Wednesday, January 13, 2010

State of the City - Really?

Did you have an opportunity to catch the mayor’s “State of the City Address?” There were no real surprises and few; scratch that, no new revelations. Some of the comments I heard from various observers;
  • Did he (mayor) just punt health cost reduction onto city attorney?
  • Biggest disappointment with speech; no mention of further pursuit of real pension reform. 
  • Elected (mayor) to protect taxpayer and restore fiscal integrity; yet we’re DONE with pension reform? That’s inconsistent!
  • Projects (Convention Center expansion, Downtown Library, City Hall and Charger Stadium) must be built without sacrificing present quality of life.
  • I guess we are the dog in the pig and pony story?
  • Sidestepping the real issues; what did he (mayor) mean when he said before 18 months is over he will come back with a plan to resolve the City’s structural deficit?
  • No meat and potato’s tonight; just more rhetoric.
The text of the mayor’s speech takes up eleven pages. After listening to the address and then taking some time to read his words; I am left with guessing about his real plan for addressing the structural issues. The address lacked specifics and more importantly failed to mention any plan for raising revenue of any kind.

There were several sideways comments about further cuts to employee benefits. The mayor said, “Last year, when we adopted new contracts with our employees, we took strong steps to clamp down on costs in our retiree health care benefits, the final piece of the pension puzzle. We are now working with our employees to establish logical funding sources and levels. And with the help of our new city attorney, we will finish the job.”

"We will finish the job" is a telling statement. If there was ever any doubt where you stand as an employee of this city make no mistake; you are simply a debt that must be eliminated. The mayor's words leave little doubt of what can be expected during negotiations related to retiree health care benefits.

This is the mayor's fifth address and by many accounts his worst. He again made the comment, "We are beginning 2010 on a strong footing. Our employees are working harder and doing more with less than at any time in City history." I wanted to jump up out of my seat and yell out some very strong expletives. When people refer to us as "Civil Servants" they mean just that. They expect us to be "Servants" in the literal meaning of the word. The mayor made this even more clear during his address. Work harder and do more with less is the expectation. 

The press and pundits will weigh in on the words and text of the mayor's address. Those who understand will point out the short comings of his address. Michael Stetz in a January 13, 2010, Union Tribune article, "Mayor's speech pattern wears thin" was printed long before the first word was spoken by the mayor and yet his every point. The last two paragraphs of the piece hit a home-run. "But he wasn't drafted to do the job. He campaigned for it. He even probably voted for himself (well, at least the first time)." "It's time for Sanders to stop looking to the past for blame - he does it quite eloquently, so it might be tough to give up - and realize something. He's in his fifth year as mayor. He must be responsible for something by now, right?"   

No comments about public safety were made and no mention of managed competition directly. There is more to come on these and other issues and you can bet the cuts to benefits and jobs were simply the beginning of more to come. 


disappointed said...

He'll run over any and all people to get what he wants.

Just Wondering said...

Hey y'all...there's a new gunslinger in town...

Hey partner..Jerry Sanders loves his NEW B.F.F. Jan Goldsmith... Goldsmith who's been really off the radar is getting ready to chime in for "his client", the City of San Diego. Allegedly, he got the answers to the pension and retiree health benefits issues. You'd best go mossy on over to the Voice of San Diego and take a look see fer yurselves....

Anonymous said...

Hey Sparky has your blog been hacked?
All the hieroglyphs are links to porn sites.

SparkySanDiego said...

It appear it was...

I have fixed the intruder and hopefully no-one suffered from it...

Just Wondering said...


News leaked out of City Hall on Friday, the day after Jerry's we're gonna be O.K. State of the City address. Seem everything ain't O.K and it's getting worse.

SDCERS actuarial reports the City obligation to the fund is getting larger and larger. But before you get your panties all twisted up in a bunch, remember it's the System's valuation on the last day of each fiscal year (June 30th) that determines the future payments.

Nevertheless, "[t]he city's payment this year will be $231.7 million, an increase from September projections. City officials had believed the payment would decrease due to the city's reform efforts and factored in a savings when closing a $179 million gap in the city's day-to-day operating budget last month. The new information immediately rips an eight-figure hole in the city's budget."

This info came from the Voice of San Diego. You can read the full text HERE!

SDCERS will receive the official version of the Actuary's Report at it's board meeting on January 22. Here is a link to their agenda!

Just Wondering said...

In Case I wasn't clear this IS bad news

The news of REQUIRED $231.7 million dollar is not welcome news whatsoever. This payment is MILLIONS more than what was projected and IS the required amount BASED UPON the June 30, 2009, SDCERS valuation.

This is also a lump sum beginning of the fiscal year payment. If the city wants to use a payment plan throughout FY11 the payments then the required amount grows by almost nine million more or $240.6 million dollars.

With City revenues already down substantially from the Mayor's rosy projections during the first six months of FY10 a lot more pain is on the way.

Public Safety already takes more than 50% of the City's General Fund dollars so more cuts will be necessary to close the ever growing gap.

To see an executive summary of the "FY10" budget GO HERE!.

Just Wondering said...

Growing Trends

Take a look at what's going on with our brothers and sister just to the north of us in Orange County. CLICK HERE!

With this tentative agreement the trend continues to spread for the unwinding of benefits earned and negotiated over the last 10 years. Liken it with the universe, expanding over the few years and now contracting. The issue will be how far will pay and benefit contract before irreparable damage is done?

Orange County's pension system has a unfunded liability just like San Diego. However their UAL has grown to some 3.1 billion, ours has grown from 1.3 Billion in June 2008 to 2.1 Billion in June 2009. But it not all bad new, since June there has been some recovery in markets. Nevertheless this Great Resession continues to plague us.

As we all know, the tide of public opinion against public safety employees has risen, risen dramatically. Politicians attack for two reasons, we rarely fight back effectively, making us easy targets at little risk, in the worst economy since the great depression.

So with the support of the electorate behind them, management has the position of strength. The result of negotiations: a two tiered retirement system for Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. While not a big issue now, as the work force ages in 10 to 20 years, it will the cause of great divisions amongst the association members.

So is one of the long term goals of management to divide and create instability, then conquer? Only time will tell.

By the way, if you take the time to read some of the more than 225 comments you'll begin the understand the resentment toward you, your pay and benefits. This resentment is still growing and being fanned by our political leaders to deflect attention from their own incompetence. Until the tide of resentment is stemmed and then turned you can expect more and greater attacks.