The peeps should decide
Your Oct. 28 Editor's Note about whether elected officials should make major decisions or leave them to the voters brought to mind an exchange I had with an elected official on that same topic. I had suggested that one particular pending decision should have more public participation and be made in open, not closed, session. The official correctly reminded me that many thousands of voters had elected her to make decisions for them, which she intended to do. We immediately came to stalemate when I reminded her that voters had not elected her to make bad decisions, which she did after we spoke. The moral then suits the decision about a new City Hall now.
You object to a public vote because money will buy “simplistic, easy-to-digest sound bites aimed at the lowest common denominator.” You forget that far less money buys far more votes of elected officials more quickly and more surely than the votes of the public it might buy with sound bites.
It would be better if elected officials could be trusted to make decisions that serve the public interest. Too often that's not the situation we have. Plebiscite, even with money buying sound bites, is very often the right way to make a major civic decision. The City Hall decision is a pending example. The voters should decide the issue.
Strengthen the middle class
About your Nov. 4 editorial “Opposing outsourcing isn't ‘incoherent.'” The anti-tax-anti-government-anti-public-employee Union-Tribune (it's really all one concept) editorializes in favor of outsourcing, acknowledging reluctantly that the vote merely “allows” it to occur and jumping to the assertion that voters wanted it to occur at all costs. Some probably did, but in electing the City Council members we have, voters also were asking for fairness, moderation and careful consideration before any such changes were made. We have a separation between executive and legislative arms of government for a reason.
The U-T loves to state that council members are obeying their alleged union masters, which would be true if, and only if, candidates with no existing commitment to public-employee fairness were persuaded by union money to adopt an alien stance. That is not the case. Unions support candidates that already favor their views, just as developers, Chamber of Commerce types and anti-tax advocates do. DeMaio and Faulconer were most likely supported financially and with votes by people who endorse their political/economic philosophies. They were not bought off and are not paying back their supporters. Neither are the other six council members.
To think it is good for the city to have a large cluster of employees get low wages, minimal health benefits and stingy retirements while private owners/managers get big salaries, so that taxpayers can drive more people onto welfare, is a serious blunder. We need a stronger, financially more solid middle class in this city. If we need to pay more to get it, so be it. If private vendors can administer programs more efficiently while paying living wages and benefits, I have no problem with those services being privatized. Paying lower wages to the workers is not an option.
Meat's worse than cars
E.A. Barrera's Oct. 28 story, “Calm before the storm” brings to light the impact of sprawl and car-happy Californians on the environment, while relating the potential solution of SB 375 to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions through denser communities and traffic reduction.
Be that as it may, this bill only addresses a relative sliver of the pollution pie. Barrera points out the bill's allegation that “transportation vehicles—planes, trains and, especially, automobiles—are the single largest contributor of greenhouse gases.” Perhaps he and the bill's authors fail to recognize the widely cited United Nations study in 2006 that revealed that the largest contributor to greenhouse gases—surpassing all the transportation in the world combined—is the red-meat industry. How? Because methane produced by cattle is 23 times a heavier greenhouse gas than CO2. So, before we invest in rebuilding entire communities, we may want to take some personal responsibility and consider the global consequence of what we put at the end of our forks.
In our Nov. 11 “Best of San Diego” issue, we got the web address for California Tan wrong. The correct address is www.californiatansandiego.com. And in our Nov. 18 “Urban Scout” column about where to find cool-looking, comfortable shoes, the descriptions of two stores—Riviera Euro Comfort Footwear and La Jolla Shoe Gallery—were accidentally flipped. We've corrected the error online and apologize for any confusion.
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