OK, it’s time for an observation drive-by.

  • Looks like the city of Chula vista finally got its new fire chief. A few of you were aghast at my use of the term “crap sandwich” in a metaphor to describe what a person taking on a management job at the city of Chula Vista was basically ordering for themselves.

    I wish I could take credit for it. But actually, the term came to mind after I followed the debate for the massive financial sector bailout Congress recently passed.

    It was House Minority Leader John Boehner, a Republican, who called the bill he voted to approve a “crap sandwich.” Yes, I know, just because he’s a top political leader doesn’t mean the term is now acceptable to you San Diego readers. But it sounded like some of you readers might like to know that the gutter language got stuck in my head by a leading conservative.

  • Steve Francis is pushing his San Diego Institute for Policy Research back into the conversation, or vice versa. The group fired off a policy briefing in response to the mayor’s alarming speech about the city’s finances. (FYI: I wrote a little perspective about this today).

    It looked to trump the mayor’s alarm. And they had some good numbers about how this year’s $43 million budget gap may be just the beginning:

    FY 2010 could be even worse. If revenues “only” grow at the same rate that they are now projected to increase this fiscal year (4.6%), there would emerge an additional $13 million gap. That would be on top of the previously forecasted deficit of $66 million (for a total gap of $79 million). If the City were to experience the average general fund growth rate it did during the last economic downturn (FY 2003 and FY 2004 at 1%), the deficit could balloon to more than $115 million. If revenues do not grow over the next 18 months (remain at FY 2009 levels), the FY 2010 deficit could grow to $128 million.

    And then some good perspective on how much money $43 million really is:

    $43 million represents a significant percentage (7.3%) of the City’s non-public safety General Fund expenditures. To put the budget gap in perspective, it is slightly greater than the cumulative Fiscal Year 2009 costs for new police and firefighter salary raises, arts and culture grants for 143 community events, institutions and organizations, operating expenses at the world-class Balboa Park, Mission Bay and Torrey Pines Golf Courses, and the City subsidy to the San Diego Convention Center.

  • If you haven’t read it yet, you should read Kelly Bennett‘s post here. It is very good and not so reassuring to those who might hope we’ve come close to the worst of the foreclosure rates. In all the discussions nationally and locally about stabilizing home prices or protecting people’s home values, I think we’re missing something: You can modify all the loans you want. But if incomes drop because of a recession or high rate of unemployment, it doesn’t matter.

    The ratio of home prices to incomes was ridiculous. We can scramble all we want to keep home prices high but they will continue to fall until that desparity is corrected. It’s very simple.

SCOTT LEWIS

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