Pinpoint Forecasting, San Diego Style

The City of San Diego has apparently come up with its own form of precision bombing. Backers of Proposition D have submitted what they call a "Fiscal Impact Statement for Proposition D." Check the painstaking exactitude of the forecast, to wit: "If the conditions contained in Proposition D are fully implemented, the total projected savings to the City could range from $3.5 million to $428 million over the next five years, and $8.7 million to $855 million over the next ten years," says the document submitted on Aug. 16. That is one heckuva range for a forecast -- $3.5 million to $428 million and $8.7 million to $855 million. Then get this: the document later boasts, "other conditions such as managed competition, outsourcing, and benefit reductions could save taxpayers an additional $626,000 to $43 million." That's a Grand Canyon-size gap.

It's reminiscent of the story of the economist who is visiting the Grand Canyon with his wife. He says, "This is exactly 2 billion and five years old." She says, "Darling, I know you can forecast GDP accurately out to five digits, but how do you know it is two billion and five years old?" He says, "Because I was here five years ago and the guide said it was 2 billion years old."

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre notes that the the municipal code requires a fiscal impact "analysis," not a "statement," as was submitted. If the City comes back and renames this an "analysis," it will probably be an "analysis" by the economist quoted above. How much will he be paid for the forecast?

More like this:


the total projected savings to the City could range from $3.5 million to $428 million over the next five years, and $8.7 million to $855 million over the next ten years," says the document submitted on Aug. 16. That is one heckuva range for a forecast -- and $8.7 million to $855 million. Then get this: the document later boasts, "other conditions such as managed competition, outsourcing, and benefit reductions could save taxpayers an additional $626,000 to $43 million." That's a Grand Canyon-size gap.

It's reminiscent of the story of the economist who is visiting the Grand Canyon

LOL.....this is hilarious-and if it was NOT so serious of an issue I would laugh myself to bed.

$3.5 million to $428 million = A FACTOR OF 12,228%

8.7 million to $855 million = A FACTOR OF = 9,800%

$626,000 to $43 million = A FACTOR OF 6,800%

If anyone votes for this after this clown forecast they deserve he pension tax hike.

I am confident the pension tax is DOA.

Great post Don, and it really belongs in Scam Diego...

As #1 pointed out, this ""Fiscal Impact Statement for Proposition D." is so far from reality that if the Registrar of Voters accepts it as valid and meeting the criteria required, then we have a much bigger problem in San Diego than the Budget!

I for one wonder why they did not also include amazing stock portfolio results in the "expected" rebound of the economy what will "for sure" have San Diego's Budget in the Green sometime after Xmas; oh and because all our Leaders have been VERY GOOD, Santa will replace all that money that got "lost"...

As the Locals say, in Hawaii, "The City talks good story"...

City Government What responsibilities It baffles the mind

From Haiku-A-Day:

"How much will he be paid for the forecast?"

Oh, somewhere between $5,000 and $500,000...

Response to post #1: Well, the backers have to convince the voters that there will be real financial reform coming with the tax increase. This document hardly promises real reform. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #2: Good points. Maybe that's why they call it a statement and not an analysis. Best, Don Bauder

Response to poste #3: You wonder why they even submitted such a thing. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #4: As I recall, Keyser Marston will get $500,000 to see if there is blight in the pre-blessed location for a Chargers stadium. It's automatic. They will find there is blight. If they can get away with it, so should the Grand Canyon economist. Best, Don Bauder

I think the statement comes out of Sanders'/Goldstone's office, right?

The Grand Canyon's age is estimated mainly using uranium/lead dating.The Prop D statement said that (among other things) the estimated [reform] savings "are based upon ... previous City experience" ...

Wow. Put your money on that?

Response to post #9: The statement came from backers of Prop. D. The mayor is a backer of Prop. D. Agreed: an estimate based on "previous City experience" is shaky indeed. This one leaves incredible latitude on both ends. Best, Don Bauder

"Outsourcing" is a way to compound costs by making private profit-centers out of governmental responsibilities.

