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Council President Tony Young Discusses State Of The City

Audio

Aired 1/14/11

What are San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders' goals for 2011? We speak to KPBS Metro Reporter Katie Orr about the key issues the mayor discussed in his annual State of the City address. Plus, City Council President Tony Young joins us to share his thoughts on the mayor's speech, and to talk about his agenda for the year.

San Diego City Council President Tony Young

Above: San Diego City Council President Tony Young

What are San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders' goals for 2011? We speak to KPBS Metro Reporter Katie Orr about the key issues the mayor discussed in his annual State of the City address. Plus, City Council President Tony Young joins us to share his thoughts on the mayor's speech, and to talk about his agenda for the year.

Guests

Katie Orr, metro reporter for KPBS News

Tony Young, San Diego City Council President, and the council representative for District 4

Read 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.

ALISON ST. JOHN: I'm Alison St. John sitting in for Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Last night, mayor Jerry Sanders gave his sixth state of the city address. He has just two more years in office. The mayor did not appear to let the economic squeeze affect his plan enforce a conviction center expansion or perhaps a Chargers stadium. We're gonna speak with our metro reporter Katie Orr about his message and how he framed the crisis that the city is in. Then we'll get some reaction from the new City Council president, Tony Young, who is gonna take over the helm for the next year. Young had already come up with some creative ideas of his own about ways to stimulate the economy and cut costs, and we'll see how far his ideas agree with the mayor's. But first, Katie, thanks coach for coming?

ORR: Thanks Alison.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So give us a sense of what were the key issues that the mayor discussed in the state of the city last night.

ORR: Well, Sanders talked about some big projects, he also talked about some things the city has accomplished, like breaking ground on the new central library. But he really zeroed in on the benefits that he think redevelopment has had for San Diego. Of course, that's come under fire, governor Jerry Brown has said he would like to eliminate redevelopment agencies throughout the state. Sanders also talked about the ongoing need to reform the pension here in San Diego, and up coming budget cuts that we're gonna be seeing in this fiscal year.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So you've been covering him for a few years now. Has his message or his position changed much this year, given in mind that the economy is getting worse and worse?

ORR: Even though the economy might still seem to be in the doldrums, this speech almost seem to have had a message of optimism. I think the mayor felt like he was buoyed up, you know, the central library has moved forward, some of these projects are must having forward, he thinks he's making some progress on the financial front. The managed competition guide is finally being implemented because the city came to agreement with the labor unions. You know, he's making progress on the pension, he's gotten a lot of positive national attention for his plan to switch to an all 401K system for nonpublic safety new hires in the future. So, you know, it's almost this feeling that he believes the city has turned the corner. And I've been getting that from different people on my beat as well. It just -- there seems to be a positive vibe, a small one, but you know --

ALISON ST. JOHN: That's correct.

ORR: Yeah, but not as woe is he as I've seen it. Granted, I've only covered -- this is my third state of the city. But it just seemed to have a more positive optimistic is the right word, vibe, than I've seen before.

ALISON ST. JOHN: And of course, you know, the economy does appear to be looking up of it's just that public -- local government does tend to lag behind.

ORR: Right.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So the budget, remind us, what is the budget deficit.

ORR: It's $71 million. But you know, even that is smaller than we've seen. We saw budget deficits in, you know, plus a hundred million in the past two years. So it's smaller, it's still a significant amount of money. And the pension payment is about $230 million, which comes from the general fund of so far that's a big chunk as well. But people I think are hoping that property taxes might start to go back up a little bit, sales taxes, and so some time down the road, we'll start seeing revenues coming back up.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Great. So talk a little bit more about how he reacted to governor Jerry Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies. That would affect a lot of plans.

ORR: Yeah, it would. If redevelopment agencies went away, you could say probably goodbye to a Chargers stadium, $500,000,000. You might not see the expansion of the convention center, and it might be a race against the clock. You never know. If these redevelopment agencies know that they're not gonna be around anymore, they might start projects so that those can continue before they're cut off. But this was probably where the mayor had the strongest reaction in his speech. He's absolutely opposed to the elimination of these agency agencies. He says CCDC, the downtown redevelopment agency has generated nearly $13 million for private investment for the city. And he think eliminating it is the wrong move.

NEW SPEAKER: To those San Diegans who would sell out our redevelopment agencies for pennies on the dollar, I say your thirst for quick cash will come at a steep price. And to those in Sacramento who circle like vultures seeking signs of weakness, I say that we will stand united to defend local control and keep our tax dollars here, not pour them in the ditch that you've dug.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Circle like vultures.

