Hmm, so what do I think of Vlad Kogan’s analysis here? Obviously, I think Vlad’s a very smart analyst and this is fine work. It puts a lot in perspective.
But you’re not going to change the perception on whether city employees are paid according to their market value — and prove San Diegans are getting a good deal — until you somehow identify what the market is for that labor. The fact is, part of the reason San Diego is in so much trouble is that it increased pension benefits in order to keep up with those given out by the county and across the state. So if you’re constantly comparing yourself to other cities and counties, you’re going to constantly be increasing your compensation every time they do.
And then you’re stuck arguing that you should underfund your pension because, in an amazing coincidence, other cities are doing something similar so it must be OK.
Carl DeMaio’s retort to an earlier Kogan column still rings pretty strong: Comparing the city of San Diego to other cities is like comparing GM to Chrysler — they both failed. (But as Vlad aptly pointed out, this never stopped DeMaio when it served his purpose.)