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Interim mayor Todd Gloria may only own the mayoral bully pulpit for another month or so but he’ll get a chance to share his vision for the city at Wednesday’s annual State of the City address.
In his short stint as the city’s top executive, Gloria has accomplished a lot. He’s orchestrated a major city management reorganization, championed a $120 million infrastructure bond approved by the City Council Tuesday and pushed a new tourism marketing deal.
Now he gets a chance to reflect on that, and present his views on where the city should focus its energies next.
Here’s what we’ll be listening for Wednesday during Gloria’s speech.
The Rise of the Megabond
Gloria came out strongly in favor of a large, yet-to-be-voter approved bond to more aggressively address the city’s massive infrastructure backlog as he was sworn in to a second City Council term last December.
“It’s time to put forward a plan for the voters’ consideration that would dramatically increase our investment in infrastructure, in repairing roads, sidewalks, streetlights, libraries and recreation centers,” Gloria said at the 2012 inauguration.
After being appointed City Council president, Gloria helped create an infrastructure committee to look at ways to address the city’s looming repair work. Since last January, the committee led by Councilman Mark Kersey has been leading the complex effort to assess the status of the city’s streets, sidewalks and buildings, and prioritize fixes.
Now Gloria – who famously dubbed newly paved city roads “Sexy Streets” – has the attention of city power-brokers and residents and his enthusiastic support could kick off a serious campaign for a tax increase to help eat away at the city’s growing tab for repairs.
An Attack on Ballot-Box Governing
It started with the Barrio Logan community plan approved by the City Council this fall.
Shipbuildersopposed the neighborhood’s hard-fought development blueprint because of concerns it could stymie the city’s maritime industry. Gloria and fellow City Council Democrats approved the plan, and business leaders responded with a referendum campaign. Barrio Logan’s community plan is now set to appear on the June ballot.
Now a City Council-approved hike of a fee that helps subsidize affordable housing appears likely to meet the same fate. Many of the same business leaders are collecting signatures in hopes of referring that measure to the ballot too.
Gloria has denounced the referendum efforts.
“This is similar in terms of frustration levels with Washington D.C. where you could have a minority, member, a minority of representatives, able to take the entire body and hold up democratic policy making,” Gloria told me recently.
Gloria is likely to bring up both situations Wednesday night in an effort to assert the City Council’s decision-making power.
Progressive Ideas That’ll Sink or Swim
Gloria has pushed progressive causes during his tenure in the mayor’s office.
Under his leadership, the City Council approved Democrats’ long-sought after prevailing wage ordinance in a party-line vote and staffers have worked on a climate action plan.
Gloria is likely to tout and expand on some of these efforts in his speech.
The question after Wednesday will be whether those moves will survive Gloria’s temporary mayorship. The answer rests with the next mayor.
A Careful Balancing Act
Gloria isn’t quite the mayor. He’s an interim caretaker with limited powers – and he remains the City Council president.
We’ll be watching Wednesday night to see whether Gloria touches on his temporary role or takes pains to remind folks of his City Council role.
We’ve already seen at least one hint of the latter.
@CD4MyrtleCole You’re welcome! Glad every Councilmember has a role at #SOTC. We will move San Diego forward in 2014 by working together.
— Todd Gloria (@ToddGloria) January 14, 2014