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Monday, Nov. 13, 2006 | Grounded: Nearly two thirds of voters rejected the Miramar thing. There was lots of re-thinking, political blah blahing, and “analysis” of the slaughter. Scott Lewis‘ and Rob Davis‘ posts Nov. 8 were some of the best of the bunch. Notwithstanding the clarity of the message, you could still hear (weak) voices suggesting that Miramar “will be back” when the Marines leave – because dispossessing the Marines was really the thing that folks didn’t like about the proposition. Wrong again, mighty Karnack! Miramar will always fail because it is in the middle of the cityscape of San Diego. Lots of people live right next to, and all round, Miramar. Look what happened to El Toro in Orange County.

Same equation. See any great big happy beach airport up there? Nope! Won’t ever happen here either. Nobody successfully sites giant operating airports in the middle of cities. If you can’t do 24 puny take offs and landings per day at Brown Field for cargo, you won’t be doing three air ops per minute, 24 hours a day at Miramar, even if the Marines leave with all their toys this Wednesday. Might want to get to work on improvements to Lindberg, and call Rep. Bob Filner re: his interest in a new giant airport in the desert to our east.

(P.S. Airport authority board member Mary Sessom profiled Saturday in Voice still gets “Best of Show” on the Airport Board. A member of the normal club.)

We’re Saved: For some time I have asked folks what they thought of, and how they were planning to vote on, Props B and C. Most, I swear, said something like, “I don’t really know if they’ll work, but Mayor Jerry Sanders says that’s what he needs to fix the pension mess so I’m voting for them. Well, they both won. Now the mayor is calling them “just tools” which suggests there might be more to it than that. Turns out Prop B specifically does not preclude granting of COLA’s (Cost of Living Adjustments), which are a significant part of the most recent pension deficit increases. Also turns out an “implementation ordinance” needs to be “negotiated” with the City Council before the Prop C lawn mower comes to life. So, if everything goes swimmingly (as we know it always does around here) the very easy process firing city employees and giving their jobs to outsiders could be implemented in about six to eight months.

Sure.

Could It Be Anything Else? Council President Scott Peters took exception to Scott Lewis‘ suggestion that more needed to be done to “fix” the financial mess.

Peters penned an interesting discussion of the Council’s efforts to “flush the city toilet,” which Scott assures us he is doing “actively” (I’m not making this up). In reviewing all the fine work in that effort going on at the council, and no doubt in the Mayor’s Office as well, what with Kroll’s “top 121” remediations, and the “re-engineering”, the hiring of auditors and the buying of computers and all that, there remains for some a suspicion that it might be something else.

Like, say, not enough money to pay all the city’s operating costs and all the pension deficit bills. I know we don’t like to talk about this. But hey, that just might be a part of the problem. So, April Boling blogs last Thursday that even with some inexact numbers (do we ever use anything else?) the city might be about $125 million short. Not a one time short – an every year short. And, in reality, I suspect that even her numbers get a bunch bigger over the next five years. But, let’s call it $125.

Of your $900 million General Fund budget, about 70 percent is used for “safety” personnel and stuff. So, about $630 million is dedicated “safety,” leaving you only about $270 million for everything, and everyone else. A $125 million deficit would means you’d need to cut about 46 percent of all non-safety costs to “balance” under these circumstances. These numbers might not be exactly right, but you see the point

Show Me The Money: You knew we’d get there someday. By next Wednesday, the mayor will have rolled-out his numbers on his five-year financial recovery plan.

All the rest of the stuff before this: the Blue Ribbons, the Pension Reform Committees, the KPMGs, the V&Es, the Krolls, the delays, the use of the phony Gleason settlement pension contribution numbers, the raid of the “tobacco settlement” funds given to the Pension plan – all of it, and so much more, has been nonsense compared to what actually needs to be done and is (hopefully) about to be presented.

The five-year financial recovery plan.

Numbers showing the way out of our financial desert. Or not. Given what even April Boling knows, I suspect that this mayor will have a critical choice to make. Will he gut city services to bleed out a “forever” pension deficit payment plan, or will he protect city services and require a comprehensive adjustment plan that deals with the pension deficit? This will be a tough call for him. His prior political positions have him pretty boxed in -unless he chooses to act otherwise. I don’t think there’s much more fakey-fakey time available.

Couple More Election Comments:

  • State Bonds 1A n 1E and 84: Do people really understand what all this is going to cost them every year?
  • Prop. L n Vista: Another half-cent sales tax increase speaks to continued solvency for that city. Maybe the Chargers should also be talking to them.
  • I was surprised that all the regional school bonds passed. This is big money.
  • The Bilbray and Horton Republican victories were far more substantial than a lot of folks expected, particularly in the national anti-Republican festival.
  • In the most democrat election of my lifetime, in the most Democrat state in the republic, Republican Ahnuld S was overwhelmingly re-elected governor. He is clearly not the type of R that could have gotten the Republican Party’s nomination the usual way, and literally came to the office through the back door. Notwithstanding, he is now widely celebrated in traditional Republican circles.

Had Tom McClintock been even 4 percent more politically like Schwarzenegger, he would have won his race for lieutenant governor as well. The Ahnuld lessons need to get some attention among the California R’s.

An Accidental Majority: On a national level, Republicans have always suggested they are more strategically thoughtful, fiscally responsible and personally temperate in their behaviors. The Republicans were the party willing to deliver the hard fiscal messages. The Republicans could be “square” with America.

The periodic scars related to economic influence notwithstanding, the Republican model was presented as the harder road that provided the fiscal and ethical support system that could carry the republic through the financial and philosophical excesses of democrat governance.

In an overwhelming show of “bi-partisanship,” the Republican reality in recent times has “reached out” to embrace with gusto its own shortcomings along with all those anecdotally associated with the Democratic Party. And it so excelled at both, that centrist persons of both persuasions abandoned the Republican Party’s message, and image, in droves.

If you are interested in some good reading on this, I really liked the recent analyses of Dick Armey and Robert Novak. I particularly liked Armey’s piece because his thoughts were several weeks earlier in time. Prophetic stuff.

As Robert Novak states, the Democrats won a convincing, but accidental, majority. Not because they were great. Not because the country went hard left, but rather because the center abandoned the Republican model.

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist David Brooks called it, “a victory for the center” – with a Democratic tilt. Brooks, a completely logical and sane conservative, concluded that the election results were a “good night for the country” for the clear message sent about the issues and behaviors that trouble all of us so much.

It may be these election results will give President Bush some options he would not have otherwise had.

Maybe Congress can get some movement back toward balance, and wisdom, and public service in this environment.

If not, the good news is that our world turns ever faster, that information is ever more available, and that we will know if the “new” majority is really any better, or any different, than the last. And, if not, we can be quicker next time to deliver the messages that were so convincingly made on Nov. 7.

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