Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., Dec. 12
Here we are, just a few days before the City throws away centuries of experience in the Police and Fire departments by laying off nearly 200 employees. Some of these employees will move to other vacant positions in the city, while others will simply move to unemployment. This is a tribute to the Strong Mayor form of government that really needs to be stopped right where it is, so we can return to a City Council form of government, with the Mayor in more of a guidance role. Let's take a look at the reality of this situation:
The Mayor set up his budget for next year and knew that he had to cut spending right away to avoid deeper shortfalls for this year's budget. He looked at all the possible departments and organizations, and decided to cut Police and Fire first. Why? The Police Department already knows he's a dishonest Mayor, so they would never support him for anything, and the Fire Department agrees with the Police. Last year, the Mayor started the cut of the police Department by changing their retirement health benefits on July 1, 2009. That forced nearly 300 officers, from every level of the department to retire earlier than they wanted to. Then, the Mayor, with 500 openings on the Police Force, canceled all police Academy registrations after that date, eliminating any chance of filling those positions. In November, he had 250 of those openings permanantly eliminated, cutting the Police Force officially by 250 officers, leaving 250 vacancies that can't be filled without an academy class, which he won't allow. In each speech he's made about all the cuts he has lied by saying he has not cut the police Force, while the reality is he has cut 500 officers, 250 of which will never be replaced. Now he has taken another 200 off the street by forcing them to replace the far less expensive civilians he has replaced. He has added 14 officers to the street by taking away their horses and dogs, but, since the horses were each worth 100 officers and the dogs were each worth 10 officers, it's still a pretty major net loss.
Here's the real problem in all of this - The City Council knows exactly what the Mayor has done, but they can't stop him. He has already told every one of them that they will either shut up and go along, or he will do everything he can to screw their districts, and he can do alot. The City Council didn't want to lay off the people they did - they didn't want to lose 250 Police Officers permanantly - they don't like what's going on, but they can't do anything about it, because of the Strong Mayor. The City Council used to be the people in charge, creating dialog between them, displaying the needs of each of their districts, and resulting in compromise and representation for all the people of San Diego. Now, the Strong Mayor removes any power from the City Council and takes away the voice of the people.
After studying the history of San Diego, I learned that there has been a Strong Mayor format in San Diego three times, and it resulted in major corruption all three times (that includes the Jerry Sanders reign of terror). The Strong Mayor need to go now!