In fairness...Voice of San Diego reported the following:

"Goldstone, who wrote the fiscal analysis, agreed that the high-end of savings went beyond what the ballot measure required. That's why he said he included a range of savings.

Goldstone said he believed ballot measure opponents would file suit over the savings estimate no matter what it said. If he didn't use any numbers, Goldstone said, he would have been accused of not being specific enough. If he used more precise figures, he would have been accused of being overly optimistic.

"It's a no-win situation in that respect," Goldstone said. "Those who are going to challenge it are going to. We'll defend it and the courts will decide." "

I believe Mr. Goldstone is being honest in his assessment of the potential for litigation.

I also agree his saving assessments went beyond what the ballot issues calls for the voters to approve, and is misleading if you're not paying attention. The ballot statements need to be fair, nothing more, or less.

Response to post #11: Outsourcing is also a way to repay political donors. It works in reasonably clean cities. I don't know that it would work in a corrupt one like San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #12: Beware of assuming that Sanders administration people are honest. Beware of ballot statements that are said to be fair. (Remember that the ballpark was to be revenue-neutral and transient occupancy taxes were to pay for the servicing of the bonds. Later, City employees admitted to the grand jury that they had been pressured to cook the numbers.) Best, Don Bauder

JW: "If he used more precise figures, he would have been accused of being overly optimistic."

Precise like what? Savings of billions and billions and billions?

I'm laughing! You can get away with saying a lot of meaningless nonsense when the coastal Republicans are doing the interview.

At least you found something that you believe Goldstone can be honest about. Dylan said, "To live outside the law you must be honest." I say, "Most crooks are probably honest 90% of the time."

So, JW, you are all for having the "courts decide" this question. We expect a great deal from judges, too much in fact, and this goes even farther, asking one to do a better financial analysis than a trained financial analyst (free from pressure to cook his/her numbers.) The true situation is that this statement provides exactly NO useful information to the voters. The whole matter of putting these things up to a vote is to allow the citizenry, not some judge, to make major decisions. If that's the case, the voters need information and they need to use it. The city government concedes that it cannot really tell just what would happen if approved. Then why vote for it?

Reply #16 Again, well said and please favor us with a bit more of your point of view!

I would suggest that "cook his/her numbers." only provides a smoke screen for the real issues which are starting to look like (here in SD) that now increasingly, it is for the Courts to decide issues instead of the Voters! Good thing that our Asst. District Attorneys' now have job security and so that they can honestly promote for "Truth, Justice and the American Way", (well two out of three ain't bad) without fear for their jobs...

This time it WILL be up to the voters to decide the future for San Diego. They'll decide if they want services or layoffs. In a tax adverse city like San Diego, where it citizens want services and city leaders have cooked the books for years, I understand the reservations about this ballot proposition.

Re: 11 and 13:

Uh, I'm not sure I get it--it seems to me that if by "working" you mean that it functions to funnel money into the oligarchy, would "not working" only mean that the mob picks up our trash, ruins our environment, and picks our pockets by force of law?

Right, JW: it's really conflicting. I support raising and paying taxes as necessary to fund our city services adequately, via the General Fund.

But. Sales taxes always hit the poorest the hardest; it isn't fair, especially given that the City bestows property tax dollars on wealthy, powerful, quasi-governmental groups (Tourism Marketing District, BIDs). Those dollars can't be used for fire engine staff or to keep libraries and swimming pools open, or for many other resident quality-of-life services (unless you consider banners and hanging flower baskets a suitable distraction from cracked up sidewalks and decaying infrastructure and closed libraries).

Coupling a sales tax increase that hits the lower income groups hardest with outsourcing, privatization, and a bunch of other nebulous and hardly believable "reforms" makes it very hard for me (a very liberal progressive Dem) to vote 'yes.'

Where can we find an input-output diagram of city finances, year-by-year, for the last ten years, as well as the projections upon which a professional management must base its recommendations?

