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DeMaio Presents Plan To Increase City’s Use Of Volunteers

Councilman Carl DeMaio today outlined a 13-point plan to increase the city's use of volunteers, with a goal of 1 million annual man-hours.

At a news conference, DeMaio said he hoped to reach the target by 2016.

The city logs about 500,000 volunteer hours per year.

"I believe San Diegans are willing to volunteer and serve their community," DeMaio said. "Unfortunately, the city has been resistant to and ineffective in using volunteer support."

He said San Diego's agreements with labor unions require city officials to go through the meet-and-confer process if they want to increase the level of volunteerism, or use a volunteer in place of a paid employee. That discourages the increased use of volunteers, according to the councilman, who is running for mayor.

Among his proposals:

  • creating a position of chief volunteer officer in the mayor's office for someone who will coordinate the recruitment, training and placement of unpaid workers;
  • creating a city volunteer website and mobile application;
  • engaging the leaders of major area nonprofit organizations;
  • expanding Mayor Jerry Sanders' use of leaders from the private sector to bring expertise to the city;
  • establishing volunteer recognition programs;
  • making the Neighborhood Watch and the Retired Senior Volunteer programs bigger; and
  • starting an "extreme neighborhood makeover" program to clean up trash and remove graffiti, among other things.

The package of proposals was opposed by organized labor, which funds an organization dedicated to defeating DeMaio's mayoral bid.

"It's a bit of mystery why Carl DeMaio wants to get rid of jobs when everyone else is asking how to put more people back to work," said Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

"But leave it to a corporate millionaire like Carl DeMaio to suggest people shouldn't get paid for the hard work they do."

DeMaio cited a study which ranked 43rd out of 51 major U.S. cities in "civic engagement."

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