Sunday, March 5th


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Good morning and welcome to another addition of living better in San Diego public service presentation of the and it comes San Diego radio stations on Jerry Lee. The San Diego County taxpayers association is the taxpayers watchdog dedicated to. Promoting accountable cost effective and efficient government and opposing unnecessary taxes and fees. Their fiscal policy research and advocacy efforts. Have saved the local taxpayers a bunch of money over the years the association also has a history of educating the community on a great many of the issues. That affect our region. Joining us this morning is San Diego County taxpayers association president and CEO. Can any home welcome heat or good morning they're very nice to see you thanks for having me thanks. See you in. We met death last year. We met an event that's correct your wife I know your wife and we met in the function where she was at in and got to meet you there so. A land that bad to have you on the show she's on the planet. Hooked us up to this no I appreciate it thanks also for what you do Gary on this show because I know you like to feature a lot of different a nonprofit groups that are doing interest in workarounds counselor thanks for the opportunity able. Talk about the taxpayers association and I know you've also hope a bunch of others thanks for watching on I appreciate that. Another San Diego County taxpayers association is a nonprofit nonpartisan. Organization right core racked up a little background information on its. So the taxpayers association is he as you said he nonpartisan nonprofit group that stands up for you and me the taxpayer. And admission in breaks down into two components one component is. Making sure that folks at city halls and the county administration center. Are doing good things with our taxpayer dollars in net that are out wasting them so there's. There's a watchdog component of what we do and so we stand for effective public management and good governance and the taxpayers association. Has been doing this since 1945. So we're we're in our sunny second year now. Standing up for the tax Payer and making sure that that our elected leaders. Are spending our tax Payer dollars wisely what was the added motivation or or reason for starting an organization like this. That's a great question here is some back what's let's go back in time just a little bit and action like talking about that speak as. The first person who saddened by the seat diamond today. Was a guy who had just come off of the staff of we have men it's at the end of the Second World War. There was a group of Messi Diego civic boosters. Who. That taxpayers associations. On out of the scene Diego chamber of commerce and back then the chamber of commerce. Was partially funded by. The city of San Diego and were a variety of civic boosters who felt the need to. Breakaway and be independent sedate you get in the capacity to be separate from that city funding and I think that when you're talking about holding folks accountable and places like City Hall. You wanna make sure that you gotta be careful if it. If folks are buttery in your bread right yet to be careful about what you say and so. The easiest way to deal with it is a breakaway and not be funded by. Public entities so there are a bunch of civic boosters that said we need to be independent watch what's happening and the wayward davis' words are the taxpayers association. Now in California at the time there are a variety of tax payers associations including the California taxpayers association. And this is something. That is I notice having lived in a variety of state something that's that seems unique to California. And it could also have to do with the amount of taxes that he tagged. And this is on the unique to California. Palm and but though there are taxpayers associations across the state. The San Diego County taxpayers association is independent. And it's very research driven and that's that's. We've been around since 1945 a standing up for you next. And again you are nonpartisan so again it's it's all about us all lastly salami let me take a moment and talk about this so. Taxpayer issues are absolutely. Non partisan because as I like to say to folks. Doesn't matter what political party you war you don't want to see waste. Right you don't go you good to your favorite retail stores say I'm this political parties and give me half quality product right doesn't matter. Doesn't matter what political party or were all taxpayers were all collectively giving yen. Two the public treasury in the public good. And we want to see it we all want to see our resources that we share utilized efficiently and effectively. Now how long you've been with -- taxpayers association. So I've been the president CEO this year county taxpayers association for just over twelve months now and I took over. At the end of January in 26 team. And what he sixteen was certainly a year to to jump into the seat because. We had we had initiative while as you know we had an election and last last November and there were. Even outside of the world of candidates and presidential election etc. There were so many he. Policy initiatives on the ballot and taxpayers association takes its time in doing its search and homework. To then offer thoughts and offer recommendations to the voters to make sure that voters understand what it is that the broad reform. And there were some measures that. You that advertise for four and against an and I wanna talk about those just it just couple minutes. President CEO he said you've been just a little over a year. Correct is that how long you've been with the taxpayers associate that is correct. It was what drew you to the taxpayers association so what drew me to the taxpayers association in theory is the mission of the association so it is. A nonpartisan. Research oriented organization. That is standing up for you and me that tax Payer. So a little bit of my background. I spent the bulk of my professional background. As an officer in the United States navy. And I spent a little less than eight years on active duty and I'm still reserve officer today. And I've spent a good chunk of my life thinking about what is it what is about this system that we have called democracy that makes it's a beautiful what is it about it that's a great. And so much of what we get to enjoy in terms of our quality of life and and and the way things work in our countries because. Of the ability to dialogue. And have an opinion and be able to wave multiple