It was a riveting day in city politics.
On Monday morning, it seemed like voters in most of San Diego would consider two tax hikes on the November ballot. One would boost sales taxes to help the city, and the other would increase property taxes to siphon money into schools.
By Monday evening, the sales tax hike — which had been alive, dead and then alive — seemed to be dead thanks to a divided City Council.
The school district’s property tax hike was also on life support, the victim of second thoughts by the school board’s president and pressure from city officials who feared voters would run screaming into the night from a double-whammy of tax measures. Even after the sales tax hike crashed and burned, the school president said he’s still pushing to dump the measure, which had been touted as crucial.
In summary, it looks like the city won’t ask voters to cough up money to stave off further cutbacks, like the ones that have slashed firefighting resources and may have contributed to a boy’s death a week ago. The school district, which has touted higher property taxes as essential to quality education, still has no money-raising plan.
The day’s events came quick and furious, and our main story has the details.
Yesterday, Councilwoman Donna Frye tried to call for negotiations between the two sides, but Councilman Ben Hueso swatted away the idea. Frye was also a crucial swing vote against putting the tax hike measure on the ballot, saying she needed to see more reform with the request for more revenue.
Meanwhile, there’s still a big elephant in the room: despite all of Monday’s political intrigue, one measure remains on the November ballot. San Diego voters, who may well be annoyed by Monday’s epic drama, will still be asked to approve a $294 million City Hall.
Digging more deeply into the day’s events:
• How much did the school district spent on a parcel tax proposal that may now be dead? At least $130,000.
• Our columnist Scott Lewis wonders whatever happened to the school district’s dire predictions of a future without extra money. As the day’s events sunk in, Lewis followed up with another column. He saw a brief glimpse of light “in a decade-long march toward municipal decay” during yesterday’s amazing City Council meeting. And then it vanished.
In other news:
• A new report says California schools are spending more — but less on classrooms. How did that happen?
• The TV version of San Diego Fact Check takes a spin through claims about the Wild Animal Park, drunks in Pacific Beach (imagine!) and sports at San Diego State.
• Quick: What are the “hottest” zip codes in the county, where homebuyers, on average, are paying more than sellers are asking? No, they’re not in Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla, Coronado or Del Mar. Those are among the “coldest” zip codes. Brrr. Better throw another Lexus on the fire.
• Funny thing about politicians: They like to tout their cost-cutting prowess but they rarely slash their own salaries or turn down raises, even if they’re making some major dough.
That brings us to our next story, courtesy of the U-T. The sheriff and district attorney are both accepting raises of five percent. They declined to take raises earlier this year, but did so after they were both won election in June (and after county employees got a raise).
They’re both making well over $200,000 a year. They’re eligible for raises again on Dec. 31.
• Finally, public art is in the public eye again. As we noted yesterday, pranksters created a papier mâché shark that devoured a widely maligned bronze statue of a surfer in Cardiff. You can see photos of previous pranks courtesy of the U-T and Google Images.
The statue, nicknamed the “Cardiff Kook,” is hardly the only local piece of public art to get a poor reception. Back in 2003, an artist proposed a maniacally kitschy $50 million public fountain for San Diego’s waterfront. The local art world let out a communal gasp of horror.
I reported on the brouhaha and heard from Hugh Davies, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, who thought he deserved a special say in the matter: “It’s enormously insulting that anyone’s opinion is as valued as mine when they haven’t spent their lifetime honing their eye and educating themselves.”
Right-o. Remember the San Diego rules: Don’t feed the seagulls. Always wear sunscreen. And whatever you do, don’t enormously insult the museum director.