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Mayor Jerry Sanders sat down this afternoon with a small group of reporters to talk about his second State of the City speech, which he will present tonight at 6 p.m.

I’m working on the story right now, but here are a few snippets of what he had to say:

  • “It’s not the most exciting speech in the world, but it’s not designed to be,” he said, adding: “We’re not dreaming.” The mayor and his aides have packaged it as a “meat and potatoes” speech that offers no great visions, just updates on the plodding financial recovery effort.
  • Ninety-nine percent of the things are going well in San Diego. Much was accomplished in the last year, too, such as the release of the Kroll investigation, the SEC settlement and the passage of Propositions B and C.
  • The state of city government remains “unsatisfactory.”

At the same time, he sought to deflect criticism that his administration has been slow to battle the city’s budget problems head-on.

From the speech: “Therefore, the positive transformation of city government will continue to be a work in progress for the foreseeable future. Anyone that tells you otherwise — or asserts that it can happen quickly or without sacrifice — either doesn’t understand the depth of our problems or is not being candid. I think it’s fair to say that the problems are more severe, more complicated than what I previously anticipated.”

  • More from the speech: “I think that history will record 2006 as a pivotal year for our city; a year in which the sins of the past were acknowledged and we began transforming our destiny. The problems can be solved — they will be solved — but it will take time.

“2006 will be in sharp contrast with 2007. 2007 will be a year of action.”

  • The city hopes to leverage the four blocks it owns around City Hall to spur redevelopment and construct a new City Hall. Sanders said he hopes the building can be constructed at no cost to the city. A development package would likely be in the model of the Navy Broadway Complex, where a developer would build the City Hall in exchange for long-term development rights to the surrounding public land.

The mayor said the city will begin seeking development partners soon. The motivation: the city leases office space downtown for many of its employees outside of City Hall. Those leases are expiring in 2012 and 2013, and city officials estimate signing new leases will cost an additional $13 million.

“I think this is meat and potatoes, and we’re getting it on a shoestring,” Sanders said.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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