The whole matter of putting these things up to a vote is to allow the citizenry, not some judge, to make major decisions

Even what the people vote on doesn't matter. SOme judge will overturn. See Prop 8

Response to post #15: W.C. Fields said, "You can't cheat an honest man." Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #16: This appears to be the problem with this trailer truck-wide estimate: why would voters go for the tax increase of the gains could be minuscule? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #17: Yes, well said. Let's hear from those favoring Prop. D. They are articulate. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #18: A judge may decide ballot language, but the issue will go to the voters. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #19: And, apparently, the voters will also decide if they will support a convention center expansion and a $700 million (approx.) subsidy to the Chargers. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #20: In many cities throughout the country, the mob picks up the trash. Period. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #21: Yes, coupling outsourcing and privatization with a regressive tax does not sound like a good deal. But I am not a San Diego voter. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #22: The only thing I can think of is the Independent Budget Analyst's office. I wouldn't trust what you get from SD government. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #23: This would be a lot different than Prop. 8. Best, Don Bauder

Coupling a sales tax increase that hits the lower income groups hardest ...

...While enriching the City employees who are paid far better than the private sector for similar jobs.

No, it is not right, and yes, it is a regressive tax that kills the poor and middle class. Yet the sales tax rises on a regular basis yet we see no improvment in services. The sales tax was just 6.5% less than 21 years ago.

As for the residents wanting "services" as JW puts it-yes, we need services-that is not the question. The question is what is a fair price to pay for those servies. And when you have rank and file cops and FFs, who account for over 60% of the budget, being comped in the $150K-$200K + range with OT (which is 4 times the state median) then I think we need to pay a wage that is more market/reality based, and not destroying the poor or the middle class with sales tax increases.

And, apparently, the voters will also decide if they will support a convention center expansion and a $700 million (approx.) subsidy to the Chargers. Best, Don Bauder

If the voters ever again approve ANY moeny for another pro sports franchise, much less $700 M, I am moving to Yuma.

RE #31:

I then hope that the IBA takes the time to look at City finances through the SAP lens darkly, something that she earlier revealed in agenda item supporting documents as not doing before until "sometime this summer"?

It's almost September already.

Based on the above blog post and comments, I'd say that the City Attorney's statement is enough of a stealth cloak on what's really going on that I'd have to vote NO.

Something's fishy. This thing is designed to fail. Is it because it will give the mayor and council cover? ("You didn't pass the sales tax increase, so don't blame us if your kid chokes to death, ad nauseam.)

Or is it diversionary, to minimize publicity and public discussion of the other ballot issues? Or just grab headlines to take our attention away from their business-as-usual malfeasance-of-office?

Response to post #33: If there were more reasonable wages and fringes for service providers, such as FFs and police, then the City might be able to hire an adequate number of them. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #34: Get your bags ready just in case. Those wanting a massive Chargers subsidy will put millions of dollars in an ad campaign. Opponents will put in next to nothing -- a la the strong mayor vote. The mainstream press will not adequately report that the claims being made (such as that the stadium will stimulate growth) are lies. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #35: San Diegans should carefully look at claims coming from Prop. D backers. Right now, it looks like the promised savings are pretty shaky. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #36: How about: "You didn't pass the sales tax increase. Don't blame us that we have to file for bankruptcy." Best, Don Bauder

@ #41: Yuma still has a ball team? I thought that the Padres Rookie League team was the last before moving to Tempe. Who's there now?

Yuma does have a baseball team and I think they need someone to help subsize it. Sounds like a job for the surfpup.

Yuma used to be the spring training facility for the Padres back in 92, I dont think Yuma has a minor liegaue team nor is it a spring facility for any major league team.

Las Vegas has the Stars-which I think is Padres farm team.....

The Stars are a Dodger affiliated team.

Apparently, Yuma now has a team in the Golden League, an independent, called the Scorpions.

@ #45: Yep, I had to look it up. I knew about the Golden League from the Surf Dawg days, and up to last year Phil Nevin managed a team in that league. Nevin now manages a AA team in Erie.

I was surprised to now see some Mexican teams affiliated with the Golden League, I reckon I wasn't paying attention to the news here.

