Monday, Dec. 1, 2008 | As long as city officials keep trying to fix their so-called budget shortfall, they’re not going to get on top of the city’s chronic financial problems. Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin got it right when she described a “structural deficit” (translation: the city spends more than it takes in, whether times are good or bad). It’s time to rethink the way the city is structured and its major priorities, not waste time on fire rings or junior lifeguard programs, chump change in the big picture. Fundamental questions need to be asked about sacred cows. For instance, why do we have three redevelopment agencies? Do we really need even one?

Why have a “housing commission” staff of more than 240, owning and operating 1800 apartments? Do we really need a separate data processing “corporation?” If the mayor really means what he says — that San Diego is not in business to furnish retirement for city employees — why have a huge department dedicated to just that, currently budgeted at 65 people and growing each year?

Why do we have twice as many City Council staff as Phoenix, a larger city with exactly the same number of council districts? The mayor and council need to rethink their mission and every part of the city bureaucracy, not look for public services to eliminate. If they forced every manager to justify his or her existence to the public, I’ll guarantee you that the libraries and the park system would fare very well, as would the police and fire departments.

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