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One reason San Diego is technically insolvent is that nonsensical arguments have dominated decision-making for years. In the Union-Tribune the last two days (July 6 and July 7) there was one story about good sense creeping into public discourse -- offset, of course, by another story about egregious nonsense. Both these stories were by Michael Smolens. First, let's take the nonsense. The Downtown San Diego Partnership, a quintessential corporate welfare organization, declared that the public should not be permitted to vote on the $293.5 million proposal to build a new city hall because the cost of the vote -- $250,000 -- would be a drag on taxpayers. Huh? Spend $293.5 million so you can save $250,000? That's like the Chargers' logic for the subsidization of a new football stadium: the current stadium costs $17.1 million a year, so build a new one for $700 million. Former Councilmember Bruce Henderson says it's clear that the partnership fears the public won't support the city hall proposal. (Its backers, of course, claim the City will actually save money by shelling out more. That argument has been shown to be fraudulent time and again.)

But then comes an intelligent statement. The Lincoln Club, the Republican money-doling operation, has come out against a sales tax increase. (I am not saying whether the tax proposal itself is a good or bad idea.) But the Lincoln Club, long a backer of corporate welfare for its fat-cat members, made this highly intelligent observation: "Any city sales tax increase would doubtless go to funding fat pensions, union salaries, the new downtown library, a new city hall, and a new stadium...all while park and library hours are cut, sewer pipes break, and potholes go unfilled." Amen. The Lincoln Club now has "a group of people reflecting the new reality of Republican politics," says Henderson, a Republican. "The Lincoln Club was no friend of mine when I stood up to the Chargers and the Padres," says Henderson, but it appears to be seeing the economic fatuity of corporate welfare. But don't celebrate too soon: "The problem with groups like the Lincoln Club is that they are driven by funding." A few nabobs seeking government handouts could give a bundle to the club, and it will change its tune.

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 July 8, 2010 @ 9:05 a.m.

The Lincoln Club, the Republican money-doling operation, has come out against a sales tax increase. (I am not saying whether the tax proposal itself is a good or bad idea.)

Don, come on, it is a HORRIBLE idea.

The sales tax is a regressive tax that has nearly doubled in CA. during the last 20 years. That is ridiculous. And as I have said before, this is a tax that goes not to a better government and improved or government services, but right into the pockets and pensions of public employees.

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a2zresource July 8, 2010 @ 9:13 a.m.

Lest anyone have doubts about the rah-rah connection between the Downtown Partnership and developers, from http://downtownsandiego.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/business.br_redev

"For a comprehensive look at the Downtown redevelopment projects, call the Centre City Development Corporation at (619) 533-7100 or visit them on the web at www.ccdc.com. There, you'll be able to learn about the history of redevelopment in San Diego, download the latest housing guide and obtain up-to-date information on all redevelopment projects.

"The Centre City Development Corporation is the public, non-profit corporation created by the City of San Diego to staff and implement Downtown redevelopment projects and programs. Formed in 1975, the corporation serves on behalf of the Redevelopment Agency as the catalyst for public-private partnerships to facilitate redevelopment projects adopted pursuant to redevelopment law. Through an operating agreement, CCDC is the Agency's representative in the development of retail, residential, office, hotel, cultural, educational and public improvement projects."


I really like the part about "pursuant to redevelopment law."

Can't have too much paying attention to the law at CCDC, can we?

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 10:30 a.m.

Response to post #1: I agree that the sales tax is a regressive tax that punishes the economy. There are better taxes that have to be imposed. But Prop. 13 limits the ability to gain funds from property taxes, and, of course, values are now declining. In San Diego, an increase in the TOT tax is overdue; it's a good deal lower than hotel taxes in competing markets. But the money reaped from a TOT increase should be used wisely. In saying I was taking no position on the suggested sales tax increase, I was simply saying that I was lauding the Lincoln Club's statement on money being wasted on corporate welfare, not necessarily lauding its opposition to the tax. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 10:34 a.m.

Response to post #2: It is time to get rid of CCDC. If it ever had any usefulness -- and that's a point of debate -- that time is past. CCDC is run by and for local developers and snubs its nose at city council, which is supposed to be running it. The downtown partnership is a propaganda group doing CCDC's PR. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource July 8, 2010 @ 12:38 p.m.

Apparently, instead of getting rid of CCDC, the City Council will attempt again to get rid of $288 million in Redevelopment Agency debt next week (July 13), some of which must have ended up either at CCDC and/or in the annual bonuses of SEDC staffers during the reign of Carolyn Smith.

I wonder if anybody at City Redevelopment has let HUD's Office of the Inspector General in on this one... or if anyone has flagged this HUD community block grant disappearing act as an internal City complaint...

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a2zresource July 8, 2010 @ 12:55 p.m.

RE #5:

I may have jumped the gun on Tuesday's City Council Item 335 "Cessation of Interest Accrual on [Redevelopment] Agency Debt to the City and Extinguishment of Agency Community Development Block Grant (CDGB) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 108 Debt to the City. Barrio Logan, Centre City, City Heights, College Area, Eastern Area, Linda Vista, Mid-City, Midway/Pacific Highway, Peninsula, Old Town, North Park, San Ysidro, and Southeastern San Diego Community Areas. Districts 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8.)"

The staff recommendation is to adopt the resolution R-2010-864, but at the top of the agenda item, it states in bold:

NOTE: It is anticipated that this item will be returned to staff.

Good riddance. It's either that, or the note was just intended to keep attendance light and comments breezy.

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SurfPuppy619 July 8, 2010 @ 1:54 p.m.