Estadio Nacional de Tijuana is now called Estadio Calimax. It's only a few miles from me, I might go see a game sometime.

Response to post #41: Gets hot over there in the baseball season. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #42: Ya got me. Best, Don Bauder

Actually, the first couple of seasons of the league, probably 5 or 6 years ago, there was a team in SD. They played over at TGwynn's place. I had to look this up. They were called the Surf Dawgs

I remember the Surf Dawgs!

I really hope surfpuppy can step up and help them. LOL

If I end up in Yuma, I will absolutely go!!! Unless it is a 3PM game, no way am I going out in Yuma heat at 3PM.

When I lived in Lansing Michigan they had just built a BEAUTIFUL ballpark for the minor league team, the Lansing Lugnuts-and it was so much more fun to see a ball game in a 12K seat park vs a 40K-50K seat park.

The entire atmosphere at a minor league game is, IMO, light years ahead of a major league game because of the smaller venue.

Yuma wasn't a spring training site for the Padres in only1992. It was their spring training facility from their very first season thru the 1993 spring training.

I never meant to imply it was only their camp in 1992-just that they moved around that time, and yes it was Peoria.

Response to posts #s 51-53: So should the Padres put a minor league team in Escondido? Best, Don Bauder

@ #54: They have to place their AAA team somewhere because the Portland stadium is now going to be renovated for soccer. The greater Los Angeles area has enough minor league teams, and everywhere else to the North is saturated as well. I think that leaves limited options. South Orange County would be a great spot (like around San Juan Capistrano), but my guess is that the land is too valuable to build a stadium. That leaves somewhere in San Diego County as the prime option. Temecula seems too close to Lake Elsinore, so Escondido would appear appropriate.

How did this get on the topic of baseball?

Reply #48, I'm not speaking for Don, but I would like to see every penny of those saving go for energy and manpower efficiency increases which would leverage all that money from now on and allow less Officers & FF to do much more with less wasted time which equals saving huge amounts of money.

Having a trained volunteer or part time force to assist those on the City payroll would help all of us and provide the perfect hiring "pool" to draw new hires from and that alone, would make many eager to considered to be hired to become involved in making San Diego safer for all of US! Some great examples are the ARC's Life Saving and CPR training that has made all our lives safer at a very low cost...

How do you arrive at your calculation that FF/PD total compensation is 60% of San Diego's budget

This is a standard expense for all muni's. They all must provide fire and police protection.

Fire and police are by far the biggest expenditure in virtually all muni's, and always account for over 50% of the budget. Always.

The costs are not identical in all muni's, but all fall into a fairly standard range, 60% is the average for most muni's who are not in the red. The ones in the red spend from 60%+ up to well over 75%. Vallejo was spending over 75% of theire entire general fund on just police and fire, and the reason they were forced to file BK.

I am guestimating San Diego is spending 60% of general fund revenue on police and fire-but considering how upside down the city is budget wise it could be more.

In addition to the stated budget costs/payments, there is also the problem of the pension fund not performing up to it's stated returns, which I believe is 8% for the City. If the pension fund does not hit the 8% mark the 60% number would obviously have to be increased to meet the pension fund estimates (of course not just police and fire are in the pension fund, but those two groups account for the majority of pension fund costs-just like payroll which is what the pensions are based upon).

Why do you have another number???????

Response to post #55: That's putting the minor league team pretty close to the major league team. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #56: Darned if I know. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #55: Part-time and volunteer FFs and police could definitely help the SD budget. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #58: If you can't take the heat, get out of the ballpark. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #59: You're up, SP. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #60: So it's 60% then? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #61: Yes, the unions wouldn't go for it. But can't the fragile fiscal circumstances back them down? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #62: That's a good point to clarify. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #63: Isotopes? That's a little like the college team named the Banana Slugs. Best, Don Bauder

Reply #74 Then I guess we have to admit, the FF & PD really do run the City!

I can't think of a Councilmember or Mayor that has won an election without their endorsement, can you?

