October 20, 2006

Editorial:

Ballot Recommendations on Local Propostions

This year is the year of the Initiative and Proposition. This week we provide our recommendations on the local Propositions

City of San Diego

Proposition A:

Commercial airport at MCAS Miramar, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Advisory Vote Only

Should Airport Authority and government officials work toward obtaining 3,000 acres at MCAS Miramar by 2020 for a commercial airport, providing certain conditions are met?

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority was created in 2003, with millions of dollars spent, to find an alternative to Lindberg Field. After two and half years of studying this issue the Authority decided that the best and only alternative is Miramar. There is no second or third option. This despite the fact that the Military has already told them in no uncertain terms NO they would not share the airspace or airfield, and that the surrounding communities have said no to the idea. But in the infinite wisdom this Airport Authority has gone ahead and placed the Miramar site on the ballot as an advisory vote.

It has long been argued that Lindberg Field could be expanded, by some very knowledgeable authorities, to accommodate future growth with a second runway added on. But this idea has been roundly rejected by the Airport Authority as has alternative sites that would be less impacted and has more open space available such as an airport along the border adjacent to the Tijuana airport, or Calexico where the citizens have actually embraced the idea of an airport, along with a high speed train. There was also a Campo/Boulevard site, and a desert site that also made sense. But all these ideas were rejected in favor of Miramar.

The fact that this Airport Authority selected Miramar demonstrates a board that is arrogant and out of touch with the community. The fact that the military has rejected the idea of a shared joint use of the area, this Authority still moved forward on this site as the only viable site demonstrates their arrogance. And that they chose a site in the middle of an urban community, and one that is already impacted by traffic congestion demonstrates an Authority that is out of touch. We have to ask ourselves what were they thinking!

As an Advisory vote our advice to the Airport Authority is a resounding NO to Miramar.

Proposition B.

City Employees’ Retirement Benefits — City of San Diego (Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required)

Shall the Charter be amended to require voter approval for any increases in the retirement system benefits for Public Employees?

In response to the Pension Benefit debacle that has besieged the City of San Diego we have been presented with Proposition B which calls for voter approval of Pension Benefits for Public Employees. Restrictions and controls need to be in place to control the Pension Board but a public vote on negotiated benefits is not the answer. Pension Benefits are not what doomed the City, but the under funding of the benefits, while the City Councils illegally spent those monies to benefit the wealthy such as John Moores and the Republican Party by hosting their convention.

Pensions, Salaries, Benefits, and Health Care are items negotiated on by the Employee’s Representatives, normally the Unions, and approved by the City Council. It is up to the City Council to protect the taxpayer’s interest. To ask city employees to seek voter approval on negotiated Pension Benefits goes beyond the threshold of reason, and it will not fix the problems that got the City into trouble in the first place. All the Proposition would do is penalize Public Employees, many of whom do not receive a livable wage and/or an adequate retirement benefit package.

Vote No on Prop. B.

Proposition C.

Contracting Out of City Services — City of San Diego (Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required)

Shall the Charter be amended to allow the City to contract services traditionally performed by City civil service employees if determined to be more economical and efficient while maintaining the quality of services and protecting the public interest?

The first thing that strikes you is that this Proposition makes it ripe for political corruption with the mayor responsible for oversight and contracting. We can see it now: private companies giving political contributions to win favors from the mayor.

Once again this proposition is in response to the city debacle with the city pension fund. And once again the mayor is targeting the wrong group of people to fix a problem that was created out of greed and with the compliance of a willing city council. But the mayor doesn’t want to fix that problem, he wants to appear to be addressing the problem without really changing the systemic problems at city hall. What they hope to do with this proposition is to shift the responsibilities of retirement, health and other benefits away from the city and onto the private contractor.

The City is one of the biggest employers. Outsourcing city contracts would move ethnic minorities out of good paying jobs, with benefits, and a retirement plan and if those employees are rehired, would find themselves in a non-living wage situation. A living-wage means more than just earning prevailing wage but includes such needs as health care and retirement benefits. Instead of the city shifting its responsibility of taking care of its employees, it should first take care of the problem of the Pension funds being used as their own personal piggy-bank.

We urge a No Vote on Prop. C

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