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Gov. Jerry Brown today (Jan. 10), in revealing his budget, proposed major changes in redevelopment procedure that, if passed by the legislature, could take giant steps to eliminate abuses that have transformed laws meant to help the poor into a money machine for wealthy real estate developers. Brown "is proposing to eliminate redevelopment agencies, not redevelopment," says Vlad Kogan, PhD candidate in political science at the University of California San Diego. City councils will make redevelopment decisions, not agencies. Brown would "eliminate the legal fiction that the redevelopment agency is separate from the city." The governor's plan "eliminates the entire idea of tax increment financing -- the idea that free money would be lost" if a project weren't approved. A city council would have to OK a project and find the money to fund it. Brown would lower the threshold for voters to approve a tax increase to 55% in many cases. Under the proposed changes, "if you want to do something, you have to raise taxes; there is no incentive to create blight where none exists." Also, "The money saved will go to local governments. It creates a political constituency -- police unions, firefighter unions."

Redevelopment law is supposed to eliminate blight and provide affordable housing. But the blight is often a fiction and, particularly in San Diego, affordable housing has been neglected.

Steve Erie, professor of political science at UCSD, explains that technically, the San Diego city council is the redevelopment agency, but it routinely passes the decisions to the Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC). "In San Diego we have been playing hide the pea. CCDC is a shell game. City council says it is not our decision and it lets CCDC determine where the money flows." So it flows downtown. Neighborhoods are neglected. The city slashes fire and police protection, cuts library hours, doesn't keep up with maintenance and infrastructure while it pushes for downtown projects. The staff of CCDC is largely made up of people from the development industry who pick the pockets of the neighborhoods and line the pockets of downtown developers. "Under Brown's plan there will be political accountability," says Erie, who thinks the new slogan may be "Potholes over Sports Stadiums." Kogan believes that if Brown's proposal passes, and the San Diego city council has to decide whether to plunk $600 million to $800 million into subsidizing a Chargers stadium downtown, and taxes would have to be raised, "it would be dead on arrival." Erie and Kogan are working on a paper showing how downtown Los Angeles has experienced a renaissance without taxpayer money. LA neighborhoods, meantime, have received the attention they deserve.

Under current redevelopment laws, "You can build a football stadium for a billionaire family and do it with money that otherwise would go to educating children," says Jim Mills, former president pro tem of the state senate. "CCDC has been squandering money," he says. It won't put money into needed transit, for example, even though studies say it should. "CCDC has lost its reason for existence," he says. Mills says that the development industry will put tremendous pressure on the legislature to defeat Brown's proposal. Builders have the clout and the funds to buy off legislators. "Republicans like welfare for the rich but not welfare for the poor."

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 Jan. 11, 2011 @ 12:16 p.m.

Im with BROWN on this one-100%.

Hopefully it will also gut CCDC and SEDC.

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Don Bauder Jan. 11, 2011 @ 1:30 p.m.

CCDC and SEDC must both be abolished. CCDC, in particular, is one major reason for unfilled potholes, a rotten infrastructure, cutbacks in police and fire service, badly lagging maintenance, poor schools. Money that should be going to neighborhoods and essential services are stolen by CCDC and spent downtown on projects that should be financed 100% with private capital -- not taxpayer money. CCDC is corporate socialism personified. But do San Diegans understand this? Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Jan. 11, 2011 @ 9:15 p.m.

I'm overjoyed.

Don, you know I've been speaking out against the deeply corrupt CCDC and its disastrous effects on San Diego for over a decade now. I've been met with nothing but scorn and derision from "officials" who know what's best for us stupid voters.

The Governor's proposal is sweet sanity for a change.

Redevelopment started with a noble purpose, but it has been hijacked and perverted into the worst kind of public entity, whose sole purpose has become to siphon money away from public purposes and put it into the hands of cronies.

Hurray for Brown!

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 6:43 a.m.

