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The young and still-untamed St. Augustine supposedly said it: “Oh God, make me chaste, but not yet.” That should be the City of San Diego’s slogan. In February of 2008, independent budget analyst Andrea Tevlin, who works for the city council, outlined San Diego’s chronic structural budget deficit affliction — year after year, expenditures outrunning revenue, and the budget balanced through onetime fixes that just kick the problem down the road.

Late last year, the Citizens’ Fiscal Sustainability Task Force, made up of establishment members appointed by Mayor Jerry Sanders, warned that the City’s fiscal outlook was “very dire,” but San Diego could avoid bankruptcy if, among many things, it jettisoned the “onetime fixes” that led to the City “living beyond its means.”

But around the same time, Tevlin gave her stamp of approval on the mayor’s proposed budget for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1 of this year. She reported on December 4 that the mayor was using $96.5 million of those supposedly poisonous onetime solutions to close a $179 million deficit. In late March, there was still a $45 million shortfall.

The onetime fixes range from delaying installation of sprinklers at city hall to taking money from the library improvement fund and plunking it in the ailing general fund. “I don’t like onetime solutions,” says Councilmember Donna Frye. “Until there are structural changes and long-term solutions, there aren’t a lot of options. We are running out of options.”

Now let’s shift abruptly from St. Augustine to 19th-century railroad baron William H. Vanderbilt, who was anything but a saint. He thundered in 1883, “The public be damned!” That should be San Diego’s second slogan. Politicians are damned if they vote to cut services and damned if they suggest that revenues may have to go up. Result: progress is dammed, the citizenry damned.

“Everybody has to take a hit if we really want to solve this,” says Frye.

So true. I talked with several San Diegans — some liberal, some conservative. I found that liberals are willing to live with service and wage/fringe cuts, and conservatives will accept tax increases. Everybody agrees that what’s needed is a dialogue: “We have to have a conversation with the citizens about the things they get and whether those things are affordable,” says Erik Bruvold, president of the National University System Institute for Policy Research. “We subsidize the Torrey Pines golf course and therefore don’t maximize revenue potential. Do we want to spend millions every year on the ‘nice-to-haves’? But the City almost never has those kinds of harder conversations.”

San Diegans have been talking for more than seven years about the double-dipping deferred retirement option plan (DROP), by which City employees get double their pay in their last five years and retire with both a lump sum and monthly paycheck. “We’re finally getting around to make a determination if DROP is cost neutral,” groans Frye, who has been pushing for an answer for years. She doubts that the public will vote for tax increases until the excessive pensions are reined in.

“We’re on the verge of a catastrophic failure of the street system,” says former councilmember Bruce Henderson. “The people getting screwed are those who can’t afford to put $150 into realigning their car every time it hits a pothole.” He has often fought tax increases, but he would approve of a jump in the transient occupancy tax (TOT, the hotel tax) from 10.5 to 13.5 percent, with the money going to the general fund. (Currently, by law, the rate can be no higher than the 13.5 percent average of a group of 15 major cities including Atlanta, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.) He could also see an increase in the property transfer tax (a tax on real estate that is sold) going on the ballot, along with a utility user tax.

Vlad Kogan, who is getting his Ph.D. in political science at the University of California San Diego, says a colleague has statistically plotted San Diego’s aversion to taxes. Between 1995 and 2008, City of San Diego voters considered 3 tax increases. None passed. Meanwhile, eight other large California cities voted on 37 tax increases and 22 passed. This information will go into a book coming out next year, Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Growth Challenges in San Diego, by UCSD political science professor Steve Erie, Kogan, and Scott MacKenzie of the University of California Davis.

Kogan says utility user taxes (on such things as electricity, telephone, gas, water, sewer, garbage, or cable TV) would make sense in San Diego if they were structured so that they would not be regressive or punishing to those of lower income. San Diego has no utility taxes, although 150 California cities and 4 counties have such taxes, ranging from 1 to 11 percent, according to a study by independent budget analyst Tevlin. Kogan would also favor an increase in San Diego’s very low transient occupancy tax: “It’s not clear that people think about transient occupancy taxes when making travel plans,” he says. “I’m not convinced it would have a big economic impact,” although the hotel-motel industry would no doubt scream that it would.

