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Sounding Board: Mayoral priorities

The Daily Transcript put this question to mayoral candidates Donna Frye and Jerry Sanders: What three issues, other than the pension crisis, would you, as the next mayor of San Diego, make as top priorities after taking office? What specific actions would you take with each of these three priorities to meaningfully address the issues they represent?

Great cities provide for the health, safety and welfare of their citizens. This means providing sufficient police, fire, water, sewer services and the like. Great cities provide economic opportunities in the form of infrastructure to facilitate businesses, jobs and wealth. They also provide recreational opportunities through venues such as parks, pools and community centers, as well as cultural and educational opportunities through libraries, arts, music and literature.

Our current financial condition prevents us from being a great city in providing these basic services and economic opportunities to our residents. Therefore, my priorities as the next mayor outside the pension crisis are finances, finances, and finances.

It starts with my comprehensive plan to address the entire financial mess. The pension problems alone are troubling -- but the deficits facing the city in the areas of infrastructure, retiree health benefits, and unfunded needs for city operations are breathtaking.

That is why have I have put together a plan I call my Triple A (AAA) Comprehensive Financial Plan. The three A's addressed in my plan are Accountability, Assurance and Approval:


Currently there is no accountability and this has resulted in gridlock. The unions want the city to make the first move by selling off city lands and issuing pension obligation bonds. The city wants the unions to make the first move with rollbacks and concessions. The public wants the city and the unions to straighten out the whole mess before they are asked to consider any solution.

My Triple A Plan calls for a process to give the mayor the exclusive right to negotiate an overall fiscal recovery package with the assistance of the City Attorney, including the ability to file a Chapter 9 case if necessary.


The public is entitled to know what it will take and how long it will take to solve our current problems. The public also has the right to have the assurance that these problems will not happen again. My plan will address all of the problems in a package deal and can be done within one year. Following are some highlights of my plan:

• Adjust the benefits for current employees to levels the city can afford to pay.

• Put an annual cap on the percentage of General Fund money which can be used for employee salaries and benefits.

• Move the administration of the city's Retirement System to CALPERS.

• Institute regular, stable accounting, auditing and actuarial practices for the Retirement System and City so that employees, voters and the capital markets know the true state of the city's books.

• Address the overcharging of the public for disproportionate water and sewer fees.

• Require a vote by the public to increase retirement benefits.

• Propose to the voters that the city auditor and comptroller be elected.


Throughout the current process, voters are the only ones who have not been at the table. My AAA plan gives voters a seat at the table and an opportunity to make their voice heard. They will be asked to do the following:

• Approve the plan to give exclusive authority to the mayor, with the assistance of the City Attorney and outside professionals, to negotiate a comprehensive plan in January or February 2006.

• Vote to approve the Triple A Comprehensive Financial Plan in June or November 2006. The ongoing attempts to solve the problems in a piecemeal fashion have not been successful and will not be successful in the current political environment. With my Triple A Plan, we can be assured that we can start thinking and acting like the great city that we are.

For more information, please visit my Web site at: www.donnafryeformayor.com.

-- Donna Frye

Candidate for mayor

San Diegans deserve a City Hall that is ethical, fiscally responsible, transparent and responsive to their needs -- all of which are lacking from our leaders today. To that end, we must change the culture at City Hall.

I will establish guiding principals of accountability, transparency, and customer service. I will ask for letters of resignations from approximately 300 "at-will" managers. All these letters may not be accepted. However, managers working in my administration will be required to abide by the guiding principals, have exceptional expertise in their assigned areas of responsibility and be committed to fundamental change at City Hall.

To further change the culture, all employees will be asked to pledge their commitment to newly developed ethical and legal standards, and employees, appointees to boards and commissions and registered lobbyists will be required to attend regular ethics trainings.

I will appoint an internal affairs officer to provide whistleblower protection for employees and appointees who report alleged illegal or unethical activities.

Lobbyists and contractors who have business before the council will be required to disclose gifts and/or contributions to city elected officials.

Using best practices from the public and private sectors, we will establish a comprehensive Customer Service Program.

Finally, we will establish performance measures for all major city services and issue progress reports for the public's review.

To reduce costs, eliminate duplication of efforts and create an organization that is more responsive to our citizens, we must streamline the city's bureaucracy.

By the time I take office, I will have performed a functional review that will result in a restructured and streamlined organization that promotes greater efficiency and organization effectiveness.

Several mid-management and program manager classifications will be eliminated and support functions such as public information, human resources, financial management and information technology will be centralized and consolidated. These changes will shift decision-making and accountability to employees who provide direct service to the public, reduce operating costs by at least $10 million annually and improve the quality and timeliness of services to taxpayers.

Finally, we'll get back to basics in providing municipal services. I will work to stabilize the city's finances so the city can again focus its resources on providing high-quality public safety services, expanded branch library hours, the 6 to 6 program in our schools, clean and attractive parks, pollution-free beaches and bays, functioning streetlights and pothole-free streets. This will be accomplished by a combination of streamlining, cutting costs and outsourcing, as well as better management of existing assets such as city real estate and leases.

-- Jerry Sanders

Candidate for mayor

New Section: Sounding Board

Have Your Voice Heard!

The Daily Transcript introduces Sounding Board, a regular opinion page feature focusing on current issues. Send your responses to soundingboard@sddt.com.

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