Trying to make sense of the City's budget is an exercise all to itself. You think there is any possibility an average taxpayer with minimal experience reading local budgets could get through the massive pages that detail the State's budget? Do you think this same person stands a chance of being able to determine where the revenue is coming from and how the legislature was able to balance the budget after presenting line by line costs?
I have spent the last several days reading the State's budget and trying to make heads or tales of what the heck they are doing up in Sacramento. I kind of understand the theory behind the way the numbers play out; but that is where it ends. I spent last night listening to the little rube talk about air and if the city could assess a fee for each person's use of the air in the city; they do after all own the rights to the air in San Diego; the city could balance the budget. The little rube talked about charging for the sun people soak up while occupying sand or grass at the beaches and parks within San Diego. So when the legislature talks about "borrowing" money from the counties in California and re-paying it "next year"; I could not help but think of the little rube and his constant schemes and double speak babble.
The state legislature has proposed keeping from the City over $57 million dollars to help close the gap to the State's budget. The mayor has been critical of Sacramento and the Governor for withholding this money and talks about joining the League of Cities in a law suit to force the State to give the money to the City and not withhold any. In a Voice of San Diego article, Scott Lewis hangs a new slogan on the mayor; "Jerry Sanders, helping San Diegans decide what to complain about since 2005" at the same time the mayor has been taken to task for his rants toward the State for their inability to balance the budget and live within its means.
Several years in a row the State pulled similar stunts withholding $1.2 billion from schools with a promise to re-pay the money in the next budget cycle. When the next year arrived the Governor said the State could not afford to re-pay the money and besides, schools had adjusted to living without the money so there was no need to re-pay the money. The only problem was school districts had borrowed money to pay their bills and balance their budgets in the short term. The mayor is already talking of borrowing $57 million to make up for this money with the belief the State will make good on their promise. Hey mayor, I have a news flash for you; it ain't gonna happen.
The consequences of these cuts are going to be felt throughout the City. It remains to be seen what the effects will be to safety. I'm not sure how much more can be cut from law enforcement. The mayor needs to stop the nonsense of building a new downtown library; expanding the convention center; and building a new city hall. The mayor can talk until he is blue in the face; spending one dime toward any of these projects is criminal and cannot be continued. The structural problems in the City of San Diego have been ignored for far too long. Blaming the employees, their wages and benefits is a cop out and disingenuous. Does the mayor balance his personal bank account and finances like he does the cities?
There is little any of us can do as this process plays out in Sacramento and here in San Diego. We can stay informed and aware and continue to focus on our families, jobs and health. Take care of one another and practice officer safety. Do not let something you have no control over take control of your life. The budget crisis has not hit bottom yet; but is getting close. When this happens, we have nowhere to go but up. We will get through this if we stick together and work to find better ways to educate the taxpaying public and provide professional service. There is a lot of great police work being done every day by officers who continue to do their jobs in a professional manner. By highlighting these efforts and being professional in all of our dealings with the public; we can garner the support necessary to swing the pendulum back in our favor and regain the wages and benefits necessary to attract and retain those candidates and officers we so dearly need. This will take the efforts of every sworn officer on the San Diego Police Department. We need to take those opportunities that present themselves to educate and inform those people we have contact with. Be safe and enjoy the day.