In 1919, San Diego voted for free trash services for citizens. Tevlin estimates that if the City were to recover its costs for trash, recycling, and greenery services, it could put $34 million in the general fund and $15.7 million in the recycling fund. Kogan thinks that charging for trash collection would be positive if it were adjusted so it was not regressive.

Scott Barnett, president of TaxpayersAdvocate.org, also thinks it makes sense to repeal the 1919 act. “It was passed when there were pig farms in Mission Valley,” he says. “To say it is anachronistic is using a kind word.” He points out that owners of single-family homes get the privilege — not those living in large multifamily communities. Thus, it would be easier to repeal the ordinance, and it would take only a 50 percent vote. “But the council would never have the guts to put it on the ballot.”

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Comments

Visduh April 14, 2010 @ 12:19 p.m.

While all cities in California are hurting in this current financial mess, San Diego is doing worse than many, including some in the county. Don, this piece was a wonderful "laundry list" of possible taxes that could be levied. Terrifying, I'd think, to most SD residents and taxpayers. The matter of business taxes is one that should be looked at carefully. Recently there has been a great deal of attention in the LA media to the effect that LA city taxes are having on businesses. Other cities in LA County have taxes that are far lower than the city of LA, and are seeing a mass incoming migration of businesses. So, if LA, San Fran and Oakland are collecting those higher taxes, they are likely cutting their throats, driving businesses out. The ones that stay will be those that must be there to survive. But others, which can locate wherever they want to be, can and will leave.

If San Diego is ever to get its financial house in order, it needs to deal with the outgo side and the income side. But slapping taxes on its residents and its businesses that serve to drive them out is not part of the solution. Do that, and it gets worse, not better. There is a very fine line to walk while seeking a solution.

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Anon92107 April 14, 2010 @ 12:38 p.m.

The bottom line is that as long as San Diego's court system is totally corrupt, with judges and lawyers stealing from taxpayers with arrogant impunity, along with the establishment that controls them and the politicians, there is no hope for a quality of life future for future generations.

Interesting that the U-T is coming out with more and more of your investigative reports a day or so after you post them.

Newest generations can only hope for a return to an acceptable quality of life in San Diego if they turn the U-T Editorial Page over to Don Bauder.

Or if the FBI start doing their jobs as last by arresting judges, politicians and establishment leaders to protect We The People like they are supposed, but as you have said there is no hope that the FBI will step in.

As it is San Diego is being increasingly destroyed by establishment terrorists almost as bad as al Qaeda terrorists have in New York and Ft. Hood because of the increasing Draconian cutbacks in safety and health resources to pay off judges, politicians and the establishment instead of protecting San Diegans.

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Fred Williams April 14, 2010 @ 1:32 p.m.

The public is damned, until the public decides otherwise.

Gambling and drug prohibition repeals, as well as tossing out the archaic trash ordinance, are welcome proposals.

Vladimir Kogan, as always, has cogent ideas based on solid research rather than special interests. I like his way of thinking. I hope he runs for office soon so I can vote for him.

As the crisis continues (and the commercial real estate and credit card bubbles are yet to burst, not to mention potential defaults of sovereign debt) and unemployment lingers, our city and nation are at deep risk not only of continued economic pain, but of dangerous social unrest.

And that's disregarding any "Black Swans" that may surprise us all in very nasty ways.

Yet, we can retain some optimism. Setbacks bring self-examination. Let's be grateful to Don Bauder, and those interviewed for this article, for putting out proposals that ought to be seriously considered.

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David Dodd April 14, 2010 @ 1:41 p.m.

"Gambling and drug prohibition repeals... are welcome proposals."

Seconded. The revenue stream from taxation of that alone could solve the financial mess San Diego currently endures.

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 1:47 p.m.

Response to post #1: You raise a good point. One problem with business taxes is tax competition; other cities keep their business taxes low so that businesses will relocate there. A major factor in this is that most businesses think that the board's commitment to maximization of profits is embedded in the law. That is, they think that they are vulnerable to lawsuits if they don't do everything in their power to fatten their bottom lines. Actually, the law is grayer on this point than most businesses realize, but managements believe otherwise, so it becomes a factor. Of course, the expense of relocating can more than offset any tax savings. And then you have the trick of only relocating the headquarters -- even if it is just an office. (This goes on with offshore tax havens all the time; companies have a tiny office in the Cayman Islands and claim they have no U.S. tax liability.) So any business tax has to be considered carefully. However, a business tax cannot be dismissed out of hand. One counter-weapon would be for consumers to boycott any company that relocated to avoid taxes. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 1:50 p.m.