So what we have now, it a situation where their salary increases have compounded so much that I dare anyone to post the yearly salaries and or retirement payments that Senior Officers are now getting, many after only 15 years of service!

That is one of the reasons why the City of San Diego is in such Big Financial trouble, it is being "run by the Unions, instead of the other way around...

I've seen you through out that line about all PD/FF $150k-$200k comp for at least of couple of years. I personally think you're over generalizing a bit, but that's neither her nor there. But this I wonder about. You keep throwing out that "60% of budget line". And I do have a problem with that. But you just aid "general fund revenue" which is the first time I've seen that. Since you've made a couple of difference references here, let me be clear. When you refer to "60 % of the budget" are you making that reference as compared to the cities annual budget as a whole or just as it specifically relates to General Fund Revenues?

The full comp of a cop or FF in CA is in the $200K range BEFORE any OT is factored in. If you use a realistic investment factor of 4-5% instead of the 7.75-8.5% the gov uses, you can add another $100K onto that. For every 1 point a pension fund under performs on a 3%@50 pension you have to add 25% of the salary to make up for that one point loss. From 98-08 Calpers ROI was 2.41%. That does not include the meltdown from 9/08 forward.

FF/Cop pay in this state has, on average, gone up 87% in the last 10 years. You cannot fund pensions when the COLA's are averaging 8%-9% a year.

The cost to fund a 3%@50 pension, according to Calpers is 40% of SALARY-that is the PENSION alone. You start adding on the 5-7 weeks of vacation, the 12 sick days, the 14 paid holidays, the free or almost free healthcare, it is a tremendous cost.

San Diego is comped slightly less than most muni's.

As to the funding, all the funding for general gov services comes from the general fund-Libraries, Parks, Roads, Seniors, Pools-it all comes from the same source, the general fund.

Here is a link to the City of Bell SALARIES ONLY, please look at what the SALARY alone is for the cops; So you tell me, you think those numbers don't add up to 60% o rmore of the funding??? And then tell me if you think that kind of comp is fair for a city where the median income is $27K per year.

Bell is not San Diego, but it is still happening here, just to a lessor extent.

unions do support part time workers. The ILWU at the Port of LA/Long Beach and the Teamsters and UPS are to that come to mind.

No, the unions do not support PT employees.

I have posted this before, don't know if you read or saw it. I worked at UPS during college in 84 and 85 and made $9.54 an hour-that was 26 years ago. UPS this past year were paying the exact same position $8.50 an hour. Using a COLA of 3%, the current pay would have had to go up 78%, NOT compounding the COLA's, to keep up. That would be a wage of well more than $16.98 today to keep pace.

Someone here knew the story on this and said it was because the F/T employees got major raises and tossed the PT employees under the bus, but I cannot vouch for that b/c I don't know. I do know that the UPS job is paying 11% LESS today than it did 26 years ago for those PT jobs.

  • Union Pay Today -

Hoo Ray for this public debate and all that you say, is just great.

The numbers never appear, when the Union is near the Public has a right, of knowing salaries here

If the Unions are proud of their benefits, they should be sharing all that, and not in bits.

We all want to pay them, only what is fair, and not have all of them, tell US we don't care

If they really want to protect, all of US, they should not ever put up such, a BIG fuss

because if it, just becomes, a factor of money, all the voters, will not think, it is very funny!

All of the City's Union's good will will leave the voters with a Big Chill...

Response to post #73: OK. How about naming a team the Hydrogen Peroxides or Ammonium Sulfates. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #74: At some point, the muni unions will HAVE to make concessions. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #75: Does anyone have an answer? Did a mayor ever get elected without the backing of the FFs and police unions? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #76: This is an area of labor relations that I don't know very well. Do these unions support part-time workers? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #78: That particular contract has been discussed at some length in a colloquy two or three years ago. Best, don Bauder

Response to post #79: I believe that chill has already moved in -- at least to a certain extent. Best, Don Bauder

@ #63: The Beavers will share the Lake Elsinore Stadium with the Storm in 2011, that's a done deal. According to my sources, Minor League Baseball will not allow that contract to continue into 2012. If a stadium (or perhaps, an existing stadium) can't be built/leased prior to the opening of 2012, the Padres only option at this point is to play in their facilities in Arizona.