ORR: Yeah, it was strong. He definitely backs CCD Cs, and the agencies, and I think the league of California cities has come out in favor of it as well. Amount of these politicians who depend on a lot of the money from these agencies would like to see them stick around.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So he's still backing his hope of expanding the convention center and perhaps building a Chargers stadium downtown. Of is there any hope that this might be some progress on this this year, could you think?

ORR: Yeah, I think the financing plan the for the Convention Center is supposed to come out in the coming here, and it's something that Steve Cushman has been working on, and the hotel industry. It's tricky because, you know, I don't think they want to ask for new taxes because, you know, San Diego isn't likely to pass those taxes. And the mayor even said if his speech, he heard from Proposition D, the sales tax that got voted down, no means no on new taxes. So it might be things like adding fees to rental cars, adding fees to tickets for Sea World and the Zoo, raising the TOT tax which you only pay if you rent a hotel room of so it may be a combination of those sorts of things to pay for the Convention Center.

ALISON ST. JOHN: And of course the TOT tax would have to be voted on, and the San Diego voters have rejected that in the not so distant past, however.

ORR: Right, and that's interesting because it's not something that they don't directly pay, but that's just another example that -- no taxes. They don't want anymore taxes.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Did the mayor refer to the ballot measure last June in which the voters did in fact say no taxes.

ORR: Yeah, he did, and he absolutely -- in November in Proposition D, he was saying.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Yeah, I remember.

ORR: He said he got the message, no means no, no more tax, however he does want to go forward with the ten fiscal reforms that were part of that ballot proposition. And that seems to be a pretty universal approach. Everyone wants to go forward with those as well.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay. So he's pretty clear about wanting to go ahead with these new major capital projects. Was he as clear about his plan to cut costs.

ORR: Not really. Not any specifics. I think he's saving those to release when he releases his budget in April or maybe he's still trying to put them together. He did say he's really focused on managed competition, outsourcing some city services to private companies, also merging various city departments, and he says he'll try to protect public safety and essential services but he says that no matter what we decide.

Q. Will be cuts.

NEW SPEAKER: Because past cuts were so deep, the next wave will be the harshest yet. The voters accepted this reality and entrusted us to make it work. When the cutting is done, we will have sculpted a government that lives within its means when times are bad and invests responsibly when times are good.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So not a lot of specifics, and of course San Diegans are wondering are we gonna see more fire stations browned out? That's been very controversial. Could that be even more on the chopping block next year?

ORR: It's hard to say that public safety -- it's hard to see how public safety would not be affected. It makes up 50 percent of the general fund building. So if you have to cut $71 million, you be, and that's your biggest area of expense, it might come up. I did speak with frank de-Clark last night. He's president of the fire firsts union, and he said that he is really not entirely reassured that they won't be cut. But more optimistic about it. He said there is a report coming out pretty soon from city scape, and it basically looks at the firefighting needs in San Diego. And of course, the city's already lacking the figures anywhere from, like, 11 to 21 fire stations in the city. And this -- it's a deployment study, and this will probably recommend that we need even more fire stations. So he believes that the city leaders wouldn't want to cut fire services after this report comes out saying we, you know, we're already under staffed. And there has been some talk among council members that they would not support cuts to public safety. So it'll be interesting. I don't think anyone wants to cut public safety, but again, it's a numbers game. So it'll be interesting to he how that moves forward.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So another tool that's often talked about is outsourcing managed competition, privatizing city services. Did that get much of a mention?

ORR: Oh, yeah, the mayor said that it's time to really stop talking about managed competition in the extremes issue that it's either all good or all bad, but come to more of a middle ground. It's moving forward. The rules committee on Wednesday voted to forward the outsourcing of the fleet services department and the IT department to the full council for consideration. There's gonna be ape press conference today talking about outsource some different city departments and merging city departments as well. It's all about, like, trying to stream line government, elimination duplication of efforts. And I think this is going to be an on going thing, managed competition, we'll see more and more of it. Of and it should be said that city departments in 134 cases can compete for those contracts as well. So it's not a given that they'll all go to private companies, but some of them could.

ALISON ST. JOHN: And then, of course, the sort of big elephant in the room is the pension deficit. As you said, more than 250 or around $250 million and the general fund is about a billion. So that's a big of the general fund going to pay pension reforms already.

