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Home / Articles / Opinion / Spin Cycle /  Oh my heaven, here comes 2011!
. . . .
Wednesday, Dec 29, 2010

Oh my heaven, here comes 2011!

A shot-glass full of political hunches for the New Year

By John R. Lamb
spin Nathan Fletcher and Kris Mitchell
- Photos by David Rolland
“The new year begins in a snow-storm of white vows.”
—George William Curtis

According to the phrase-tracking website, the ubiquitous “Plan B” can be heard 366 times in 243 movies and TV series dating back to 1913—from that year’s The Accidental Servant (“Don’t worry about it. It’s probably just slow. Let’s go to Plan B”) to nearly a century later with the 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 (“No, Plan B is enforcing Plan A”).

Spin Cycle figures you’ll be hearing that phrase more and more until lame-duck Mayor Jerry Sanders unveils his own alternate plan—post No-on-D—during his second-to-last State of the City speech on Jan. 12. Let’s take a look at what promises to be promised, and the reality behind those claims:

Sanders’ Plan B from Outer Space

The Promise: “When the voters said no way, don’t want it, we heard them, and now we’re going to go to Plan B, which we have.”

The Reality: Don’t hold your breath for a silver budget bullet.

It may have been news to that she was still on the job (VOSD: “... you’re using the word ‘we’ in that sense, but you’ve left the city now, though”), but mayoral chief of staff and one-woman brain trust Kris Michell was still very much leading Team Sanders earlier this month when she did the unusual and spoke publicly to the online pub about her plans to quit in favor of her supposed dream job as president of the plugged-in Downtown San Diego Partnership.

In the interview, Michell explained that she’d be working for the mayor until Jan. 14. In other words, get the mayor through the State of the City address, then, two days later, pack it up and say, “Buh-bye.” Not the best vote of confidence, but no need to digress.

As for the above quote, the mayor and his minions have acknowledged publicly that the November drubbing of Prop. D was a lesson learned in what voters find palatable and what tastes like castor oil—and the proposed half-cent sales-tax hike certainly fell into the latter category.

So, what’s left to propose? Sanders has already dropped elephant-sized hints that a 401(k)-type retirement plan is in the brewing phase for all new city hires. Stir in a splash of privatization, a dash of reorganization, and—voila!—a shiny, efficient beacon on the bay, right?

It’s hard to imagine what Sanders can do in the final two years of an administration that he hasn’t tried in the first five years, and no hints were forthcoming.

“He’s not saying anything at this point about what he plans to talk about in the State of the City,” mayoral spokesperson Rachel Laing told Spin Cycle this week.

Whatever the mayor proposes, it will be interesting to see how he uses the bully pulpit to sell his ideas. Some political observers, even fellow Republicans, wonder privately if Sanders has already checked out of the job mentally. No one would blame him, really, considering the challenges facing San Diego. Even former City Councilmember Jim Madaffer, who never met a mayor he couldn’t suck up to, wrote recently in his own Mission Times Courier that Sanders is “probably counting the days.”

The Amazing 2012 Mayor’s Race

The Promise: Everybody and his / her mother will be running.

The Reality: Who’s crazy enough to want the job?

Election brainiacs are well aware that campaign fundraising, by law, can’t start for six more months. But they also know that if you wait till then to begin locking up supporters, you’ll likely find yourself in Political Siberia, alone with your ideas. So, essentially, bird-watching season for 2012 mayoral wannabes kicks off, well, right about now.

Previous Spin Cycle speculation has provided a laundry list of possible candidates. Since then, the names haven’t really changed—Nathan Fletcher, Carl DeMaio, Kevin Faulconer, Bob Filner, Scott Peters, Christine Kehoe, sometimes Bonnie Dumanis (although it’s beyond Spin’s imagination why she’d give up the DA gig, for which there are no term limits—not to mention better pay and cushier hours.)

A potential interesting irony to watch: What if Fletcher, Prince of the Late-Night Redevelopment Cap Hike Caper, finds himself powerless in redevelopment matters, as some City Council members now want the mayor to be? That would seemingly take a lot of fun out of an otherwise thankless job.

The Chargers: Staying or Going?

The Promise: “No sale of a minority interest—to any party—is imminent.”

The Reality: After this ridiculously gut-wrenching season, it gets harder to give a crap.

San Diego’s NFL franchise has certainly found itself back on its heels lately. The rush of speculation surrounding this team, whose expectations this year far exceeded its onfield performance, must have the Spanos family in a tizzy.

But, somehow, a Toronto radio station got the Chargers in such a lather that team spokesmodel Mark Fabiani felt compelled to issue the above e-mail statement when it was rumored that for estate-planning purposes, the Spanos family would be selling a 35percent stake in the team to billionaire Philip Anschutz, one of two stinking-rich dreamers who are dying to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles.

Yeah, it’s rough business being a Chargers fan these days. A season of promise agonizingly fumbled away; wealthy suitors flirting with, as fanatics see it, our civic-pride engine.

And then there’s the ever-affable Bob Sinclair, he of the bushy mustache and red fedora who happens to own the East Village property that the city and the Chargers are thinking might do well for a new football stadium.

While the Downtown redevelopment spending cap boost, in Sinclair’s mind, will be a good thing eventually, he wasn’t particularly fond of the process. “I really hated it,” he said. But, he just doesn’t seem convinced that his thriving, historic Wonder Bread Building will be razed and replaced with a shiny playground for professional athletes.

In fact, he—like a growing chorus— believe the Chargers are L.A.-bound. “You have to look carefully at what Fabiani is saying, that there’s no agreement,” Sinclair said. “Nobody ever said they’re not talking.”

As a result, Sinclair’s water-tank-topped building is practically leased out—tenants include a large architecture firm, a branch of the NewSchool of Architecture and Design and, coming soon, a brewery / tasting room with a lease that could stretch 15 years.

Let’s drink to that!

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