READERS’ EDITORIAL: ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROPOSITION D IN EL CAJON

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By Jonathan Goetz, Karen Marie Otter, Bonnie B. Price, Ph.D. , Registered Principals of NO ON D
 
Prop D opens the door for corruption and reduces wages in a community with the highest poverty in San Diego County, opponents warn
 
May 7, 2012 (El Cajon)--Proponents of Proposition D have set forth an argument that identifies key provisions of the proposed charter. All purportedly seem to be beneficial to the citizens of El Cajon, especially when it comes to financial affairs.
 
Unfortunately, what is portrayed as beneficial has many detriments. The city would be exempted from state statutes regulating public contracting and purchasing, and replaced by the proposed charter, an ordinance, or an agreement approved by the city council. Contracts valued at $50,000 or less will be exempt from public bidding. The city council will establish all aspects of contracting for public works projects greater than $50,000.  
 
This situation can lead to manipulation of the contracting process. Projects can be defined as less than $50,000 in total value, if proposed in separate segments: For example, projects having a total value of a $250,000 can be split into $50,000 segments, so as to avoid competitive bidding for the entire package. If this is the way the city council manages contracts, it is highly likely that the provider of services will charge the taxpayers MORE than market prices! So, citizens would pay MORE than they should for city contracts, with NO savings at all!
 
The proposed charter would prohibit the city council from payment of prevailing wages on public works projects unless required by state and federal funding agencies. In effect, the proposed charter would fund projects that allow employers to pay substandard wages to workers; but, no mention is made of the pay of CEOs or limit profits made by the contracting corporations! So, El Cajon citizens would subsidize substandard wages for workers and allow CEOs and corporations to reap high profits because of the lack of competitive bidding. Again, under the charter, citizens would pay MORE than they should for city contracts, while enriching CEOs and corporations and paying low wages to the average worker.
 
El Cajon is the poorest city in the county, with 30% of its population living at or below the poverty line. It has the highest sales taxes in the county. The city council just raised sewer taxes 98% over last year. Both the taxes and fees hurt the poor more than the wealthier residents.  The city council closed the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) two years ago for repairs, promising civic-minded people that it would be reopened for their use; recently, city council approved a plan to move forward on a plan to erect a Marriott Courtyard hotel in its place, without appraising the value of the city-owned land, and having competitive bidding! 
 
Proposition D was developed by the same city council that has demonstrated its lack of concern for the financial well-being of people who live, pay taxes, work, and shop in El Cajon. The city attorney’s “unbiased opinion” was written by an individual who works for the same city council. NO ON D is the only way to vote to ensure that state regulations remain in place because, even with these limitations, the city council is doing financial harm to the people of El Cajon. Vote NO ON D!

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of its authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.