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San Diego Pronounced in Excellent Health : Acting Mayor Accused of Campaigning in His State of City Address

January 14, 1986|RALPH FRAMMOLINO | Times Staff Writer

In a speech his adversaries said was designed to further his mayoral candidacy, acting Mayor Ed Struiksma delivered a State of the City address Monday that outlined his political accomplishments and included a warning about the cost of pay raises for police officers.

Struiksma, who as acting mayor delivered the City Charter-required address, began by pronouncing San Diego's civic health as excellent. He never mentioned the legal woes of former Mayor Roger Hedgecock that dogged city government last year.

But Struiksma picked up a cue from Hedgecock, who rallied environmentalists with the specter of so-called "Los Angelization," by coining his own buzzword for crowding in city neighborhoods: "Manhattanization."

While it was Struiksma the acting mayor who delivered the address to council colleagues and high-ranking city administrators assembled in the council chamber, it was Struiksma the mayoral candidate who drew criticism for the speech, with its heavy media coverage.

Councilman Bill Cleator, also a candidate for the post vacated by Hedgecock when he was sentenced on felony convictions, said the address carried the kind of politicking that council members had hoped to avoid when they agreed to elect Struiksma deputy mayor in December in exchange for his implied agreement not to run for mayor.

Struiksma, who said he never promised to sit out the race, accepted the traditionally ceremonial post and then declared his candidacy, giving him what some believe is a political advantage because he now conducts council meetings and fulfills other high-profile duties such as delivering the State of the City address.

"One of the concerns that individuals had on the council is exactly what happened . . . somebody had a leg up on somebody," Cleator said after the speech.

Councilman Mike Gotch added: "I think all of us sat there a little bemused because we all realized that if Ed had been honest with the other members of the council, he wouldn't have been giving that speech.

"After the third line, it began to sound like campaign literature and I figured I'd get it in the mailbox. I just tuned it out."

The speech, which Struiksma showed to his political consultant beforehand, began on a high note by calling 1985 the year the "renaissance of downtown came into focus. . . . With the opening of Horton Plaza, the Meridian, the U.S. Grant Hotel, Symphony Hall and the ground breaking for our new convention center, San Diegans began to rediscover Alonzo Horton's dream."

He also discussed one of his pet council projects, a community plan for booming Mission Valley. Calling it "perhaps the most complex ever produced by this city," Struiksma said the plan for this area in his district would "harness and direct future growth."

Struiksma also lauded progress in the area of mass transit and the San Diego Trolley, his specialties as a member of the Metropolitan Transit Development Board. And two 1985 road projects he mentioned--the widening of Interstate 15 and the extension of California 52--are in his district, the geographic heart of the city.

Struiksma, generally considered pro-development, opposed Proposition A, the slow-growth measure approved by voters in November. But Monday he pledged again to carry it out. Taking off on a phrase made popular by environmentalist Hedgecock, Struiksma coined his own anti-growth buzzword when he said: "While we are protecting our city from Los Angelization, we must be sure that we do not allow the Manhattanization of our older communities. Growth must enhance our neighborhoods, not destroy them."

Asked later what he meant by the phrase, Struiksma added, "You think of tall buildings. You think of very high densities. You think of wind tunnels. You think of poor transportation systems. You think of dirty streets."

Struiksma's address was sprinkled liberally with the kinds of phrases that would appear to please environmentalists. For instance, in discussing the Mission Valley plan, he talked about "a ribbon of open space" and a "lake-like setting" down in the valley, where people can enjoy jogging trails, bike paths and picnic areas.

Struiksma, the former police officer, also took a strong stand against a ballot initiative that would give San Diego police officers across-the-board pay increases, a proposal that promises to become an issue in the mayoral race.

Sponsored by the San Diego Police Officers Assn., the measure garnered 73,000 signatures, and late last week the city clerk's office qualified it for the June 3 ballot. The council must vote whether to place it on the ballot.

The proposal calls for a one-time, across-the-board raise of as much as 17% for police officers. The increase could take an extra $10 million out of the city budget and would be pegged to the average pay for the California Highway Patrol and the four largest police agencies in the state.

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