Ed Bedford 2:59 a.m., May 22
LIVE BLOG - Mayoral Candidate Forum
12:06 p.m. - I'm at a mayoral forum hosted by the San Diego Association of Health Underwriters featuring candidates Carl DeMaio, Bonnie Dumanis, Nathan Fletcher, and Bob Filner. Hit your browser's Refresh button for periodic updates...
12:28 - DeMaio's opening statements. "I'm running for mayor because we cannot afford any more delay in addressing our city's financial crisis." Also mentions potholes and street maintenance as major concern.
"I am the only businessman in this race."
12:30 - Dumanis' turn. "The job of mayor is the CEO of a multi-billion dollar organization." Focus is on experience at the District Attorney's office. "I have a proven track record of working together and bringing people together in a diverse group."
12:34 - Filner now, speaking largely on Veterans' Affairs Committee experience, also meeting Martin Luther King Jr. - "I was one of the first Freedom Riders in this country."
12:39 - Fletcher up. "I run because public office is public service." Compares his time in elected office to his military service. "My candidacy represents an opportunity to close the 'Enron by the Sea' era."
12:48 - Question on pension reform.
DeMaio - takes credit for alerting public to need for pension reform, uses librarian as example that pensioners receive too much. Promotes his Prop B reform measure. "Your next mayor needs to be tough as nails in [fighting for pension reform]." Dumanis - says she supports DeMaio's measure, but also says more needs to be done to implement changes. Also says "we can't throw the employees under the bus." Filner - "So-called CPR [comprehensive pension reform] is a fraud. It purports to save money, it does nothing of the sort." Disagrees with forcing employees into 401(k) plans while keeping them ineligible for Social Security. Instead proposes keeping pensions but placing a cap on maximum benefits. Fletcher - supports CPR but wants to return employees to Social Security. "A six-figure pension is immoral." Says he leads by example and volunteered for a 26% pay cut in state legislature.
12:57 - Question on how to cut budget deficit.
Dumanis - 1. Pension reform. 2. Managed competition - put city services out for bid. 3. "Cut red tape" at city hall. Filner - says he has plan to add $550M revenue without raising taxes, has to do with refinancing debt at lower interest rates. Points to CCDC as subsidizing private development, wants to redirect money to individual communities. Also says improving economy will add revenue. Fletcher - wants a "performance-based budgeting system." Says problems can be solved by "looking "[at them] in a new way, leadership, and vision." Pointed to an efficiency study in libraries as an innovation example, says budget approved to install streetlights in Stockton neighborhood 3 1/2 years ago but bureaucracy has prevented their install. DeMaio - says his experience in private industry provides expertise in cutting waste while improving service. Focused on his leadership role in defeating Prop D on taxes. Says he wants to reduce city employee pay and incentives to private sector level. Asserts that Filner's pension plan pushes debts onto future generations.
1:12 - question on how to extend health insurance to local children/how health care reform affects city budget.
Filner - argues with DeMaio over legitimacy of competing pension reform plans. On topic (somewhat), says he supported health care reform and other candidates, had they been in Congress, would not have. Fletcher - says he was instrumental in saving Healthy Families plan at the state level when it was targeted for cuts. Says leadership can help create local jobs that provide health care benefits. DeMaio (reminded not to go back to pension talk) - spoke of personally losing health care as a child. "No child should be put in that situation." Says that mayor's office is not directly involved in insurance, but could push to make information about health care more available. City's Channel 24 could run programming about health insurance, he suggests. Dumanis - wants to remind everyone she's from San Diego and has lived here a long time, has many local connections. Talks about reaching out to lower income children through courts/juvenile justice system. Says health insurance could be a topic at the education summit she proposes.
1:26 - question on how to get money for infrastructure maintenance.
Fletcher - "To build the economy of the future we're going to need the workforce of the future." Need to have vision for the future, leadership to prioritize repairs/improvements. DeMaio - Prop A, privatize some parts of city workings. "I'm not waiting to become mayor to start working on these problems." Says he has $497M plan to fix roads by reducing costs, "streamlining the process." Cutting time lines for project completion would result in savings, more honesty in bids from private contractors. Dumanis - "All roads lead to bureaucracy - that's what needs to change. And I like to call myself a bureaucracy buster." Wants system for residents to tweet problems to city, then have city make repair and confirm resolution with resident. Mostly, though, problems are bureaucracy's fault. Filner - points back to elimination of redevelopment districts, wants to claw back money for general fund.
1:40 - comments on convention center expansion (again a moderator request to stop talking about pensions).
DeMaio - in favor of expansion, notes tourism is a strong San Diego industry. Notes potential loss of Comic-Con, says that 7-8 annual CC-sized events are needed. Large events allow people to "test drive San Diego," coming back on personal vacations or relocating. Says all construction money should come from hotel taxes. Dumanis - says convention center plan will create 7,000 jobs, says larger question is whether to build new stadium/sports arena downtown - cagy on putting forth an opinion on this one. Filner - says current convention center idea "is not going to happen." Says stadium with retractable roof nearby could double as convention center, might be best plan. Says hoteliers don't have legal authority to impose transient occupancy tax to raise money for convention center. Fletcher - calls out DeMaio for voting in favor of plan without hard tax cap, despite pledge not to do so. Other comments generally off-topic.
1:50 - closing statements.
Dumanis - Touts "100 Day Plan," increasing ties with Mexico, working with small business, fostering national reputation. Again reminds audience that she's lived in San Diego for a long time. Filner - "Why not have a city that actually solved its pension problem without throwing employees under the bus?" City needs to confront homeless problems, become green energy leader, create walkable/bikeable communities. Need to get away from the "small group" who have controlled the city for years. "You know who they are," when pressed for names. Fletcher - "The challenge for the next mayor is 'Let's get our city moving again.'" City is filled with entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators - needs a government to match. Again touts military experience. DeMaio - "We need a city government we can be proud of again." Says city is great, with the exception of government - neighborhoods, culture, employers, military. "That's what this election is about - setting a course, breathing new life into city government." Says he has "an extensive record of results," has put forth plans, reminds everyone of Three P's. And pass Props B and A!
That's all for now, folks.