Saturday, November 21, 2009

San Diego’s Secret Committee

I believe the "Task Force" put together by the mayor to be illegal. The more I read and understand of the actions taken by the "Mayor's Fiscal Task Force" I believe their actions and the actions of the mayor to be in violation of Government Code Section 54950, known as the "Brown Act." Reading from the draft report's first paragraph, given to the Voice of San Diego; "the group met weekly for four months to study the overall status of the City's fiscal position. The task force reviewed relevant City of San Diego data and records, (IBA Report #: 09-75, Personnel Expense Analysis, Per Capita Income Comparison, City Revenue Comparisons, Fiscal Year 2001-2015 Five-Year Financial Outlook), as well as similar data from other comparable municipalities. The task force interviewed members of the City's executive staff (including Jay Goldstone and his fiscal team). Also interviewed were the City's Independent Auditor and the Independent Budget Analyst - Andrea Tevlin - with her fiscal team. The task force met with representatives from the County of San Diego, various local constituents, including organized labor, non-profits, private business and citizens groups, and various subject matter experts" it is clear this is NOT an "Ad Hock Committee."

In enacting the "Brown Act," the legislature declared public commissions, boards and councils as well as other public agencies in the State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It was the intent of the legislature, actions be taken openly and the deliberations be conducted openly (in public). The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to those who serve them. The people, in delegating authority do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

The law requires the meetings of this group of civic individuals, brought together by the mayor, to be noticed and open to the public. The secrecy of this group and the actions undertaken on behalf of the mayor, demand the public's knowledge and ability to participate. As stated above, the legislature's intent was to ensure all actions on behalf of the public be done openly. I said in my last post the mayor would attempt to identify this task force as an "Ad Hock Committee" which is not governed by the Brown Act. After reading the draft, linked in a Voice of San Diego article on Friday, November 20, 2009, titled; "Bankruptcy an Option, Says Mayor's Fiscal Task Force" written by Liam Dillon, I believe the mayor and members of this "Task Force" have violated the Brown Act.

The recommendations contained in the "draft" document demand public discussion and input from members of the public. To do so after the fact has proven in the past to be futile and meaningless. The secret activities of the members of this "Task Force" and mayor bring into question the integrity of those involved, as well as the process. Their lack of open discussion and debate leaves one to question the process and outcomes. Reading the draft document leaves a lot of questions unanswered and presents questions of legality. The document is rife with assumptions that in some cases are incorrect and could have been vetted, if discussed in a public forum.

I would urge everyone to read the draft of the mayor's "Fiscal Task Force" report. It is imperative we all understand the issues and recommendations from this group; there is a clear agenda present in their writings. This group and the work they have presented cannot be ignored nor allowed to proceed unchecked. We must become an active participant in our future and demand to be included in the discussions and actions of this group, constituted by the mayor.

6 comments:

Just Wondering said...

Whoever let "this" cat out of the bag is either very smart or very stupid.

As we know from reports, the Mayor's secret committee of prominent business leaders met with the Mayor and his senior staff to discuss thier finding. Afterwards no one was talking and their draft report was not left behind. Then a day or two later, the report was leaked to the Voice of San Diego.

After the initial story in the Voice of San Diego, Sanders found himself, once again, trying to explain why secret activities were happening in his promised transparent administration. What we got from the well oiled PR staff was it's a draft, we don't talk about drafts.

With the limited number of participants it has to be one of the prominent business persons that decided their work was too important to let Jerry Sanders' politics get in the way.

So was it smart or stupid to do so. Well I guess it depends on your perspective... We all know this report was prepared by "prominent business community members" so from their perspective, you know, the one based upon a profit, San Diego is in trouble. Heck the reports says is plain in English:

1. "The City should not be in the business of assuring high value employment. Rather, the City should focus on delivering services to the taxpayers at the best value possible." Translation the lowest wages, i.e. returning profits to the owner.

2. "First and foremost the City must find a way to reduce its unit cost of labor to affordable levels..." Translation: make profits for the owner.

Both of these comments are true to principles of business profit. But is that what government is suppose to do? I never thought that government was established to make a profit on the people it serves. But with the limited perspective of the Mayor's secret selective prominent community business members it's not surprising to read such rhetoric in their DRAFT report.

But was it smart or stupid to leak it? Well, I believe it was smart and here's why. We, those of us who have worked around Jerry Sanders for a long time know how he works or should I say uses people to come up with ideas he'll take credit for later. Sanders history of one committee after another to float ideas is exactly what he's doing now. Surreptitiously supporting his supporter, feathering his own nest for the future. The committee even says, "The City does have a responsibility to attract and retain businesses...." and Sanders is going to make sure that happens.

So my fellow San Diegans you should take the time to follow the link in Steve's blog to the DRAFT report from the prominent member of San Diego's business community. Read it and understand it. While I'll agree with some of the recommendations contained therein, others from the Mayor's secret panel of prominent members, so called leaders of the business community will have a tremendously negative impact on the future for you and your family.

SDPD Sergeant said...

I would like to know what the POA is doing. What is going on with negotiations? I am two years from going into the DROP and want to know what is being done to protect my interest in retiree medical, DROP and COLA.

I read this draft report and honestly am scared to death with what I read.

You are dead on Steve, we MUST get involved and do something NOW. What do we do first and how do we we begin?

reading the spiderweb said...

As soon as I read your post I googled each name and agree that these people may have violated the Brown Act but I'm a novice. How does one run this past those who might know? Wait! I can google that info too.
Thank you for your passion and interest.

michael said...

Steve,

Thanks for posting what needs to be said. Fight the good fight!!!

Anonymous said...

I watch Lansdowne at the Council meeting today... He said the Dept has 231 vacant positions. Then discussion from Todd Gloria turned to the value of the vacant position. Ultimately the IBA said they needed to revise some figures down from the 19.1 million to about 15 million. This is addition the the $20 million the City has already valued the existing vacancies.
So my question is will the city recognize the $35 million in vacancy savings or will Sanders continue to screw us over?

michael said...

Steve,

If in fact there were violations of the Brown Act as it appears. what are the penalties and how are they enforced against the violators?