ORR: Yeah.

ALISON ST. JOHN: What did he have to say about pension reform?

ORR: Well, he really touted his plan that he announced a couple months ago to go to an all 401K system for new hires, nonpublic safety new hires but that would not produce any savings in the immediate future. You have to cycle through all the people who are already getting pensions. And so that is probably decades down the line we would realize the full savings from that. So in the meaning time, what is being considered is this idea of pensionable pay. We first heard about that from councilman Carl DeMaio when me released his five-year pension plan. Governor Jerry Brown has actually mentioned it for state employees as well. And what that does is lower a base salary for an employee. Your pension is based on how much you make. So if you make less, your pension will be less. So they would freeze base salaries, meaning they would freeze the pension contribution for that employee, but they would give employees bonuses throughout the year. So that it would make up for their lower salary, but it wouldn't count toward their pension. And so that's sort of seen as the next option to manage these pension payments.

ALISON ST. JOHN: I understand that there's been some bonuses to the water and sewer department which have actually counted toward pensions. So you're saying they're saying let's try to eliminate bonuses from what counts?

ORR: Right, yeah. The bonuses would not count. It would just be your base salary that would count towards the pension.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay. Now, when he was running for election in the first place, the mayor was talking about trying to transfer to a 401K plan for all employees, which is not a easy shift to make.

ORR: Right now there's a voluntary 401K plan that employees can choose to take part in. But it's tricky because pensions are vested benefits. You cannot actually take them away. And that's the next fight I think we'll see with retiree healthcare, whether those benefits are vested or not, because the city has a 1.4 billion liability with retiree healthcare. And they've done some things to modify them for current employees, but you know, there's gonna be an argument. Can they take them away or not?

ALISON ST. JOHN: Any mention of retiree healthcare in his state of the city address, because that's something I think a lot of city employees are very concerned about.

ORR: Right. Just the fact that it's there, they're working with the unions, they'll work with them over the next two years to try and reduce that obligation. But again, I don't think it's something that's gonna be given up without a pretty strong fight.

ALISON ST. JOHN: I know Lorena Gonzalez from the labor council was attacking the mayor's speech and saying why don't we do other things to save money rather than erode the security of -- you know, we got about 10000 people working at the city. Soap that's a large chunk of people whose pension security is really under scrutiny at this point. Did you get other reactions from people after the speech or what they were thinking?

ORR: You know, it seemed like the people that I spoke to, you know, I spoke to April bowling with the San Diego County tax papers' association. She seemed to be pretty pleased with the 401K system. You know, I talked to redevelopment officials. They obviously were, you know, thrilled to have the mayor's support for them. And I didn't speak to a lot of labor people, but there is the sense that, you know, in the past I've spoken to labor leaders that say that, listen, the morale at the city is really low. Of these people work to keep the city up and running of during the floods we saw firefighters, life guards rescuing people from hotels, we saw water employees pupping out Qualcomm, and there is a question that if there is an emergency in the future, and we've contracted out a service to a private company, is that company going to be there for the city? Are they gonna step up? Are they gonna feel invested enough? Is it gonna be in the contract to say that they have to do it if we need them in an unusual time? And I spoke with council presidents Tony Young, who I believe you're speaking with next, and he said that is something that they have to consider. Because it's nice to work on contracts and -- on a day-by-day schedule, but that's not how things work sometimes. And that's something to considers this outsourcing moves forward.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So we have had the state of the city address, next thing will be to see how the rubber meets the road with this budget.

ORR: Absolutely.

ALISON ST. JOHN: In a couple of months here.

ORR: Yeah, and it's gonna be tough, you know? I mean parks, libraries, rec centers, hours gonna issue slashed. They've pretty much talked about that. That pot hill on your street? It might not be fixed already and it might be -- take even longer for it to get fixed in the future. So I think it's gonna be a tough year budget wise.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Katie ore, thanks very much.

ORR: Thank you.

ALISON ST. JOHN: That's Katie Orr, our metro reporter here at KPBS. And as Katie mentioned, Tony Young, the next Council president, is going to be with us in the next segment to talk a bit about his reaction to the state of the city speech. So stay with us here on These Days.

You're listening to These Days on KPBS. And we have with us on the line now, the third council president, San Diego City Council president, Tony Young. President Young, thanks so much for being with us.

