Candidate Steve Danon sends a shot across the Bow!

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The Smiling Spotlight received this missive today. The third District race isn’t until 2012, but it’s already heating up and if this is any indication it’s promising to be a very aggressive campaign.

From: STEVE DANON

March 22, 2010

To: Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price

San Diego County Board of Supervisors
1600 Pacific Highway, Room 335
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Chairwoman Slater-Price:

As you know, County Supervisors Cox and Jacobs have introduced a board letter (legislation) for consideration on Tuesday, March 23 calling for the Board of Supervisors to reduce the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. This proposal will reduce the program by 50 percent from $2 million per Supervisor to $1 million per Supervisor per year.

With your votes to eliminate the Critical Hours Program – which provides after-school activities that keep children off the street and out of trouble — and your votes to cut positions in the public safety group (sheriff, district attorney and probation) and now with one in nine San Diego County residents out of work, it is increasingly clear that the time to reform this program and reset County spending priorities is now.

With that in mind, you have a choice either to eliminate the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program completely and go through the regular appropriations process to fund programs/projects. Or, if you choose to adopt the Cox/Jacob recommendation, I call for you to push for additional major reforms to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to restore public confidence in the process.

There have been many reports on how you have failed to report gifts provided to you by the San Diego Opera and Old Globe on your conflict of interest forms (FPPC 700). In addition, did you forget to include past gifts that you may have received from programs that you funded through the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program such as Mainly Mozart, the La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Guild of Puppetry and others?

These gifts have attracted the interest of the news media and the public because it appears that you have sought and received personal benefit, and the recognition of a private philanthropist, through the expenditure of these public funds. The perception that a member of the Board of Supervisors has been distributing public funds for the purpose of receiving gifts and personal recognition damages public trust in County government.

When you fail to disclose these gifts, the problem is compounded, leading many to conclude that you’ve tried to hide these exchanges in violation of law and to prevent public scrutiny and accountability. This scandal is not just one of hubris, but of self-aggrandizement. You should ask organizations which have provided you with personal recognition for contributions of public tax funds to correct their records and public displays to recognize “San Diego Taxpayers” as the true benefactors of their organizations. This is a serious breach of law and public trust that must be addressed.

On Monday, March 8, 2010, I called for reforms to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program on “The Rick Amato Show.” The link to the audio clip is: http://www.amatotalk.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=0&Itemid=138&limit=11&limitstart=11 under “Public Safety.”

To restore public confidence, transparency and checks and balances, I suggest the following recommendations:

Gift Ban:

In a spirit of good faith, County Supervisors should not personally benefit from allocating taxpayers funds from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. Therefore, County Supervisors should not accept any gifts of value.

Transparency and Checks and Balances:

To increase transparency and checks and balances, you should call for reform and restructuring of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Projects process.

Each County Supervisor should appoint two citizens (volunteers) from their district and the Chief Administrative Officer should appoint one citizen to form an 11 member Neighborhood Reinvestment Program Committee. This committee will establish a formal application process for the public to submit proposals for their review. The criteria for programs/projects to be eligible for funding must meet these four criteria:

-Public Safety
-Education
-Public Health
-Infrastructure

Once the committee makes their recommendations, it will go to the full Board of Supervisors for consideration. This will help eliminate the perception of you attending a cocktail party and promising a certain amount of public funds to certain performances. It will eradicate the notion of you getting social recognition as a private philanthropist by using taxpayer funds. More importantly, this will create checks and balances and will lead to a more transparent process.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to call me at (858) 774-1290.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Steve Danon

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