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In what was billed as a major speech, Mayor Jerry Sanders today stressed the need to continue to push ahead with a bevy of major projects despite the city’s ongoing financial troubles.

“We cannot allow our judgment to be clouded by the defeatists who think the only response to a weak economy is to abandon our aspirations,” he told the lunchtime assembly organized by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

He pointed out that the city was forced to cut $175 million through three rounds of cuts in the last 12 months and suggested that his streamlining efforts, the long-delayed privatization measure and the reevaluation of outside contracts could help protect the city’s finances.

The mayor offered no new overall financial plan or a larger vision about how the city would deal with the collision of the general economic climate and its own structural budget imbalance.

With plans in the works to build a new City Hall, downtown library, and expanded Convention Center, the mayor used the speech to throw his full force behind the projects and take on those who have urged the city to focus on solving the day-to-day financial issues that have dogged it for years.

I’m fully aware that, in times of economic upheaval, some people want government to stop in its tracks.

They think progress was all right for previous generations, but it’s taken us about as far as it can.

This kind of thinking is nothing new in San Diego.

Virtually every major project in the city has encountered opposition from groups who have no faith in tomorrow, who view all progress with suspicion, who don’t believe we deserve to be a great city.

If these people had their way, we’d still be riding ferries to Coronado.

There wouldn’t be a Mission Bay, or a trolley system, or a vibrant downtown with homes, shops and restaurants.

We might not even have clean water piped into our homes.

Sanders promised the city would pay its full pension bill, however failed to acknowledge the efforts within his own administration to get the pension board to lower the size of that bill by changing its accounting.

The speech came 11 months after his last major financial speech, which was an emergency address delivered to the Taxpayers Association last October.

Read a copy of the speech here and check back later for more.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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