Acceptance is the First Step

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf Councilwoman Lorie Zapf 2 Comments

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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.

Lorie Zapf
Councilmember, Sixth District &
Newly-joined Rostrafarian

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Comments 2

  1. There IS a new $26 million dollars source of money siting in the County of San Diego’s $1 billion dollar Reserve bank account, not earning interest as required.

    The County’s Centre City Redevelopment Agreement Trust Fund(66117) that has existed since 1992, but has yet to be accessed by the City for the CCDC’s Tax Sharing Agreement with the County of San Diego to solve our Homeless problem. After the 20 percent Affordable Housing set-aside funds, and Tax Sharing payments are made to the City Schools, Community College, Board of Education; the remaining left of the 80 percent non-housing, non-set-aside funds can be put into the Trust Fund.

    http://www.tinyurl.com/20110624a

    The first page of the 1992 Agreement (Page 15 linked above), that specifically allows the City and County of San Diego to put as much money as they collective agree into the Trust Fund after the 20 percent Affordable Housing set-aside funds and School Tax Sharing payments are made.

    “The California Community Redevelopment Law authorizes redevelopment agencies to: (1) pay to any taxing agency… ANY AMOUNT of money… to alleviate any financial burden.”

    Page 1 of the attached document from the County of San Diego Auditor and Controller states that “the current balance available in the County’s Centre City Redevelopment Agreement Trust Fund (66177) is $25,907,570.75 This includes a restricted balance of $20,708,584.89 available for the six County facilities, programs and services identified in the 1992 Agreement between the Agency and the County of San Diego.”

    The six facilities and programs allowed by the 1992 Agreement include:

    1. Counseling, educational and training for, amongst others misdemeanants and light felons;
    2. Mental health;
    3. Alcohol and drug rehabilitation;
    4. Children’s service;
    5. Health and welfare; and
    6. Court rooms and Justice.

    A new updated letter has now declared that Bonnie Dumanis’ Court Room and Justice facilities will be getting all the money, thus literally stealing money out of the mouth of babes (Children’s services), the Mentally Ill, and Homeless.

    Without Leadership from the City Council on recouping the full $49 million, plus interest, Bonnie Dumanis will get all the money for programs and facilities for the District Attorney’s office benefit only.

  2. Thank you, Councilwoman Zapf for bringing your positive “Can Do” attitude to San Diego City Hall.

    It’s no surprise YOU are changing the City, rather than letting the City bureaucracy change YOU !

    If people wonder how Lorie defeated a proven vote-getter like 3-term Assemblyman Howard Wayne last year, they need only read the column above.

    Lorie Zapf has a commodity that is very rare in Politics: Humility. She does not have all the answers, and is willing to listen to others.

    Ronald Reagan kept that same quality for 8 years in the White House. It worked out pretty well for him too.
    🙂

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