Suffice it to say, Mayor Jerry Sanders did not have a good day today at City Council.

First, as we posted earlier, the City Council overrode his budget veto, with council members voting the same way they did two weeks ago when they passed the fiscal 2009 budget.

That was just the beginning of the bloodletting.

The other big item on the agenda was Sanders’ request for $400,000 out of the fiscal 2008 reserves fund so the administration could continue paying Grant Thornton, LLP to put draw up the city’s privatization effort, dubbed “managed competition.” So far, the city has paid the consultant’s $250,000 for its work on the program.

In addition to the $400,000, Sanders had proposed budgeting $900,000 for Grant Thornton in fiscal 2009, for a total of $1.3 million. Council’s budget, which is now the official budget, only allocates $500,000 in 2009 for managed competition consultants.

The money budgeted and requested for Grant Thornton has become a hot-button issue recently, with the City Attorney’s Office saying the contract with the consultants is illegal; and community groups, as well as council members, lambasting the mayor for requesting money for consultants while cutting lifeguards and librarians.

Nonetheless, Sanders’ mouthpiece Fred Sainz said as recently as late last week that “managed Competition would grind to a halt in San Diego” if council did not grant the $400,000 request from the reserves fund.

Well, today the Mayor withdrew the request — perhaps knowing it would be voted down. But council went one step further, passing a motion that authorizes only $250,000 for Grant Thornton.

One council member after another leveled criticism at the administration’s handling of the issue — with managed competition supporter Councilman Brian Maienschein calling it “disastrous.”

So, the administration went from possibly having as much $1.3 million for its privatization consultants, to having only $500,000 for the time being.

More to come on this confusing and contentious issue.


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