San Diego may be be one of the next cities featured on Strong Cities | Strong State, a website “designed to communicate the importance of local government in California residents’ everyday lives.”
Records show that the city sent $100,476 from the general fund last year to the League of California Cities, who administers the site along with the California City Management Foundation. The expenditure was listed on a lobbying disclosure report under “other payments to influence legislative or administrative action.”
The League, on its own site, lists three primary areas of focus for 2012 – “Support[ing] Sustainable and Secure Public Employee Pensions and Benefits” along with “Promot[ing] Local Control for Strong Cities” and “Build[ing] Strong Partnerships for a Stronger Golden State.” All of these point to a focus on shifting power away from state law and giving greater control to municipalities in areas such as labor negotiation and expansion of public/private partnerships.
The group was also a major proponent of 2010’s successful Proposition 22, which was intended to protect funds allocated to local governments from seizure by the state. Proponents noted that in 2009 the state legislature raided about $5 billion in such funds, which are now protected. Opponents, such as the California Teachers Association, said the law would have protected redevelopment agencies (which have since been struck down by the California Supreme Court) while endangering state-funded services such as public education.
Several local municipalities are already featured on “Strong Cities,” including Carlsbad, La Mesa, Encinitas, Del Mar, and Vista. City profiles are accompanied by “success stories” chosen to showcase “innovation and experience of local officials in delivering vital services at a time when this expertise is vitally needed by state leaders struggling with fundamental issues of governance.”
Examples include a public auction held by Del Mar that netted $4.4 million for a city-owned residential parcel described as “one of the most exclusive buildable lots” in the city. On La Mesa’s page, the city is lauded for combining its fire department operations with the nearby cities of Lemon Grove and El Cajon rather than maintaining an independent department.