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Monday, Feb. 5, 2007 | In his screed, “Governing by Fiat,” Jon Dunchack bases his argument on an indirect quote attributed to me by The San Diego Union-Tribune. Don’t believe everything you read in the local paper.
I have never claimed that it is possible for the city to maintain current service levels at this time. Each member of this council recognizes that the level of service provided to citizens will be affected by a tight budget. I have listed my budget priorities (available on my website): public safety, core services, paying down pension costs, and boosting reserves) and am prepared to make cuts elsewhere to fund these priorities.
This council has indeed made tough choices. We denied pay raises for police officers and fire fighters in the wake of Sept. 11 and the Cedar Fire, despite intense political pressure. We cut library and pool hours and park maintenance and approved the mayor’s re-engineering proposals which eliminate city jobs. We put two tourist tax increases on the ballot in 2004; one lost because it fell 5 percent short of the required 2/3 vote. These decisions were not easy, but they were necessary and responsible.
Dunchack suggests that the City Council “have a candid conversation with their constituents about the cost of doing the public’s business.” I absolutely agree. In order to have that candid conversation, the council and the public must know what services can be maintained and which cuts are necessary. I do not understand why the mayor wants to keep that budget information from the public by denying the council its responsibilities defined by the City Charter.
The public has the right to be informed and participate in the discussion. I invite your readers to join us at the City Council as we craft the new budget over the next several months.
Scott Peters is the San Diego City Council President