Response to post #2: One thing that is NEVER going to happen is the U-T turning its editorial page over to Don Bauder. The U-T wouldn't dream of it, and I wouldn't dream of accepting it. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 2:04 p.m.

Response to post #3: You mention possible social unrest. It remains a worry. Today (April 14) is worth noting. The stock market continues to soar. Wall Street is in a sweet spot. The economy is recovering slowly, so inflation is no threat. Bernanke today reiterated that he would keep interest rates near zero for an extended period. It's the perfect Goldilocks economy -- not too hot to send interest rates up, and not too cold to send earnings plummeting. But look at a couple of other things: the low interest rates punish savers while Wall Street is feasting. The low rates also force savers to buy bonds and stocks. Unemployment remains high -- just as Wall Street desires, because Bernanke says he will keep rates low (zero to the big banks) as long as unemployment remains high. Housing is possibly headed for a second dip down. I look for the stock market and commodities (possibly even bonds for awhile) to continue riding higher unless there appears, as you point out, a Black Swan, or an unexpected development that throws a monkey wrench into everything. Wall Street's euphoria depends on Main Street's misery. That's nice for portfolios, mine included, but not healthy for social stability. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 2:08 p.m.

Response to post #4: Think about another possibility: a small tax on financial transactions -- stock, bond, commodity transactions. Wall Street would scream that such a tax would only drive the business offshore. But maybe we could talk the other money centers such as London to do the same thing. This would do more to balance budgets than taxes on gambling and drugs. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd April 14, 2010 @ 2:17 p.m.

To #8: Or, more broadly and as an incentive to Wall Street, a moderate tax on all transactions, regardless of outcome; the trade-off would be not having to report it as income (they don't anyway, the profit all goes off-seas somewhere). There are a lot of possibilities that make sense. Not many are being explored.

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Anon92107 April 14, 2010 @ 2:22 p.m.

Response to post #6 & 7:

Indeed, as long as the FBI continues to look the other way while

1) "Special-interest politics will not allow us to deal rationally with the problem" and

2) "Draconian cutbacks in safety and health resources are being used to pay off judges, politicians and the establishment instead of protecting San Diegans," then as you say

3) "The public is damned" and

4) the FBI is forcing "social unrest" as the only option to save the future for newer generations.

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Dennis April 14, 2010 @ 2:29 p.m.

I think the city should consider an income tax on non residents that work in the city. Every day thousands of non residents come into the city & use city resources (roads, sewers, police,fire etc) without paying a penny for them & complain about the quality of the resources while they are at it.

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David Dodd April 14, 2010 @ 2:46 p.m.

"I think the city should consider an income tax on non residents that work in the city."

But that's taxation with the benefit of representation. Work paychecks are taxed, regardless of where the worker lives, and to tax beyond that without offering a "non-resident representative" wouldn't be constitutional.

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Visduh April 14, 2010 @ 3:32 p.m.

Don, Even though the cost of avoiding taxes in one jurisdiction by relocating to another is often not effective, it doesn't stop residents and businesses from doing it. A few years back Buck Knives, which had employed upwards of 300 people at their plant in El Cajon decamped to Post Falls, Idaho. Lower labor costs were a factor, but taxes were also a reason for the move. I have personal knowledge of retirees who have established a "principal" residence in Nevada (while keeping the California home as a second residence.) All to avoid the 9.3% or more California income tax, the sales tax that is close to 10%, high car registration fees, and so on. Cost-effective? I can't say for sure, rather doubt it as you do, but they're doing it, and more are planning it. In microcosm, it can happen with businesses abandoning SD for Poway or Carlsbad or Oceanside or . . .

Raising taxes has consequences, many of them unintended. Beware.

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Dennis April 14, 2010 @ 3:35 p.m.

Response to #12 "But that's taxation with the benefit of representation. Work paychecks are taxed, regardless of where the worker lives, and to tax beyond that without offering a "non-resident representative" wouldn't be constitutional."

