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Downtown Forum Focuses on City Ballot Props

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Aired 4/19/09

A consortium of downtown San Diego businesses held a forum Wednesday on two city ballot propositions. Supporters say Props. B and C are essential to cut expenses at the cash strapped city. Opponents say the measures are merely window dressing and could open the door to political corruption. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

Mayor Jerry Sanders addressed business leaders at San Diego’s Downtown Partnership, a group that has pushed to open city services to outsourcing and close the door to pension increases without a public vote. Props. B and C would do that.

Sanders: San Diego is in emergency mode right now, B and C are the first critical steps, there's going to be sacrifice in this city by employees, by management in terms of tough decisions, and the community is going to also have to sacrifice some things also.

The mayor has said he will not ask the community to pay higher taxes until after he has made major reforms at the city. Labor groups oppose the measures, and so too does the League of Women Voters. Norma Damacheck of the League says managed competition is not about saving money.

Damacheck: It’s a proposal to dismantle piece by piece one of the most important institutions in this city which is the civil service system.

Damacheck says contracting out public services has led to cronyism and corruption in the past. The measures have massive financial backing -- supporters plan to raise a million dollars. Opponents say they cannot hope to match that. Alison St John, KPBS News.

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