YOUNG: Good morning, thank you.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Good morning. So, now, just for people to sort of really grasp the significance of your role as the president of the council under the strong mayor form of government, we have had Scott Peters and Ben Hueso, and you were always sort of, a bit like the speaker at the house at the national level. You're the leader of the city, right, while the mayor is executive?

YOUNG: Absolutely, and that's something that I want to really emphasize. I mean, I think as this position has evolved in this new form of government, the council presidency really hasn't evolved to the point where it has been a counter balance to the mayor, not necessarily an adversary, but a counter balance. And we're working to help so the forth an agenda of our own so that there'll be some balance.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So let's start off with your immediate reactions to the mayor's state of the city last night.

YOUNG: Well, I thought it was sobering, and I thought that's what you needed to provide as a mayor at this point in time, based on the city's fiscal situation. And I appreciate some of his ideas. I think that the city needs to -- the city's residents need to understand that these are gonna be very difficult time, and we're probably going to have to make some decisions that aren't as -- that are gonna be very historic in regards to the changes that we do here in the city.

ALISON ST. JOHN: 'Cause even in the last segment, we were talking about how there might be a note of optimism on the scene. The fact is, the city's been cutting its budget for years now, so it's been getting increasingly hard for you on the council to do that. Was there anything in the mayor's speech that you would have taken issue with?

YOUNG: Well, I don't -- I'm not sure if I'm as gung-ho as the mayor is, I'm pretty sure I'm not, when it comes to his 401K plan yet. I'm not sure what impact that would have on our current system cause the system now is based on the concept that future employees are going to help support that system. And if you take a number of them out of that system, then I'm not sure what happens to the people who are already invested in the one that we have now. So that's a -- you upon, I think there's a lot of question, does the IRS support this concept of 401K when these individuals don't even have Social Security now? So there's a lot of questions on that 401K plan.

ALISON ST. JOHN: About the pension. And yet pension reform is one of his main tools for balancing the budget.

YOUNG: Yeah, but that's not his only reform idea. And I think he alluded that we are going to have a press conference on Friday with some additional ideas on how we can address the pension issue. But the 401k plan idea that he's floating for employees, public employees, is just a party of his -- his recommendations to address the pension issue.

ALISON ST. JOHN: The mayor appeared to be still on track with his vision of getting an expansion of the Convention Center, moving ahead with the Chargers stadium, all the sort of capital projects issue the buildings, the future vision. And at the same time making the point that there's gonna be steeper and steeper cuts. Do you --

YOUNG: Right.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Do you share the same confidence that he does that these capital projects are gonna be viable? Or justifiable?

YOUNG: Well I think he -- first of all the Convention Center is a money maker. And many people believe that with that expansion, it will bring additional money to the city. So that's a positive, I think on our ledger when it comes to where we are when it comes to the city's finances. The Chargers stadium, I think he explained that this is something that we need to discuss and make a decision as a city. And I agree with that. Of we should have the public weigh in and say, hey, listen, this is something that we want to do or we don't want to do through a public vote. But the part that I thought that was important was to say -- what he said was that, you know, the city is a large city, in essence, and this is what he said. Of it's a large city, we have major issues, and we can't just stick our head in the sand and not address these major concerns or issues that are in front of us.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So what would you say the council's priorities should be this year as it goes about cutting this budget, more than 70 million theres this coming year.

YOUNG: Well, the council's priority should be the budget. I mean, not only at the budget committee meetings that Todd Gloria will be heading up, but also at the council level. We should be talking about how we can address the structural deficit on a continual basis throughout the year and leading up to a decision that we have to make in July. And also, the long-term issues related to our pension system. At this point in time, we have a system that we just, you know, we can't afford right now. And probably not any time in the future. So how do we address the pension issues in our deficit when it comes to that? Our unfunded liability when it comes to the pension, and continue to be able to track good employes, and making sure that our employees when they retire can actually survive with that retirement.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So the mayor was not very specific about how he would go about making cuts, the warnings of dire cuts. But in your mind, president young, what are your ideas about how to cut the deficit?

YOUNG: Well, my ideas, first of all, I didn't expect him to provide specifics.

ALISON ST. JOHN: The State of the City.

