Some Considerations for the City Budget

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By Dr. John E. Warren, Publisher

The San Diego Police Department needs a number of changes that are more than in order now that there is a new Commission on Police Practices. For one, the number of Chiefs on the 7th floor of the Police Department needs to be reduced from seven to four. In addition to a Chief of all the departments, there should be an Assistant Chief for Administration, one for Operations and Tactical and one for all other consolidated functions. The dollars saved should be reallocated to fund such items as the City’s own Youth Employment Program.

This would be a good time for the City Council to consider requiring all future police hires to live within the City of San Diego. In some cities with such requirements, the idea has been discussed, if not implemented, of giving a basic housing allowance for new hires toward the purchase or lease of a residence within the City’s limits. This would change the attitudes of new hires toward the residents of the city who would be their neighbors.

While the City has created and funded a Race and Equity program, there should be some discussion about the future need and funding of the following commissions:

A Commission on Human Relations, (2) the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and (3) the Civil Service Commission. If those Commissions have not been folded into the new Commission on Race and Equity, then they should be. Historically they have never been staffed or funded with a view toward being effective. Now would be a good time for change and budget reallocation.

With the suggestion of the creation of a Youth Education and Employment Program as proposed in this newspaper a week ago, and with the Youth Commission under discussion with possible funding, there remains no need for the Commission on Gang Intervention and Prevention. The City of San Diego needs an expanded Recreation Department which has never been all that it should be to serve the youth of this city. There are City Parks that should be treated with the same serious consideration given to our beaches and the communities they serve. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and Recreation facility is a good example of the needed improvements.

The City of San Diego should revisit its Boards and Commissions and look at how they are both funded and structured. For example, if the city truly wants diversity in service, which would include working residents, then stipends should be added for service and meeting times should be extended into the evenings so that working people can have a choice of service. The current structures have too many entities seeking to meet during the hours that working people are working. Yes, there are a number of evening meetings, but those should not only be for public input, but also designed to encourage citizen participation.

Some of the items here are already under discussion. Some may have been flagged for budget consideration. The important thing here is to remember that budgets shape the actions of a city or county or any unit of government. Only those who participate are included in the outcomes of such decision making.

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