Artifice at the Theatre: Mayor Sanders’ State of the City Speech

by on January 17, 2011 · 2 comments

in Culture, Economy, Labor, San Diego

Like a bogus Thespian, Jerry Sanders took to the stage of the Balboa Theater in mid-January, using every ounce of verbal ruse and sleight of mouth he possessed to attempt a bravado performance heralding his dreary and monotonous six years as Mayor of San Diego.

Sander’s speech, like his devious administration of city government as water boy for the corporate state, reflects a continuing tale of two cities. One city, AIG-by-the-Bay, a city of wealth, for wealth, where corporate welfare has driven the city to the brink of bankruptcy; then, in a cruel Orwellian scheme, from politicians to media and back again, like a spinning wheel, the city’s dire straights are said to the be the cause of hard-working city employees, who want and were promised a decent retirement, rather than the fault of the wealthy and huge corporations who don’t pay their fair share of taxes and fees.

The other city, the San Diego which Sander’s ignores, is the little guys and gals, like you and I, who were not represented in the lackluster address, mostly a trade and industry homily. We, people who work hard and expect honesty and integrity in our city officials; we, the ones who don’t fund campaigns or hire million dollar law firms as lobbyists to write initiatives to make our friends rich.

Tragically, almost perversely, there was nothing in the speech for those of us who look off into the distance, across our beloved beaches, and know – like Sarah Conner in Terminator 1 – that the storm is coming. Sanders appallingly aid’s the impending catastrophe of global warming by his silence. The tipping points are near, irreversible destruction to our Mother Earth, our children and their children’s very survival are at stake, and Sanders worries about a football stadium for downtown.

In his speech, Sanders disregarded that other San Diego, where 51 percent of the population live, renters facing massive rent hikes, with withering wages eaten by inflation or home owners being foreclosed and evicted by his banker friends. City renters assistance runs out the first few weeks of any year, 50,000 families are on a waiting list for subsidized housing, over a half-million San Diegans depend on food hand-outs to feed themselves and their children, 5,000 families are evicted in the city each month because they can’t pay and 50 seniors end up homeless on city streets every other week, but Sanders beats his chest and warms Gov. Brown not to touch CCDC and its huge taxpayers’ handouts to private projects for wealthy developers and speculators.

Like an Emperor with no clothes, his undress-ness disregarded by the media and his blue-blood cronies, the Mayor struts onto the stage pretending that his inspiring answer to the city’s financial crisis is to take the services and functions of government away from one special interest group – the unions – and give it to another special interest group – the corporations. If anyone thinks that city employees are overpaid and their pensions excessive, just take a look at Sempra Corporation, a company, which in addition to gouging the average San Diegan – far more than city government – also lies to the consumer, cheats on reports, pollutes both the air and the land and conspires to control the entire energy future of the region. Yet, Sempra already owns one wing of the mayor’s office and its lobbyists write city ordinances.

Sanders regurgitates the Tea Party’s mantra about privatization, christened outsourcing, like some backwoods, bible-thumping preacher who screams “put a dollar in the hat” and be saved. Yet, all we have to do is look at our auto insurance bills, health care premiums, pharmacy receipts, gasoline costs and other household needs to understand that the corporate state, in the long run, will be far more costly and intrusive in our lives than city government. Sander’s own administration is a prelude to the corporate control of local government, with lawbreakers at Sunroad Corporation and mobsters in Little Italy being protected, while he appoints personal cronies and crooks to the city’s commissions.

His Honor unfortunately is either stupid, believes his own lies or has a lousy speech writer. “For five years, my efforts to build consensus on cost controls were held back by the argument [and his re-election efforts]that San Diegans would rather raise taxes than reduce services,” he cooed to the gathered crowd, “that notion got a fair hearing, and now its laid to rest.” What the mayor failed to point out was that Proposition D was a ruse, a deceptive maneuver, to get voters to reject a sales tax, one of the most regressive taxes on the books, which hurts working folks and middle-class families far more than the wealthy. There was no opportunity to even discuss, much less propose, more progressive levies like income tax for those making more than $100,000 or a payroll tax for affluent corporations. And there is absolutely no effort on his administration’s part to raise the pitifully low city development services, building permits and other corporate fees.

Wealth dictates. It does not propose as in a Democracy. And this is what we will lose in a corporate state. We as citizens will no longer even have the appearance, let alone the opportunity, to decide our fate as a collective society. We will be consumers of government, not participants. Individuals, at the mercy of vast, unfeeling, indifferent, market driven-forces, alone, isolated, without the cooperative spirit, communal consensus, or shared effort which community government fosters. Profit will dictate policy, not community needs. Take for example, the Mayor’s report during his speech on billionaire Irwin Jacobs plan to rid the Plaza de Panama of cars. The plan, while much needed, is contingent on defacing the historic bridge that connects the park. While city preservationists and locals oppose this ugly concrete project, Jacobs on a recent KBPS broadcast flatly told a caller it’s either his way or no way. This attitude is a precursor of our future domination in San Diego.

The leadership of the corporate state, from Goldman Sacs to the Chargers’ wealthy Spanos family, the big elites and the little oligarchies here in San Diego, the investments houses and large banks; they all know the game is up. Americans are broke, credit cards maxed, living from paycheck to paycheck, unemployment at record levels and under-employment off the charts. The titans of industry and their CEO’s know that soon there will be no margin for gain, no one left to buy their over-priced products, families cutting back on services, the consumer bottomed out.

So where to find new capital? We have already seen the answer on a massive scale with bailouts and stimulus corporate welfare from the United States Treasury. Now the banks, investment firms and corporations are seeking to take over local government and put taxpayer money into the market driven casino-like irresponsibility of the corporate state – where the only value is profit. Sell the public commons, close down libraries, abandon parks and recreational areas, condemn young people to crime by closing after school at risk programs, hire cheap labor from Mexico so no one get’s health care or retirement – the third worldization of our beloved San Diego.

Mayor Sanders is not the only shrill for the San Diego Oligarchy, from rabid Carol DiMaio, actually Sarah Palin in “drag,” to cool, unflappable corporate minion, Kevin Falconer, illegally elected with Republican shenanigans, there is an inter-locking system of developers groups, building associations, apartment owner federations, real estate consortiums, attorney alliances and a confederacy of blue-bloods, who sitting in the audience at the Horton Plaza’s theatre want nothing to rock the boat, or challenge the status quo of low wages, high prices and profit as the number one goal of all life. They applaud this mayor without vision. They will finance these councilmen who want nothing more than to go on to higher elected office and get rich. And they will return next year to hear the same plodding voice, the tired old euphemisms about America’s finest city for the wealthy.

Mayor Sanders should begin outsourcing with his next two “State of the City” addresses. Perhaps, Bill O’Reilly could speak, he’s more honest and far more entertaining, or perhaps they will let Bernard Madoff, the former high priest of the profit religion, out of prison to speak about the glories of the corporate state for San Diego.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

annagrace January 18, 2011 at 9:24 am

Quite right in your assessment. Matt Potter recently wrote in the Reader that “Jerry Sanders may cut short his term at city hall in exchange for a medium-level security-related appointment in the Obama administration, where he is friendly with customs chief and ex–airport authority head Alan Bersin. That scenario would be designed to clear the way for a possible municipal bankruptcy, which Sanders has pledged to oppose. ”


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