YOUNG: In the State of the City Address, and that was important that he didn't. But what I agree with, and many people agree with me is that we should create a menu of options throughout the year of things that we can do to address the budget deficit. Of there are a lot of ideas out there. Carl has a plan, Kevin has a plan, the mayor has a plan. Everybody has a plan. But what we want to do is combine all of those options and put them on the ledger so we can say these are the best options for the public. And that's -- and the council to consider. And that's what I intend to do. At the council, I am going to create a menu of options of all the ideas so that we can thankfully go through that menu and decide what is best in regards to the cost savings or service cuts or whatever.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So one of those menu items that Carl DeMaio on, for example, has certainly been pushing is privatizing, outsourcing more city services issue and the council as a whole has not been exact leap supportive of that in the past. But the pleasure is mounting. Where do you stand on that now?

YOUNG: Well, my first meeting was the outsourcing -- starting the outsourcing of our IT services of we had a discussion yesterday about the managed competition process in regards to our fleet services. So just in the last couple weeks that I've been president, we have followed through with the mandate from the public to start our managed competition program. And I am in full support of going full steam ahead, but I just want to say I'm routing for the public employees. I hope they win these computations because they also are a part of this. And hopefully -- as we saw in the last couple weeks, how important these public employees are when it comes to emergency situations irk hope they do well in this present situation.

ALISON ST. JOHN: President young, perhaps you can articulate a little bit. What is the arm for keeping public employes for city services.

YOUNG: Well, the argument is really about, first of you will, who can provide the service the best at the cheapest price. Many people believe that most private entities would do a better job. I'm not sure that's what the competition is for. But I think there is a good argument to say that public employees have tended to be very loyal to this city when it comes to the use of these storms that we just had the last couple of weeks, they were out there doing things that I'm not sure any private entity would do, and if they did, they probably would send us a bill. So that is an important part of the fact that we have public employees on our payroll.

ALISON ST. JOHN: And yet I hear that you have talked about the possibility of privatizing the city's airports and golf courses.

YOUNG: Absolutely. I think that's -- those are two areas that we should start first. If you look at the city charter, airports and golf courses are nowhere this, nowhere in our core services that we should be providing as a city. And I think looking at those two assets that we have, airports and golf courses, and figuring out how do we best maximize the use of those entities, those sites, I think could bring us a lot of money into the city.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Have you gotten an estimate of how much that could actually save the city?

YOUNG: No, but you know what? That would be a great option to put on our menus we go forward through this process.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Many city residents, I think, were very concerned about the brown outs for fire stations in budget cuts last year. Should they expect to see more of that in the coming year?

YOUNG: Well, my sense is that the council is not supportive of any more of those brown outs. And I've sent memos, Kevin Faulkner has sent memos to the mayor asking for those brown outs to end. It cannot be the new normal here at the City of San Diego. So I think that one of our priorities will be, as we go through this process is to restore to our former level when it comes to our fire protection.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So the cuts are gonna have to come somewhere else. Do you have any sense --

YOUNG: It's about $11 million that we're gonna have to find somewhere else. But I think from what I'm hearing from the public, that's what they would prefer.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So going back to this idea of building capital projects, you said that the expanded the Convention Center would be a revenue generator.

YOUNG: I think I said money maker, but you know -- you say it much more eloquently than I do.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay. So you feel confident that that is something that would benefit the city in the long run and is worth, you know, possibly borrowing more money to go ahead with?

YOUNG: Well, I believe it will be. Because what we're doing now is a very successful endeavor the at the Convention Center, but if you expanded it, there are so many more conventions that will be here. Of obviously that means more TOT revenue, that means more restaurants will be filled on weekends and weekdays, more people come to San Diego because we can attract the larger conventions.

ALISON ST. JOHN: But you are expressed some dissatisfaction in the past with the way redevelopment was done in the city.

YOUNG: Yes.

ALISON ST. JOHN: What was your reaction to the governor's idea of dissolving redevelopment agencies all together?

YOUNG: First of all, the mayor hit it out the park when he talked about redevelopment. I think it's a horrible situation for the cities to even think about redevelopment going away from San Diego. And specifically, I know downtown has been very successful, and it's well on its way, even though it has a lot more to go when it comes to redevelopment. But remember, there are 17 redevelopment areas throughout the City of San Diego. Many of those areas are areas that are under developed, areas that I represent from San Ysidro to Linda Vista. And those are the ones that are gonna be hurt, because those incentives are gonna go away.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So the cap for CCDC for the downtown redevelopment agency has been lifted, and they were supposed to come up with a cost benefit analysis. Are you still gonna insist that they -- that they come up with some -- some way of showing how the city will benefit from what they're doing there?

