“When the people lead the leaders follow”- an Update on the Community Input Meetings on the FY10 Budget

by on February 22, 2009 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Labor, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

by Anna Daniels / Library Organizing Project libraryorganizingproject@gmail.com

The third community input meeting on the upcoming budget was held this Saturday, February 21, at Hoover High School in City Heights.  The auditorium was packed to overflowing! Fifty seven citizens provided public testimony about what services they considered essential and non-essential as well as ideas on how to save money and generate more general fund revenue.  Fifty of those citizens said libraries and park and recreation services are essential because they provide kids with safe meaningful alternatives to the streets and opportunities for their future.

This sentiment has been expressed by the majority of speakers at every one of these meetings- invest in programs for our youth or be prepared to pay a high social and moral price if we don’t. Citizens were loud and clear, in Spanish as well as English, that they are against any further cuts to libraries and park and recreation.

OB- You know what to do! Come out to the next community input meeting at City Hall on Wednesday February 25th from 9am- Noon. It will be held on the 12th floor in the City Council Committee Room. The Clairemont Library Friends group will be there to join you.  Members of the Library Organizing Project will be there to hand out library support badges and help with filling out the speaker slips.  You will have 3 minutes to speak.  Be prepared to have that limited to 2 minutes if a large crowd is present.   Fill out the beige speaker slip.  If you can’t make this meeting, the final one will be held on Thursday February 26 from 6-8pm at Lewis Middle School, 5170 Greenbrier Ave. in the Allied Garden community.


These community input meetings on the budget were convened by Councilman Young, in his capacity as chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee.  He gets kudo’s for soliciting input from the citizens, wants to begin these meetings in September, and will hold them in every district. (Yes OB you were heard!)  Councilmembers Faulkoner, Lightner and Frye, who are not on this committee have also been in attendance, and deserve our recognition and thanks.  Councilman Hueso has been M.I.A. What’s with that?

Mayor Sanders will make a brief appearance in which he outlines the situation as very bad; city employees with their union contracts and big pensions will be painted as responsible for the general fund shortfall; he will affirm that citizens are not willing to pay more for city services and therefore THERE WILL BE CUTS.  Then he will be gone, leaving a few of his staff behind.  A number of speakers criticized his absence. Our strong mayor, who has dismissed library and park and rec supporters as a small but very loud “special interest group,” is unwilling to acknowledge the significance of citizen participation in a democratic society.  He does not want to stick around to hear the fallout from the reflexive cuts he has made to the budget since 2006 based upon the Reaganomic principle that “government is the problem.”  Didn’t we just have a national election that unequivocally shows that we have rejected that failed ideology?

Before the citizen input begins, you will be asked to prioritize general fund services on a  survey.  A group of us have decided that we will return our unfilled survey with the message that when ALL city departments, not just general fund departments of fire, police, libraries and park and rec are included on the survey, we will fill it out.  There is a whole “other” government out there- personnel, permits, environmental services, data processing, city attorney, etc, which are outside the realm of citizen input.  Why is that?  As one speaker said, there are an enormous number of costly consultant contracts buried in the budget and we want to know what they are; another speaker said that he felt he was being asked whether he wanted his left leg broken or his right one because essential services appear pitted against each other on the survey.  You can fill out the survey  online at

I am a sap for civics, so the best part of these long meetings is hearing what citizens have to say.  We inspire, enrage, inform, contradict and engage each other in these democratic, messy forums. Citizens want to maintain services for the elderly and those who have been hard hit by the economy. We are ready to volunteer and a number of us said we would pay for trash pick up. One thing that particularly struck me  was a speaker’s observation about how many children are left at park and rec and library facilities while their parent(s) are at work.  This speaks volumes about the lack of affordable childcare and how at risk the lives of these children are.

So it goes back to our kids again.  A friend suggested that the children we bring to these meetings should wear a tee shirt with the message “We’re the future. Now what are you going to do about it?”

Editor: Here’s the signonsandiego post from today.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

emw February 22, 2009 at 11:14 am

Anna rocks!

I just left a comment on the old page that had the info about the community input meetings… I’ll reword it for this page, since Anna covered several points in her article.

I went to the community input meeting yesterday, as well. It was a pretty good turn-out for a Saturday morning (especially when the sun was shining outside)

When you do go to one of the upcoming meetings, please remember that we’re trying to go for NO cuts to libraries or park & rec. We don’t want to give them the options of cutting hours or bringing in volunteers to fill every city position.

Try to be sensitive about the employee pensions. Most people aren’t making as much money from this as it may seem on the surface. Most employees are nowhere near Carl DeMaio’s $100K Club.

I’m sure you guys in Ocean Beach know what to do! I have a great deal of faith in your neighborhood (yeah, yeah, I live in Normal Heights these days.) My grandma, LoVerne Wilson Brown, was big on the OB grass roots politics and she would be so proud of what you guys have done for your community!

Rock on!


OB Joe February 22, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Right arm, Anna! You go girl! Tell it like it is.

emw – the name Lovern Brown really sounds familiar. Do you know if she was involved in any group?


emw February 23, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Hey, I believe my grandma was in the Friends of the Library for a bit and she also had a poetry group with a lot of the locals. She won a couple of awards for poetry and also co-wrote some grass roots initiative thingie in the seventies with Katie Elsbree and Denny Doyle. She passed away in 2000.


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