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Will Voters Approve New City Hall Proposal?

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2VeQN12Ldk

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

Above: What kind of risk is the council taking by putting a proposal to build a new city hall on the November ballot? What are the chances local voters might approve a half-cent sales tax increase in the city? We speak to editors Ricky Young and Andrew Donohue about those issues.

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 PUSH TO FIND MORE MONEY FOR SAN DIEGO IS ON. EARLIER THIS WEEK THE CITY COUNCIL AGREED THAT THE VOTERS SHOULD DECIDE WHETHER TO BUILD A NEW TAXPAYER FINANCED CITY HALL. RICKY YOUNG, WATCH DOG EDITOR FOR THE SAN DIEGO "TRIBUNE" AND ANDREW DONOHUE ARE HERE TO DISCUSS THE LATEST CITY DEVELOPMENTS. BEFORE WE GET INTO THAT, LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT CITY ATTORNEY JAN GOLDSMITH HAD TO SAY. HE SAID TALKING ABOUT THE BROWN OUT THAT IT'S UP TO THE CITY COUNCIL TO CHANGE PRIORITIES. I WILL START WITH YOU ON THIS, RICKY. DO YOU EXPECT THE CITY COUNCIL TO BE RESPONSIVE, ESPECIALLY NOW THAT THERE SEEMS TO BE PUBLIC REACTION TO THE DEATH AND THE BROWNOUT.

I THINK A SALES TAX INCREASE WOULD HAVE A NO STARTER 4 DAYS AGO BUT THE CHOKING DEATH WITH THE FIRE DEPARTMENT NOT GETTING THERE IN TIME HAS BROUGHT RENEWED IMPETUS TO DO SOMETHING. THERE WERE COUNCIL PROPOSALS THIS WEEK TO UNDO THE BROWNOUTS RIGHT AWAY. BUT A LONGER TERM SOLUTION MIGHT BE TO PUT A SALES TAX MEASURE ON THE BALLOT AND REALLY GO A LONG WAY TO ENDING THE STRUCTURAL DEFICIT THAT THE CITY HAS.

TALKING ABOUT PUTTING IT ON THE BALLOT, THAT IS PART OF WHAT I WAS DISCUSSING WITH THE CITY ATTORNEY. ALL THESE ISSUES ON THE BALLOT, WHY DO THE COUNCIL MEMBERS DECIDE TO LEAVE THE DECISION TO BUILD A NEW CITY HALL UP TO THE VOTERS. THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT.

THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO BUT I THINK THEY WERE LEFT WITH NO OTHER DECISION. IT WON'T AB POPULAR DECISION TO JUST UNILATERALLY DO THAT. A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL VIEW IT AND CRITICIZE AS THE CITY COUNCIL BUILDING THEM A LUXURIOUS NEW PALACE. THE MAYOR TO MAKE THE PROPOSAL TO THE PUBLIC AT THE START HAD TO SAY, DON'T WORRY, I WON'T MAKE THE DECISION, THIS WILL BE YOUR DECISION. HE PAINTED HIMSELF IN THE CORNER. HAVING MADE THE PROMISE, IT WASN'T POSSIBLE.

THIS WOULD BE TAXPAYER FINANCED PROJECT, WOULD IT NOT, RICKY?

THE IDEA IS CERTAINLY TAX MONEY WOULD BE USED BUT THEY ARE SAYING IT WILL SAVE MONEY. THEY WILL SAVE MONEY ON DOWNTOWN OFFICE LEASES, MAINTENANCE AND IN THE END GOING OUT, THEY SAVE ENOUGH MONEY THAT THEY CAN SPEND THE MONEY ON THE CITY HALL. THAT'S THE CASE THEY WILL MAKE TO VOTERS.

EXPLAIN IT TO ME. THE CITY IS LOOKING AT A DEFICIT THAT COULD BE UP TO $90 MILLION PLUS LOTS OF UNPOPULAR CUTS IN SERVICES. WHERE WOULD THE MONEY COME FROM TO GET STARTED IN THE CONSTRUCTION.

