At a press conference yesterday announcing that he would seek a waiver of federal standards for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, Mayor Jerry Sanders said he intended to “discuss” the issue with the City Council this fall.

Afterward, several reporters asked mayoral spokesman Bill Harris for a clarification of Sanders’ statement. Harris said the decision to apply for the waiver was the mayor’s — not the City Council’s.

That’s incorrect. Under the strong mayor system, the City Council has legislative authority and makes policy decisions. The mayor and his staff implement those policy decisions.

Fred Sainz, another Sanders spokesman, said today that Harris misunderstood the question. The council will have the final say about the waiver, he said.

Asked about the mayor’s choice of words, Sainz said: “‘Discuss’ is a big word. It can mean everything. The bottom line is that this will be taken to the council for ratification.”

A City Council committee heard the issue in July 2006 and unanimously agreed to work toward a settlement that would upgrade treatment standards at the Point Loma plant. But the recommendation never went to the full council for consideration.

City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who supported the 2006 motion, said the waiver decision needed to be made with public input, not unilaterally by Sanders.

“This is one of those issues that can be extremely litigious for the city,” Frye said. “It was my intention to try and find some way to not have litigation — and to protect the public and comply with the law.”

The waiver application must be submitted by mid-December. It has not yet been scheduled at City Council.


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