I am soooo relieved. The pension crisis is all but resolved. San Diego fiscal failure is almost certainly now averted. The SS San Diegotanic, only inches from the belly-ripping ice berg of municipal debt has abruptly changed course and now heads for safe and serene waters. All, now, is well at last. At least that’s what your Captain, Gentleman, who told all you passengers on his fiscal ship in last Sunday’s UT. Thanks to the bold actions of his administration, San Diego (just forty-nine months after his taking office mind you, but a nothing in glacial time) has enacted the needed reforms to solve the pension crisis, reign in the costs of government and avoid the false salvation of bankruptcy.
Indeed, to hear his Honor tell it, its actually been these false prophets of fiscal futility, these nattering nabobs of bankruptcy negativity, who have been holding the City back from the promised land. “In my view, the bankruptcy con job is nearly as irresponsible as the schemes that dug us into a financial hole in the first place,” Sanders said. And bravo to that. It was most certainly that Mike Aguirre (remember him?) and his constant whining about the fact that the pension deficit was getting worse every year despite the claims of the Mayor and the council to the contrary, that meddlesome maniac Mike and his dropping the “B” word in polite conversation, that’s kept San Diego on the fiscal ropes. It’s been people like Pat Shea—the Igor to Aguirre’s Dr. Frankenstein building the monster of municipal bankruptcy—who have systematically derailed real change by—gasp—talking about bankruptcy as an option to the City’s woes:
“For too long, progress in closing San Diego’s structural budget deficit has been sidetracked by a disinformation campaign that contends, against all evidence, that the city would be better off if it filed for bankruptcy… But the truth is talk of bankruptcy impedes progress on real substantive pension reform, and it poisons the climate for thoughtful solutions to our structural deficit. “
That’s right. It hasn’t been the wholesale unwillingness of the Council, the Mayor or the people of San Diego to face fiscal facts and embrace substantial cuts to services and significant increases sources of revenues that’s kept the city out of budgetary whack. It’s been the discussion of bankruptcy. Oh, to have back all those hours all of us in San Diego have wasted talking about the dreaded “B.” Why, its gotten so we can’t even have a discussion around the family dinner table about American Idol without someone or other sidetracking the conversation with a detailed analysis of Orange County’s old bankruptcy filing. It’s a wonder the Mayor and the Council have had time to get anything else done at all.
Just one small point, though. What is it that has changed since I talked about the danger of bankruptcy here, here, here or even here that has actually changed in real terms over the Mayor’s watch? How is the city budget and the pension plan on a truly more sustainable path than it was when Dick “Such a Lousy Thing to Happen To Such A Nice Guy” Murphy was being run out of town on a rail? But, of course, as the Mayor says, any lingering fiscal unpleasantries should be laid at doorstep of those suggesting a discussion of Plan B.
Me thinks His Mayoralship does protest too much. Why should Sanders go out of his way to bring up and bash the bankruptcy option—an option he pretty much says he settled back with his election in ’05 and reelection in ’08—unless that option really is potentially back on the table in a big way.
But at least San Diegans can take solace. George W. Bush may have been the decider but Jerry Sanders is the “Debunker,” taking on all rival narratives to his overarching theme that it’s morning in San Diego. Thank goodness. Now we can go proudly into the future completely forgetting about the past. By golly,. Jerry Sanders is our own Henry Ford.