I had a feeling this was going to happen to me eventually. Following my appearance on KPBS’ Editors Roundtable on Friday, I got a note from the city’s independent budget analyst, Andrea Tevlin, kindly challenging me on this statement on the City Council’s elevated budget role:
Because in the past you really just had the mayor pitch something and the council made a few small tweaks here and there and that was it.
Tevlin pointed out that in December 2008 the City Council turned back Mayor Jerry Sanders’ plan to completely close seven branch libraries and nine recreation centers. That was done outside of the annual budget proceedings during what was the first major mid-year reduction process.
There are other major revisions Council has made (like removing from his budget $600 million in pension obligation bond revenue in FY 2007 because it was inappropriate and premature) but rather than dwell on that, the past Council action to avoid the Mayor’s library/recreation center closures is particularly relevant to the current budget discussion and worth acknowledging. These 7 libraries and 9 rec centers wouldn’t even be open today had the Council not restored them in their budget revisions.
My point was made in a larger context. I was talking about the City Council’s new efforts to offer specific budget cuts before the mayor had even released his budget. Tevlin agrees with me on that point.
However, I took it beyond that in stating that the council only made minor tweaks to the mayor’s budgets after they’d been released. I hadn’t considered Tevlin’s examples when making the statement on the fly.
So we’re going to try a new exercise here in the Fact Check blog. I’ll let you decide what ranking my statement deserves. The ranking with the highest number of votes by the end of the day tomorrow wins.
Here are the definitions of each category: