Thanks to everyone who has sent in questions so far. Many, it seems, are interested in a single theme: Potential privatization of city services, and questions about who provides them. In particular, folks seem to be interested about a part of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ speech last night, in which he reaffirmed his interest in moving ahead with privatizing certain city services:
It is also my goal to prepare both systems (water and wastewater) for managed competition. In order to make the systems worthy of private sector interest, it will take time to make them the most efficient organizations they must first become. To allow for maximum flexibility, I will propose that we limit any new Bid to Goal agreements with labor to one year increments.
If you recall, the ballot measures passed in November allow the mayor to open certain city services to competition.
Reader JB asks:
In reading the “highlights” from the Mayors’ Address, I see that “complete privitization of the water and wastewater” services San Diego provides is high on his list. This seems like a bad idea, but maybe I’ve watched too many conspiracy movies. What will privitization of these services mean? What are the pro’s and the con’s? If we wanted to, what could we do to stop it?
One reader also asked if the Mayor’s Office was considering privatizing the city’s infrastructure for refuse collection and recycling.
I’m waiting for the Mayor’s Office to get back to me to talk about managed competition but here is what I can tell you so far. First of all, to get both sides of the debate on privatization, I suggest you check out the ballot arguments.
I asked our team of highly skilled political reporters about the mayor’s plans for water and wastewater. They told me these are highly preliminary — and, as the mayor himself admitted in his speech, neither system is in any shape to be sold off.
Were this to change in the future, the managed competition measure requires that the City Council approve the sales, which should provide an opportunity for public input. In addition, the city departments that currently run the services will be allowed to bid, too.
While I wait for call backs, I’ll take some time in my next post to provide a brief backgrounder on cable franchising.