Dec 16, 2016
When politicians vote to raise their own salaries, it's awkward.
News of salary increases for public officials is almost always met with outrage. That was the case this week when the Union-Tribune broke the story about four of the five County Board of Supervisors quietly voting to raise their salaries by $19,000.
County Supervisors Greg Cox, Dianne Jacob, Ron Roberts and Bill Horn voted for increase. Dave Roberts was the only one to vote against it.
On this weeks' podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts give the Supes' pay boost an extended "Goat of the Week" entry, knocking them extra hard since they voted for it in a way that didn't allow for public input.
Rep. Scott Peters calls in to the show to say we need a conversation that goes deeper than just knee-jerk, across-the-board opposition to all pay raises for public officials.
"We just never have a conversation about what the right answer is and all the coverage of salary for public officials just seems to be negative," he said. "We need the engagement of the community and the press to help the local electeds find the right answer."
Without defending the County Board of Supervisors' raise, which Peters said seemed a bit aggressive, he said it's important to keep politicians' pay competitive and come up with an automated way to increase salaries based on economic benchmarks and inflation without making officials vote on the raises themselves.
Chelsea Collier, founder of Digi.City, also stopped by the podcast studio to talk about how cities can use technology to revolutionize the way they serve citizens. Collier recently penned an op-ed for VOSD urging leaders to ready the city for a 5G wireless broadband network.
In the 1990s, regulation passed that said toxic metal levels in Chollas Creek were too high.
A pricey plan was put into place to remove copper and zinc from the the waterway that starts in La Mesa and Lemon Grove and runs through neighborhoods in southeastern San Diego. The deadline to get it done loomed, but as VOSD's Ry Rivard reported this week, water officials came up with a new plan to instead roll back the cleanup requirements after restudying the water and calling the metal levels not as harmful as previously thought. The vote on the rule change was temporarily derailed, though, by an environmental attorney who argued that water officials should first require businesses to do more testing of water that runs off their property into the creek.
Lewis and Keatts dug in to the story and discussed readers' quick and angry reaction to it.
They also talked about the letter four City Council members sent to the Chargers that rehashed an old pitch to give or lease the Qualcomm Stadium land to the team, and they discussed the big budget cuts coming to San Diego Unified.
UC San Diego has plans to open an outpost downtown at the corner of Park Boulevard and Market Street. City officials and urbanists have long wanted to see a university move in downtown to help spur the neighborhood's growth as a technology and innovation hub.