Saturday, April 23, 2011

Government By The People

I went to the grocery store yesterday and a woman was sitting outside the store wanting people to sign a petition to “stop the Mayor from closing the libraries.” San Diego is facing a $179 million budget shortfall in the upcoming year, so cuts are being made everywhere, including to police and fire protection services, and yes, library hours are being reduced.

I ignored her on the way in, but on the way out I could not resist stopping to ask her if her plan was to raise taxes or to eliminate firefighters because, I said, I would support her if she was raising taxes but not if she was for eliminating firefighters. I know, it was a dumb move, but… Her reply was entirely predictable. “Well,” she said, “neither one. The Mayor could give up that new $10 million city hall of his.” Sigh.

For one thing it isn’t, of course, the Mayor’s personal city hall. It will take years to build it and he will be term-limited out of office long before it is finished. He has absolutely no personal stake in getting it built. The other thing is that canceling the city hall would not add a single dollar to next year's operating budget. I omitted the first issue but made an effort to explain the second to her. You can imagine how much success I had.

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