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Downtown library: Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’

January 19, 2011 - 9:06 am

When San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said last Wednesday evening in his State of the City speech that 71 new donors had stepped up to contribute to the Downtown library project, which is now under construction, I wondered what that meant in terms of dollars.

Well, looks like voiceofsandiego.org wondered the same thing. The online news site has published an update revealing that fund-raising is creeping along rather slowly.

Last summer, when the City Council approved the project despite being roughly $30 million short, CityBeat was critical, arguing that this appeared to be yet another case of the city spending money it didn’t have. We also wondered what had gotten into Donna Frye, who at most other turns in her tenure had been the voice of fiscal caution but this time decided to take a leap of faith that money-raiser Judith Harris would pull it off.

As you see in the lead of our editorial, we speculated that perhaps someone had made an informal promise to council members to make up the difference at the deadline—maybe Joan and Irwin Jacobs, maybe David Copley. If that’s the case, it makes sense not to announce it because making it public would remove the urgency for other would-be donors.

I certainly hope that’s the case. Donors have one year left to come up with about $30 million (according to voiceofsandiego.org), or else the city’s choices will be: make up the difference from the already depleted general fund (which pays for general citizen services like public safety) or be stuck with a shell of a building and give the state back its $20-million grant.

I agree with the San Diego County Taxpayers Association—the City Council should be asking for more frequent fund-raising updates.

And speaking of updates: Liam Dillon from voiceofsandiego.org pointed out that I had my numbers mixed up. The original version of this post said donors still have to come up with roughly $28 million.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. iantrowbridge permalink
    January 19, 2011 - 9:20 am 9:20 am

    Dave:

    You have it exactly right and you can read my comment under the UT story. Maybe they will come up with the private funds but they know if they don’t the library will be too far along to dismantle.

    If they don’t produce the funds the mayor has to take responsibility for the fiasco that will ensue.

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