Yes, you have been speaking out, Fred. And you have been right. It has always given me a chuckle that redevelopment's biggest supporters are the supposed capitalists who speak fondly of free enterprise, entrepreneurship without government interference, etc. But corporate socialism benefitting the rich is called a "public/private partnership" and those who oppose it are called "obstructionists." The concept of redevelopment has been hijacked for the subsidization of shopping centers, hotels, ballparks, stadiums, etc. It's the billionaires who benefit. This was never the intention of the legislation. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 5:26 p.m.

RE: your last line, "put it into the hands of cronies".

I think I would suggest this wording:

... put it into the hands of cronies that then support those Leaders that decide to play along...

Kehoe did it and is now a State Senator and Atkins did it and has just gotten elected to the State Legislature...

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johnsd Jan. 11, 2011 @ 10:43 p.m.

Welfare is welfare. It is the taking the money from the citizens to give it to the well connected. In the case of welfare for the poor, they are just the props for the bureaucracy that takes about 70% of the funds. Some temporary welfare is necessary in some cases, but should not be a way of life.

My father used to say that "socialismo es para el socio listo," or roughly translated "socialism is for the astute member or insider."

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 6:45 a.m.

Your father was very wise. I just wish more San Diegans understood the blatant theft that is going on. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 12, 2011 @ 8:23 a.m.

It is the taking the money from the citizens to give it to the well connected. In the case of welfare for the poor, they are just the props for the bureaucracy that takes about 70% of the funds.

Actually in the case of the EDD (state unemployment agency) the amount is $4 of admin costs for every $1 of benefit-80% of the funds to administer the program. That is outrageous.

If it were a private charity EDD would be sued civilly and possibly charged criminally.

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 2:14 p.m.

I'll say this for the EDD, though. It puts together a lot of very good and meaningful statistics. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 5:18 p.m.

Ha Ha I guess they are being paid to make lots of statistics, but are they finding folks meaningful JOBS?

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Don Bauder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 7:51 a.m.

The EDD runs into the same question confronting other bureaucracies: can government really create jobs, other than within government? Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 5:19 p.m.

Great Comment on yet another State Agency that is BLOATED!

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Don Bauder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 7:52 a.m.

Hopefully, Brown will look into such problems. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 2:18 p.m.

This is an experiment we have been running for several years. To enhance communication with readers, I answer their comments on my columns and blog items. This idea is not exclusive with the Reader. I have seen it done by other websites. I don't see it as a conflict of interest; it's just a way to generate more interest and traffic on the site, and, as I said, enhance two-way communication. Best, Don Bauder

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paul Jan. 12, 2011 @ 3:09 p.m.

Why would you not want to interact with the author of a blog entry, to ask questions and get clarifications?

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 10:03 p.m.

I don't consider this a conflict at all. It's a way to generate more interaction with our readers. Best, Don Bauder

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johnsd Jan. 12, 2011 @ 11:09 p.m.

Don's comments on this blog, and his articles, make them more informative. One of the reasons that I comment and is to generate a dialogue. Sometimes I completely agree with Don and other times I completely disagree with him, but almost always I learn. The job he does on bringing sunshine to insider dealings is invaluable to creating a well-informed public.

If Don were disrespectful or censor those with whom he disagreed, then I may agree with your comment.

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Don Bauder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 8 a.m.

That's the whole idea of this blog. We want people on all sides of various issues to state their views. In my own case, I don't care if they do it insultingly. I don't believe in gentle discourse when the problems have us on the brink of an abyss. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 8:32 a.m.

The exchange is what attracts most of the quality posts!

My suggestion is for those that con't like it to post somewhere else, nobody is begging them to post her and most likely they are Phoboggers*...

  • Urban Dictionary: Phobogger: Phony Blogger, someone that is getting paid and or promoting Spin to disrupt a blog discussion.
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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 2:19 p.m.

No problem. I occasionally spell it wrong myself. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 13, 2011 @ 8:58 a.m.

No problem. I occasionally spell it wrong myself.

!!!!!

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 10:05 p.m.

I don't know how many times I have to reply to satisfy you. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 5:16 p.m.

