Mayor Sanders’ Budget Announcement Grabs the Media’s Attention

Tony Manolatos Tony Manolatos 6 Comments

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Politics & Media Mashup: your weekend news aggregator leads off with big budget news from San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. Also included: Links to some of the week’s best stories about local, state and national politics as well as social and traditional media.

Mayor Jerry Sanders at Thursday's news conference. Photo courtesy of FOX 5 San Diego

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders dominated the news cycle late this week with his announcement that he had finally solved the City’s budget problems.

A Google search brought up 10 stories from Sanders’ Thursday news conference. The U-T San Diego ran its story on Friday’s front page. Over at voiceofsandiego.org, the story was splashed across the homepage. Several TV stations carried the news, including FOX 5 San Diego, which broadcast a story that ran for 3 minutes and 21 seconds.

That’s a lot of air time. Reporters, editors and producers obviously liked this story. It was nice to hear some good budget news for a change.

“After years of cutbacks, we see the light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel,” Sanders said in the U-T’s story. “Today, I’m pleased to report that the city’s decades-long structural budget deficit is history.”

From the Voice story:

For each of the past 10 years, the city of San Diego has faced an unfortunate reality: The amount of money it planned to collect in taxes didn’t match the amount it needed to spend. For each of the past 10 years, the city has dug into the equivalent of its couch cushions to find piles of money to paper over the deficit and has been forced to curtail services to the public.

In next year’s budget, the last in his tenure, Sanders declared San Diego won’t need gimmicks any longer. And to double down on that promise, he announced Thursday he was restoring some of the worst cuts the city has had to make. Branch libraries and recreation centers will be open longer. More cops will be on the street.

“I don’t know that I thought I was going to see this day,” the mayor said. “It’s one of those where you’re almost reluctant to say anything now because we’ve been under the cloud for so long.”

Not surprisingly, not everyone lined up to congratulate Sanders.

“How can the budget be balanced if maintenance of streets, others is underfunded and gets worse?” tweeted Vladimir Kogan, who teaches Political Science at UC San Diego.

Councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio tweeted: “You know REFORM has momentum when city insiders want to declare an end to the fiscal problems. Taxpayers know better.”

DeMaio’s tweet drew this response from left-leaning political strategist and blogger Lucas O’Connor: “Since @carldemaio all but called the mayor a liar earlier, are extra rec center and library hours, police cadets, and fire system also fake?”

Sacramento Bee: Fletcher is GOP’s Best Hope

A story in Friday’s Sacramento Bee caught my attention. The story says the Republican bench in California is thin, so thin that there “is almost no noise from Republicans about candidates for the gubernatorial election and other statewide races in 2014.” It then says the party’s brightest prospect for statewide office is Assemblyman and San Diego Mayoral Candidate Nathan Fletcher.

“Fletcher … is thought moderate enough by some Republican strategists to appeal to independent voters in a statewide election. He is also handsome, ambitious and only 35 years old,” the story says.

 

Here is a roundup of some of other top stories of the week:

 

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Tony Manolatos is a communications strategist. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedInYou can hear Tony talk politics and media with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey every Friday at 2:35 p.m. on AM 600 and FM 95.7.
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Comments 6

  1. Kogan said what I immediately thought: The city of San Diego has millions of dollars in deferred infrastructure expenses. If we wait until it breaks down, repairs will be even more expensive.

    Admitting that inconvenient truth would make it harder for the city to finance a Chargers stadium downtown. No wonder Sanders wants to pretend otherwise and leave that problem for the next mayor and City Council.

  2. The Mayor spent the increased revenue reasonably well. Restoring highly desired (and visible) city services is just applying common sense (along with putting a bit aside as reserves).

    But our city budget is NOT fixed. Not even close. Our welcome increase in revenues will not fund the city pension shortfall, retiree health care shortfall, nor our deferred city maintenance shortfall.

    It was the PRESS RELEASE that made the story truly bizarre. No sane person would concur that our budget problems are solved. It’s like the PR was written in some parallel universe — where the money grows on trees up on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

  3. Richard – you have often made a good point about the months down the road after a failed tax increase. This is a perfect opportunity to revisit that ever-so-salient notion. This announcement from the mayor (and council member Todd Gloria if you see the VOSD article) is particularly bewildering given the notions espoused by those two and other supporters of the Prop D Sales tax a little over a year ago, no?

    I seem to recall threats of slashed public safety services – you know, old grandmas dying because emergency response times would be eliminated, and the typical “fewer cops on the street” hogwash that was put on television leading up to that election.

    Lo and behold, the tax increase went down in flames, and the extra revenue that was so badly needed (for the city’s pension payment) wasn’t granted to City Hall.

    Fast forward about 15 months. The city that was going to have to let your old grandmother die because it couldn’t afford to send (4 to 6 unionized and soon-to-be pensioners at the ripe old age of 50) emergency responders, now is all of a sudden able to declare victory once and for all on the city’s financial problems.

    Guess that tax increase wasn’t needed after all, huh?

    Note: I’m not trying to agree that the city’s finances are fixed – clearly they are not when you have a deferred maintenance backlog of around $1 billion or more and frightening pension and retiree health care bills to deal with every year. Let alone far lower service levels in places like libraries and other things like community plan updates needed. I’m also not capitulating to the more revenue argument – clearly the unit cost of city government (labor) could use some additional reductions.

    However, to declare victory so shortly after basically blackmailing people with public safety cuts if they refused to bow down to the church of city government with open wallet in hand is somewhat ironic, no?

  4. Manolatos’ Moves mystify Media Mavens with Major measures modifying Rostra’s
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  5. Post
    Author

    More coverage!

    The U-T weighs in today with a smart editorial and a cartoon.

    Tom Aaron — my old pal from City Hall who left for Moody’s in Chicago…is that you? Good to hear from you!

    Thanks everyone for the comments, especially you Jim. Very nice of you and what a masterful use of Ms!

  6. With luck, I’ll have a PR out on this shortly — I was working on something before Tom wrote his message above, but it’s great to have his affirmation of my concerns. As DeMaio’s former head policy guy (before he left for greener Chicago pastures), he knows a LOT about our peculiar city government.

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