When Jerry Sanders was running for mayor, he promised us strong leadership, but so far he's been rather timid, concerned mostly about which way the winds of public opinion are blowing. With each passing week, Sanders looks more and more like a man positioning himself for reelection and less and less like the man who said he'd lead by making tough, sometimes unpopular choices.
Arguably, he hasn't done anything bold with regard to the city's financial crisis, unless you think endorsing ballot measures that would outsource city jobs and require the city to get voter approval before increasing retirement benefits for municipal workers is bold. We think a bolder move would be to bring certain city taxes and fees more in line with other large cities in California, resulting in millions more dollars for under-funded city services.
Then there was the Mount Soledad cross. Sanders eschewed reason and endorsed an appeal of a judicial demand to move the hilltop religious symbol because he believes the public would be sore at him if he didn't.
Now comes the matter of turning sewage into potable water. A city-sponsored, 67-member panel spent the last two years exhaustively studying the practice, pretty much endorsing it as scientifically safe and sound. But even before the group could present its report to the City Council's Natural Resources and Culture Committee, Sanders publicly urged the council to kill it, declaring that the people spoke years ago on this matter, and they aren't interested.
The mayor seems to be worried about what San Diegans might think of him if he were to allow the idea back onto the public agenda. He seems to think leadership is recalling what some vocal members of the public said seven years ago and hollering, “Oh no, not that again! Run away!”
In the end, maybe we'll have concerns about health risks. Maybe the cost-which a Union-Tribune editorial writer, amid a serious case of hysterics the other day, said would send consumer water rates “into the stratosphere”-will be too high. But we think members of the Natural Resources Committee acted far more rationally than did the mayor when they said the proposal, at the very least, merited a new round of public debate.
We like Sanders. We think he's a good, honest man. We think he's capable of doing good things for the people of San Diego. But more and more, we're getting the feeling that he's listening to the wrong people.
Contemplating hate crimes
We're pleased that San Diego Police officers have rounded up and arrested two of three suspects in the heinous attack on six people Saturday night in Balboa Park after the gay-pride concert. If 24-year-old James Carroll and a 17-year-old male the police are not identifying by name assaulted these people with baseball bats and knives, we hope they pay dearly.
Carroll and his cohorts will be prosecuted under a hate-crime law that adds severity to their punishment.
We're uncomfortable with that. As awful as hate-fueled violence is, we can't help but believe its perpetrators deserve no more and no less punishment than if they had committed their crimes without announcing their motivations to their victims.
As a member of our staff put it: “If a man is killed because he's gay, it isn't any worse than a serial killer randomly selecting a person to die every third Tuesday.” Besides, we don't believe it's a deterrent.
Then again, we're for affirmative action, so we're obviously for preferential treatment in some cases. What do you think? Send us a letter: editor@SDcitybeat.com.
And here's more food for thought: We punish violent criminals more harshly when they target gay people, but we don't think highly enough of gay people to let them get married.
Rise and shine
An attorney filed a lawsuit over possible election shenanigans this week, arguing that because the San Diego County Registrar of Voters allowed poll workers to take voting machines home the night before a recent special election, there was a potential for mischief.
Registrar Mikel Haas says no such monkey business occurred, and he defended his decision to allow the machines to deviate from a secure chain of custody by saying he wanted to make sure the polls opened bright and early.We have nothing to say about the merits of the lawsuit, but we have a suggestion for Mr. Haas: How about simply making poll workers get out of bed earlier?