Mayor Jerry Sanders wants to make some progress on managed competition. There hasn’t been much since 2006, when voters passed the initiative to move towards privatizing city services.
Yet, in the recently submitted 2010 budget, Sanders set aside $500,000 to establish a new contract with an outside firm that will facilitate the city’s move towards privatization.
According to a report on the mayor’s 2010 budget by the independent budget analyst, part of the reason for the delay are ongoing negotiations with two labor unions: the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Municipal Employees Association MEA. Both unions filed an unfair labor practice suit against the City in 2008.
During an April 29 Budget Review Committee meeting, some councilmembers and a representative from MEA shared some thoughts on managed competition.
First up was councilmember Carl DeMaio. “People always say, ‘Well, it’s a great idea for saving taxpayer money, but we have a budget to pass now and we just don’t have time exploring that cost-saving idea.’ [Fiscal year 2011] is going to be worse than [fiscal year 2010] so issues like managed competition…I think need to be put on the table now.”
Next up was councilmember Donna Frye, who in the past has been an opponent of privatizing city services. Frye commented on the statement from the independent budget analyst report that stated the initiative was on hold.
“I don’t recall — perhaps maybe I missed that meeting — where managed competition was brought forward by the mayor’s office,” said Frye facetiously. “Well there seems to be some misunderstanding. It remains on hold, not as a result from any action or lack of action from this legislative body, but due to the fact that nothing has ever come forward. It’s hard to take action when nothing has come forward.”
After Frye spoke, District 2 councilmember Kevin Faulconer put in his bid for managed competition.
“I’m a strong supporter of managed competition. I supported and campaigned for it, and I believe most residents of San Diego are supportive of it, which is why it passed overwhelmingly several years ago. They want us to go out and compete for these services,” said Faulconer.
Some minutes later, during public comment, a representative for the Municipal Employees Association, Cathleen Higgins, spoke to the managed competition debate and the notion suggested by the budget analyst that the delay was caused by labor negotiations.
“I don’t really know what they’re talking about, that it’s [managed competition] on hold. MEA has been meeting diligently since December,” said Higgins. “It’s frustrating for us to hear that. I sit there in the audience and hear that managed competition is on hold and public perception…well that’s not true.”
For more on the budget report, go to their website at sandiego.gov/iba/