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A few things I’ve been thinking about:
• Remember the San Diego News Network? I reflect a bit on its rise and fall in a new post. Here’s a taste:
It was a self-proclaimed bull bursting into San Diego’s media china shop and it was grunting nothing less than threats about what it was going to do. The company’s leaders made it clear to investors and interested reporters that they believed that the legacy newspaper, The San Diego Union-Tribune, was dying along with its still very popular website, SignOnSanDiego.com.
They planned to dance on its grave.
What’s that site I’m linking to, you ask? This is something we’ve launched to handle the string of inquiries we get from academics, media across the country and people who want to start something similar to what we’ve done here. NPJHub.org will be completed soon with profiles of our siblings around the country and, we hope, an active blog and source of the best new analysis of the nonprofit news business model.
• Have you seen our great Proposition D page? It is full of background and opinions on all sides of the grand debate about whether voters should approve a new sales tax if a series of reforms are accomplished. Residents have an incredible number of decisions to make on the November ballot from whether to legalize marijuana to choosing the next governor, City Council member, senator and on and on. But this measure is the biggest deal in the city of San Diego.
And that’s why I find the business community’s indecisiveness about it very disappointing. People want to know what businesses think about this.
But so far, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., or EDC, have been unwilling to take a stand. Julie Meier Wright, the CEO of EDC, told me the group was waiting to see how many reforms the City Council could get through before November. Now, Ruben Barrales, the Chamber’s CEO, says his group gave the mayor two weeks to see if the City Council can do something to improve it and demand more reforms and more cost savings.
In a thoughtful commentary, Barrales already said he thinks the measure will fail. If that’s true, and if the measure is so flawed that we need more last-minute dealing, perhaps they could do us all a favor and recommend reconvening on a broader, bigger reform package for a special election in 2011.
Business leaders are supposed to make decisions faster than politicians, right?
• One of the worries I have had about opponents to Prop. D is that they’re masquerading as frustrated that the reforms don’t go far enough, when in reality, they would oppose it no matter how far they went. And that they really want to dramatically redefine local government.
I’m not convinced local government does not need to be dramatically redefined. But I do wish they would just say that’s what they’d like to do.
And one of them actually did:
Government should provide essential services and NO MORE. But essential services aren’t all that easy to define. Let’s focus on the City of San Diego. Sure, we all agree on police and fire protection being essential. What about lifeguard service? I say no. It’s your choice to go into the ocean, so you accept the risk. Libraries? I love libraries but they aren’t essential either, certainly not in the age of the Internet.
Those were the words of Gayle Falkenthal, the spokeswoman for the Lincoln Club and Taxpayers Association, explaining her view on all of this. (In the original version of this post, I added a letter to her last name. Sorry, Gayle.)
If that’s your view, then no amount of reforms would ever justify a tax increase. You want to completely redefine government and its scope. The current crisis simply offers you an opportunity to do that.
I think that’s the main difference between Councilman Carl DeMaio and his colleague Kevin Faulconer, both of whom oppose the measure. I think DeMaio would like to completely restructure municipal government. And I think Faulconer just wants to be able to oppose new taxes and still provide the services the city has been able to give residents.
When this is over, I predict that will form the core of the rivalry between Faulconer and DeMaio as they vie for the Mayor’s Office.
• I pointed out Barrales’ commentary. But we have more. Don’t miss Faulconer’s take and Murtaza Baxamusa’s analysis that comes as close to endorsing the proposal as he could without actually doing it. Progressives like him must be having a difficult time supporting one of the most regressive forms of taxation. In fact, that apparently is what is now forming the basis of former City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s rhetoric against it (CityBeat).
April Boling, the former head of the city’s Pension Reform Committee, has always been able to make sound rational points and she highlights a judge’s recent take on the pleas of Prop. D proponents. And Lani Lutar reminds us of something important: The Taxpayers Association she leads offered the City Council a deal: Identify exactly how much your reforms will save before the sales tax kicks in and she would recommend supporting it. They didn’t and now she’s stuck.
• Finally, a quick shout out to our engagement team. Grant Barrett, our engagement editor; Dagny Salas, our web editor; Summer Polacek, our user and member manager; and Camille Gustafson, our development director, have done a fantastic job lately. They’ve added many things to the site, including our new arts blog, its Facebook page and its corresponding e-mailed Arts Report, a sibling to the popular Morning Report. Camille handled the logistics of a debate about Prop. D on Sept. 30 that is generating a ton of buzz. Summer is assisting people every day, getting sponsors and of course, she continues to organize the monthly member coffees for new and renewing donors where we discuss anything you’d like: our own efforts and plans, the media in general or local public affairs. You can donate here.
The point is, these guys don’t always get their names on the site, but they’re crucial. A hearty thank you to them.