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— Only that kind of give-and-take will lead to the massive changes that are desperately needed. But the overlords don't want give-and-take. They only take. "We proposed weaning the convention center off its subsidy over a four-year period," says DeMaio, who believes the corporate-welfare moochers won't like that. Similarly, he wants developers to spend more on infrastructure (such as building new fire stations). And he has a plan to boost fees of large trash haulers, although their payments would fall if they did more recycling.

Otherwise, DeMaio has not yet taken on corporate welfare, mainly because he has concentrated on the general fund, and the corporate giveaways are concentrated in enterprise funds and special projects. The establishment's worry "is that DeMaio is not controllable," says former councilmember Bruce Henderson. "There isn't much in his suggestions that ruffle [establishment] feathers, but their concern is that tomorrow he will ruffle feathers."

He does ruffle labor's feathers. He wants to get rid of the egregious Deferred Retirement Option Plan by which city employees almost double their pay in their last five years and walk off with both fat monthly retirement checks and generous lump sums.

So labor is hopping mad. And the establishment is wary, "because in the last ten years, the corporate-welfare people got into bed with labor -- to sell the ballpark, for example," says Henderson.

As long as the business establishment, unions, and government leaders oppose reforms, there will be no internal pressure to clean up the city's accounting. San Diego will continue to plunder water and sewer funds and switch the money to the general fund, raising sewer and water rates and obviating a tax-increase vote that would require two-thirds approval. The city will go on counting revenues in current years that truly belong in the following year.

Only criminal indictments and civil penalties might thwart such activities. Once again, as in the 1960s and 1970s, it will take the federal government to cleanse San Diego. The smearing of Carl DeMaio makes that clear.

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