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Rules Committee Passes 10-Point Plan For City Council, Mayor To Get Along

A 10-point plan for the City Council and San Diego's next mayor to get along on budget issues and whittling down the backlog of capital projects was given a unanimous go-ahead today by the panel's Rules Committee.

Council President Tony Young noted the November general election will usher in the first new mayor since the city's strong-mayor form of government took effect in 2006 and was reaffirmed by voters four years later.

Councilman Carl DeMaio and Rep. Bob Filner are facing each other in the runoff.

The system clearly makes the mayor in charge of day-to-day operations, but the role of the City Council is more nuanced and is still developing, said Young, who took part in a government executive education program this summer at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"Throughout these last five years we've become more clear about not only what our role is, but how we should interact with these different entities, especially the mayor's office,'' Young said as he proposed "10 Principles of Good Governance'' at the meeting.

"We've found certain things that work,'' he said.

Among them are for the mayor to:

-- speak at City Council meetings monthly to report on significant financial and operational issues that impact the city;

-- work with the council to reduce the backlog of capital projects, which is in the hundreds of millions of dollars;

-- help develop annual "Statements of Budgetary Principals,'' which were first adopted in 2008 as working agreements between the mayor and council;

-- adhere to a set of financial practices first used in 2010 by the City

Council to deal with the structural budget deficit;

-- respect mid-year budget amendments passed by the City Council;

-- publicly report performance results for core city services;

-- communicate in a timely and effective manner with the council, city attorney and independent budget analyst and make sure city contracts comply with the City Charter;

-- present the council each November with a five-year outlook for city income and expenses; and

-- work with the council to develop a comprehensive plan for economic growth.

Mayor Jerry Sanders, who is being termed out, only attends council meetings when introducing a major policy initiative undertaken by his office.

"We have to make sure lessons learned aren't buried or forgotten,'' Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.

She asked staff to clarify the meaning of "effective'' communication and provide a schedule for reporting performance results when they bring the package to the full City Council for final approval.

Both DeMaio and Filner sent statements to City News Service last week expressing their support for the plan.

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