerry Sanders. Jerry is starting to look a lot more like Susan Golding and Dick Murphy and a lot less like the .Vox Populi Jerry of the 2005 campaign. He might keep that in mind while he contemplates his chances for a second term.