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Roundtable: Sanders’ Speech, Wuterich Trial, Brown’s Budget

Today on Editor's Roundtable: Jerry Sanders tried to hit it out of the park with the State of the City speech, opening statements and first testimony in the manslaughter trial of Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, and Jerry Brown's proposed budget is very lean and very mean.

Aired 1/13/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests: Craig Gustafson, reporter, U-T San Diego

Tony Perry, San Diego bureau chief, L.A. Times

Michael Smolens, government & politics editor, U-T San Diego


San Diego Mayor Sanders Aims To Be A Closer by Katie Orr

With his time in office winding down, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders took to the stage of downtown’s Balboa Theater Tuesday night to give his final State of the City.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

Above: San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

Sanders began his speech by listing the wins he already counts in his column, starting with financial reforms.

“By working with our labor organizations to dramatically reduce our exposure to skyrocketing retiree health care costs. Our efforts will save taxpayers more than $700 million,” he said, “making this the biggest cost-saving measure in city history.”

Sanders also touted his efforts to reform the pension system and close the city’s structural budget deficit; its chronic problem of spending more than in takes in. He said San Diego must continue to focus on physically improving the city. (Read more)

We evaluate his speech and his chances to complete the chargers stadium, convention center expansion and others.

Opening Arguments Delivered At Haditha Trial by Alison St. John

The prosecution and the defense in the Haditha trial at Camp Pendleton have delivered their opening arguments. No one has yet been convicted for the death of 24 Iraqi civilians - including unarmed women and children - in 2005.

Frank Wuterich is the last of his squad to be on trial for the Haditha case.
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Above: Frank Wuterich is the last of his squad to be on trial for the Haditha case.

Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich is the last man standing in the Haditha case. One by one, the other members of his squad have had their cases dismissed or have been acquitted, leaving squad leader Wuterich to take the brunt of the legal consequences.

The incident hit the headlines in 2006 after a Time Magazine reporter questioned a military press release blaming the civilian deaths on an explosion. An army investigation uncovered that Marines had shot the civilians as the the squad reacted to an explosion that killed one of their own.

The details of what happened that day are not clear. Five unarmed Iraqi men were shot at point blank range when they drove onto the scene. Wuterich said the men did not listen to commands, but the prosecution said it has witnesses who say no commands were given before the killings.

The squad is believed to have come under light arms fire, but Wuterich said he saw no shooting coming from the houses he and three of his men then stormed. Nineteen people, including 11 women and children, died inside of two houses. No weapons were subsequently found. (Read more)

Brown Warns Of Deep Cuts If Taxes Rejected by KPBS and Associated Press

California faces a smaller budget deficit in the coming fiscal year but will require nearly $5 billion in cuts to public education if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to raise taxes in the fall, the governor's office said Thursday in releasing its budget proposal for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California.
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Above: California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California.

The governor's office projected the state's budget deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1 at $9.2 billion, much more manageable than the $26.6 billion deficit the Legislature closed for the current year.

The number was first reported by the Los Angeles Times after the governor's Department of Finance mistakenly posted the budget document online. It has since been removed.

The total general fund budget for the coming year is $92.5 billion, about $7 billion more than the current year.

During the press conference, Brown said of the budget, "This is not nice stuff, but that’s what it takes to balance the budget."

If voters reject those tax increases, Brown's budget says he will call for an automatic cut of $4.8 billion from public education. That is the equal to three weeks of school.

Earlier Thursday, Brown told reporters "there'll be a lot of cuts" if his initiative fails. (Read more)

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