I think you may have meant "without" benefit of representation. Many other states and local governments have income taxes that are levied on the income earned within the state or municipal government boundaries. I believe San Francisco has some type of non resident tax.

I used to live in Pennsylvania & worked in Ohio. My income was taxed where I worked & in the state & local govt's in Pa. which also had income taxes but allowed a credit for the amount paid in Ohio or other state/local govt's. If the tax rate collected was lower than the tax rate in your state of residence you paid the difference.

I would also be in favor of an income tax for all residents including unearned income.

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Visduh April 14, 2010 @ 3:48 p.m.

Virginia and Maryland residents who work in the District of Columbia pay a DC income tax on their earnings. I'm sure that NYC has such a tax that hits residents of New Jersey, Connecticut and even more remote points. LA has talked of it for years, but I don't think they've done it yet. (All the more reason for a business to locate in Burbank or Alhambra.)

Taxation without representation is not prohibited by the Constitution. It was a big factor and issue in the Declaration of Independence, but that has no force of law. Ironic, huh?

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Richard_Rider April 14, 2010 @ 4:15 p.m.

I almost hope we DO put tax increases before the voters. I LOVE a good old fashioned massacre! At the polls, that is.

San Diego voters KNOW what the problem is -- our overly generous pay and insane benefits for our city employees.

As it now stands, our city public employee pay, pensions and "free" retire health care consume WELL over 80% of the city budget, and will get MUCH worse next year. All other city expenses and inefficiencies pale in comparison with this issue.

Until our city worker over-compensation problem is truly fixed, tax increases are DOA. Thank goodness!

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 5:48 p.m.

Response to post #9: Sounds like you're saying that the Wall Street firms would not report their trading gains, but only pay transactions taxes. I fear that would be no equitable trade-off.Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 5:55 p.m.

Response to post #10: I don't think the FBI is or could force social unrest. That is growing because of a perfect storm of economic phenomena. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 5:58 p.m.

Response to post #11: That possible tax is often discussed in various large cities. I would have to do homework to see if it has proved workable. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 6:04 p.m.

Response to post #12: "No taxation without representation" was a shibboleth in pre-revolution days, and is still used in political polemic, but I do not think the concept is in the Constitution. Best, Don Bauyder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 6:08 p.m.

Response to post #13: I was thinking of doing a Buck Knives column for the Reader about five years ago, but never got around to it. Probably labor costs were a bigger reason for that relocation than taxes, but taxes certainly played a role. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 6:11 p.m.

Response to post #14: Could you deduct those taxes from your federal taxes? How did the Ohio/Pa. tax work? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 6:14 p.m.

Response to post #15: I didn't think it was in the Constitution. Do the DC, NYC taxes work well? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 6:20 p.m.

Response to post #16: You are absolutely right that both compensation and pensions of City workers are excessive-- ridiculously so. But I am not so sure that tax increases will be massacred at the polls. It seems to me that the last attempt to raise the TOT only lost by a couple of percentage points, and that was because there were so many goodies hung on the Christmas tree. If San Diego has to wait for a tax increase until employee pay becomes sane, the City will likely go into bankruptcy. And that could be the best thing that could happen. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd April 14, 2010 @ 6:34 p.m.

I did mean that Dennis, sorry for the confusion.

My point is simple, a user tax doesn't fall under the same category as a City tax (based on only working there and not living there). In other words, if the City of San Diego wanted to tax people an extra 10% for lunch (for example), that's a user tax. But to tax someone living in, say, Santee just because they work in San Diego, and then those S.D. City taxes still do not give them the right to vote on issues affecting the City of San Diego? That would be wrong.

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Burwell April 14, 2010 @ 9:33 p.m.

Buck Knife took a tumble when it starting selling Chinese knives in Wal-Mart. I don't know if the company ever regained its place in the shade after that fiasco.

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 11:29 p.m.

Response to post #25: It may be wrong, but it's done. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 14, 2010 @ 11:30 p.m.

Response to post #26: Could be. I haven't looked into Buck Knives since it moved to Idaho. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd April 15, 2010 @ 6:35 a.m.

On Buck Knives' move to Idaho: http://www.allbusiness.com/management-companies-enterprises/1133631-1.html

Electricity costs, labor costs, and a move back to their roots, according to this 2002 article. At a company I worked for about thirteen years ago, we made parts for their knives and heard rumors about their plans to relocate, due to overall costs of running a business in California.

