BY DAVE SCHWAB
A lively debate between city councilmen over Proposition D, the proposed temporary one-half cent sales tax on the Nov. 2 ballot, drew a large crowd to La Jolla Recreation Center.
Todd Gloria from Council District 3 squared off against District 5 Councilman Carl DeMaio in the Oct. 14 presentation that was part of the Town Council’s speaker series. Gloria argued in favor of the measure’s passage and warned of further and deeper cuts to fire and police services in the event it is voted down.
DeMaio countered that proposed budget cuts are a scare tactic and that real savings can be achieved without public taxation by gaining concessions from labor unions and outsourcing city services to the private sector.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was on hand to give a brief explanation of Proposition D.
“I’m not here to support or oppose Prop. D.,” Goldsmith said. “I’m here to explain what Prop. D does and doesn’t do.”
Goldsmith said, Prop. D is a temporary one-half cent sales tax that would only be in effect for the next five years to offset severe state cuts safeguarding essential public safety services like police and fire.
Goldsmith introduced independent city auditor Eduardo Luna who gave brief remarks and explained his role to certify that, should Prop. D pass, 10 conditions attached to it have been met by the City Council before it goes into effect.
The conditions range from eliminating retirement offsets for elected officials to adopting a managed competition guide.
Councilman Gloria, noting his roots as a City Heights activist, implored La Jollans to vote for Prop. D “if they value our parks and recreation centers and are concerned about fire and police response times.”
“Vote for Prop. D if you’re concerned about cuts to branch libraries, rolling brownouts of fire stations and seeing broken sidewalks,” he said. “San Diego, like nine out of 10 American cities, is grappling with the economic recession and raiding by the state of local funds. With Prop. D we can address our structural budget deficit. It is a sound and reasonable solution to our budget challenge.”
DeMaio argued Prop. D makes a lot of claims and promises but doesn’t deliver on true budget reform or on paring down the structural budget deficit. “It’s not a solution to our city’s financial problems,” he said labeling voting for another tax hike in the “worst economy in generations” as foolhardy. “Demand guarantees, demand details,” he said. “None of those details are in Prop. D. We need to have a guarantee of reform and Prop. D fails that task.”
A businessman-turned-politician, DeMaio said voters should view tax funding requested in Prop. D as if it were “your own money at stake.”
“It’s our city’s future that’s at stake,” he concluded.