Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
Did Somebody Change the Charter?
San Diego City Charter Section 80 states that the City can't appropriate money for a contract, agreement or other obligation unless the Auditor and Comptroller certify that the required money is "IN THE TREASURY." But the City is going ahead with the downtown library even though there is a shortfall of $32.5 million of money needed. The City is assuming the money will come forward. The Turner Construction Company, which is doing the project, is due to receive an amount not to exceed $127.9 million.
A document called a "Certificate of Unallotted Balance," signed by James Long, an accountant working for the Comptroller says, "I hereby certify that the money required for the allotment of funds for the purpose of the foregoing resolution is available in the Treasury OR IS ANTICIPATED TO COME INTO THE TREASURY." Hmm.
A "Certificate of Unencumbered Balance" signed by Comptroller Ken Whitfield uses the same verbiage: sufficient funds are "actually in the Treasury, OR ARE ANTICIPATED TO COME INTO THE TREASURY." Hmm again. This seems to me like going to the bank for a $50 million loan, and trying to put up a lottery ticket as collateral.
"It is a big difference to say money is in the bank and the check is in the mail," says former City Attorney Mike Aguirre.
The Sanders administration, in its self-professed wisdom, refuses to speak to the Reader. So I can't get any explanation for this. But it looks to me that the Charter has been violated, or unilaterally changed in some way. Was the public made aware of this change? If somebody either inside or outside the administration has an explanation for me, I would like to hear it.
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