Analysis by Reporting San Diego.
Jan 10, 2016 (San Diego) How would you like to be able to give yourself a pay rise? How would another $19 thousand a year sound to you? Most of us would go, sure. I deserve it. It is human nature that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is voting themselves such a pay rise. Many of us in the same position would probably do the same. Except those in the United States military, or for that matter, first responders.
The County is facing many issues, and not just what the Taxpayer association is saying, a pension crisis. One of the most obvious problems the County has, as well as the city, is an affordability and housing crisis, coupled with a growing homeless population. We also are seeing increasing poverty across the region, since the county is producing either high income or low-income jobs. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow.
While the increase in the budget is minimal given the size of the budget. (In total this is $95,000 dollars per year, the budget is over 5 billion), it sends the wrong message. When San Diegans are facing living in poverty, with people bunking in because they cannot afford single housing, this seems selfless.
Leadership goes beyond just running a County that has a budget of over 5 billion and generally speaking doing it fairly well. It is also knowing when it is time to put oneself at the end of the line. Here are some numbers that should raise a concern to both county and city leaders. The last count in time of the homeless population was done in January 2016. The New count will be done at the end of the month, and it is expected to rise. In 2016 there were 8,682 homeless individuals.
Poverty in the county has grown and spread to the suburbs. We are talking about an increase of over 10 percent, with more people living below the poverty level now than before the Great Recession.
While some services have improved Countywide, including fire coverage, the fact is that there are still many holes.
What we are dealing in is optics. Life is no better for many San Diegans. So this is the time for leaders to take an example from public servants. Once I served as a paramedic in Mexico. I have compared notes with retired members of the United States armed forces. The last to eat or the last ones to get a choice with Meals Ready to Eat were the leadership. County Supervisors decided instead to vote themselves an increase in their pay. They did this by having the first read by consent degree right before the holidays when most people are not paying attention and this at the beginning of the year when again most people are not paying attention.
We must ask if Supervisors, or members of a city council, or for that matter, Congress, should have the authority to raise their pay.