YOUNG: Sure. I'd love to see, and I think we will see a cost benefit of the lifting of the cap here downtown. But I thought it was -- I supported lifting of the cap, and the sooner the better, as far as I was concerned. Because basically it says that we'll be able to keep money here in San Diego, if redevelopment stands, that would otherwise have gone up to Sacramento to be used for other things. And so I'm supportive and was supportive of lifting the cap. And obviously we've gotta find out what we can -- and how that would actually affect downtown. But I think it's a good idea. Of.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Now, there's been -- there was a lot of talk of building a new city hall, that got pulled cough, the mayor pulled that off the ballot last year, but you've proposed sort of bringing a lot of different government agencies together in one building. Talk about that. And what kind of support have you had?

YOUNG: Well, I'll be up in Sacramento later on this month and early next month also, and I'll be talking to legislators, especially San Diego legislators, about the concept of bringing not only city services all at that one site, but also state, the port of San Diego could be at that one site. And I think it makes sense to the public that not only are we consolidated city resources but all the resources that we can, including state and the port, and it'll be a one stop site for individuals to go down and get their services from government. So I think it makes sense to at least look at it and hopefully the State of California, which is looking to consolidate also, will consider creating a government complex down at that site.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Have you heard any other people talking about that? Is there a bit of a synergy growing for this idea.

YOUNG: Well, I've heard some folks talk about it. But obviously it's very sketchy at this point in time, and how it pencils out, I think we're still working on it. And if the state or the port aren't interested in being a part of something like that is another question. But it's something, I think, that we owe the public to explore and figure out if it actually makes sense.

ALISON ST. JOHN: You say you might be go to speak to people at the state level about that.

YOUNG: I will be.

ALISON ST. JOHN: And have you already talked to people at the port district?

YOUNG: I have had preliminary conversations, but not from -- not from a specific perspective, and I think that's what's gonna have to happen next.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Yeah. One of the other ideas that you've put out there is -- that's kind of creative, I would say, is to have -- is to generate revenue through a parade at Comic-Con

YOUNG: Yeah, I'm excited about it. I think -- you know, we have the Macy's parade back east. And that's -- you know, you got the balloons, and I think it's pretty traditional. Well, we can have something like that on the west coast, but it'll be much bigger and much more current, and much more popular. If we had a Comic-Con Parade right on harbor drive the day before or the last day of Comic-Con to generate more hotel revenue, and also again getting people to go into those restaurants and spend money. And then also including people from San Diego who traditionally have not been a part of Comic-Con because they couldn't get into the building. It was always sold out.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Yeah, that could certainly be fun. Speaking of entertainment, Chargers stadium, how would you -- how do you think the council needs to approach that issue this year?

YOUNG: I think it has to have and what we'll do as a council president, I'm able to set the agenda. I have a process for us to get to a decision on if we're going to put the Chargers stadium on the ballot or not, and so we'll have a number of discussions leading up to the end of the year to decide if we actually want -- this is my hope, to decide if we actually want to put a proposal on the ballot to allow the public to say if that's something that we would support or not. Of.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So that might be on the ballot. You have talked about wanting more open government. And our public officials usually talk about that when they talk office. What can you say you'd be doing specifically to make it more possible for the people to get their message across to you?

YOUNG: Well, specifically, and it's as blatant as I can show it, is that every other Friday I'm gonna be at city hall, sitting in my office, no appointments necessary, and anybody who wants to come and talk about any issue can come and talk to me. And I think, hopefully, that would set an example for not only my other colleagues but other officials to say, you know what? We have to be extremely accessible to the public, to the point where they feel that they have as much access to us as any big wig that wants to have some kind of project built in San Diego or any project that they want to get accomplished in San Diego. We want to give that guy in Rancho Bernardo who has to come -- who wants to come and talk to the council president about his pot hole that we can do that on a regular basis in a very easy way.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So every other Friday. Which Fridays are you proposing to --

YOUNG: Second and fourth Friday.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay.

YOUNG: And then in the first and third Friday, I'm at my district, and I actually have office hours there too. So I'd invite everybody down to market and Euclid where my district office is.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Great. Well, thank you so much for spending a little time with us.

YOUNG: All right.

ALISON ST. JOHN: That's City Council president, Tony Young. And stay with us on These Days, coming up in the next segment, we're gonna be speaking about what we can do to make sure that more babies are born healthy.

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