I was so enthralled with the little rube's "Issues in the Forecast" that I kept thinking to myself, "This guy would make a great mayor." I know what some of you are thinking, but I want you to hear me out. I think maybe I have been overly critical of the little rube and unnecessarily harsh of his methodology, views and tactics. I think I was somewhat jealous of the little rube's good looks, charisma and intelligence. I must admit I did not want to believe he could have all of the answers. I was so far off in my impression and portrayal of the little rube I think I owe you all an apology. Let me explain in more detail my thoughts.
The little rube has an appropriately titled web site, "Clean Up City Hall" with the mantra "Holding San Diego City Government Accountable." What more could any taxpayer really want in a leader? Unlike our current mayor, the little rube is paying attention to ALL aspects of San Diego. The little rube's issue forums address issues such as; budget and pension; citizen service quality; environmental protection; infrastructure; internal management; jobs and economy; libraries; open government and ethics; parks and recreation; planning and development; public safety; quality neighborhoods; stadium search; strong mayor – strong council; transportation; and water and sewer. I was embarrassed when I realized the little rube was so versed and on top of ALL of the aspects of what is wrong with San Diego.
I was aghast when the mayor announced the pending deficit of $179 million. I was not surprised in the least when the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) announced the deficit may actually be closer to $201 million. But then I read the analysis of the little rube and felt a knot in my stomach. Then I started to read the little rube's report and his "Issues in the Forecast." A $262 million deficit for 2010; followed by a $315 million deficit for 2011; as things get worse in 2012 with a $331 million deficit; in 2014 a $354 million deficit; ending with a staggering $365 million deficit in 2015. Taken cumulatively the five year deficit for the City of San Diego will be $1,627,756,710. That is ONE BILLION, SIX HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN MILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY SIX THOUSAND, and SEVEN HUNDRED TEN DOLLARS.
I have been saying for months now the mayor could not balance his personal check book so why would anyone believe he could balance the city's budget? The mayor's five year forecast projects a $796,200,000 deficit or $831,556,710 short of what the little rube has forecast. Even the IBS forecast the five year total to be $1,163,000,000 or $464,756,710 short of the projections of the little rube. The differences are staggering and worrisome. I am now starting to think maybe Pat Shay is on to something when he says Chapter 9 is the best avenue for the city. The little rube has presented a clear and convincing case that indicates the city will soon have an annual deficit that is about twenty-five percent more than that of the annual revenues for the city.
The little rube along with Donna Frey sent the mayor a letter on October 8, 2009
asking the mayor to create a "Budget Scoring Spreadsheet." Why has it taken so long for someone to demand this type of tool to analyze the city's budget? The little rube and Donna write, "In light of the dire financial situation presented by the recently released Five Year Financial Outlook, it is our intention to solve the city's budget crisis this year through comprehensive long-term reform plan, implementing structural changes to eliminate unsustainable financial practices inherent in the city's budget." I am so excited to see someone is finally taking the lead and putting into action what others simply talk about. The little rube is going to actually "solve the city's budget crisis this year." The letter continues, "The City Council needs a tool to calculate and forecast the impacts of a variety of reforms and changes in revenues and expenditures in the city's budget. As such we request that your office work with the Independent Budget Analyst to create a budget scoring spreadsheet." Now that I get what the little rube is all about, I love this guy. He really wants to make things better and clearly he believes he can fix this mess without Chapter 9. I know many of you are worried about that and the possibility of losing everything.
Donna Frey and the little rube continue; In addition, we ask that your office score - either from the pension system or from an independent actuary – the financial savings that could be achieved if the city were to change pension benefits in the following manner:
- Suspending the Cost of Living Adjustment on future pension benefits until such time that the system is fully funded
- Achieving "budget neutrality" for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP)
- Eliminating the Preservation of Benefits provision
- "Unwiding" of Retroactive Benefits Increases
Do you all see why I have changed my mind and come around to support the little rube? Do you all see what I am seeing in that the little rube cares about us and wants to make things better? I know sometimes it does not appear that way, but I have had to distance myself from it all to really appreciate and see how much he cares. He is actually demanding from the mayor, he and his office actually do something. The mayor will no doubt fight the request of Donna and the little rube. He would not want the little rube to show him up or point out more incompetence. Strong mayor will defeat the strong council every time.
Page two of the letter discussed the "Legal Analysis and Negotiations on Reforming Pension Benefits." The little rube and Donna write, "The cost of city pensions continues to be a specificant driver of the city's budget deficit. We are concerned that the existing level of pension benefits in not sustainable.
In evaluating how to reform existing pension benefits, we request that the City Attorney provide an assessement of what specific component of benefits are vested, which benefits might not be vested, and how benefits could be changed through amendments to the Municipal Code, benefit adjustments made independently by the board of the pension system, benefit concessions negotiated through Collective Bargaining, etc."
Additionally, we request that Labor Relations prepare and present to the City Council a process for initiating negotiations with the city's labor unions on possible pension benefit reforms for existing employees who are not in the new plan.
The city's financial problems have reached a point where one-time solutions are no longer an option. These issues much be solved in a structural fashion, and we look forward to exploring some of the structural spending reforms listed above.
Before you go on, I want you to go back and re-read the last four (4) paragraphs above. I want you to see why I have changed my view of the little rube. When you finish re-reading the last four paragraphs, take a few minutes to review, "Money Matters" written by the little rube. He really gets it and understands the crisis we are all facing. His numbers are startling and would persuade the most skeptical of taxpayer to join in the reforms and changes the little rube is proposing. His leadership and forward thinking is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of his colleagues on the city council and that of the mayor. It is time to seek the mayor's removal and elect the little rube, it cannot get any worse.
The little rube is going to take his message to the streets with a first of several "Town Hall" meetings on Wednesday, October 14, 2009. The meeting will take place at the Scripps Ranch Library. The purpose of the "Town Hall" meetings is to persuade taxpayers to join his fight to clean up city hall. The little rube is using his extensive knowledge of government, contracts, financing and reform to persuade taxpayers to demand change.
I would encourage all of you to attend this first of several meetings and get on board with these changes. The only way to educate taxpayers is to help the little rube as he persuades them. You see, the game plan of the little rube is to "persuade" not "educate" taxpayers. The ability to persuade is made easier by inflating facts and spinning information. When participating in the art of persuasion it is acceptable to generalize and avoid specifics. The average taxpayer is just confused when presented with facts because true politicians never deal in facts. These facts confuse taxpayers/voters and it is preferred to persuade them by first identifying selected individuals in each community who will support and add validity to the politician who is persuading the taxpayer/voter to a position. Then the politician (little rube) points to them for validation and conformation of the miss-information being used to persuade.
So I beg you all to join me on Wednesday, October 14, 2009, at 1800 hours at the Scripps Ranch Library, to lend a hand to the little rube and educate these taxpayer/voters. You can also see what I have seen and understand why I am such a strong supporter of the little rube and his message. Left unchecked, the little rube will be able to persuade taxpayers/voters, so we need to assist him with the education. The little rube needs our help and as police officers we owe it to the city, taxpayers/voters to do all we can to assist with education. Who wants to join me?