This may change at the drop of a hat. If I find anything out between now and then, I'm sure Don will write something close enough to the point where I can insert the comment with no retribution from the powers that be.

@ #64: I agree, it's a gamble, it may reduce attendence at Petco. However, other options don't seem any more likely to be any more profitable. Putting a team in El Centro, for example, wouldn't likely draw many fans. I reckon we'll see what happens next.

surfpuppy, no need to get your panties in a bunch, because you misunderstood my comment.

Oh, my panties are not bunched........jsut telling my story.

At some point, the muni unions will HAVE to make concessions.

What is going to happen is the budget deficits are going to be get big that the hammer will fall.

What I think Brown and other Democratics are hoping for is some super stock market rally, and a super duper economic recovery. But face it-that is not happening, not now, not next year and not the year after that.

The public unions have been trying to hold out until a strong recovery comes-but the upside down muni financies are going to crash before we have even a small uptick.......

DJIA 8-19-10= 10,271

DJIA 5-13-99= 11,100

Then again Big Ben Bernanke and Tim Geitner said "the recession is over".....who knows.

@ #90: True, but shouldn't a AAA team warrant a larger potential audience? And, I probably don't have to tell you how unholy hot it gets in Palm Springs in August ;) Another reason for the Padres to get something done closer to home rather than have to play in Arizona...

That Palm Springs baseball park is very nice............

Response to posts #s 86-88: I can't imagine a team in El Centro. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #89: I think you can count out a big economic recovery. One would actually be unhealthy, because inflation would soar. There could always be a stock market rally, because stocks today are more closely tied to liquidity than to the state of the economy, and also are electronically manipulated. However, I don't think a stock market rally would help much: the little people are out of this market. Best, Don Bauder

Response to posts #s 90-92: How about Youngstown, Ohio? Or Flint, Michigan? Best, Don Bauder

How about Detroit, MI where the U-6 UE rate is close to 50%......

Response to post #96: Detroit has a major league team. Since it is tearing down residential buildings, it does have a lot of room for a minor league stadium, though. Best, Don Bauder

@ #95 & #96: The midwest would be great, except that the team would need to join a different league. The Beavers are in the Pacific Coast League. Economically, that league would wish to remain fairly close to the West Coast for travel purposes.

Response to post #98: OK, then how about Walla Walla, Washington? Say, the Walla Walla Walruses? Best, Don Bauder

Hey Don,

Some good news:

At the close of FY2010 (June 30, 2010) SDCERS investment returns for the year were up 13.1%. The market value of SDCERS assets were $4.1 billion. As of July 31, 2010 SDCERS market value of assets are $4.6 billion.

Guess Surfpuppy got it wrong again. But then again surfpuppy usually gets it wrong.

There are minor league teams already in Everett, Spokane, Tacoma, Yakima, Eugene (Padres short-season A- club), and two others in the Tri-Cities area, which is close to Walla Walla. I'm afraid that Washington is saturated.

But undoubtedly, wherever the Padres AAA affiliate moves, the name will be different. Unless there are beavers nearby.

Walla Walla Walruses? where near as good a name as the Lansing Lugnuts; BTW, this is their stadium, Oldsmobile Park; It is a beautiful park, another one; BTW-that big tall twer in the background is th ehome of the Lansing State Journal newspaper.

Response to post #100: That's your second posting of this information. It is welcome, obviously, but remember that equities, which are more than half the portfolio, went on a tear beginning in March of 2009 and continued through much of the fiscal year. Stocks rose more than 60% during the period beginning March 2009. Best, Don Bauder

Response to poset #101: Beavers is such a good name for a team. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #102: It is a pity that I will never see the ballpark in which the Lansing Lugnuts play. Nor will I ever see Lansing or East Lansing. Best, Don Bauder

Log in to comment

Skip Ad