I always have been and continue to be for making sure ReDev. money goes to ReDev. instead of Guacamole Bowl Stadiums

But one thing in this story has me concerned and it has not been mentioned in the comments so far:

"Also, the money saved will go to local governments. It creates a political constituency -- police unions, firefighter unions".

Is this just a grab of ReDev. $ to put more funds into the Union Pensions?

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 10:08 p.m.

It was not your quote. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2011 @ 10:07 p.m.

Basically, the reason police and fire unions may come out in favor of Brown's policy is exactly what you perceive: they want it for their pension funds. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 9:15 a.m.

I agree, Brown is extending a "handout" to the Big Unions as a way to stay on good their side in the current fiscal fiasco, at the cost of the ReDev. employees statewide that have become a little too powerful too fast...

☯ *

Fiscal Fiasco

Our Leaders running amok

Protecting themselves

*From http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/np-star/2010/aug/14/haiku-a-day/#c81216

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Don Bauder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 10:06 a.m.

Brown seems to be betting that the voters would rather help out school teachers than subsidize big businesses, fattening their profits. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 13, 2011 @ 11:31 a.m.

Brown seems to be betting that the voters would rather help out school teachers than subsidize big businesses, fattening their profits.

School teachers do not need any "helping out", they are already comping serious money for a part time job, have 100% bullet proof job security.

TYhey should have their pay and benefits frozen for 5-10 years IMO.

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Don Bauder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 2:38 p.m.

IMO, school teachers have a difficult job, and if anything deserve higher pay. And they do NOT have 100% bullet-proof job security. Best,, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 13, 2011 @ 3:45 p.m.

Don, they sure do have 100% bullet proof job security-tenure-teachers are not canned once they have tenure. We are in the worst depression in 80 years and no school district has canned any teachers. It is virtually inmpossible to can them after they have tenure.

I also question why you think a job that has a salary of $40K starting, $80K+ at the top of the pay scale, and another $40K in benefits is not good enough. They only work 37 weeks per year. $120K comp and only working 37 weeks per year, with no fear of being laid off or canned, is about as good as it gets.

Seriously, why do you think $60K average in salary is not enough for a part time job?

What do you feel is fair for a 37 week per year job (putting aside the value of tenure which to me is worth at least another $25K per year on it's own)?

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Don Bauder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 9:40 p.m.

SP, you don't know what you are talking about. I have been married almost 50 years to a lady who taught both on the high school and college levels. At high schools, she would teach 5 classes -- 165 students a day, three different topics. She would have to prepare new classes each night for each of the classes, plus grade papers. And dealing with students can be a nightmare. She went on to get a PhD in plant ecology at UC-Davis (while we were raising two sons) and taught at SDSU. That was no picnic, either. Teachers work extremely hard and burn out fast because of the strains. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 13, 2011 @ 11:21 p.m.

Don, you prepare classes-lesson plans-once! You do not do it repeatedly, once they have been prepared you teach the same plan over and over-modify it if thinbgs change-but if you'e teaching English or history and many others they stay the same! Again I as, what do you feel is the proper compensation for a job where you work 37 weeks per year?

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Don Bauder Jan. 13, 2011 @ 9:42 p.m.

I don't take comments personally, even when the invective darts are aimed at me. Best, Don Bauder

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waave Jan. 31, 2011 @ 2:29 p.m.

Don: You have many valid criticisms of redevelopment but reason gets lost in your rant. Your opinion piece is so full invective and venom that it loses credibility to all but the suburban fortress minded angry white males who rant against anything that does not subsidize white flight to the burbs - and the infrastructure to support California's sprawling suburbs is far more expensive than redevelopment will ever be. The basic problem is too small a tax revenue pie to support both local and state public needs (or too large a public appetite). There are many good things that redevelopment does, such as minimize red tape and lower bureaucratic hurdles for projects in redevelopment areas, as well as build affordable housing. Hopefully, Gov. Brown's proposal will result in a compromise that will rein in some of the excesses and retain the benefits of redevelopment.

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