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Mayor Sanders And NFL Huddle To Keep Chargers In San Diego

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On tonight's show, Amita Sharma speaks with Mayor Sanders on a range of local issues.

Evening Edition airs weekdays at 5 PM and 6:30 PM on KPBS TV.

The Chargers will take on the rival Oakland Raiders tonight at Qualcomm Stadium, but that isn’t the only important football meeting to take place today.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders early this morning to get a status update on a new Chargers stadium. Sanders said he believes the meeting went well: He said Goodell, along with team owner Dean Spanos, supports keeping the team in San Diego.

"He said that he does not like to see franchises move," Sanders said. "Now, there’s never a never in that. But he was supportive of the Chargers staying in San Diego. He says he believes Dean Spanos wants to stay here. I believe Dean Spanos wants to stay here. He’s been a part of this community for a long time."

Sanders said he does not envision asking the public to pay for a new stadium through a tax increase. He said a consulting firm hired by the city is trying to figure out a financing plan.

The mayor’s office estimates the public contribution would cover about half of the stadium’s cost. The team has suggested the project could run about $800 million.

While stadium talks are not yet settled, Sanders had a victory on another issue this week: The pension reform initiative he supports qualified for the June ballot. The mayor is one of the leading campaigners behind the initiative. It would replace city pensions with 401(k)’s for all new employees, except police officers. It would also freeze the base pay of current city employees for five years.

Sanders said the pensions systems in place today don’t work like they did when they were designed in the 1940s and 1950s.

"People didn’t live to be 85. They literally retired at 62 or 65 and lived for a few more years and the systems worked," he said.

But union leaders maintain the ballot measure is an attack on city workers. They point out San Diego is not enrolled in Social Security, so new workers would not have a safety net if their 401(k)’s dropped significantly in value. Voters will weigh in on the issue in June.

Several of the other projects Sanders has backed are up in the air as he heads into his last year in office. For more from the mayor, listen to KPBS Midday Edition and watch an interview with Sanders on KPBS Evening Edition.

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