different opinions and be able to. You and UN nine as voters to cast cast around individual perspective on things. And right now the something that I've been talking about it thinking about I think that we have a crisis of trust I think that folks. There's so many complexities in the world of people. Don't know whom to trust anymore in terms of mean you ceded the dialogue about media or government or large corporations. Or what have you and there's that there's a crisis of trust and for our system to work or community you move for we have to be able to dialogue with one another. To be able to look at different options and comply with come up with some solutions and move forward and so it is a long way in and sorry for Boren you Gary does a long way just saying that the mission of the taxpayers association. Is to bring some reason. And re search into the dialogue on the various. Policy ideas that are out there before before taxpayers. And that mission and just. It it worked very well win it all call the trajectory. Of my life the compass of my life which is how do we make sure that are democratic institutions. And we protect this institution of democracy right insolent and a lot of that has to do with healthy dialogue help the civic. Debate and dialogue so I think especially in this time where we're at an organization like you or us pretty crucial I'll absolutely I think that. It's easy to get stuck in the world of information overload today in in your own echo chamber. And there's there's only different sources of information out there and it's tough for an everyday person it's tough for a human need to figure out you know what's. What information is true one when information is not. And then what's what is the Dina behind that that either position or opinion would be. And the taxpayers association prides itself on really digging into the academics and digging into the search. Around the various public policy proposals that are put before the people. And we look at about what what is what is it that's scholars are saying. Around different topics and for instance annual debt I would get to this in the second period but. I know that you're gonna wanna talk about one of the issues in which the taxpayers association to very active role last November and that was the chargers. And we took a lot of time to dig into the academic research around us and there are plenty of academics play folks in in universities. A mom who showed through the research that football does not enhance economic development of metropolitan area. You have. Eight home games and then maybe to pre season games. But that's not consistent enough activity around which for instance the restaurant my plan its activities. And it's it's very it's it. The research shows that. Football is often. It can be comedy with other what what becomes a substitution effects if he didn't have it be content with the folks would still spend their. Finite amount of money on entertainment. In other areas anyhow so football doesn't necessarily have an appreciable impact on economic development. So now that you bring it up once cannons impacts economic impact or any is there com with the chargers leading. So that's that that's a great question so clearly. The charters leaving means that the folks who were employed by the charters here in San Diego won't the same sort of opportunities but. I think the key things it's a note it is. The the chargers. They'd they'd basically put before the people through it was measures seen in November a choice. You have to use bed that taxpayers of the cities and neo are gonna have to pony up. On the order of multiple billions of dollars. To pay for our facility. So that we can stay that's ultimately. What it is that they had to framed it in have a friend in the media I think that that was an unfair thing to say because. The city San Diego and senior taxpayers actually have been very generous to the chargers over the past numerous years I mean. The chargers moved here in 1965. They came here after one year being in Los Angeles. And the tax payers paid for elbows stadium in double parts of the jurors could play. Then the tax payers paid invested in what was then seagate esteemed leader called Jack Murphy stadium Qualcomm Stadium. Right and then the tax payers. Upgraded Qualcomm Stadium. And that was a significant amount of public money put into that enterprise. And and for the chargers to say that sandy has not being loyal to them I think is very unfair I think it's I think I think the evidence shows quite the contrary. And so now with the charter is leaving what's the economic impact while. The research would tell you that that money that folks what is that's and on the chargers will be spent on other businesses here in San Diego so. I imagine but it could do is that other folks who we're gonna spend money on season take differences now can go out to eat a little bit more. Or can spend a little bit more time some more doing other activities in San Diego I think. What it'd beauties of the place where we lived here is there's so many things it's only options that you haven't seen years ago. Just a matter of which one do you wanna spend it on and and and folks have many choices they'll be able spend their. Spend their money on those choices and I would actually also give praise to the voters here at that. What we did as we also saved ourselves the negative impact of the charges were asking for one point 15 billion dollars of public subsidy. For. It would have been a combined. Football stadium plus convention center and acts that's what they are asking for. And in the world of in the world of public financing municipal finance in particular. Because these would have been it would have essentially been alone that the public would have asked for. We would have had to pay multiple billions of dollars in interest on that we saved ourselves. Probably three to four billion dollar bill out by not. Voting for measure C. And so I think voters should recognize that that means that that's three to four billion dollars that. Now that could be spent in so many other ways. That would have much more of of a strong economic impact on CB. So that was one of them several measures. On on the ballot last year that the taxpayers association invested in and did research on. And and came up with a an opinion on how to correct out to. Handled that well what some of the other measures that you era. Did you research on last year. So there're we ended up weighing in on 22. Different ballot measures some of the state level. Summit the various at the local