The City Council unanimously approved affirming that it has no intention to outsource police or firefighting jobs Monday, but took aim at the mayor’s ballot measure for leaving open that possibility.
The controversy arises from a recent court ruling that stated that Proposition C, the mayor’s proposal to allow private companies to compete with public employees for city jobs, did not guard against the outsourcing of police officers, firefighter and lifeguard positions.
Mayor Jerry Sanders proposed Monday’s resolution to curtail Proposition C opponents’ claims that the city could outsource those jobs to save cash at the expense of public safety.
“I will never propose or support this as a practice,” Sanders told the council of outsourcing public safety jobs.
Sanders added that he wanted the council to include language prohibiting the outsourcing of safety jobs in the legislation that would formally enact Proposition C if it passes.
He also proposed that a separate ballot initiative to add the public-safety restriction to the city charter be passed in 2008.
The council decided to adopt the non-binding resolution, but not until several officials railed against the proposal for not already including the proposal.
“It doesn’t matter what the intentions are, it matters what the law says,” Councilwoman Donna Frye said.
Frye said she applauded the proposition’s intent, but likened the discrepancy between the mayor’s objective and the actual ballot language to her unsuccessful write-in candidacy for mayor in 2004. Frye would have won the mayor’s race had the voters who write her name in for the position also shaded in a corresponding bubble that allowed the vote to be counted.
“All the good intentions did not fill the bubble in,” she said.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who had earlier opined that the proposition’s text did not need to explicitly ban the outsourcing of public safety jobs, said the resolution would help construct a legislative history that help the proposition hold up in court.
“It’s already prohibited, and this will reinforce that.” Aguirre said.
A Superior Court judge had ruled in September that the proposition did not include that restriction, despite Aguirre’ advice.
Many critics showed up to point out that 9-1-1 dispatchers, forensic specialist and mechanics that work in the Police Department or San Diego Fire-Rescue would not be sheltered from the proposition. Others pointed out that some public safety services, such as the red-light cameras and the city’s paramedic unit, are already overseen by private companies.
“If we’re going to say that, let’s define who is public safety,” said Donald Cohen, a anti-Proposition C organizer and head of a local liberal think tank.
Others dismissed the accusations that the proposition was vague.
“In my mind, it’s clear as far as the intent,” said Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who will be debating in favor of Proposition C at an event tomorrow.