No one cares more about improving government efficiency than Republican City Councilmember Carl DeMaio. He feels so deeply about the subject that in August, prior to taking office, he told CityBeat's "Spin Cycle" columnist, John R. Lamb, that he would base his community representatives out in the community, rather than in City Hall, to save office space. He even said that in his ideal world, he would have no workers in City Hall, but he compromised with his chief of staff to keep senior aides close to the legislative action. Now, as a sitting council member, DeMaio has been true to his word, with four staffers in City Hall and three based at the Scripps Ranch Information Center.
But, alas, the budget crisis. To close a gaping budget deficit, Mayor Jerry Sanders asked the City Council to close all six community centers, including the one in Scripps Ranch. The council cut a deal to keep them open till Jan. 30. Some of the centers will close immediately, but DeMaio is pretty sure he'll be able to keep his staff in Scripps Ranch at least until June 30. Still, he and the community groups that use the center for meetings need new digs.
Not to worry-the man has a plan.
He said he's been talking to community groups about how to keep the center open. He estimates that $15,000 keeps the building open for a full year.
"I feel very strongly about this," DeMaio told CityBeat . "We're pretty confident we can cover that amount."
It's not the first test of principles for the new City Council member. In August, DeMaio swore off several traditional City Council perks, including the car allowance, access to the city's pension plan and the option of accepting gifts valued under $420. Since policies like that demand testing, CityBeat began sending him presents: We congratulated him on taking office with a CityBeat keychain / bottle opener and an animated Justice League DVD. Then we wished him a happy New Year with a snappy green T-shirt. Last week, all the stuff came back.
"Thanks for the note and the gift," read a sticky affixed to the DVD. "Carl DeMaio will not be accepting any gifts during his term. We appreciate the gesture."
CityBeat editor David Rolland also received a voicemail from DeMaio's office manager, Heather Ingram, thanking us for the presents and helpfully pointing out that we could save on postage by not sending anymore presents. Roger that.