level in in the municipal you know in the various cities are eighteen cities in the county so we looked at a whole variety of things. One of our bread and butter issues of the taxpayers association. Is looking at. Schooled on proposals because that is that's a Levy on property taxes to pay for facilities. For the education of our youngsters so we weighed in on a number. School bond proposals in fit in it and suggesting that that voter supports Tom and oppose others. And this is actually where the taxpayers association. We have very very public criteria are on what is it that we use to analyze. On proposal put together and put forth to the voters by a school district's governing board. And so we weighed in on a number of those. Com we weighed in on and there are number sales tax issues around the county. Com there are a lot of things that we weighed in on care intact it's hard the blue he'd best. In the twelve months that I've been in the seat here that. We I I have to I have to give a shout out to my it's my team assess my staff work. Putting in all wee hours. Really dig into the various proposals that before the people in researching. Refining the search on that and digging yen to get that that process going of the liberation. Now and if I'm not mistaken. Public opinion polls consistently ranked. San Diego County taxpayers association has most influential and trusted. Public policy institution in San Diego what is what does that mean for an organization like yours to be recognized that way. So what that means is that we have to be very responsible. Well with that credit so folks feel that way it's worse and it's important that we exercise that responsibility. And and make sure that we continued. To do the re search and kind of objective views that folks expect of the taxpayers association. And so it's important to be responsible with that with that credibility and with that authority and with that. Opportunity right to make sure that we do a good job for the people seeing Diego and that means. Digging into research that means hearing different voices. Com one of the things that sometimes concerns me I would say sometimes that really concerns me is that. When you talk about the help of our community and the different options moving forward. We should actively ask for people that debate and we should actively ask for different opinions because. That's what it is is and that's what's intended through the system of government that we have. And so the taxpayers association in order to. Be responsible with that that that position that you just described your means that we have to do our homework. And we have to do our homework in a transparent way and that's actually what we're committed to what we've been doing a percent in two years and will continue doing it for the next few. And it's not quick and simple. It's never quick and simple because policy has gone very very complicated this probably also facilitates. They're very crisis of trust that we discussed earlier yeah. It's hard to understand. Policy. Where it's just a handful of thoughts right so. Policy issues are rarely one where you can. Just turn one valve and the water flows at the right speed with the right temperature right right one of these things where. You might make one change to. And I'm speaking in abstracts here but if you can make a change to. Any health care policy event and has the subsequent impact. On palm on on business development which then has an impact on employment right. And the technical term that I think economists like he uses variables are and dodges they they affect one another. And so policy is complicated in that way. That being said. My objective. As. As the presidency of the taxpayers association is. Once we also developed. Go through the process of deliberation and research. Around proposals is make sure that we can reach voters on their terms and help them understand the choices before them. And that's not that's a tough thing to do it's tough to do number one the analysis because policy so complicated but it's also tough to communicate. And I think that we've gone back your point about being the most trusted and influential name. Means that not only do we have to do her homework but we have to reach people in a way that's useful to them. Writes that it's not just trust but it's actually trust worthy of action right. Now you have aside from the resurgent decisions on policies and and such you'll have a pension certification program what's fat. So that taxpayers association. And actually also with with the educational foundation senior taxpayers educational foundation. Puts together educational course work to help inform. Interest did. Interest and community leaders. Interest and elected officials interest in public employees. Interest its citizens. Law and of various smattering of issues related to public finance so you you had one example there which is about. Public pensions. Were actually that taxpayers. We're finishing up a actually a status. All the various. Public pension. Programs are abide by the counties and the eighteen cities in the scene Diego region. On the obligations of the tax Payer with respect to. Those public employees. Who were promised. Who promised pensions when they retire. And something that. Is this is a this is an issue that that we all have to monitor very carefully. While we have a public responsibility. To make sure that. You know that we're able to bring into city halls and and CD bureaucracies. People who are gonna do good work we also have to make sure that we're doing this in a way that doesn't overly burden the taxpayer. In the long ball and if you just add up. He just had up Geary. The unfunded. And I'll explain what that is in a moment the unfunded liability that taxpayers have in the region for. Pensions related to the county in the cities it's over five billion dollars. That's five billion dollars of liabilities are things on which the things for which taxpayers are on the hook. And there's no money to it right so that means differences in the cities San Diego. This city has seen Diego is going to budget process right now on part of the budget pressures this year. Is that the city of San Diego is gonna have to make a much larger payment. To the pension fund in order to be able to pay for the liabilities. And that means that other things have to get. Sacrifice. Or other things might have you know you talked about plenty of other things that city but it's paid for and palm I think that it's important to be fair to taxpayers but also feared it fair to the very pensioners