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The American Political Science Association has given its Best Book of 2011 award to "Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Failures in San Diego." It was published by Stanford University Press. Authors are Steve Erie, professor of political science at the University of California San Diego; Vlad Kogan, a PhD candidate in political science at UCSD, and Scott MacKenzie, assistant professor of political science at the University of California Davis. Generally, the book shows how San Diego leadership lets the infrastructure rot and neighborhoods crumble while any available money is steered downtown for subsidized structures that should be financed with private capital. The political science association says of the book, "Meticulously researched and convincingly argued, 'Paradise Plundered' represents urban political science at its best."

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Twister Sept. 1, 2012 @ 8:32 a.m.

Has anybody ever checked election years against infrastructure improvement contracts and departmental budget allocations/capital improvement program, and disparities/shuffling in scheduling? Seems there's been a flurry of activity in some neighborhoods.

The history of "outsourcing" work once done by city workers might be an interesting subject too.

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Don Bauder Sept. 1, 2012 @ 11:50 a.m.

Good idea, Twister. Do the potholes get filled up in election years? And I agree that the highly-heralded outsourcing should go under the microscope. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Sept. 2, 2012 @ 3:32 p.m.

"Outsourcing," or "contracting out" government work is an old technique of the "good ol' boy" system, but it seems to be increasing exponentially. It's another way to pick the taxpayers' pockets and get re-election contributions at the same time--not to mention industry rewards after retirement like posh offices, pretty sexretaries, and stadium boxes--ad nauseam post-government retirement, aka "tripple-dipping."

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Don Bauder Sept. 2, 2012 @ 6:13 p.m.

Exactly. That was one reason why I opposed the SD outsourcing plan. Some folks are claiming that political donors haven't gotten the contracts, but I haven't checked if there is validity to that. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Sept. 2, 2012 @ 10:01 p.m.

They know how to cover their tracks, but every now and then they screw up. Every lie lies cloaked in a veneer of truth.

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 1:26 p.m.

In San Diego, particularly, it's wise to assume that information fed by the city or county is questionable. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 2, 2012 @ 8:19 p.m.

"Outsourcing," or "contracting out" government work is an old technique of the "good ol' boy" system, but it seems to be increasing exponentially. It's another way to pick the taxpayers' pockets and get re-election contributions at the same time--"

This is the exact same problem-campaign $$ and picking taxpayer pockets- with public sector unions as well unfortunately.

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Twister Sept. 2, 2012 @ 10:04 p.m.

Well, yeah--we've come to think that if we're not hustlin' we're not doing our job. Or, if we're hustlin' we're just doin' our job! Like the 16-year-old Hooters waitress.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 2, 2012 @ 10:33 p.m.

Hooters, can honestly say I have never ever been in one...payng $25 for wings and a coke is not my idea of a fun time.

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 1:32 p.m.

I've never been in a Hooters either. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 1:30 p.m.

I don't know the story of a 16-year old Hooters waitress. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 1:28 p.m.

At some point there will be few pockets left to pick. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Sept. 3, 2012 @ 5:13 p.m.

Hey, no lie, esé! When the Golden Goose (aka The Consumer) ain’t got no thing to spend, what dey gonna do den?

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 8:53 p.m.

You see the drift, Twister. Consumers account for 71% of the economy. Every time the Fed comes up with a program to lower interest rates, long or short, the vast spread between the upper 10% and the rest of the nation worsens as stocks and bonds rise and savings accounts pay less. The middle class deteriorates. So does the economy. Best, Don Bauder

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Jimgee Sept. 3, 2012 @ 1:08 p.m.

I find it interesting that the book draws a one-to-one correspondence between funding of the Ballpark and Convention Center, and the structural budget deficit. It also makes a strong case that pension-deficit trouble is a symptom, not the cause. The UT editorial board will be sick to their stomachs when (if) they read this book.

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 1:36 p.m.

Oh yes. This book takes apart the ballpark deal and finds it a big positive for John Moores, but a negative for citizens. The convention center is questioned, too. I am sure the U-T editorial board has never approved of this book. There are too many uncomfortable truths in it. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 3, 2012 @ 6:07 p.m.

It also makes a strong case that pension-deficit trouble is a symptom, not the cause.

