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MEA Opinion Article Printed in the Union-Tribune: A Coalition That Can Govern

On November 4th the Union-Tribune published the following piece written by MEA General Manager Mike Zucchet in response to Proposition D not garnering the necessary votes:

A Coalition That Can Govern

In the midst of the most severe global economic recession in decades and in an election cycle dominated by voter discontent and distrust, the odds were stacked against Proposition D from the start. Those who purport to know “what the voters meant to convey” in soundly rejecting Prop. D should be met with skepticism. Generalizing motives across hundreds of thousands of people in a diverse city is folly and should be left to those spinning a particular message to suit their own interests.

We should focus attention on what the experience of Prop. D might tell us about where to go from here. No matter whether Prop. D passed or failed, we still would have had to wake up the next day and continue the task of collectively dealing with the city’s unmistakable gap between the desires and demands of city residents and elected officials, and the limited revenues available to meet those demands.

Prop. D taught us that the various leadership factions of this city can work together in a civil, productive and bipartisan way. The San Diego Municipal Employees Association is especially grateful to Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilmember Donna Frye and others who worked hard to form a coalition of business and labor interests in support of a comprehensive reform/revenue budget solution. The fact that voters rejected Prop. D does not diminish the importance of this accomplishment. In fact, it makes it all the more impressive that these interests reached compromises and came together in the face of obvious political headwinds.

That sort of coalition building has been noticeably absent from San Diego politics for some time, but we need it now more than ever.

Mayor Sanders demonstrated the courage that few mayors have shown. Rather than repeating what San Diegans have heard for decades – that the city can deliver the kind of services its residents expect with no fundamental improvement in its revenue base – he instead told us the truth: that even after eliminating hundreds of city jobs and cutting hundreds of millions from the budget, this city cannot continue without something giving way and some shared sacrifice. Sanders and other leaders spoke honestly and intelligently to the voters about the realities of the budget challenges we face after decades of denial, demagoguery, Band-Aided budgets and robbing Peter to pay Paul.

City employees are grateful for the leadership. For our part, we will continue to do more with less, to provide the same services that San Diegans deserve and expect. And we will continue to do what we have already done for years – to proactively look for logical ways to be a part of the solution. We look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Sanders and, hopefully, an ongoing coalition of leaders interested in solving our city’s budget problems once and for all.