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Don Bauder April 15, 2010 @ 7:15 a.m.

Response to post #29: Before leaving, Buck Knives brass gave reasons for the departure. The high cost of running a business in California was the main one, as I recall. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 15, 2010 @ 8:40 a.m.

If San Diego is ever to get its financial house in order, it needs to deal with the outgo side and the income side

That's a winner. Simple math.

You cannot pay out $200K comp packages to GED gov employees like cop and ff. Employees who retire at age 50.

We now have two workforces, those "retired" at age 50 and living another 30-40+ years, and those who are currently working-for 30 years max, sometimes less.

Coem to think of it we may have close to 3 workforces if things are not fixed with the pension system and the "retirement" ages. They will get fixed though, thru BK-which I have said for the last 4 years was coming-and it is.

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Dennis April 15, 2010 @ 9:02 a.m.

Response to #22 "Could you deduct those taxes from your federal taxes? How did the Ohio/Pa. tax work? Best, Don Bauder" I don't recall about deducting from federal tax but assume it is the same as any other state that has income taxes. These numbers may not be accurate but as an example the Ohio/Pa. tax agreement worked like this: Pa. established reciprocal taxing agreements with bordering states.
Pa. had a personal income tax rate of 2.5%, Ohio's rate was 1%. The city where I lived in PA also had a 1% income tax rate, the city in Ohio where I worked did not have and income tax. My employer in Ohio deducted the 1% Ohio income tax from my wages and zero for local income tax. When filing state & local tax returns my W2 reflected the 1% paid to Ohio which I was then allowed to deduct from my Pa. tax owed. Pa. would then get 1.5% and Ohio retained their 1%. Since there was no local tax in the jurisdiction of my employment I owed the city of residence 1%. If I had lived in Ohio & worked in Pa. the opposite would occur. I would pay the 2.5% in Pa. where I worked and get a credit on filing the Ohio state tax of 1%.
I don't see an issue with the lack of representation with this scenario any more than there is with the TOT. Typically you pay income taxes in the state where you work, I believe there was a discussion some time back about the state getting taxes from pro football players for games played in Ca. when they lived elsewhere.

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Visduh April 15, 2010 @ 10:23 a.m.

Any state or local taxes levied on income are fully deductible on your federal return. The NYC income tax hits New York State residents who work in the city, along with residents from nearby states. As to whether there is double taxation of income I do not know. What I do remember was that to set up an office in Virginia for a former employer, I had to get set up with that commonwealth and Maryland, and DC. Since much of the payrolls are run by companies such as ADP and Administaff, the taxes are collected almost automatically. A small operator, doing his/her own payroll, might be able to evade collecting withholdings for a city. A big corporation would not even try.

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Don Bauder April 15, 2010 @ 11:28 a.m.

Response to post #31: I agree that very high City employee remuneration, along with early and exceedingly generous pensions, are breaking San Diego. It is also clear that Mayor Sanders is doing nothing about it. BK court may be the only solution. I have believed that since 2004. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 15, 2010 @ 11:31 a.m.

Response to post #32: I don't see a "taxation without representation" problem either. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 15, 2010 @ 11:35 a.m.

Response to post #33: ADP knows how to handle such situations. That's part of its job. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell April 15, 2010 @ 7:37 p.m.

A small operator, doing his/her own payroll, might be able to evade collecting withholdings for a city. A big corporation would not even try.

It is common in San Diego for partners in major law firms to earn $2 million per year. A guy can earn $1 million per year selling business insurance. Some medical doctors earn $50,000 per month. Thousands in San Diego earn incomes of this magnitude. The highly compensated would not sit still for this tax. If this wage tax was enacted, most law firms and other businesses with highly compensated workers would relocate outside the city limits. The office buildings in the Golden Triangle would become worthless overnite.

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David Dodd April 15, 2010 @ 7:47 p.m.

Okay, then maybe this is something to consider: Since City taxes are recoverable in other areas, is a user tax the best way to go?

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Don Bauder April 15, 2010 @ 8:28 p.m.

Response to post #37: That's one way to get rid of the downtown establishment. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 15, 2010 @ 8:29 p.m.

Response to post #38: Let's hear from our blogsters. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 16, 2010 @ 8:49 a.m.

