Backers of Proposition D, the half-cent sales tax measure on San Diego's November ballot, are in a race against time.
How many of the 10 "fiscal reforms" that Prop. D requires need to be completed ahead of the election to secure voter approval?
One of the reforms has been completed: The solicitation of private bids for taking over the Miramar landfill. Two others have been fast-tracked for City Council consideration in 10 days.
But Prop. D's critics say that a couple of those efforts are smokescreens and that the rest don't look aggressive or "good faith" enough.
"We thought we were going to see 'shock and awe' over the next six weeks leading up to the November election," Councilman Carl DeMaio, a leading opponent of the measure, said at a news conference Friday. "Unfortunately, we got confirmation today that politicians plan to do nothing more than a little bit of window dressing -- a little bit of 'process' -- and call it a day."
DeMaio argued that a City Council proposal to eliminate retirement "offsets" for elected officials and non-union workers would cut taxpayer costs by only 15 percent instead of 50 percent. He called the proposed "managed competition guide," the framework for evaluating private bids to take over city services such as trash collection, "a shell game" that's biased in favor of city workers.
Only the mayor's plan to outsource the landfill operations escaped a direct DeMaio critique, although he has said in the past that merely soliciting bids is a far cry from achieving measurable savings.
"Show me the money!" DeMaio reiterated in his news conference.
Prop. D backers insist that they and the city's unions are serious about reducing San Diego's $72 million budget deficit.
"That bill is coming due on July 1, 2011, and without that kind of cooperation, we know that city services will be cut," said Councilman Todd Gloria, a leading Prop. D proponent. "I think our city employees don't want to see that any more than the average San Diegan does, so they're willing to cooperate in this process."
Members of two city unions whose work would be the target of private outsourcers' bids will vote Monday and Tuesday on whether to ratify the proposed managed competition guide.
It's taken four years for union leaders and the mayor's team to reach agreement on that issue.
Of the other seven reforms required under Prop. D before the half-cent sales tax hike is triggered, one is in progress in the mayor's office; the other six involve further "meet and confer" bargaining between city management and labor groups.