skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith Discusses Latest City Developments

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYvVanD5Ak0

Video published July 23, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith joins us this week to talk about privatizing trash collection, the push to build a new city hall, and the discussion around raising the city sales tax.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO IS FACING A BUDGET DEFICIT THAT COULD REACH $19 MILLION. IT'S AGREED THE CITY SPENDS MORE MONEY THAN IT HAS REVENUES TO COVER. SOME COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE TALKING ABOUT INCREASING THE CITY SALES TAX. SAN DIEGO CITY CONCERN JAN GOLDSMITH CAME UP WITH ANOTHER IDEAS FOR BRINGING IN THE CASH AND I'M PLEASED TO WELCOME HIM BACK TO THE KPBS STUDIOS.

PLEASURE TO WESTBOUND YOU GLORKS I CAN'T.

YOU ESTABLISHED WHEN YOU CAMPAIGNED FOR CITY ATTORNEY THAT YOU WOULDN'T TRY TO SET POLICY AND THAT YOU WOULD INTERPRET THE LAW. NOW, LAST WEEK YOU LAID OUT A PLAN TO PRIVATIZE TRASH COLLECTION AND CHARGE SAN DIEGO HOMEOWNERS. HOW IS THAT NOT POLICY.

IT'S NOT BECAUSE IT WAS AN OPTION THAT HAD NEVER BEEN CONSIDERED OR THOUGHT OF IN THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO. YOU KNOW SOMETHING, I SAID THAT THE CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IS A THINKING OFFICE. IT HAS TO BE A WATCH DOG BUT NOT A SCARE CROW. SO, WE STOP THINGS WHEN WE SEE THEM GOING WRONG ON A LEGAL BASIS AND COME UP WITH IDEAS AND OPTIONS. WHEN I GO BEYOND THAT AND MAKE IT A CRUSADE, THAT'S WHEN YOU ARE STEPPING INTO POLICY. WE PUT AN OPTION DOWN ON THE TABLE THAT HAD NOT BEEN CONSIDERED. IT'S UP TO THE POLICYMAKERS WHETHER THEY WANT TO CONSIDER IT.

I DON'T THINK ANYBODY WHO IS AN ELECTED OFFICIAL IN THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO CAN GO ON A CRUSADE. ISN'T THAT AGAINST THE LAW? CAN THE CITY COUNCIL OR MAYOR OR YOU CAMPAIGN FOR SOMETHING.

AS FAR AS LOBBYING THE CITY COUNCIL AN PROPOSING IT AND MAKING IT AND IDEA THAT THE CITY COUNCIL SHOULD A DEVELOPMENT, THAT'S WHAT I MEAN BY A CREWS SAID. I HAVE NOT SAID AND WON'T SAY THAT THE CITY COUNCIL SHOULD A DEVELOPMENT THAT PROPOSAL. I SAID THIS IS AN ADDITIONAL OPTION. THEY HAVE A LIST OF OPTIONS THAT WERE SET OUT BY THE INDIANA BUDGET ANALYSTS. THAT WASN'T ON THE LIST. THE CHARTER --WE GO BY THE CITY CHARTER. THIS IS A GREAT BOOK. THE CITY CHARTER SAYS THAT THE CITY COUNCIL CAN GET US OUT OF PROVIDING ANY SERVICE, CAN ELIMINATE ENTIRE DEPARTMENTS. THEY GET TO DECIDE THAT. THAT'S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT, THE IDEA THAT THE CITY CHARTER ALLOWS THE CITY COUNCIL TO PRIVATIZE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING, NOT SOME OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICES BUT THEY CAN DO THAT. THERE IS A TRAIN BETWEEN THE CITY CHARTER AND THE PEOPLE'S ORDINANCE. WE RAISED THAT.

THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT. THE PEOPLE'S ORDINANCE, THE CITY LAW ON THE BOOK FOR 90 YEARS IS SUPPOSED TO PROTECT HOMEOWNERS FROM TRASH COLLECTION CHARGES.

NO.

NO?

NO. THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS IN OUR MEMORANDA OF LAW, THERE IS A LOT OF THESE SAN DIEGO MYTHS, A FEW THAT 1919 CITIZENS ROSE UP WITH PITCH FORKS AGAINST THE CITY AND SAID NO MORE CHARGES AGAINST TRASH. NOT TRUE. WE DID THE RESEARCH. IN 1919 THERE WERE PRIVATE TRASH HAULERS CHARGING CITIZENS PICKING UP THE TRASH, SELLING IT TO THE HOG FARMERS AND MAKING A BUNDLE. THE CITIZENS ROSE UP AND SAID WE WANT OUR CITY TO PICK UP THE TRASH AND MAKE THE MONEY, APPLIES, IN THAT ORDINANCE IT REQUIRED THE CITY TO CHARGE A TRASH TAX. NOBODY REALLY KNOWS THAT BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T DO IT.