It is common in San Diego for partners in major law firms to earn $2 million per year. A guy can earn $1 million per year selling business insurance. Some medical doctors earn $50,000 per month. Thousands in San Diego earn incomes of this magnitude. The highly compensated would not sit still for this tax.

B-I can guarantee you that there are (at most) probably just a HANDFUL of equity law firm partners-major firm or otherwise- that are pulling down $2 million a year in San Diego, same for doctors. Out of the tens of thousands.

The notion that "Thousands in San Diego earn incomes of this magnitude" is flat out false.

Please prove me wrong and back that claim up. There are certainly a few, but not thousands, maybe not even a hundred.

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paul April 16, 2010 @ 9:28 a.m.

SP,

Burwell's statement was sort of true, but was very unclear. I'm sure that senior partners in major law firms DO make $1 to $2 million per year (junior partners, maybe not), but there aren't very many "major" law firms, and the number of partners at that level then falls into your "handful".

I am sure there are quite a few high end doctors making $50,000 a month, but that is $600K per year, not $2 million.

If we are talking about incomes in the $400K to $600K range, then I would agree with Burwell that they are into the thousands, but if we are talking about $1 to $2 million per year, then I agree with you that there is a much lower number.

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Don Bauder April 16, 2010 @ 11:19 a.m.

Response to post #41: It is not uncommon for a securities lawyer in New York to make $2 million a year. It is certainly less common in San Diego. Probably more than a few doctors make $50,000 a month in San Diego. Remember, San Diego incomes are only about 20% above the national average, while the cost of living is 40% to 50% higher than the national norm. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 16, 2010 @ 11:46 a.m.

Response to post #42: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, physicians and surgeons made an average $202,250 in San Diego two years ago. Lawyers made $128,610. The normal bell curve would show that some are far above the average and some well below. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell April 16, 2010 @ 3:42 p.m.

Lawyers made $128,610. The normal bell curve would show that some are far above the average and some well below. Best, Don Bauder

Most lawyers in San Diego have nite school law degrees and struggle for years to eke out a meager living and 95% will never be successful. I know several. They live off their spouse's income and borrow money to pay their expenses. This is why average figures mean nothing. Any partner in a major law in San Diego who handles complex business transactions for public corporations earns well north of $1 million per year. I stand by my original statement: there are thousands in San Diego who earn incomes of $1 million or more. There are probably between ten and fifteen thousand San Diegans who earn between $400K and $600K per year.

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David Dodd April 16, 2010 @ 3:56 p.m.

"There are probably between ten and fifteen thousand San Diegans who earn between $400K and $600K per year."

I would have imagined that figure to be higher. No idea how to check it out for accuracy.

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Don Bauder April 16, 2010 @ 7:18 p.m.

Response to post #45: I wasn't necessarily arguing with what you said. I am just wondering how we might get an answer to that. Enough stats may be available that we could make an educated guess on how many lawyers are above $1 million in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 16, 2010 @ 7:20 p.m.

Response to post #46: We might be able to figure that one out using certain statistical techniques, but I don't have the time or expertise to do it. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 16, 2010 @ 7:25 p.m.

It is not uncommon for a securities lawyer in New York to make $2 million a year. It is certainly less common in San Diego.

I think maybe a handful of partners (as in less than 5) at a firm like Lerachs (now Coughlin, Stoia) MAY pull down $2 million, but the average partner in Big law in San Diego is not pulling in $2 million per yuear in comp, nor even $1 million.

When Brobeck Phleger and Harrison were FEASTING during the dot com bubble in the early 2000's they had the HIGHEST paid partner comp in this state with $1 million per partner-and this was at the height of the dot com bubble. Of course we know what happened, that bubble burst and BPH went BK. No more million dollar partners.

Now, if you want to say there are many people in the $400K range, 10K, 15K, I anm not going to argue that point. But the $2 million claim is WAY over the top.

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David Dodd April 16, 2010 @ 7:25 p.m.

I'm pretty good with statistics, but I would need a reliable source of data in which to mine some numbers. I have a difficult time trusting Government sites, because they are notoriously behind the current and often get caught padding the numbers to their advantage. One would think in this glorious time of free-flowing information, that there would be a credible and neutral source!

