Sanders calls Aguirre a demagogue, Aguirre calls Sanders, politically speaking, nuts. And any pretense of even the coolest collegiality between San Diego’s bombastic embattled City Attorney and its Strong Mayor In Name Only is now so much polluted bay water flowing under the Coronado Bridge. Admittedly, things have been heating toward the boiling point in the two men’s relationship ever since the accusations of incompetence and corruption were being hurled by the two over the Sunroad debacle. And now it’s open war, with any sign of a truce or détente not to be seen.
Now Aguirre could arguably have been said to have fired the first shot of this conflict on September 7th when he posted his equivalent of Luther’s ninety-five theses on the Mayor’s and Council’s door: a short list of fourteen remedial steps the City still needed to take to return its financial house to order and reenter the bonds markets. While many of Aguirre’s proposed steps make sense even to the Mayor, Aguirre’s blasting of the Mayor and Council for not taking more decisive actions over the last two years was a guaranteed hackle raiser. But, by my reading, the Mayor’s September 28th response to Aguirre’s proposals was, if anything, more personally directed and personally critical than anything in Aguirre’s maligned missive. But, bottom line, there was more bonhomie and collegiality at this week’s meeting between North and South Korea than in the Aguirre/Sanders memos combined.
The timing of this war is somewhat interesting to me. Sanders staff probably started on the Mayor’s response to Aguirre within days of receiving it, so this letter has been in the works for a couple of weeks now. But it was just a week and a half ago that Jerry got caught up in his gay fray over gay marriage. Since then he has sustained continuing derision from his party’s right wing for betraying a core party value and now faces a much more plausible challenge from Steve Francis in the 2008 primary race. September was a tough month for Jerry Sanders.
So what do the tough do when the going get’s tough? In San Diego, it seems, you dump on Mike Aguirre. Most certainly, the Mayor was going to respond to—and reject—most of Aguirre’s September 7th proposals. But I have a feeling the response would have been a tad less personal and aggressive but for the political events of September. It looks like Gentleman Jerry is planning to run his 2008 campaign of “It’s All Aguirre’s Fault” (as if Mike alone is responsible for the City being four years out of the bonds markets.) Now the battle is for the hearts and minds of the voters of San Diego between Sanders and Aguirre. Which may not play out for the Mayor and his supporters as they hope. My 86 year old always—votes mother still says Aguirre is the only one trying to make anything change at City Hall. She’s the vox populi of the grey-haired contingent, as far as I’m concerned—having voted for the winner in just about every city race in the last three decades. Jerry, if you want to beat Aguirre, you’ve gotta win over Mom. And it’s gonna be a hard sale.
Yep, looks like full scale war has erupted at City Hall. And, like most wars, this one’s not gonna do most people a whole lotta good. Don’t look for much to change between now and December, 2008, when the new Mayor and half the council are sworn in. And, my bet, don’t look for San Diego to be back in the bonds markets by then, either. More than likely, we’re not out of the civic hurricane we’ve been in since 2002. The last year may well have been the eye of the storm.