Monday, May 02, 2005 | CC: The People of San Diego
Dear Council Members,
Today, you face two important items. First, you decide whether to hold a special election for mayor, and second, you begin analyzing the city budget for the next fiscal year.
This is a turning point for our city, and we ask you to sincerely speak to the public to tell us what is wrong with our city and what it will take to fix it.
One of Mayor Dick Murphy’s fundamental failures was his inability to acknowledge the gravity of the struggles facing the city. When the problems became too big to deny, his credibility fell.
We urge the council and the next mayor to clearly and candidly tell the public what the city needs. It is sure to be an unpopular stance, and the task will be made difficult by the public’s low opinion of city government. We also must be kept abreast of progress, or lack of progress, related to the city’s self-investigation and audits.
There are three sides to the budgetary and pension morass. There are three sides to its solution. We suggest that you be frank and honest with all three sides, regardless of who supports your elections or with whom you align ideologically.
Much of our business community benefited from public subsidies in the 1990s. Funds directed away from the pension system went to a ballpark, a convention center, downtown development and other subsidized projects that have helped to build a strong and diversified economy. It is an economy that shines nationwide. The business community must be told to accept tax and fee increases for the benefit of everyone – including themselves.
Labor benefited through receiving enhanced pension benefits. Now that promise has become a terrible burden on all of San Diego, and it threatens to unfairly laden a future generation with bills that were to be paid today. While we cannot fault labor for wanting to get the best for city workers, it is obvious they got more than the city can afford. A promise is a promise, but compromise in accepting freezes and cuts will help us all and greatly improve the somewhat unfair public image that exists of city workers today.
Lastly, council members, we ask that you tell the public it’s time we pay for what we want. If we want a big-city baseball stadium, it’s time we pay big-city taxes. If we want our homes to be saved from fires, it’s time we pay for fire infrastructure. If we want nice roads on which to drive, then it’s time to pony up.
Because if we are unwilling to pay for a big city, we will remain an awkward teenager trying to fit into dad’s suit. If labor is unwilling to accept concessions, the average city worker will continue to bear the brunt of the public’s anger about the pension mess. If the business community is unwilling to pay its share, then they must live with the negative national press that threatens to taint corporate and tourist attraction.
We got ourselves into this mess together, and we all need to get out together. We need honesty and candor from you to be the leaders we know you can be.
Voice of San Diego
E-mail Voice with your thoughts.