I have not read the book but was under the imprssion that the pensions were a HUGE cause of the problem......Don, is that correct or not?

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Fred Williams Sept. 3, 2012 @ 11:14 p.m.

No, the pension deficit was a foreseeable consequence of the dirty deals made between the unions and the city to fund the ballpark, RNC convention, convention center, and other pet projects.

The reason the pension is underfunded is exactly as Kogan describes...I was watching at the time and did what I could to raise the issue with local journalists. Other than Don Bauder, nobody would listen or report this story, instead they just copy/pasted from the press releases.

But in fairness there's another reason the pensions are so woefully underfunded...the assumed rate of return they've relied upon was always far too high. The union leaders and pension board, assured that they'll be taken care of no matter what, covered this up...intentionally in my view, since telling the truth would have derailed those pet projects.

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Jimgee Sept. 4, 2012 @ 10:19 a.m.

Maybe I misunderstood? But here's what I gathered from the book: According to the book, we have a problem because local politicians and others repeatedly look for ways to fund projects without raising taxes to pay for them. So shorting the pension fund and spending the money elsewhere is a symptom of that problem.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 4, 2012 @ 12:40 p.m.

According to the book, we have a problem because local politicians and others repeatedly look for ways to fund projects without raising taxes to pay for them. So shorting the pension fund and spending the money elsewhere is a symptom of that problem.

You left out the part where the public unions had their pensions jacked by 50%, RETROACTIVELY, which is at least half the problem if not more...so the funding pet projects without raising taxes IS part of the problem, but jacking pensions retroactively by 50% so the public unions would play ball is at least the other half of ot- if not more. So the deficit is not just a symptom, but also a direct cause.

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Jimgee Sept. 3, 2012 @ 3:51 p.m.

It also shows that lying to voters about the cost of a project and finding a "mistake" in the numbers after the project is approved, has been going on for a long while.

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Twister Sept. 3, 2012 @ 5:15 p.m.

Yeeeah, man, like the low bid is just the front; the money comes from "change orders." Investigate THIS, journalism students!

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 8:48 p.m.

At the Reader, we have noted that estimated costs of subsidized projects are significantly understated. Change orders are one vehicle for bloating those costs later. Maybe we should look more carefully into those orders. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 4, 2012 @ 9:46 p.m.

Don, the CA state budget has under-stated expenses and over-stated income for the last 30 years....it happens at virtually all levels of gov, local, county and state.

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 5:58 p.m.

That's standard operating procedure in San Diego: understate costs before a subsidized structure is OK'd. It's also the modus operandi with pro sports stadiums just about everywhere. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Sept. 3, 2012 @ 11:21 p.m.

An example of this happening RIGHT NOW is the over-budget and over-schedule data processing contract at the city.

I think the reason this story, a tale of massive fraud and abuse of public funds, has not been well reported is simply that most journalists know next to nothing about IT.

So they've just ignored it.

I read the statement of work for the original contract and wrote a long analysis showing how it would go wrong. I sent this to VOSD, CityBeat, and the UT. I got no reply.

In the intervening years my predictions have sadly come true. Still no reporting on this issue.

The plain truth is that most journalists avoided studying "hard" subjects in college and are completely unqualified to report on economics, technology, or science. They know this, and to avoid ridicule they just don't report on these stories except to paraphrase press releases, trusting what they are told because they're unable to check the facts.

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Don Bauder Sept. 4, 2012 @ 6:50 a.m.

Fred: You should have sent your analysis to the Reader. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Sept. 4, 2012 @ 2:56 p.m.

"Back in the day," we used to call Capital Improvement Projects (from the Capital Improvement Projects--aka CIP, SIPS (at the trough). Now "Chug-a-lugs" would be more like it. Or what's that called when adolescents, both under- and over-aged, drink through a tube or a funnel?

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Don Bauder Sept. 4, 2012 @ 5:12 p.m.

When I was in college in the 1950s, chug-a-lugging was merely gulping down beer quickly. There was no tube or funnel involved. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Sept. 4, 2012 @ 2:58 p.m.

"Back in the day," we used to call Capital Improvement Projects (from the Capital Improvement Projects)--aka CIP, SIPS (at the trough). Now "Chug-a-lugs" would be more like it. Or what's that called when adolescents, both under- and over-aged, drink through a tube or a funnel?

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