continued She and councilmember Toni Atkins insisted early this year that a stenographer take down what is said in these closed sessions. "At least there is now a record that a judge could look at in camera [private] to see if there is a violation of the Brown Act" (which mandates public access to information) or other laws, says Frye.
Former councilmember Bruce Henderson lists some of the important matters to which the public has been denied information: 1. The city's cost for the 1996 Republican convention; 2. The cost of the renovation of Qualcomm Stadium; 3. The cost to the city of Petco Park and how much it is costing each year (it was supposed to be revenue neutral but, of course, is a huge drain); 4. How much downtown condos are subsidized by the Centre City Development Corporation (Henderson thinks it might be as high as $100,000 a unit); and 5. The cost of water reclamation and recycling.
In October of 2000, the councilmembers voted to reduce their own retirement age from 60 to 55. "If you go back to the docket and the minutes of that meeting, it appears to be a routine vote to adjust legislative pensions to reflect the dictates of the pension system. But if you are under age 55 and you qualify for a pension of $20,000 a year with health insurance, and you reduce the age from 60 to 55, you have just put $100,000 in your pocket," says Henderson.
Under Frye, the city will get a forensic audit that should provide answers to such questions, he says. Frye and Henderson both understand that beginning in the 1990s, pension underfunding was just one trick to erase chronic deficits. The city was also selling land and neglecting infrastructure and maintenance of safety equipment while cooking the books. Such shenanigans permitted corporate welfare for the Padres, Chargers, Corky McMillin, and almost every developer (particularly those who gave heavily to politicians).
Says Aguirre, "There is research to show that citizens get qualitatively better decisions if those decisions are made in the open."