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SurfPuppy619 April 16, 2010 @ 7:38 p.m.

Most lawyers in San Diego have nite school law degrees and struggle for years to eke out a meager living and 95% will never be successful

While not totally accurate, this is somewhat true, and is where stats really get skewed. Most law grads today-night school or otherwise- are finding it impossible to find legal -work as a lawyer. The work is just not out there-and won't be in the future either.

There are 200 ABA law schools in America (and CA has at least 20 non ABA laws schools that allow them to sit for the CA bar exam), and they graduate about 50K new lawyers every single year, yet there are at most 20K new law jobs per year, so the vast majority of those newly minted attorneys will NOT get work as attorneys.

And the jobs that are out there are paying peanuts, usually $25K-$40K for a 60 hour work week with virtually no benefits of any kind.

Even the very top/elite law schools like Harvard and Yale are having problems finding employment for their grads. The state of Florida advertised a lawyer postition 4 months ago that paid minimum wage-yes you read that right, FL offered a state attorney job that paid minimum wage (they claimed the benefits made it worth it!).

So the pay for lawyers has been decreasing steadily and I don't see that changing anytime soon-like pretty much most jobs in America (unless you are in on the gov employment lottery).

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Don Bauder April 17, 2010 @ 6:13 a.m.

Response to post #49: There is no doubt that San Diego IPO lawyers raked in outsize remuneration during the bubble -- and then it ended ignominiously. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 17, 2010 @ 6:16 a.m.

Response to post #50: Actually, it was President Herbert Hoover who pushed government statisticians to come up with accurate data so policy makers could make intelligent decisions. But in intervening years, politics has entered the picture; much of the data aren't reliable anymore. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 17, 2010 @ 6:19 a.m.

Response to post #51: It's a supply/demand situation. The schools cranked out too many lawyers. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell April 17, 2010 @ 12:51 p.m.

When Brobeck Phleger and Harrison were FEASTING during the dot com bubble in the early 2000's they had the HIGHEST paid partner comp in this state with $1 million per partner-and this was at the height of the dot com bubble.

This is probably an average figure for all partners in all offices. Partners in Silicon Valley were probably earning $15 to $20 million each per year. Partners are paid based on what they produce for the firm.

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Don Bauder April 17, 2010 @ 1:18 p.m.

Response to post #55: The intelligent Brobeck lawyers must have known that the world they had helped create was insane. Think of the IPOs priced at $18, first trade at $60, closed the first day at $100. There were many like these in San Diego. The smart Brobeck lawyers knew it was a fantasy world and were plotting what to do when the bubble inevitably burst. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell April 17, 2010 @ 3:52 p.m.

The smart Brobeck lawyers knew it was a fantasy world and were plotting what to do when the bubble inevitably burst. Best, Don Bauder

The Rolling Stone article indicates that most of the IPOs during the internet bubble were actually orchestrated by Goldman Sachs ("GS"). GS would design a concept for a company, and then find MBA hacks willing to front for GS as organizers of the IPO. GS, through various straw entities, would own or indirectly control, most of the shares. After the company went public GS would drive the share price into the stratosphere and then cash out at the top of the market. All the small investors who were refinancing their homes and borrowing on credit cards to buy these shares on margin were ruined by the scheme. And not a single GS employee went to jail.

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Don Bauder April 17, 2010 @ 5:18 p.m.

Response t post #57: The IPO scam has been around forever. San Diego has been a center of it in the last couple of decades. The insiders give themselves shares for a penny apiece or so. The company goes public as soon as Wall Street thinks it can sell the issue; it has nothing to do with whether the company has a product or a viable business plan. Wall Street drives the stock up by romancing it. The insiders get rid of as much stock as they can as soon as they can (there are restrictions on how much can be sold how quickly.) When the stock collapses, shareholders who bought at the market are wiped out while the insiders are rich forever. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 18, 2010 @ 8:51 p.m.

The Rolling Stone article indicates that most of the IPOs during the internet bubble were actually orchestrated by Goldman Sachs ("GS").

Goldman was #2 in IPO offerings, as I recall.

Frank Quattrone at Credit Suisse was #1 in IPO offerings........

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Don Bauder April 18, 2010 @ 9:12 p.m.

Response to post #59: Quattrone got off, too. Whether Goldman or Credit Suisse was #1 during the bubble period is something I don't know. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister April 30, 2010 @ 9:41 p.m.

