Thursday, December 10, 2009

A “Little Rube” Pull Toy

Today I was chatting with several others when someone described the little rube as nothing more than one of those dolls kids play with that have a pull string that when pulled plays one of several recorded messages; "We need to reduce inefficiencies" "We need to cut out the waste in government" "We need to start with labor costs" "We need to focus on pension reform and retiree medical reforms" "We need to reform fringe benefits and hold the line on wages" "Efficiency for the lowest cost should be governments obligation." I started to laugh and then it hit me; he's right!

I have always felt the little rube is nothing more than a "one trick pony" that uses simple, short catch phrases that draw people's attention. The phrases he uses in every conversation he engages in are the same and always follow the same theme; "Pension Reform" "Retiree Medical Reform" "Government Efficiency" "Reduce Labor Costs" are the lead phrase of every conversation. Sneak up behind him; find the string; give it a yank; and hear it for yourself.

I was doing my usual search for stories about the goings on at city hall when I came across a Twitter post from the little rube, "carldemaio Drink champagne (or just want reform at City Hall)? Join me for a fundraiser this Saturday at my house." (You will need a facebook account to access the link to his party) The little rube is inviting people to his home, "Help Carl DeMaio reform city government by attending this important fundraiser at his personal home in Rancho Bernardo. Proceeds benefit Carl's 2010 campaign to pass two key ballot initiatives." The little rube is plotting, planning and pushing his own agenda and will stop at nothing to ensure success. Watch for a pension reform initiative in the very near future.

Yesterday was an example of why politics are wrecking San Diego. The outcome of yesterday's action by the city council in eliminating the 80+ civilian positions from the police department will have a profound effect on our ability to provide public safety services to the taxpayer. The cuts were made by the mayor to the civilian support members of the department so he could stand up and proclaim no "Sworn Officers" were laid off. The general public was then lead to believe the positions being eliminated would allow the budget deficit to be eliminated and they would not notice an impact. What the mayor and others failed to tell the public was the duties carried out by these civilian support personnel will now be carried out by sworn police officers at a much greater cost. The cost to accomplish these duties just drastically increased and the efficiency the little rube so passionately advocates for has been destroyed.

While no one wants to be responsible for laying off sworn police officers, I would submit to you the pain of laying off 50 police officers would have had less of an impact on services and our ability to do the job than the elimination of the 80+ civilian support personnel. No, I do not want to lay off 50 police officers, but if the goal is to cut costs with the least impact on services and safety; laying off those in the academy would have accomplished this goal more efficiently. The cuts to civilians were simply the politically expedient way to temporarily solve a long term problem. The sad part of this is it was an opportunity for the department to gain the attention of the ignorant taxpayer who is clueless of the state of public safety in San Diego.

The January 2010 academy is not going to have any San Diego Police Recruits and the April 2010 academy is still up in the air as to whether we will have any at that time. The exodus of officers has for the time being slowed. This will not last for much longer as other agencies begin to hire and chose lateral hires over recruits. Officers with three to ten years on the department are poised to flee this city and the incompetence of its leadership. Early next year officers will begin to leave for other agencies as it becomes clear additional cuts will be taken from their paychecks. Those officers who have been here five years have had three reductions to their paychecks. How long would you stick around?

The elimination of twelve canine officers is a clear indication of what management and this city's leaders think of the safety of officers and citizens. The priorities of the mayor and council were clear yesterday when they voted to keep an urban forester over an investigative aide working the gun desk. The council's priorities further shone when they sought to find a legal way to use water funds to restore $369,000 for the San Dieguito River Park agency rather than explore the recommendation by the IBA to eliminate further vacant positions held in the police department budget to preserve the six PCCO'S. This action would have provided an additional $2.9 million which would have covered the cost of the six Police Code Compliance Officers that were eliminated. Talking about "Government Efficiency" the department and mayor get an "F" for this action. To ensure the duties and responsibilities are handled, four detectives and a detective sergeant will be added to the Vice Unit in hopes these sworn officers can fill the void. I say "Good Luck" it ain't going to happen.

