The first seven months of my term has been an incredible learning experience. Many of you are aware that I never intended to be a politician; I am a business owner. But I ran for City Council because I was fed up with how the mismanagement of taxpayer dollars was dramatically affecting my quality of life. I believe that, while government isn’t a business, making financial decisions based on business principals is the way to getting San Diego back in the black.
I look at each issue with two questions in mind. First, “Why are we doing things this way?” Any business owner will tell you that the answer “Because this is how we’ve always done it” is just not acceptable. Unfortunately, this is an answer I hear all too often at City Hall.
My second question: “Is there anything that could be modified to make it better, more efficient, more cost effective, etc.?” The reality is that times have changed. Money doesn’t grow on trees, and cutting public services should not be where we turn to save costs. We need to begin taking an innovative, fresh approach to the way the City does its business.
I am excited that this mindset is becoming more commonplace here at City Hall. On the 10th floor, my colleagues and I are crossing party lines to make the best decisions for our constituents. We’re asking for collaboration and input from the community so that we make the right choices. We’re asking for audits so we can say with certainty that we have made the best, most cost-effective decisions possible.
The most difficult part of the road to self-improvement is acknowledging your flaws. City leaders cringe when an audit shows waste and inefficiency. But instead of trying to justify poor past decisions, we need instead to focus on how we use the information and if we can implement the suggested reforms.
In March, Councilmember Alvarez and I called for a review of the City’s take-home car policy. The Auditor’s report found that by updating the policy the City could return over $700,000 per year to public safety budgets. I commend Fire Chief Javier Mainar and Police Chief William Lansdowne for moving forward and beginning to implement the Auditor’s suggestions.
No matter how hard we wish for one, we simply will not uncover a multi-million dollar pot of money that can close the structural deficit. We need to analyze every decision to make sure we are acting in the best interests of our stakeholders –the taxpayers. The “business as usual” approach is over.
While $700,000 won’t solve the City’s problems, it is an encouraging start. By saving a little here and a little there, we can eventually close the City’s structural deficit without cutting services. While it may be difficult, acceptance the first step towards fixing our problems.
Councilmember, Sixth District &