COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | LANI LUTAR

Vote 'Yes' on propositions A, B, C

On June 3, voters will be asked to vote on propositions A, B and C. These propositions have been endorsed by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association because of their critical importance to moving San Diego forward.

The Taxpayers Association applauds the progress that has occurred under new city leadership. Just last week, one of the more important analyst of government investments, Standard & Poor's, gave San Diego an "A" rating on city bonds after nearly a four year absence from the public bond market.

Propositions A, B and C will continue the reform of city government by providing more Accountability, Better checks and Balances, and most importantly, more Credibility for both taxpayers and investors.

Proposition A

Ensures that police and fire services will not be contracted-out to private companies such as Blackwater. Core safety services must be protected as an essential first duty of government, performed by persons directly accountable to taxpayers.

Proposition B

Ensures that voters will have the opportunity to decide, in June 2010, what their city representation will look like. The three related issues being considered includes:

Empowering voters to require a reasonable veto: Today, it takes five City Council votes to enact a law and the same five votes to override the mayor's veto. Proposition B will require more council votes to override a mayoral veto.

Also, Proposition B gives voters a chance to increase neighborhood strength on the City Council by adding one new Council district for the first time since 1960.

Finally, unless Proposition B is approved, the council and mayor reforms of the past couple of years will revert to the City Manager system that was largely responsible for San Diego's financial crisis.

Proposition C

Restoring San Diego's optimum credit rating and ability to afford vital water, sewer, road and other public facility improvements depend on Proposition C's safeguards. The independent Securities Exchange Commission Monitor, charged with evaluating San Diego conformance with audit standards, prefers Proposition C because it ensures independent financial experts -- not city employees or politicians -- control the Audit Committee that reviews City finances.

Four years ago, the investment community was shocked to find that the city's financial statements hid the true nature of the city's debt. Financial analysts suspended the city's credit ratings and damaged our ability to finance major street repairs, water system and other capital projects.

With more than $1 billion in delayed maintenance projects, the city's inability to borrow from the public bond market has negatively impacted residents' daily lives. From the potholes that knock your car's steering out of alignment, to the untreated sewage that finds its way into our canyons and beaches, our quality of life has suffered.

Proposition C reforms are cited in the Standard & Poor's report as one of the reasons that the city should again be trusted to pay its debts.

Improving the city's ratings could cut future bond rates and save taxpayers millions of dollars in annual interest. In a city forced to curtail services and lay off employees, the money saved could fill a lot of potholes and prevent more sinkholes.

Some have criticized Proposition C because the mayor will name the auditor candidate. Proposition C requires that the mayor consult with the Audit Committee on the selection of the nominee. Further, the mayor's nominee can only take office upon approval of the City Council; reports to the independent Audit Committee; and can only be fired with the concurrence of both the council and the Audit Committee.

We believe Proposition C strikes a healthy balance between independence and reasonable consultation with the executive branch. If Proposition C is rejected, the status quo is preserved -- a system that got San Diego in hot water before. Left unchanged, the same could happen again.

On June 3, 2008, Vote "Yes" on propositions A, B and C.


Lutar is president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes accountable, cost-effective and efficient government.

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