Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just say it

From the U-T about Sanders taking a salary and not telling anyone:

Sanders said he's not apologetic at all for taking the full pay, especially when he's putting a daughter through college.

“I'm not wealthy,” Sanders said. “I'm just like everybody else. I've got to make ends meet.”

Sanders did not announce his salary change. His spokesman, Darren Pudgil, revealed it in response to questions by The San Diego Union-Tribune about raises that were considered Monday for the mayor and City Council. The council rejected the increases.

Asked why he didn't inform the public, Sanders said he didn't know how to address it because it didn't feel appropriate to hold a news conference or issue a
news release.

Judie Italiano, a spokeswoman for the white-collar Municipal Employees Association, the city's largest union with almost 4,700 members, said she neveragreed with Sanders' decision to take less money. She said he did it to get attention during a heated campaign.
“I think he realized what a thankless job it is and he should get paid for it,” Italiano said.

Lani Lutar, president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, said Sanders has a responsibility to keep the public informed. “If he changed his mind, the public deserves to know what led to the change in position,” she said. “It also raises credibility questions about what else might not be shared with the public.”

I’m with Lutar on this one. In not telling the taxpayers that pay him that he was receiving a salary because he didn’t know how doesn’t absolve him from the responsibility of informing the public. That’s like cheating on your mate and, when presented with the evidence, saying you wanted to tell them the truth but didn’t know how.

Instead, the press broke the story for him. This is not the way an elected official wants news about themselves to emerge but, in this case, he only has himself to blame.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Leadership, San Diego Style

In today’s Voice of San Diego piece about the San Diego’s water conservation “plan”, these is an interesting bit about why we’re going to punish those who have been conserving water:

Michael Shames, executive director of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network, a utility watchdog, said San Diego’s resistance to the Irvine Ranch approach is likely political.

Mayor Sanders and Water Department officials likely fear that inefficient customers who fall into more expensive billing tiers "could be used to fan some political fires against the proposal," Shames said in an e-mail. "I believe it is more of a political calculation than a legal or ratemaking justification."

Ruiz rejected that criticism and said the city "did not take into account any political ramifications of how this would impact particular market segments. We’re looking at how best to achieve the reduction targets. We came up with a model that I think is fair. We didn’t look at whether there’s some backlash from high-end users to modify our process. That would not be true."

I think that Ruiz is correct from a bureaucratic perspective but I have no doubt the Mayor took the political landscape into account. If there is one consistent thread in the Sanders Administration it is an aversion to direct confrontation that could yield meaningful results.

Aguirre was clamoring about the water issue two years ago and nothing was done. The messenger was the problem but the issue has only grown. The stadium, the pensions, the backlog of city services; all of these issues, and more, can be addressed by a strong mayor who wants to govern.

I can’t help but think that Sanders is just biding time, his staff looking for scapegoats to pin things on, so he can vault away from San Diego for a higher position. Politically, he is the highest- ranking Republican mayor in California although his timidity in the face of challenges makes him politically weaker than most other candidates.

However, it should be noted that his lack of leadership makes him a great candidate for the Board of Supervisors.