Sex and the City of San Diego Budget

by on May 7, 2011 · 13 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Education

Photo by Rich Kacmar

At the beginning of the city council budget hearing on libraries on May 5th, every city council member proclaimed his or her support for libraries and expressed a personal commitment to restore the funds which the mayor has proposed to rip from the library budget- 7.4 million dollars.  They emphasized that libraries are core city services!  Peace has broken out my friends!

But as Senator John Kyle explained to us—or not—some things are not meant as “factual statements.”   A Library Ordinance was approved by the city council in 2002 that would provide for the ongoing operation of the branch and central libraries by requiring that a fixed amount of the general fund be transferred to library operations until it reached 6% of that fund.   If our elected representatives truly felt that libraries are a core service, as their constituents certainly do, they would have adhered to that ordinance in every subsequent year, which they did not.  The library budget would be over 66 million dollars today if they had.  We would have been spared our most recent pathetic charade in front of the council, pleading and weeping to maintain a 34 million dollar budget that is only 2.7% of the general fund budget.  The ugly truth is that our libraries are worse off today than they were when the library ordinance was enacted.

And then there is the sex part.  I hope I didn’t lose you in my introduction.  After saying that libraries are important and we can’t take an ax to libraries, and we can’t eliminate frontline staff, Councilmembers Lorie “Bad Cop” Zapf and Carl “Marginally Less Bad Cop” DeMaio took turns grilling the library director about and expounding upon the availability of… drum roll please… volunteers!

The mayor’s current proposed budget calls for the elimination of 77 full time employees in the branches.  Half of these positions are librarians and half are clerks. Every single one of these individuals spends significant time with the public. They are front line staff. It became apparent that both Zapf and DeMaio want to pander to their base by keeping the lights on in their respective branch libraries; they just don’t see the need to pay people to do it, which is yet another way to pander to their base.

Libraries remain a female dominated profession.  The people Zapf and DeMaio do not want to pay are predominantly women.  Think about that.  Professional women in a female dominated profession can be replaced by all those retired people with master degrees, per DeMaio, and women who perform clerical functions in this profession can be replaced by volunteers who can do data entry and book processing if we just give them a chance according to Zapf.  Women — educated and trained women, are expendable in our city workforce.  DeMaio’s misogynist rolling billboard even made them the enemy of the citizens.

When we all turned out in support of our libraries we presented a unified voice that we wanted to maintain the hours, the staff and the services that are currently provided.  Zapf and DeMaio need to drop the bullshit sexist volunteer thing right now. If they support libraries they will find sources of revenue outside of the library budget.  It is that simple.  Zapf and DeMaio need to take the sex out of the city budget.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

mr fresh May 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

while we’re at it maybe we can dial up some volunteers to staff DeMaio’s office. Or he can pay them out of his own pocket. He certainly made enough money from those “no bid” contracts for management expertise back in the Bush era.


Debbie Terry May 7, 2011 at 11:38 am

Volunteers Are Not Free. Recruitment – retention – recognition????? Who manages the Volunteer Program. What the policies and guidelines? Who hires? Who trains the volunteers? Who tracks the time? Who writes the reports? Who fires a volunteer? Who pays for each volunteer background check before you put that person in the Childrens Reading Room? Volunteers Are Not Free.


annagrace May 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

You are absolutely right Debbie. Volunteers are not free.


Joan May 8, 2011 at 7:17 am

Who complains when the volunteer has a headache and suddenly doesn’t show up, or decides to take a cruise and doesn’t show up? What kind of work standard is expected of volunteers? How much effort does it take to get the volunteer to understand how to do an assigned chore? Sorry, it may not be pc to say this, but volunteers are often a huge waste of a paid worker’s time, energy and knowledge. Having said this, there are volunteers that are worth their weight in gold, but they tend to be very few and far between.


OB Dude May 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm

It’s the same ole thing every year…cutting library and parks and recreation. I do not recall anyone every saying lets cut money spent on consultants, studies, employee cell phone reimbursements, employee home internet connections, attorneys…etc.

Let’s not forget that our mayor and council voted for the new downtown library! Was it their intention to close neighborhood branches and make library users go downtown?? Hey, maybe it is their plan to help revitalize the downtown area….they are hoping you will have to PAY to park, buy lunch or dinner while you are there, shop a little and maybe even want to move downtown to be closer to the library! Just joking…

The decisions and rationalization of our leaders is mind boggling at times. And the reality is that the new downtown library is NOT even fully funded. Guess what? You will all be back at council NEXT year talking about the same thing! Keep your speeachs and signs so you can use them again.

