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Former Mayors Sanders, Hedgecock, Wilson Reflect On Years In Office

Evening Edition

Aired 5/2/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

"Leading San Diego: Former Mayors Reflect" brought three former mayors together to look back at their time in office, share their successes, their regrets and their answers to questions from San Diegans.

Former mayors Jerry Sanders, Roger Hedgecock and Pete Wilson sat down together Wednesday night for KPBS' "Leading San Diego: Former Mayors Reflect."

The program allowed all three former mayors to look back at their time in office, share their successes, their regrets and their answers to questions from San Diegans.

Pete Wilson was elected Mayor of San Diego in 1971.

Wilson's plan for managing growth encouraged density in the city's urban core and he established San Diego's redevelopment agencies.

Under Mayor Wilson's leadership, the city used public bonds and private investments to revitalize features of Downtown, including the Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza and the San Diego Trolley.

Wilson was involved early on in pension reform and while he served as mayor, city employees withdrew from social security in exchange for lifetime health benefits.

Wilson resigned as San Diego's Mayor in 1982 after being elected to the U.S. Senate

He later served two terms as California's Governor.

Roger Hedgecock was elected to serve out Wilson's term 1983.

Hedgecock is credited for his role in getting the voter-supported downtown convention center built. As mayor, he carried out projects begun by Wilson including, extension of the San Diego Trolley.

Hedgecock suspended new construction permits north of downtown in an effort to make developers cover the costs of roads, parks and fire stations.

By 1985, San Diego's older neighborhoods needed $1 billion dollars in infrastructure repairs.

Hedgecock was elected to a second term but he was forced from office in 1985 after he was found guilty of conspiracy and perjury relating to campaign contributions.

The state Supreme Court overturned his all convictions except for one misdemeanor.

Hedgecock may be best known for his nearly 30-year career as a conservative talk radio host.

Former San Diego police chief Jerry Sanders was elected mayor in 2005, when San Diego's pension fund liability was nearly $1.5 billion dollars and growing.

With his sights set on balancing the budget, the city's first strong mayor led the effort to cut future pension debt with voter-approved Proposition B.

Following a lawsuit over sewage spills, the city covered the cost of repairs by raising water and sewer rates.

And, the city began borrowing hundreds of millions in bonds to pay for long overdue storm drain and street repairs.

Under Sanders' leadership, the city used redevelopment funds, grants and private investments to break ground on San Diego's new Central Library.

Sanders became president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce this year.

Former mayors Susan Golding, Dick Murphy and Maureen O'Connor declined to appear on the program.

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | May 1, 2013 at 7:42 p.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Ms. Pico,
Your lapse in manners by failing to address former Governor and Senator Wilson by at least one of his titles reflects poorly on KPBS as a professional news organization. Almost all national and local news organizations honor high offices held by people on their news shows. Would you call former President Clinton by Mr.? How about former Secretary of State and Senator Hilllary Clinton - would you call her Ms.? Or Maybe Hillary ?

Maybe it is just conservative former office holders who deserve no respect in your reporting.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | May 1, 2013 at 8:13 p.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

What a waste. KPBS had the three stooges most responsible for the city's problems on live and throws them a bunch of softball questions. Why limit it to 30min. What happened to long-form journalism? Should have grilled them for at least 90min, and they still wouldn't have admired their corrupt alliances with developers, corporate interests, and the rich.

How can you call yourselves journalists? No questions from the citizens? These white, conservative, Republican men are in complete denial. They underfunded our public infrastructure (like sewers), cheated the pension system, sold out our city assets to corporate developers, waisting 'redevelopment' money to line the pockets of their friends.

Required reading for you; "Under the Perfect Sun" by Mike Davis, Kelly Mayhew, and Jim Miller. We need new public media that isn't dependant upon donations from the guilty and corporate advertising (underwriting)

They are out of office for a reason. Honoring them is like building Bush a library to hang his paintings. We can't afford their unsustainable 'leadership', keep them out of our way while we clean up their mess.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 1, 2013 at 8:52 p.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Mr. Hedgecock has a lot of nerve even showing his face in public. He ruined the city financially and then was forced out for criminal behavior. What kind of mindless dopes listen to this inept crook on the radio????????

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Avatar for user 'Natalie Walsh'

Natalie Walsh, KPBS Staff | May 2, 2013 at 8:43 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Dear RLA,

Thank you for your comment. We discussed how to address all three former mayors and researched the protocol for former office holders. We decided to acknowledge their accomplishments at the beginning of the show, and then to address each with the title 'Mr.' We did not intend it to be disrespectful in any way. But we appreciate that points you have made.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | May 2, 2013 at 10:09 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Filosofer writes: "How can you call yourselves journalists?"

Ha! You haven't read the film reviews here!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | May 2, 2013 at 10:10 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Filosofer, Duckster, all good posts.

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Avatar for user 'Suzanne Marmion'

Suzanne Marmion, KPBS Staff | May 2, 2013 at 10:13 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Philosopher3000, I'm glad you are interested in more! We have a full hour today on KPBS Midday Edition at noon on 89.5, and the full hour will also be posted online later this afternoon. The one-hour segment features audience questions, and some lively answers from the former mayors. The purpose of this program was neither to honor the former mayors, nor to dissect their administrations, but rather to see what they learned that can apply to the challenges facing San Diego today. We will have our current mayor, Bob Filner, on KPBS Midday Edition and KPBS Evening Edition on Monday to respond to their input.

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Avatar for user 'eye_pay_attention'

eye_pay_attention | May 3, 2013 at 4:52 a.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

Gloria Penner would have conducted a fair and balanced interview of these former San Diego Mayors. The disclaimer that KPBS contacted other former Mayors but they were not available doesn't do justice the the kind of non-partisan journallism I expect from "public" broadcasting. If no opposing voice is available to provide a more balanced review of these political issues then cancel the interview. Ms. Pico just let these 3 particularly partisan mayors speak without any counter. Pete Wilson was a champion of anti-imigrant politics and created re-development agencies that shifted 12% of property tax dollars from public services to developers. PBS broadcast an excellent Frontline documentary recently that exposed the catastrophic failure of 401K retirement plans riddled with exxcessive and hidden fees depleting fund gains but Ms. Pico let these particular mayors get away with arrogant and false claims about their failure to properly fund defined benefit pensions as promised to city workers. I really am disappointed with this biased presentation. I miss Gloria Penner.

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