ARE YOU THE FIRST PERSON TO HAVE RESEARCHED THIS AND FOUND IT OUT?

OUR OFFICE DID RESEARCH IT BECAUSE WE LOOKED AT THINGS BETWEEN THE CITY CHARTER AND THE PEOPLE'S ORDINANCE. IT REQUIRED A TRASH TAX. BECAUSE THE CITY MADE SO MUCH MONEY TO THE HOG FARMERS, THEY DIDN'T CHARGE A TAX. THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO TRADITION, THEY IGNORED THE LAW.

WILL THIS FLY WITH THE CITY COUNCIL.

IN THE 1980s, THE CITY COUNCIL CHANGED THAT AND OFFERED FREE TRASH PICK UP FOR ONLY SINGLE FAMILY HOMES UNDER THE CRITERIA.

YOU DON'T KNOW IF THE CITY COUNCIL WILL PICK UP ON IT. THEY WOULDN'T HAVE TO PUT IT ON THE BALLOT?

THEY WOULD BECAUSE OF THE STRAIN OF THE AMENDED PEOPLE'S ORDINANCE IN THE 1980s WITH THE CHARTER. OR IF YOU CHARGE A TRASH FEE. THEY HAVE PLENTY OF OPTIONS. SALES TAX, OPTION OF PRIVATIZATION.

THINK ABOUT WHAT THAT BALLOT IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE IF THEY'VE ALREADY SAID THEY ARE PUTTING IN NEW CITY HALL WHICH WOULD BE TAXPAYER FUNDED ON THE BALLOT. IF THEY PUT THE TRASH TAX THING ON THE BALLOT. IF THEY PUT, FOR EXAMPLE, AN INCREASE IN THE CITY SALES TAX ON THE BALLOT. SO, THE VOTERS HAVE TO LOOK AT ALL THESE THINGS. WHAT ABOUT CHARGE ERSTAD YUM. WHAT ABOUT AN EXPANSION OF THE CONVENTION CENTER.

THAT IS FOR THE COUNCIL AND MAYOR TO THINK IN TERMS WHETHER THEY WANT TO PUT SOMETHING ON THE BALLOT. THAT'S WHERE I OVERSTEP MY BOUNDS. I CAN GIVE THEM OPTIONS. THEY CAN CONSIDER IT.

THERE ARE FEES THAT WE ARE DOING. OUR OFFICE IS FIGHTING FOR PENSION REFORM. WE CAME UP WITH AN OPTION THAT WASN'T CONSIDERED BEFORE AND WE ARE WINNING.

THIS JULY, THIS MONTH, WE SAVED THE CITY $6.1 MILLION IN PENSION PAYMENTS UNDER NEW IDEAS THAT WE RAISED IN COURT. I THINK THAT WE WILL KEEP DOING IT.

ONE FINAL QUESTION. WE HAD THIS TERRIBLE STRATEGY STRIKE THE 2-YEAR-OLD BOY A FEW DAYS AGO, SWALLOWED AND CHOKED ON A GUM BALL. THERE WAS A DELAY BECAUSE OF THE BROWN OUT POLICY FOR FIRE AND RESCUE TO GET THERE. SO, NOW, THERE IS A PUSH TO CANCEL THE BROWN OUT POLICY. IS THAT POSSIBLE? CAN THE CITY AFFORD TO DO THAT?

IT'S POSSIBLE BECAUSE THEY CAN SET FUNDING PRIORITIES AS THEY SEE FIT. I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THE BROWN OUT CAUSED IT. BUT, IT DOES --IT'S REALLY SAD BUT IT UNDER SCORES THE SERIOUSNESS OF WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. OUR CITY CHARTER SAYS THAT POLICE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE HIGHEST PRIORITY IN FUNDING. YOU ADD IN FIRE AND PUBLIC SAFETY AND THESE ARE SERIOUS DECISIONS ON FUNDING PRIORITIES THAT THEY CAN TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT AND THEY CAN ADJUST THE PRIORITIES.

SO, THAT MIGHT BE A POSSIBILITY? I WANT TO THANK YOU VERY MUCH CITY ATTORNEY JAN GOLDSMITH.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE. THANK YOU.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

Please stay on topic and be as concise as possible. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Community Discussion Rules. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus