If last week was about broad promises, this one will be about brass tacks for the city of San Diego as the drive toward a financial reform package for the November ballot enters its homestretch.

Here’s what to look for this week with the city facing a Friday deadline to put formally a sales tax increase/cost-cut package on November’s ballot.

  • Wordsmithery. To recap, the proposition’s framework makes a half-cent sales tax increase contingent on the city completing a series of reforms in retirement costs and outsourcing. Or put another way, no reforms, no money. This week will focus on how to measure those reforms so the city can know when it has met its targets.

    It started already on this morning during a brief council meeting. Councilwoman Donna Frye, the plan’s chief architect, agreed to combine both of the reform proposals relating to the broad outsourcing program known as managed competition at the request of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

    Expect the most refinement, at least publicly, to occur Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. when the council meets to approve the proposition for November’s ballot.

  • Sabotage. More than one person has told me that with this proposal, the devil is in the details. At this point, many of the details are left to Goldsmith and his office, which is drawing up the ballot language now. To this point, everything Goldsmith has done, like prodding the council to hold a special meeting last week, indicates a willingness to meet Friday’s deadline. But the tight timing is such that one legal snafu or complication could derail the entire proposal.

    Also, watch how the sausage-making affects council members. Council President Ben Hueso tried to rush things along this morning and as a result Councilwoman Sherri Lightner didn’t support a motion directing Goldsmith to clarify some language.

    “I do not like doing things on the fly,” Lightner said.

    Remember, the six-vote majority on the council for the whole package needs to stand firm if the measure will reach the ballot. Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer are solid no’s.

  • Business backing. With Mayor Jerry Sanders expressing his unreserved support for the ballot measure on Friday afternoon, will any of the mayor’s supporters in the business community follow? After Councilman Tony Young amended the proposal earlier Friday to ensure that all reforms occurred before the city would collect the tax dollars, key members of the business community like San Diego County Taxpayers Association President Lani Lutar and Sanders confidant Vince Mudd softened toward the ballot measure.

    Securing the support of people like Lutar and Mudd would go a long way toward passing the proposition in November.


Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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