How many more stories -- this one notwithstanding, of course -- must we read about the issue of the San Diego City Council members' car allowance?
Collectively, this is a $76,800 pittance (at most) in a city that possibly has a $2 billion underfunded pension. While our city sails toward titanic, iceberg-size financial issues, we're sitting on deck chairs rearranging mileage receipts.
Time is money, and the City Council is wasting both. We have no time to waste on Michael Phelps' off-season training methods, an octuplet mom's breastfeeding quandary or what to compensate politicians for driving to-and-from rubber-chicken dinners.
If each of the eight council members forewent the car allowance, the city would have an extra $76,800. That's roughly the equivalent of a council member's annual salary. What if we pooled that money and hired/elected a roaming City Council member? You know, like a full-time alternate/fill-in/temp position. He or she could do the bulk of everybody's driving duties and fill out mileage forms. That would free up our elected officials for mundane stuff like avoiding bankruptcy.
Rather than tackling big-picture fiscal problems that affect the city and its citizens' quality of life, the council spends time arguing about pennies instead of dollars. It's time to hire that little wad of bills known on TV commercials as The Money You Could Be Saving With Geico. We need that bug-eyed little guy to sit in council meetings and stare at the panel during each and every budget hearing. I smell return on investment.
Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSanDiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.