Looky here--62 responses to this piece! Reader, pay attention. Bauder is not just an asset, he's a JEWEL!

But I CAN believe my eyes, because I can't believe my eyes--that more taxes is the way out of "the problem."

Golf courses, of course, are NOT essential government services. But they are DEEMED essential. Government services are those which the governed consent to be taxed for--period. That's INFORMED consent, not MISINFORMED hoodwinking into voting the way those with enough bucks to hire professional liars to mislead and manipulate a public who elects representatives in good faith to act in their best interests. Anything else DEFINES malfeasance in office and a betrayal of the public trust.

Am I speaking in tongues here, or what?

It's very simple. An input-output diagram, posted on the City's website and continuously updated, showing what comes in from where and what goes out to where and when. WHERE IS IT?

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Don Bauder May 1, 2010 @ 7:20 a.m.

Response to post #61: If spending cuts are proposed, constituents scream. Ditto for tax increases. So the budget is balanced by prestidigitation and the realistic deficits are passed to future generations. It's a stalemate that requires leadership. Donna Frye has it, but she is termed out and says she won't run for mayor. Carl DeMaio shows leadership when battling excessive public sector pay and fringes, but he meekly bows to the corporate welfare schemes pushed by his financial backers. That is half-leadership. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister May 2, 2010 @ 2:34 p.m.

Ok, we don't need "municipal" golf courses. That's a start. Let's get SPECIFIC!

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Don Bauder May 2, 2010 @ 7:39 p.m.

Response to post #63: San Diego's crying need is more recreational facilities -- possibly including municipal golf courses, although the county has so many courses that an argument can be made against them. What would happen if some politician said the city should sell Torrey Pines and Balboa courses to developers? Best,Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 May 2, 2010 @ 8:41 p.m.

Golf courses, of course, are NOT essential government services.

I am backing twister on this issue. Muni golf courses are not a wise use of public money or resources, because of the limited use the public receives. Low ROI.

Gold courses take up a ton of space, space which can only be used by a LIMITED amount of the public-and only those who own golf clubs at that.

I would tear the greens out and make them all parks-that way everyone could use and enjoy the area, not just the elite few.....a Par 3 would be OK, but no full 9-18 hole courses.......

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Don Bauder May 3, 2010 @ 8:30 a.m.

Response to post #65: I am not necessarily disagreeing with SP and Twister. I am just asking: can you imagine the outburst? Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 May 3, 2010 @ 2:54 p.m.

I am not talking price. I think the main problem is that you have very limited use for such a large parcel of land.

Only a handful of people can use a golf course at any given time, and the amount of space the take up (and the cost to maintain) is tremendous-at least in the case of Torrey Pines. Mission Bay is pretty small, I don't know about Balboa.

The golf course in Coronado, right at the end of the bridge going in, is a muni-but I guess Coronado owns that one.

Again, I am not even talking price-I am talking strictly return on investment. For such a big amount of land, more people should be able to use the facility.

And no, I don't golf. It is a finesse game. I am not finesse.

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Don Bauder May 3, 2010 @ 4:58 p.m.

Response to post #67: Here's another angle: nationwide, there are too many golf courses. The game has declined, although that may be temporary. Courses are overbuilt and have gone broke. There are courses that are vastly underused in San Diego County. Dare anybody suggest that the muni courses owned by the City be turned into recreation areas? San Diego definitely lacks park and rec areas, and their usefulness has been hurt by the budget cutbacks. But the politician who suggests converting the Balboa or Torrey Pines courses into rec areas might get decapitated. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 3, 2010 @ 5 p.m.

Response to post #68: We should find out how much it costs for the City to subsidize those courses every year. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 3, 2010 @ 8:04 p.m.

Response to post #71: Neither SP in #68 nor I in #69 said that SD's muni courses are underused. I said that that some private courses in SD are hurting and some are underused. The muni courses are not. But the fact that people could play golf in the underused private courses might justify, in some minds, using the muni courses for something else. (But the politician suggesting it would be crucified.) Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 4, 2010 @ 6:35 a.m.

Response to post #73: You may be right that muni courses are cheaper than public fee course in San Diego County. I admit I don't know the answer to that. Best, Don Bauder

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