I got this comment from writer sdbuster after my post putting perspective on Mayor Jerry Sanders’ speech point by point:

It is easy to be an armchair critic, much harder to put yourself out there with proposed solutions. So Scott Lewis…how would you solve the problems you have outlined? I agree with many of your concerns but your rant was in many ways a knee-jerk reaction to the Mayor. Offer your proposed solutions!

I’ll point you back to my proposal in the spring. And back to the parable about the stone soup: Nothing will work but everything might. Nobody has the solution — nobody has enough ingredients for a great stew — but if each of us gives what we can, we’ll be able to pull something together. Taxpayers must give. Management must give. Employees must give.

It’s very simple:

1. There are legitimate taxpayer complaints about compensation practices and waste at the city. The mayor and council can identify exactly what reforms need to be made to the health care, pension and basic employee benefit systems so that they can feel OK about pursuing …

2. … a series of revenue enhancements and tax increases. The obvious first one is the trash fee. There are others: stormwater, TOT, etc.

As I’ve said repeatedly, neither dramatic cuts to employee compensation nor tax increases are attractive to workers and taxpayers. But both are more attractive when taken together. And the fact is, the city is so upside down, that you will need both to right the ship. We simply can’t afford to pay the outlandish salaries that have been reported and we can’t afford not to raise revenues.

If by going between the interested parties and floating this comprehensive solution, you’re not able to get agreement, then you have to begin discussions about bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is not a failure. It’s the way you recover from a failure.

The most common complaint I get is that I just throw bombs and criticize without offering solutions.

Here I am proposing and arguing, for months and months, the three most difficult political things you put your neck out on: Major reforms of pension, health care and employee compensation at the city, tax increases and bankruptcy discussions.

The first two steps are politically dependent on each other. The third step is what you have to take if someone obstructs the first two.

These are all things that at one time or another as a candidate the mayor supported, but has either backed or sprinted away from under pressure.

I know it’s not easy. But absent a big pile of money falling from the sky, there are no other routes to fiscal balance.

And if the mayor and his crew of cynics say this is not politically possible, then call him a naysayer defeatist, who views all progress with suspicion and doesn’t believe San Diegans deserve a great city.


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