Reactions to the Mayor’s “State of the City” address

What we learned from the Mayor's State of the City speech Wednesday night is that a cultural change is coming to city hall and that change is being forced on elected officials by the voters.
Their message, thru Prop D, was loud and clear, there will be no more tax increases.

For too many years elected officials labored under the mistaken notion that voters would continue to shell out hard earned cash for back room deals, runaway pension costs, and budget deficits, at the expense of city services.

The defeat of Proposition D by a spectacular margin, in the Mayor's words, was much more than saying no to a tax increase.

Forward movement has been stalled even before the recession hit, stalled by skyrocketing pension costs that, if not reformed, will wipe out all city services except for public safety.
“Its clear that public employee pensions, which once brought order to government, are now a de-stabilizing force,” said Mayor Sanders.

On Good Morning San Diego three council members agreed. Council President Tony Young, who sets the council agenda said, “the problem right now is that we are giving out benefits at this point in time that we can't afford.”

Audit Committee Chairman Kevin Faulconer on long term reforms said, “some of the things we're talking about is going to a 401(k) style pension which is good enough for everybody in the private sector, it should be good enough for city employees.”

And Councilman Carl DeMaio who's pushing for short term savings said, “we have documented and the city attorney's office has confirmed the city council and the Mayor have all the authority they need, we don't even have to get the permission of the labor unions to enact the reforms to the pension system that would save tens of millions of dollars.”

Even if all of these reforms are realized there is still a threat to forward movement if redevelopment agencies get the death penalty from Governor Jerry Brown.

Mayor Sanders believes Sacramento doesn't realize what redevelopment has meant to San Diego, 13-billion dollars in private investment. “To those in Sacramento who circle like vultures seeking signs of weakness, I say that we will stand united to defend local control and keep our tax dollars here, not pour them into the pit that you've dug,” said Sanders.

Councilmember Young says it's not just downtown that's threatened, “we got San Ysidro, Encanto, we got a lot of areas that need this type of development, and if you have this type of legislation that the Governor is proposing those areas are going to be very much affected, and their futures are in doubt.”

What is not in doubt is the voters mandate to move aggressively on reforms. There will also be movement on outsourcing, merging and/or reorganizing city departments to create efficiencies, and ending a program that gives bonuses to city employees.

Categories: KUSI