Seal cams and bus passes

Eyes on the Bully's Pulpit Eyes on the Bully’s Pulpit 9 Comments


The seal cam has exposed more than just seals, it shows us how the Mayor Bob Filner administration plans to operate.

When the seal cam was revealed in January, the camera, installation and operation were paid for by a nonprofit with no mention that the city would be on the hook for any future funding. In his first budget, the Mayor slides in $50,000 of taxpayers’ funds to start its operation. Fifty thousand dollars may not seem like a lot of money, but $50,000 here and there starts adding up. More importantly, the Mayor appears to be developing a pattern of presenting things as having no cost to the taxpayers or as a one-time expenditure. Once approved and in place, the city is hit with funding the item (e.g. seal cam).

Need another example? Look at another item in Filner’s budget. He wants to give 1,000-targeted San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) students free bus and trolley passes at a price tag of $400,000. The good news is the City of San Diego is only ponying up $200,000, with SDUSD putting in $150,000 and San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) the final $50,000. All funded by you the taxpayer.

The supposed need for these passes are many – truancy, gangs, predators, etc., whatever boogeyman elicits your support. It appears these concerns only exist for the students of San Diego, Lincoln, Crawford and Hoover High Schools. Each school would get 250 free transit passes.

Let’s point out that all bus and trolley passes are already subsidized by the taxpayer at a tune of about 55 percent (see page 17 of the MTS budget).

But wait, it gets better. Youth (6-18) get their pass at 50 percent off the standard rate. So for $36 a month a youth can ride the bus or trolley anywhere in the county.

But getting a taxpayer subsidized bus pass for that cheap is not good enough for Mayor Filner. He wants them to be free.

You may be wondering, how does this relate to the seal cam? Remember when the seal cam was first presented there was no mention of the city funding any portion. Now Mayor Filner wants the city to fund $50,000 to cover the operating costs. At the same time he is asking the city to allocated $200,000 for the bus pass giveaway this year. Yet, mayoral staffer Francisco Estrada told the Council that this was a one-time deal.

The organizer of Mid-City CAN, the organization promoting the bus passes, has repeatedly told the Council that this is a “pilot program.” They hope to find other sources of funding for it next year.

If this giveaway is approved but Mid-City CAN does not find alterative funding, where do you think they will go for the next round? If you guess the City of San Diego, give yourself a pat on the back. But then again, why stop at 1,000 passes, surely there is a larger need. So even if alternative funding is found, you can bet the program will be so successful at giving away free bus passes (hard to fail at that) that the city would be foolish not to continue supporting a worthy program.

One thing is certain – either way you are paying for it.

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See the first column post for Eyes on the Bully’s Pulpit.  The information in these columns is put together by Greg Larkin, often based on anonymous but verified and/or credible information provided by those close to the happenings at San Diego City Hall (as noted in the first column).


Comments 9

  1. Thank you for catching these supposed one time spending sprees. Giving away free transit passes sends the wrong message to our youth. It tells them government services are free, which we know is not true. Also, we all know free leads to neglect and abuse, so taxpayer funded transit passes will most likely lead to waste (not using the pass) and abuse (giving the pass to someone else). $36/mo. for unlimited transit services is already an incredibly low subsidized rate. What kind of job do these “students” have if they can’t afford to pay that amount, or is student now code for “welfare beneficiary?” Lots of people work in high school and college, and it isn’t City government’s role to subsidize education.

  2. So what is the point of this post? I pay for a lot of things I do not want to pay for such as nuclear missiles and aid to foreign countries.

    Personally I think every student should get a free pass to the trolley/bus system. If it helps them get to school or to their job then that is great. How about if we make the rich pay their fair share and then use those millions of dollars to pay for the passes?

    And leave the seals alone. Why do you Republicans seem to be so fixated on them? Do you not like animals or are you against the studying of wildlife? The mayor said that the camera is being used for seal research which benefits more than just San Diego.

  3. Question for TA,

    How does one go about submitting a story about Bob Filner to San Diego Rostra and can you publish it anonymously or under a pseudonym?

    Not that I want to say anything slanderous but I also do not want my posting to cause concern for me clients.

  4. That would start with you using a real email address when you comment, so someone can contact you and send you the rules. No one will see your email address and you will remain confidential.

  5. Norville

    Please explain a millionaire’s fairshare. I’m far from rich but the federal govt spends $12k per individual. I’m sure millionaires pay more than that in taxes since I do. What do you think constitutes a fair share?


  6. Mole,

    OK I will bite, please explain what I said implies that envy is a virtue.

  7. Elliot,

    Well you Republicans are always talking about a flat tax. Wouldn’t millionaires pay more under that system, than the current one? Sounds like a more fair share to me.

    Now please explain to me how not trying everything to educate underprivileged children benefits society. Would you prefer they continue down the path of dependence on government programs?

  8. Taking over the operation of the Children’s Pool surveillance camera is a clear attempt to pay back a few of Finer’s major campaign donors. There’s no legitimate “research” being done using the “sealcam” no matter what San Diego’s carpetbagging Mayor claims. It’s an entirely political move to close a beach entrusted to the City to satisfy some hysterical “animal rights” wackos.

    The Children’s Pool was given to the City and protected in a State Trust to create a safe place for kid to swim. This whole thing is a shameful black eye on our City from a few political hacks trying to steal the pool from children.


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