SD Rostra

How Sanders (Mostly) Got His Groove Back … and SD Labor Doesn’t Like It

Remember back in 2010 when the local Municipal Employees Association went crying to its state level big brother, Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), about Mayor Jerry Sanders using the power and prestige of his office to inspire and endorse Prop D, the sales tax increase?

No I don’t remember that either, because it did not happen. However, I do recall more recently the Municipal Employees Association asking PERB to bully over 120,000 San Diegans, including Mayor Sanders, by blocking the Comprehensive Pension Reform initiative from getting on the ballot. Last Tuesday, Judge William Dato told Goliath, labor groups and their heavy-handed bureaucrat friends, to back off of little taxpayer David… until after the election.

“It is plainly not a situation where the challenge is going to become moot after the election if the initiative is adopted,” Dato said. “…There is a clear preference toward postelection review.”

See, Judge Dato wants to watch democracy play out like a fun little mini-series on TV, featuring those crazy reforming rascals in San Diego. No doubt the voters will overwhelmingly support Comprehensive Pension Reform.  After that entertainment ends, with the June 5 election, he will green light a new season featuring labor lawyers suing to overturn the will of the people.

Revisiting Mayor Sanders’ campaign for Prop D in 2010 is crucial to understanding just how contrived the Municipal Employees outrage is, over Sanders’ involvement with CPR. First, let us consider Craig Gustafson’s report of the current labor contrived controversy in the San Diego Union Tribune:

The labor complaint alleges Sanders created the so-called citizens initiative as a “sham device” to avoid the city’s obligations under the law to negotiate with labor over significant changes to the pension system. The union accused Sanders of using the power and prestige of his office to inspire, write and endorse the initiative.

Huh. I don’t recall labor groups complaining about Sanders using his office in the same way to campaign vigorously for a sales tax increase which would have provided a $500 million Band-Aid for the hemorrhaging public employees’ union pensions.

However, I do recall the most ludicrous “townhall” I have ever attended, on October 18, 2010, at University City High School. It was led by none other than Mayor Sanders. To sell the sales tax increase, he trotted out public officials including the Police Chief, Fire Chief and Chief Operating Officer. Pat Flannery’s observations (as reposted in the San Diego Reader) on the purported budget crisis meeting really capture the horrifyingly embarrassing melodrama that Sanders staged to sell the sales tax increase:


In short, Sanders and his minions are warning San Diegans of the huge slashes in services that are coming to get them to vote for Prop. D, but their real intention is to protect their own pensions.

Police Chief Lansdowne said he would cut 160 sworn police positions, close 2 of 10 divisions, eliminate 36 civilian positions and close the DNA lab. Fire Chief Mainar would add 5 more fire engines to the brownout so that 22% of the fire protection forces would be under the brownout. Five communities will be deprived of 100% of their fire protection — a “blackout,” chortled Mainar, who also talked of lifeguard cuts “that will leave San Diego beaches little better than the coast of Baja.”  Mainar declared, “Folks, it’s eventually going to catch up to you; it’s not a matter of IF somebody dies as a result of public safety. It’s a matter of WHEN.”

And on went the scare session as Sanders lackeys warned of cuts in recreation centers, visitor centers, gymnasiums, 24% of library services. There will be 10,000 fewer pothole repairs and 1,400 fewer street light repairs.

Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone revealed the purpose of the horripilating evening: “The City Council has placed on the ballot a temporary half-cent sales tax that could generate $102 million. If that passes it could help eliminate the need for some of these potential cuts.”

Basically, without a tax increase, we’re all gonna die!

Was this taxpayer sponsored meeting an egregious abuse of public money and public offices to promote something hyper-political and self-serving? Sure. An amusing charade? Absolutely. Even more amusing that labor unions had no problem with that propaganda session in 2010, but now object to Sanders simply voicing support for CPR in 2012? Why, yes it is.

I wonder how much we the taxpayers had to pay cops for overtime that night in 2010 while they were claiming they had no money left to pay cops overtime.

So Mayor Sanders had his come to Jesus, or at least come to taxpayers moment — after the taxpayers crushed Prop D 62%-38%. Now he is legacy-building. I don’t begrudge him that. He has shown leadership on CPR. His push for a shiny, new City Hall got shot down. However his shiny, new City Library is moving forward.  Last week he claimed the San Diego’s structural deficit is gone. After losing 94 lbs, he was featured in January 2012’s Men’s Fitness magazine. Apparently shedding the albatross known as public employee labor unions shrinks not only deficits, but also shrinks mayors too! His campy and retrospective State of the City speech in January drew mixed reviews. However, he killed it just a couple a couple weeks later with his performance at the San Diego Downtown Partnership Installation Ceremony — receiving universal rave reviews.

Now if he completes his mission of getting a new Chargers Stadium built, or sports/entertainment mega-complex (as we are supposed to call it) erected in downtown, then he can leave office with all the glow of a San Diego sunset. This time around, for the sake of his legacy, I just hope someone consults City Attorney Jan Goldsmith before the naming of the Qualcomm or Snapdragon or (fill in the blank) sports entertainment center.

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