Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005 | Perhaps it is merely an outburst of his year-end longings, but Mayor Jerry Sanders has resumed sprinkling his public comments with references to sunny, scarred San Diego as “America’s Finest City.”
Just as we withhold the sack of candy from an errant child, I had understood we all would strive to refrain from this misbegotten slogan until city government showed some tangible semblance of remorse and reform.
The coinage of the Finest City slogan was an act of adolescent bravado of a city that had already long been known and admired around the world. The phrase was launched and sustained by the city’s booster establishment, one rarely distinguished by subtlety or sophistication, which are the stuff of the world’s best remembered mottos.
It arrived in an era when few of us knew or cared what garbage lay beneath the savory pie crust of City Hall. Few then had ever heard the name of Diann Shipione. The naive bravado of the slogan has seemed to many to be a bush-league effort, one more likely to have been pieced together by an old boys’ back-room committee for Newark or Natchez.
There are strong and sobering aspects to its continued acceptance in San Diego. The least understood seems to be that the phrase is comforting to enough influential San Diegans that it softens public resolve to ensure that City Hall is not again mired in scandal strong enough to force a respected mayor from office and send lesser elected and appointed officials into limbo and worse.
As testimony that we are out of trouble here in America’s Finest City, we take the word of elected officials burbling the phrase as a comforting soporific. In the long payback years that lay ahead, San Diegans eager to accept that inference will be rudely startled by coming civic hardships and deficiencies. They will wonder why there is no money to repair streets and sewers. They will rebel against increased taxation.