CCDC and SEDC both should have been canned, at a minimum, 2 years ago when their so called CEO's were both busted for ripping off the taxpaying public.

They really should have been canned 20 years ago b/c their ROI/ROTI to the taxpaing public is a negative.

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 2:07 p.m.

Response to post #5: I don't know about this matter. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 2:09 p.m.

Response to post #6: It sounds like the item will be back, and deserves to be scrutinized. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 2:15 p.m.

Response to post #7: If you are going to operate loosely and beyond the rules, you need a person with loose ethics to run the ship. I am convinced that is why Nancy Graham was brought in to head CCDC -- not despite her dubious conflicts of interest in Florida, but BECAUSE of them. Before she ever arrived in San Diego, I wrote a column on her and her sullied record there. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh July 8, 2010 @ 3:09 p.m.

It is a real "cold day in Hell" when any organization that is part of that downtown establishment comes out in opposition to a fee boost, giveaway plan, or construction boondoggle. So, the Lincoln Club has it right. (Where do I join?) The sales tax boost will not help the things the residents really want, and the things that are being slashed now.

A couple years ago, our nabobs here in Vista managed to push a sales tax boost through the voters, a fact that amazed me at the time. It was carefully orchestrated with a goody for each of several local pressure groups. The public safety crowd got two new fire stations (although there was no real mention of how the city could afford to staff them.) The elders got a new stage building at the Moonlight Ampitheater. And the "bigger is better" civic boosters got a new city hall. The old city hall had been allowed to deteriorate and looked like something out of the third world. But now, of course, instead of the office being a less-than-pleasant place to waste one's time, it will be ultra-attractive, and suits and dresses and high heels will be everywhere. (That is, the managers will never go out and see what is actually happening, or to be more exact, not happening.) Will the city be better run as a result? LOL

While I cannot escape that higher sales tax on a motor vehicle, regardless of where I buy it, I do make sure that I spend most of my taxable dollars in Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos or Escondido. Not only does the City of Vista lose my extra tax, it loses its entire cut of it when I spend elsewhere. So, if the City of San Diego wants to try that, let them! And watch the residents spend their dollars in nearby cities and unincorporated areas that do not have the override. The City of San Diego also keeps talking up how it is business friendly. I'm hard pressed to think of anything more business unfriendly than a sales tax boost.

As to raising the TOT, that's fine. Just make sure the visitors are getting something for their money. Visiting run-down parks, driving on potholed streets, and paying rip-off room rates in crumbling motels, will not help SD remain a preferred destination.

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SurfPuppy619 July 8, 2010 @ 4:36 p.m.

A couple years ago, our nabobs here in Vista managed to push a sales tax boost through the voters, a fact that amazed me at the time.

I am sure a large portion of that tax went to fund the pulbic safety pensions too, which is what La Mesa did a year or two ago with their sales tax request, and I may be wrong but El Cajon migh have done the same thing.

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a2zresource July 8, 2010 @ 4:57 p.m.

RE #8:

Item 335 on next Tuesday's San Diego City Council agenda (July 13, 2010) is to erase $288 million in loans to Redevelopment Agency, where loans were at least in part from HUD community development block grants that were illegally allowed to gather interest (instead of used immediately?) according to HUD Office of Inspector General's report.

I am hoping that my earlier blogging had something to do with City Council yanking it from June 22 agenda and postponing the loan "extinguishment" consideration until July 13.

Above blog post has link to HUD Inspector General's report

A link to the tentative results from June City Council meeting where part of the relevant resolution at item 203a was adopted (didn't blog about that) but loan "extinguishment" at 203b was postponed to July 13:

http://dockets.sandiego.gov/sirepub/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=715&doctype=Summary

Because the City website keeps "rotating" the directories where supporting documents are stored, three of those documents are now archived at http://sdreader.stickywebs.com

I still kind of wish that my blog posts were eligible for that $500 neighborhood blog prize...

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 8:31 p.m.

Response to post #11: You are correct that one bad side effect of a sales tax boost (there are several) is townsfolk shopping in nearby municipalities with a lower tax. And you make an excellent point: San Diego County's rundown infrastructure, lack of maintenance, potholes and sewage problems hurt tourism just as they hurt the locals. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 8:32 p.m.

Response to post #12: It should be easy to check whether receipts from the sales tax increase went in part to fund pensions. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 8:34 p.m.

Response to post #13: In this digital world, it is hard to keep information from spreading. Good going. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel July 8, 2010 @ 9:51 p.m.

I KNOW THAT CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IS UNACCEPTABLE NOW BUT

it's time to cut a switch

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SurfPuppy619 July 8, 2010 @ 11:26 p.m.

It should be easy to check whether receipts from the sales tax increase went in part to fund pensions.

Send Richard Rider an email asking to confirm that-he rallied against it for the exact same reason.

National City passed the exact same sales tax hike a year or two ago for the same reason, to fund the multi million dollar PD pensions.

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 6:56 a.m.

Response to post #17: The arcane meaning of poet Nan's utterance escapes me. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 6:59 a.m.

Response to post #18: There are two factors plaguing most ailing cities: 1. Corporate welfare expenses; 2. Excessive pay and pensions for employees. Sales tax increases will probably go to both. Remember, the books can be juggled to hide where some of this money goes. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 9, 2010 @ 8:40 a.m.

Yep Don, the corporate give aways and the public comp/benefit giveaways- a double whammy to the taxpayers.

Narrow special interests, taking from the many to benefit the chosen/rich/connected few.

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 11:45 a.m.

Response to post #21: It's called capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich. The mogul takes the gain and the public takes the risk. Best, Don Bauder

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