EACH YEAR THEY DOME MON STRAIGHT SAVINGS. ONE YEAR THEY WILL NOT SPEND MONEY PUTTING IN NEEDED FIRE SPRINKLERS AT CITY HALL. THIS SORT OF THING. THERE IS INVESTMENT THEY WOULD HAVE TO MAKE TO MAKE CITY HALL OPERATIONAL. ALSO THE LEASES THAT DON'T FIT IN CITY HALL, THEY WOULD BE UP FOR RENEWAL AND MIGHT GO UP. PEOPLE DISPUTE THAT AS WELL.

WILL THE NUMBERS SPEAK TO A PUBLIC CONCERNED ABOUT UNEMPLOYMENT BECAUSE UNEMPLOYMENT IS UP LOCALLY AND SUMMER CONFIDENCE LEVEL IS DOWN, ANTIINCUMBENCY, WE HEARD ABOUT THAT. HOW RISKY IS IT TO LEAVE SOMETHING LIKE THIS UP TO THE VOTERS THIS YEAR AND HOPE THAT THERE WILL BE REVENUE COMING IN.

I THINK THE VOTERS WILL LOOK AT THIS AND IT MAY ACTUALLY BE A GOOD PROPOSAL I. MAY SAVE THE CITY MONEY. IF YOU LOOK AT IT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CITY TRYING TO BUILD A NEW LIBRARY TAX YOU CAN ABOUT A CONVENTION CENTER, TALKING ABOUT A CHARGE ERSTAD YUM. I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY CAN SEE THAT AND NOT THINK THAT CITY HALL IS ON A BUILDING BING AT THE TIME THAT THEY ARE SEEING SERVICES DETERIORATE.

LET'S SWITCH GEARS A LITTLE BIT. LET'S TALK ABOUT ANOTHER IDEA THAT IS BEING FLOATED AROUND CITY HALL, YOU ALLUDED TO IT. THE IDEA OF RAISING A CITY SALES TAX BY HALF A CENT. THE MAYOR DOESN'T SUPPORT AN INCREASE IN THE CITY SALES TAX. LAST WEEK IT LOOKED AS IF IT WAS DEAD. NOW THERE IS LIFE TO THE PROPOSAL. WHAT WILL HAPPEN HERE?

WELL, I WILL KNOW NEXT WEEK. THERE IS A DEADLINE AUGUST 6th TO GET ON THE BALLOT. THE COUNCIL IS GETTING READY TO GO TO THE AUGUST RECESS. TIME IS RUNNING OUT. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THERE ARE A NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL WHO THOUGHT THE CITY NEEDS MORE REVENUE TO SOLVE ITS PROBLEMS AND THE FACT THAT THINGS HAVE BEEN CUT TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT THIS LITTLE BOY DIED MAY GIVE THEM THE IMPETUS AND POLITICAL COURAGE TO PUT IT ON THE BALLOT AND LET THE VOTERS DECIDE, DO WE WANT TO PLUG THE HOLE OR LET IT GO ON AND ON.

WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT, ANDREW. YOU HAVEN'T HAD A CHANCE TO SAY WHETHER YOU THINK THE RECENT INCIDENT WILL PUSH THE SALES TAX INCREASE TO THE BALLOT.

I COULD SEE IT GOING TO THE BALLOT. THE PROBLEM IS STANDING BY ITSELF WITH THE CITY MAKING SO MANY OTHER INVESTMENTS IN BIG PROJECTS AND CONSTRUCTION, I HAVE A HARD TIME SEEING VOTERS PASS IT. I DON'T THINK THAT SAN DIEGO IS AGAINST TAXES AS MUCH AS A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY BUT UNLESS YOU PUT A COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGE TOGETHER THAT SOLVES THE PROBLEMS AT ONCE, I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY WILL VIEW IT.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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