Tag Archives: Sunroad

Is Jerry Sanders in for a Fight?

As reported earlier this month by voiceofsandiego.org, Mayor Jerry Sanders’ second quarter fundraising resulted in zero dollars (pdf).  This, presumably, was at least partly to do with a perceived lack of credible challengers for next year’s mayoral race.  But after two weeks of being picked apart over his role in the illegal Sunroad project and his apparently dishonest defense, things may be changing.  The Union Tribune is reporting that Mayor Sanders’ two major challengers from last time, City Councilwoman Donna Frye and businessman Steve Francis, “champing at the bit” over the prospect of a rematch.  So what’s going on?

Sunroad Enterprises was busted for exceeding federal height limits for its development near Montgomery Field airport, and questions have been flying around town as to just who it was who let it happen.  City Attorney Mike Aguirre was one of the first out of the gate, accusing Mayor Sanders of corruption over the situation, noting that Sunroad executives played notable fundraising roles in Sanders’ election.  Sanders has vehemently defended himself against allegations of corruption, but recent revelations has called his side of things into question.  Before citing multiple discrepancies between Sanders’ explanation and official records, The Union Tribune over the weekend explained:

Memos show that then-Development Services Department director Gary Halbert, assistant director Kelly Broughton, and James Waring, the chief of land use and economic development, all knew about the problem in June 2006 – before the building had reached its halfway point.

Yet Sanders has insisted that neither he nor Waring knew about the controversy until October, when the structure had reached its full height and City Attorney Michael Aguirre was preparing to issue a stop-work order on the project.

The Mayor’s investigation into the matter was initially run by retired Navy Rear Adm. Ronne Froman, serving as the mayor’s chief operating officer.  She quit in mid-investigation, explaining “her work at City Hall was completed.”  James Waring has recently left his position either via firing, forced resignation or regular resignation depending on who you talk to.  This after his visit last week to Donna Frye, supposedly without the mayor’s knowledge, to negotiate a height compromise.  Frye went public with the attempted negotiation and Francis (Sanders’ presumptive challenger from the right) has correctly pointed out that Sanders is either lying or running an out of control office.  And neither is good.

All of this simply continues a disturbing trend for Jerry Sanders.  He has systematically set out to restrict public access and input to the city charter revision, has embraced the “strong mayor” principle after cosigning the argument against it, and has completely forfeited any credibility he might have had surrounding his pledge of an “era of openness” in San Diego government.  He has, essentially, insisted that he should be trusted because only he really understands what has to be done (kinda like a certain president).

Presumably Jerry Sanders is not going to be raising zero dollars again anytime soon.  But as his credibility starts to fade, it gives opponents a clear line of attack in a city still weary of corrupt governance.  Timed with a report that the Board of Supervisors will likely not be competitive, it looks like we can mark down at least one legitimate race in San Diego next year.