right that are promised different. Right from benefits because if there's no money they are to pay for these things. Then they're not gonna get those benefits right and it's the city in the city or municipalities in bad shape and got for candidacy would ever have to. File bankruptcy for instance that's happened across the country. Then we have we're gonna have problems you never. Get close to the end of the program and end. I do wanna talk a little bit about how people can help you and you have a membership correct. So that taxpayers association is open to everybody in fact I love the idea that we can have as diverse a table as possible because. The more views that there are more viewpoints represented at the taxpayers association table. The better our deliberation. The better our democratic process. And so I encourage anybody who's interested in trying to make Xenia a better place to consider membership. In the taxpayers association. And our membership is structured in such a way that folks can contribute in a variety of ways they can contribute. Not only if they wanna contribute through their own contributions financially but if they wanna contributed terms of research time or they want to contribute in terms of volunteer time. At the taxpayers association we recognize that it's I would invite everybody to be apart now I will also say this up front to. Joy at taxpayers' association doesn't mean you get your way on policy choices right. Being a member of the taxpayers association. Only means that you get. While it doesn't only mean but it means that you get a seat at the table to represent your view which has bought. Healthy democratic process is. And so. For those folks who who want to join because they think that they're gonna get only their way that's that's the plot it that's not it it's you get that you get the boys what you saying. And you get to voice your perspective and everybody else gets that voice their perspective too as we discussed and deliberated today. So lets you get the chance to weigh in with your side and and and how you feel about the situation yes it. So I I mentioned this to you earlier that we spent a lot of time the staff spent a lot of time to re search around various public policy proposals. And we'll also say I'm not so arrogant to believe that staff is always correct and that's why we give it to the association. The analyses to debate. Because I would be very naive to believe that my staff we're going to be 100% correct all the time. Right and so that would be very arrogant thing to say so we subject our own analyses. Two. The sunshine within the association and let people. Weigh in and offer their perspective and do in front of other members of that we can come to a come to reasoned conclusion as there is there a membership fee. That's present earlier so people there isn't there's a membership feed a joint where membership organization. Arms so there are membership dues. But they're also ways to contribute if for instance folks can't necessarily afford cern used levels right people can contribute do volunteer time. Or other resource is to pass on to make sure that we give everybody a chance to be at the table and you are nonprofit organization correct where else do you get your funding aside from you know individual donations or war membership dues. Where else to get you funded. So like probably like other nonprofits that you've had on this program. We do a variety of we do programming so for instance the educational programming that we talked about. Is is one way that we can continue to fund. There were search that we need to do so. We partnered last year when he came to. Doing courses around school bonds for instance. We partnered with a local university to put on the course when and when people go to those courses. It's like they pay tuition right you know and so that helps also fund the research that we do. And we also Jews in addition educational. Programming. But we also do. It is prom we have one of our signature events. Of the year is it's called the annual golden watchdog and fleece awards that are. Where we recognize. Those government agencies that are doing a great job with taxpayer dollars and we also and I'll put in your your listeners can't see me do in the quotes in the air. But we also recognize. Those government agencies that are fleecing taxpayers not doing a good job of course we want to work with them to make debt better what they do. And so when we do. Awards dinners like that then we're also able to. You know when when people come to that there they wanna come to that dinner and and and support those those folks getting awards and so. We have are riding events where were able to also pay for the resource that we do cocaine and what is your website. It is www. ST EC TA dot org hasn't seen you county taxpayers association. And can people make a donation at your website if they wanted to yes they can and and if anybody's interested in if any of your listeners or interest in joining I've you know hope that they go to web site. And and and and fill out the form or just reach out to my team and mean and be be happy to have them sit at the table polled say as the number one benefit of becoming a member the number one benefit. The becoming a member of the taxpayers association is you get to be a heart. A shaping San Diego is your community. And you get to learn about what's happening in the community walk the same time offering your perspective. About the different proposals. About the community. And so with the taxpayers association having a seat at the table means you get to learn while the same time offering. Your very valuable perspective. In in the dialogue. Once again via web address. ST CTA dot org and you are social media. We aren't social media there's that we have a Twitter handle FaceBook page we have linked in page. And I'd I'd invite anybody it's. To reach out to us and Noam if their interest and a we'd be happy to have them up with him. Hi any thanks will be announced Saturday great seeing you again thanks so much there and thanks for all you do at San Diego County taxpayers association and for. Stand enough for our best interest Fleischer appreciate thinks you're geared. That concludes another addition of living veteran San Diego the opinions expressed on the veteran San Diego do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views. Of the staff and management of the and it comes San Diego radio stations. Episodes of living veteran San Diego are available on the station's website. Until next time I'm Gary late. Have a great week.