Radio host Mike Slater sai, on his program today, that if you’re Mayor Bob Filner you answer that question by saying, “to create union jobs.” I don’t disagree with Slater. Filner is taking aim at the managed competition process, a program which San Diego voters overwhelmingly passed some five years ago. While the voters told the public-sector unions to “compete or perish,” those unions pushed back on former Mayor Sanders to the point of obstructionism:
The managed competition program has been slow to develop, however. The administration has been criticized for bureaucratic foot dragging, and challenges from city employees labor unions have slowed its progress. According to the mayor’s anticipated time line, it will be another year “two and a half years since the passage of Prop. C before the first contract winners start providing services
To his credit, Mayor Sanders fought the union bosses and got five of the dozen scheduled bid competitions to market. Guess what? The city employees won one every single one of the bids. How? By looking at the process, like they did with the Miramar landfill, employees determine what is absolutely essential to providing quality service at a market price.
“Those are the front-line employees making the bid; this isn’t management,” says Cathleen Higgins, who handles managed competition issues for the city’s largest labor group, the San Diego Municipal Employees Assn. “So when we get the folks who really know the job, they’re able to produce something that’s going to be very good for the city and good for the taxpayers.”
The public sector employees won the bid….in a competitive marketplace. To the winners go the spoils and those landfill employees should be praised for their judicious use of public funds. But Mayor Bob Filner doesn’t trust those good City employees — he suggests they willingly cut corners, sacrificing quality for price. And Bob needs to save those union jobs to pay the union bosses back for supporting his candidacy. Bob needs to save the public employees from themselves.
The new mayor said he wants to put a hold on managed competition and review the quality of the services that have already been put through the cost-saving grinder before proceeding with more. Those include the city’s print shop, fleet maintenance and street sweeping. Filner said he is skeptical of the process after visiting with workers who repair city vehicles.
Give me a break. Managed competition doesn’t always have to be about price. I assure you that I sacrifice price for quality and convenience every single day. The fact that our public employees are winning every single competition bid offered is inspiring confidence in their customers (the taxpayers). To go back to a legislated monopoly, which serves political needs rather than the public good, would be a travesty.