Nothing good is going to come from yesterday's actions by the mayor and council. The so called 18 month budget passed yesterday will be out of kilter and facing another deficit by August. The structural changes that need be done have not even been discussed by ANY of our elected politicians. The cuts to services and elimination of employees will require higher paid employees to pick up the duties and responsibilities of those being laid off. The amount of overtime necessary to get the job done will drastically increase and the learning curve will continue to be an elusive arc. Where we had stable, experienced and hard working civilian support; we are now going to have sworn officers attempting to learn new tasks and looking to transfer about the time they begin to fully function in the job. Duties and responsibilities that require stability and consistency have been replaced with officers who will soon tire of the administrative function and seek new challenges and responsibilities in hopes of promoting or getting back into the game.

Say what you will; we would have been better served for our management and political leaders to do the right thing and lay off sworn officers rather than the 80+ civilian support staff they chose for political expediency and the ability to say, "We did not lay off any sworn officers." We are currently down 300 police officers and this number is going to continue to increase. The fifty to ninety recruits in the academy are years away from helping in any real way. We are in trouble folks and it will get worse when our civilian support staff handle their last cases.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Need a “Happy Ending?”

At the end of a massage in one of your less than professional establishments a technician will often provide a "Happy Ending" to her client. If I have to explain this to you maybe you are reading a BLOG not really suited for you. If you want to get one of these "Happy Endings" you can pocket your money and just attend a San Diego City Council Meeting prepared to offer testimony and think your words will be considered before a decision is made.

Today's exercise before City Council was yet another example of how truly screwed up and out of touch the politicians are in this city. The impact to public safety that will result from today's action will be lasting and traumatic. The blood that will be shed by citizens and officers alike will be on the hands of those who orchestrated the political cuts in the name of balancing a budget. The mayor is beaming with delight in his latest victory at the expense of the ignorant taxpayer. He boasts for all to hear he was able to close a $200 million budget deficit and not lay off any police officers or firefighters. Then there is the proclamation of more officers on the street to fight crime and everything will continue functioning as before even though the mayor and council just eliminated the Police Code Compliance Officers; Investigative Aides, twelve canine officers, the horses and harbor unit.

Before the council began taking public testimony, I posted a Twitter message at 0926 hours that said; "Sitting in Council waiting to give testimony wondering why. Faulconer just indicated decisions have been made." As the mayor gave his presentation and the questions that followed from council, it became evident they had all been snowed and bought into the rhetoric and lies they were being sold.

I have followed city councils in this city for more years than I care to count. I have sat through my share of meetings and spent countless hours watching the meetings on TV when I could not make the meeting in person. I have seen some characters sitting on that dais. I cannot remember a collective group whose ability to reason and ask appropriate and reasoned questions to get to the heart of an issue, so lacking. They have allowed the mayor to pierce their noses and attach a ring through the greater alar cartilage so he can lead them around at will. Today's display was clearly an example of what is wrong with "Strong Mayor" and this city's government and the so called elected leaders.

The "Strong Mayor" as it is currently being practiced is contributing to the dysfunction in San Diego. Government is designed to have safe guards against one person making all of the decisions. A "Dictatorship" is a more appropriate descriptor of how things are in San Diego; one person making the decision for everyone and eviscerating anyone with the gall to offer a differing opinion or speak out against the "Dictator." The council minions, who were actually elected by the voters, have yet to understand their role and position in this government as it is constructed.

I was disappointed in the actions of the council today. They had an opportunity to challenge the mayor and offer more reasonable solutions and put the interests of the taxpayers first. Today's actions were wholly and completely political and clearly showed the extent of control the mayor holds over the council and departments in this city. The approval of the cuts to the support staff of the police department left me questioning; what are the real priorities of those running this city. To eliminate six Police Code Compliance Officers assigned to the Vice Unit, whose jobs involve a positive revenue increase to the general fund of over $7 million annually and replace them four Police Detectives and a Detective Sergeant all in the name of balancing a budget makes no sense.

The case was clearly made before council today there would have been a lesser impact on public safety had the city laid off 45 police officers. The lay-offs that were approved today will have a lasting and profound effect on the ability of the department to provide adequate police services. To say the cuts will have little effect on service or revenue is short sighted and patently false. But remember; the mayor did not have to lay-off any sworn officers. Political expediency over doing what is right won out today.

My only request is next time I appear before the council and they are going to provide me a "Happy Ending" and perpetrate the charade that took place today, they allow me to make the choice of participating. The council and mayor have nothing to worry about; they eliminated those responsible for regulating the massage busniesses and "Happy Endings" will become the norm again as well as the many other crimes that are bread when regulation takes a back seat to politics.