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Friday, March 2, 2007 | Today marks my 42nd year as a resident of San Diego County.
I’ve seen this place grow up from a sleepy Navy town where kickbacks, bribes and the sweetheart deals are the norm to a bustling metropolis where kickbacks, bribes and sweetheart deals are standard operating procedure.
Oh sure, you may think that’s nothing changed but it has. Back in the ’60s, crooked politicians and corrupt businessmen didn’t have computers.
We also used to have piles of money coming in to those defense contractors.
Those days are gone and, now, this place is broke. There’s no cash to take care of basic infrastructure, pay for education or provide corporate welfare to sports teams.
How bad is it? Here’s a clue: When you have to call The San Diego Union-Tribune to have your potholes fixed, something’s wrong, right?
But rather than be a cynic who makes cheap shots at easy targets, I want to be an optimist who takes cheap shots at easy targets. I want to be solution-oriented.
Therefore, I have thought some visionary ideas for raising funds that can be misused by city officials and feed the greedy avarice of their rich friends.
You see, unlike other visionaries who believe that people are basically good, I know that San Diego will continue to be a wonderful city to be a corrupt businessman or politician in.
That’s because there are a lot of people here who made one smart decision in their life — to move to a city with no weather — and then figured they didn’t have to do any other thinking for the rest of their lives.
Here are some of my ideas for raising cash. Yes, they sound unorthodox, but rather than criticize them for being unconventional, why not think like a true San Diegan city leader and ask yourself, “How can I cash in?”
1. Raise money to fix busted sewer pipes with themed slot machines.
All the Native American casinos around here pride themselves on being good corporate citizens. So let them put their money where their mouth is by placing $5 slots with high payouts everywhere possible, such as the beach, Sea World, and even Legoland.
I figure there are lots of San Diegans who would rather gamble their water money away rather than give it to the city to piddle away. Plus, the tourists would love a chance to help bring running water back to this city.
It could inspire a friendly competition between Sycuan, Viejas, Barona and the other casinos to see which one gets the most “local support.”
And maybe they could create slot machines with local themes. For instance, Sycuan could create a Rick Roberts-themed machine that only accepts money printed in English, while Barona could have a Donna Frye machine that basically turns down any money inserted in it.
2. Have the Union-Tribune put up money for every endorsement.
Part of the reason for the city’s financial crisis is because Susan Golding allowed the pension to be under funded back in the ’90s so that the extra money could be used for the Republican Convention.
Then Dick Murphy continued the secrecy and under funding and it’s doubtful Jerry Sanders will change things at City Hall.
Since the U-T supported these officials, as well as other costly items, such as Petco Park, the paper should be forced to put $5 million in a kitty for every project or politician they endorse.
Think of how much money that would raise. Of course, considering the track record of U-T-endorsed candidates, it’s likely this new money would have to be earmarked to pay for their legal bills.
3. Getting gay and lesbian approval before investing in any blighted area.
What’s the best way to improve the worth of a blighted neighborhood? Get gays and lesbians to move there.
It happened with Hillcrest. Then University Heights and North Park were gentrified. Slowly but surely, other old neighborhoods are being improved by gays and lesbians moving there and opening up boutiques, bars and bistros.
If Jim Madaffer really wants to improve “blighted” Grantville, he should be offering tax breaks to Toni Atkins’ constituents, not asking for city improvement funds.
By getting gays and lesbians to move into blighted neighborhoods, not only would the streets become safer and more stylish, they would become more valuable, thus increasing the tax base.
I practice what I preach. I live in a condo complex in La Mesa where most of the residents are nice old people who are slowly leaving in some way or another. Do I want my next neighbors to be families like my own?
HELL NO! I don’t want my home values to drop. Find me some gays or lesbians instead.
4. Outsource City Council jobs to those guys hanging around your Home Depot.
Carl DeMaio of the Performance Institute wants to outsource many city services to private businesses that, presumably, have a vested interest in doing the best work for the cheapest price.
Good idea in theory, but he doesn’t go far enough. I want to outsource the work of every city employee to those nice day laborers who hang out in front my local Home Depot.
Not only are they hard workers but their indeterminate origin and status makes them more inclined to do a good job at a fair price, lest someone call the Border Patrol.
City officials don’t have to do that. In fact, the nature of politics forces them to make half-assed promises to the person who gives them the most money possible. The perfect example of this was that strip club trial against Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet.
The lobbyist who supposedly tried to funnel them money didn’t even get close to getting the no-touch law removed. Isn’t that a waste of his client’s money?
However, if a day laborer had been on City Council, he wouldn’t have had the time to visit Las Vegas, because he would have had to get to his second job right after he was finished in council chambers.
5. Mike Aguirre dunking booth.
I’ve saved the most lucrative idea for last. So many people hate Aguirre’s grandstanding ways and fiery temper that it should be easy to find fat cats willing to pay millions to toss balls at him while he sits in a dunking tank.
Think about it. San Diego Chargers officials like Mark Fabiani and Dean Spanos would probably pay $5 million apiece for the privilege, and I’m sure Doug Manchester and John Moores would pony up too.
There’s only one problem. There are probably a lot of city officials who would probably be glad to use taxpayer dollars for this purpose as well.