Jerry Brown’s money grab of redevelopment funds has set off an orgy of spending projects up and down the State and everyone is trying to get a slice of the action. Here in San Diego, the City is planning to vote on over 4 Billion dollars in projects this week. The San Diego school system, led by Richard Barrera, and joined by allies Nathan Fletcher and labor leader Lorena Gonzalez, have decided to try to grab some cash ($64 million a year) for the wild spending school system.
Ok, regardless of what you think of redevelopment, the idea that San Diego should float an advance to San Diego Unified is ridiculous. The school system faces a $125 million dollar shortfall due largely to overly generous contracts to the teachers union by a labor controlled board. In addition, they have instituted policies like requiring project labor agreements, thereby ensuring the work benefits unionized labor and increase costs to the taxpayers. But at least the school system is one of the best in the State…oh, never mind.
The continued erratic involvement of Assemblymember Fletcher in local redevelopment has been the strangest part of this six month drama. By raising the cap in a late night deal with Mayor Sanders and “Labor Lorena”, Fletcher tried appealing to traditional downtown fundraisers for his mayoral aspirations. Never mind that Fletcher voted for a state budget bill that didn’t pencil out the day after it was enacted.
Now he’s helping Labor Lorena at the expense of his downtown supporters by this ill-conceived idea that only helps the teachers union avoid potentially painful cuts to very generous benefits packages. The only logical conclusion is he’s doing this for two reasons:
1. To help the one group he’s consistently helped during his involvement in redevelopment: Labor Unions
2. In an attempt to undo some of the bad press he received because his original Cap deal forced the State to backfill hundreds of millions of dollars to the school system.
Neither of these reasons are likely to endear him to voters.
This post, frankly, is yet another example of how shortsighted San Diego’s political arena has become–everything is a game or a play.
Downtown insiders say they spoke to Fletcher and were shocked. He gets that he won’t get labor or teacher support in 2012, but feels this is the right thing to do, even knowing that it might piss off a couple people downtown.
Backing the schools request for an advance is not one of politics, but one of good policy, helping schools during a difficult time. The council is going to consider billions of dollars in projects to rush through–Fletcher appears to think they could help our local schools in the process.
CCDC has to give the money to schools anyway. This is just giving them a fraction of it a few years earlier to help during difficult times. The same number of projects will get done either way. It means no more, or no less money for either schools or CCDC. This is simply an issue of timing.
Fletcher allied with Gonzalez? Uh huh, sure. Come now, whether we all agree with him on some issues or not, that’s pushing it to the level of ridiculousness. Fletcher is much too astute to believe he’s going to get labor’s support in exchange for some Gonzalez gambit. His motivation could be one of aid to the schools. The “Barrera request” debate is taking place as to policy, precedent, legality and whether such a move is more of a benefit to classrooms or unsustainable benefits, yes, but to come to the conclusion that on its face it is based in evil motivations, is very simplistic.
How awesome to waste hundreds of millions of dollars and city council votes for dog parks and parking structures and yet can’t find money for schools. This is the realty of the situation. San Diego, c’mon!