Glad you have the energy and time to fight the fight…Good luck!


annagrace May 7, 2011 at 10:54 pm

You are so right OB Dude- we will be back next year, again, in front of the city council with our signs. The mayor has already said that we are facing a 40M deficit in the following fiscal year. But library supporters have been turning out for years, before the new central library was approved. And that is because citizens keep saying libraries are nice AND necessary while the mayor and council only hear the nice part. Nice is expendable. And cheap.
The mayor was questioned in one of his community budget meetings about the growth of the City Attorney department’s share of the general fund. The mayor initially said that the public has clearly said that public safety is the number one priority, and he justified raiding libraries and park and rec to make sure that police and fire are funded. But when it came to the City Attorney’s office, all he said was “Attorneys are expensive.” No kidding. The mayor doesn’t think that ignorance is more expensive.
But did the public really say that the City Attorney department was the runner up for funding? Hell no. But that department has increased its budget 10% in the same period that the library has lost 22% of its budget. Nobody has to go to a city council meeting and weep for funding for the City Attorney department, or volunteer to help out to keep the doors open. Why is that?
It is unfortunate that the new central library and even the current one have become a cheap knee jerk incendiary issue for Zapf, DeMaio and so many citizens. This is a diversionary tactic that enables them to potentially cannibalize one part of the library budget to cover another, without really supporting the library system. They understand that most of us roll our eyeballs up into our heads when we are told that the convention center expansion is sucking 7.2 million out of our general fund budget every year that should be assumed by the downtown redevelopment agency and the port district. How do you feel about our municipal golf course enterprise fund having a fund balance of $12M which cannot be tapped for general fund purposes. Don’t get me going OB Dude…. And yeah- I’m hanging onto my sign that says “A Dark Library is a Crime.”


Charley May 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

So what you’re saying is a woman and a gay man are sexist?


annagrace May 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I’m saying that two of our city council representatives are sexist. Period. I don’t care about their gender or sexual orientation.


Sharon May 10, 2011 at 7:34 am

Would you instead suggest that financial management, or another male-dominated career, be filled with volunteers? It’s not sexist to try to deal with the reality you’ve been given


annagrace May 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

Sharon- I think it is a very good idea to question the “reality” that we’ve been given. The city council cannot say that libraries (and park &rec) are core services without also committing to funding those services. The reality is that citizens come out every budget cycle to support their library services, yet library funding has fallen 22% since 2005. In the same time period, the City Attorney department’s funding has increased 10%. Auditors and attorneys do not receive much attention during the public budget battles, yet their budgets also come from the general fund. And they certainly do not share the budget pain. Why is that? Shouldn’t they also have to work harder with less money as the other general fund departments are expected to do? Of course no one is suggesting the need for volunteers in these departments. The mayor and city council somehow come up with the money to keep them flush.


Charley May 10, 2011 at 10:57 am

So a woman and a gay man are sexist against women because they want to use volunteers to replace spots that will otherwise go unfilled because we have no money. It has nothing to do with the fact that it is easier and more desirable to volunteer at a library than it is as a fiscal auditor (masters degree and years of experience) or road maintenance worker (long days in the hot sun)?

People like you are exactly the reason we are in this mess, you live in la-la land where we need pay someone to do something people will do for free because you think a woman is sexist against women. Crazy, just crazy.


annagrace May 10, 2011 at 11:33 am

Charley- first off, the city cannot replace paid staff with volunteers. It is illegal. Both Zapf and DeMaio know this, but aren’t about to pass up an opportunity to sucker punch the workforce because they get political points even when they lose the specific argument. You fell for it, didn’t you? Do you realize how sexist it sounds to say “it is easier and more desirable to volunteer at a library than it is as a fiscal auditor (masters degree and years of experience)?” Librarians have masters degrees and years of experience. Please explain the difference to us between one kind of masters degree over another, or the quality of the years of experience in one profession over another.

Now why again is it more “desirable” to volunteer at libraries?


Charlie May 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

You are right about the Library Ordinance — what a joke. Even Elaine DuVall from the IBA’s office could not keep the smile off her face in commenting on it in her opening remarks before Council. The Council will continue to ignore the ordinance. However, at least in rhetoric at the meeting, there seemed to be more recognition of Libraries as a core City service. And the New Central issue is a diversionary tactic for some on Council when discussing general fund issues, a tactic some in the local media have fallen for. Truth is, if you stop construction on the Central Library today, you are not a penny closer to closing the Library’s operating budget.


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