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Sounding Board: Council Officer/Business Leaders

Daily Transcript Question: San Diego is moving to a strong mayor form of government. As a result the City Council will soon be electing a presiding officer. What should be the top three priorities of the new council presiding officer?

The presiding officer of the City Council will need to:

1. Establish a strong working relationship with our new mayor because we'll be working under a new culture and we'll need to continue the transition to strong mayor because that transition doesn't end on Jan. 1, 2006;

2. Continue to stay focused on the financial stability of the city because the City Council's role doesn't end with the election of a new mayor under the strong mayor form of government; and

3. Ensure that the public's constituent service issues are handled promptly under the transition since the mayor will be assuming responsibility for the city's daily operations.

-- Toni Atkins

Deputy Mayor of San Diego

Daily Transcript Question: What specific role, if any, should the business community play in assisting elected leaders and city of San Diego's professional staff in dealing with the city's financial crisis?

Many community-minded business leaders have in the past given generously of their time and expertise to help the city of San Diego, both to solve problems and to work on issues of importance to the entire city.

Today there are many business leaders ready, willing and able to help the city through its current crisis. In fact, there are many business people currently trying to help the city through regular interactions with elected and appointed officials as well as career government professionals. As just one example, think of the many boards and commissions that business people serve on without compensation of any sort.

This city needs as much expertise as possible to re-establish credibility with the capital markets, the business community and the citizens of San Diego. The business community brings considerable expertise to the table and should be included as we rebuild our local government.

-- Doug Sawyer

President & CEO United Way of San Diego and director of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Key business community leaders should provide guidance to elected officials and the city of San Diego's key staff members in a fashion similar to a board of directors. That would include a review of the vision and mission of the city as well as a comprehensive review of financial statements, service standards, operating procedures and compensation of executive management.

The financial crisis the city faces requires difficult decisions and those decisions will not necessarily win any popularity contests for elected officials. The end result, however, of a complete organizational, diagnostic and audit review will result in a return to financial solvency for our city and confidence in San Diego on Wall Street.

-- Robert A. Rauch, CHA

General Manager/Partner, Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego/Del Mar

The financial status and stability of the city is vital to the business community therefore we need to be part of the recovery effort.

It is easy to be involved and supportive when everything is going well, but it is much harder when things are not. In the past the hospitality industry has been one of the leaders of the vision and the mission of the city of San Diego and that should continue now and in the future. It is our responsibility to remain informed on this critical situation.

I also believe that the city needs to work with the business community as much as we need to work with them. After the financial reviews and statements are completed and a course of action has been selected, we need to do what it takes to make it happen.

-- Cheri Chester

Board member of the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association

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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