I was sitting in the back of the room during a forum in Rancho Bernardo last year when candidates for the District 5 seat on the City Council were telling everyone in attendance why they should get elected. One of the candidates was pontificating about his vast experience in Government Contracts and Financing and exclaiming he was exactly what the City of San Diego needed to "reel in the run-away spending; pensions and benefits of City Employees." I was gnashing my teeth trying to breath slowly and not burst out laughing or screaming or yelling; I was not sure what reaction most appropriate to the idiocy this one candidate was spewing.
Sitting next to me was an elderly gentleman who was well into his late 70's or early 80's, who was taking notes on a yellow legal pad. This old guy was listening intently to every word and would sometimes mutter under his breath. I could not make out most of what he was saying but at one point as he muttered he wrote on the top of the pad; "Little Rube" and then a slash mark as if he were keeping a tally of something. As this candidate spoke, I noticed every time he mentioned Unions or pay and benefits of City employees or cutting services, the old fellow placed a slash mark next to the words; "Little Rube."
I listened to the "Little Rube" for about an hour and got a clear picture of who this person was and what he was all about. First and foremost he is truly in love with himself and his ideas. He believes what he spews and is a master of twisting, spinning, and obfuscating everything he espouses. His bottom line platform was one of cutting the pay and benefits of city employees, as deep and as quickly as possible and finding people willing to work for pennies on the dollar, regardless of experience or ability. His theory being people want to work; are willing to work for minimum wage, and benefits are not necessary because people will be happy just to have a job. He blamed the Unions for having created a bankrupt city and it is time to abolish Unions and eliminate the worker. The fasted way to do this according to the "Little Rube" is "Outsourcing" EVERY job or task provided by the City.
As the forum came to a close the older gentleman looked up at me and said; "This little rube is something else. I'm too old to move but I think it's time to get out of this crazy city." I chuckled under my breath and agreed completely with him. I headed to the exit when the "Little Rube" walks past. He is walking briskly with two young women at either side. They are involved in deep conversation; re-talking the talking points and discussing their next stop. The older gentleman is standing by the exit and says, "Can I ask you a question?" The "Little Rube" does not break stride and brushes past the man and barks; "I'm late for meeting and don't have time." The old guy stands there for a second and then turns to watch the "Little Rube" get into a dark colored SUV and drive off into the darkness. I smiled, shook my head and looked at the old guy to which he said; "That 'Little Rube' needs to learn some manners." That nickname has stuck in my mind since.
The "Little Rube" is at it again. If you missed the article in the Voice of San Diego; "Spending More, Getting Less" you need to read it to get a picture of what the thought process is of Carl DeMaio, AKA "Little Rube." The words are his own, written as an opinion piece in opposition to a piece written by UCSD doctorial student, Vladimir Kogan. His piece, titled; "The Myth of Runaway City Spending" is an articulate analysis of the City of San Diego's expenditures and lack of revenue. The "Little Rube's" opinion is a clear insight into his and the mayor's master plan and ideas for the future of San Diego.
The council person writes; "Those of us who dig deep into government budgets, or have run any organization in the private or non-profit sectors, know that a third option exists: process transformation. In our view, government should always look for best management practices to provide services "better, faster, and cheaper." "Process Transformation" is just another word for "Outsourcing" and cutting the work force and eliminating wages and benefits. The "Little Rube" is hell bent on destroying "Civil Service" and eliminating all semblances of the City Employee.
The "Little Rube" continues; "I've reviewed thousands of government budgets -- ranging from single programs to complex government agencies. When evaluating a budget for potential efficiencies, the most important measure I use is "cost-per-unit of service." So please Mr. Council Person, tell me what the "cost-per-unit-of service" is for ANY police function; fire fighting function; life saving event for life guards; helping a child in the library by the librarian; ensuring the safety of children at City Parks; waterways; or streets? The measure of a "cost-per-unit of service" does not work when one is not being paid for the service or intent on turning a profit. Government is not a "for profit" venture and the measures used by this "Rube" are a joke. To properly conduct his analysis you would need a charge or fee for that unit of service. Maybe a $125 fee for being stopped for a traffic violation; $75 fee for conducting a preliminary investigation of a residential burglary; $250 for a similar commercial burglary; $900 fee for conducting a rape investigation; or a $5,500 fee for the investigation of a murder (the survivors of the victim can pay this). OK; I am being facetious, but you get my point.
