Boards, Commissions and Citizen Participation


Dr. John E. Warren

Now that we have a new Mayor and an opportunity for him to appoint a number of citizens to boards and commissions, we must have people apply for those positions in order to participate in the process. The list of vacancies is available from the Clerks Office and possibly on the City’s website. The question has been why don’t we have more people applying for these positions. The answer is perhaps two fold: money and credit. Most positions in the city and county of San Diego requiring public participation do not pay a salary. This comes from an old idea that where there is no financial benefit to service, only those with money can afford to serve and they will always protect the interest of people like themselves. This means that working class people who might have some time to give to service cannot afford to do so. It also means that the amount of time that many of these positions require cut deeply into personal and family time and could cut into one’s business, if that business could not afford additional people to work in the absence of the participating owner. Solution: there should be an updated examination of positions and possible compensation consistent with the work required.

Second, the issue of credit. Most of these positions will require a check of one’s credit report. Such reports give an idea of the financial situation of the person involved and has been justified in terms of giving some idea as to whether a person might be open to possible corruption. While such credit checks are understandable, the public should know and believe that this is not the only criteria for such selection and that such information obtained in the vetting process is held in confidence.

Mayor Faulconer has promised to look at the vetting process and make recommendations for changes where needed. We can only hold him to that promise if we nominate people for the available positions. This newspaper will be happy to pass such recommendations on to the appropriate entities if sent to this publication and to do so in confidence, meaning that such nominations would be forwarded to the Mayor’s Office without public comment. The rest is up to us.