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Tensions Rise Over Prop. C Ballot Language

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Aired 4/19/09

Supporters and opponents of the city of San Diego’s Managed Competition Initiative are fighting over the language of the ballot measure. Opponents say the charter amendment does not protect the public interest. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

The ballot measure, Prop. C, does not specify that public safety services like police and fire, cannot be handed over the private sector. Opponents of managed completion say there’s a risk 911 operators could be contracted to private operators more concerned with profit that public service. They point to some fire services that have already been contracted out in Arizona.  

San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre and Mayor Jerry Sanders created a resolution to say public safety won’t be eligible for privatization, saying that should fix the problem. But Donald Cohen of the Center on Policy Initiatives isn’t reassured.

Cohen: They didn’t fix it, they passed a non-binding resolution of intent that has no force of law.

Cohen says a future mayor or council could simply change the resolution without a public vote. Mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz says Sanders wants to codify the details of how managed competition should be put into practice in a binding charter change for voter approval at a later date.

Sainz: To make sure that it is crystal clear to everyone, he will memorialize it in a charter amendment in 2008.

Opponents of privatization say this simply illustrates the language of the initiative on this November’s ballot is flawed. The managed competition ballot measure was drafted by business interests who helped the mayor get elected. Many details of how it would be implemented are still being negotiated with labor groups, and that ordinance may not be finished before the election. Alison St John, KPBS News.

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