What is fascinating about the "Little Rube" is he sounds so intelligent and all knowing. His theories sound so logical and beneficial at first glance. Bore down to the core of the theory; ask questions and demand specifics and you will get none. One of the "Little Rube's" big "cost-per-unit of service" savings ideas is to eliminate the garages from ALL city departments (Including the Police Department Garages) and require ALL city owned vehicles needing service or repair to go to a neighborhood garage, under contract, to provide these services. His belief is we could save tons of money and eliminate a large drain on the City by reducing the workforce; reducing the Retirement payment and receive the same or better service. When questioned about this idea and the negative effects on public safety and our ability to keep vehicles in service and available he shrugged and said; "Any change will have a downside. It's about saving taxpayer money and cutting government waste."
To highlight my point, Carl provides an example; "What drives the per-unit costs? Answering this question usually leads to three primary cost drivers: inefficient processes,
old ways of doing business and old technologies. In some cases, costs result from bloated bureaucracies, i.e. too many people doing the same thing. And then in other cases, costs can be attributed to high labor costs on a per-employee basis." If you eliminate the employee from the payroll, you eliminate the high labor costs. The "Little Rube's" number one goal in life; reducing the city workforce and cutting wages and benefits. Does anyone see where this is leading? The actions of the mayor becoming clearer?
Business-Process-Reengineering or BPR was put in place to ensure all City departments were utilizing the most "efficient processes" and to ensure all departments were keeping current in best practices within the industry, as well as making sure technology is kept current. Through the BPR processes, a number of recommendations were made by department's city wide to eliminate a number of managers, directors and middle managers. The City has leaned its "bloated bureaucracy" and proved to be efficient and keeping up with the private sector. The "Little Rube" will not be satisfied until he has eliminated a large number of city jobs and employees.
The Council Person then points out his examples of "millions of wasted tax dollars." He rants on about the Pension Benefits; complaining about the payment due next year; blaming this as the primary driver of the budget deficit. He then rants about the Inefficient Bureaucracy; leaping on trash collection trying to say the industry standard for private sector haulers is an 11 hour work day verses an 8 hour day and if the City shifted to this practice a significant savings would be produced. He then moves into Health Care; using stats from years ago and inflated numbers. I knew it could not last; he can't help himself. He had to exaggerate to make his case. He does the same when he moves to his discussion of "Vacation and Personal Leave" of employees. It is an illness that he cannot control.
The "Little Rube" closes out his opinion with these final two paragraphs;
What can be done about waste in city government? First our city leaders must embrace and accept the need to find "better, faster, and cheaper" ways of providing city services. Atop the list must be the continued trimming of labor costs to sustainable levels. We have made some progress -- and have done so through a unanimous vote of the City Council and with the support of three of our five labor unions. But more can and must be done.
In addition to cutting labor costs, the city must transform its day-to-day processes through business process re-engineering and managed competition. Although voters overwhelmingly supported managed competition in 2006, not one service provided by the city has yet been forced to compete against the private sector. We must jump start this voter-mandated reform initiative which has the potential to save tens of millions annually.
The mayor and this "Little Rube" are two pees in a pod. Carl has read too much of his own propaganda and believes the lunacy coming out of his head. He is a lot like Norm Stamper. His ideas are best written in a book and have little applicability to real world application. Carl made his money by exploiting the Government Contract Bid Process and learned how to garner contracts through the bid process that required little to no work. His boastful, inflated opinion of himself is written at length in his bio and to hear him tell it he was a right hand man to President Bush and other Republican heavy weights. Look closer and none of them knew him personally, but knew "of" him. The mayor is working on his bio and trying to build his credentials for higher office. He is following the "Little Rube" but at the same time hanging on to the playbook given to him by the Republican Guard; Downtown Business Establishment and the Money Power in San Diego.
The worker employed by the City of San Diego is expendable and only counted as a debt on the books by the likes of DeMaio and the mayor. Every one of us can be replaced with a lower salary, less benefits and a more enthusiastic and inexperienced worker. Loyalty, experience, dedication and ability are not assets but liabilities, as those who posses all of these qualities cost too much money. It is after all a dollar and cents venture; the City of San Diego. The mayor and the "Little Rube" have made it such.