Filner Attacks Convention Center Funding

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INTERACTIONS

“No Tax Increase Without Public Vote”

Convention Center Funding
Photo: Luciof/Wikimedia Commons

San Diego City Council approving financing for the expansion of the Convention Center has become the most interesting issue separating Mayoral candidates Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner.

It is interesting because, Republican candidate DeMaio voted for the hotel tax increase while Democrat candidate Filner is blasting the conservative populist DeMaio for voting for a tax increase without a public vote.

Filner also takes issue with the Council’s agreement with the hotel industry to commit the entirety of the hotel tax revenue to the Convention Center expansion and giving control over the expenditures to the hotel industry itself.

Hotel industry representatives argue that the hotel owners are agreeing to “assess” themselves and object to the use of the term “tax.” Indeed this is the issue being challenged in court through a validation action in which the city seeks prior protection from the courts before issuing bonds secured against the agreed-upon revenue stream.

Filner argues that, whether you call it a tax or an assessment, it should still be treated as public money and put to public use. He has gone one step further and echoed Governor Jerry Brown’s declaration that no taxes should be increased without a public vote.

This position puts both Brown and Filner in conflict with most Democrats, who are working hard to win veto-proof majorities in the State legislature in order to gain the ability to override Brown and pass tax increases or reform measures without a public vote.

DeMaio’s support of the tax increase without a public vote also puts him in a position opposing most Republicans.

The Convention Center funding proposal is apple pie in the downtown business and hotel community and a high priority for outgoing Mayor Jerry Sanders. In fact, there has been much speculation that Sanders’ endorsement of DeMaio, who he has publicly tangled with over the years, is directly tied to DeMaio’s agreement to support the Convention Center expansion.

Filner has been careful to frame his position as favoring expansion but opposing the proposed financing and emphasizing that any “tax increase” must be subject to a public vote. He started pounding away on this point only a few days ahead of Republicans launching radio spots supporting George Plescia in the 39th State Senate District which echo the same Jerry Brown inspired “no tax increases without a vote of the people” theme.

Obviously, all of the players are polling, and it would appear that they are all picking up on the same populist thought: taxes should not be increased without a public vote.

Whether this is “good government” or not is open for debate but a lot of people on both sides are betting that it is good politics. The reality might very well be that the public has simply evolved to this view. It is just another chapter in the evolution away from representative democracy to direct democracy. Voters increasingly feel empowered to take the big decisions out of the hands of their elected representatives and reserve the ultimate decisions for themselves.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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6 comments
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There is a TV show about AIDS on right nowThere are many stars in the sky.You'd better let her alone.I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you employment.After you.You should have a mind of your own.You should have a mind of your own.Just wonderful!He doesn't care about me.They have to work hard to support their family.

Cassidy Noblejas Bartolomei
Cassidy Noblejas Bartolomei

Blake, this is a very interesting article that points to many problems in San Diego and reaffirms me in my motto, "I trust everyone, but believe very few." I think, however, that you missed one of IVN's four etiquette guidelines! .....You didn't substantiate a single one of your claims....Do you have any sources to cite?

Kuma G.
Kuma G.

To hear a democrat say there should be a public vote on any tax increase is hilarious.

Ian Dawes
Ian Dawes

We should ask San Diegans what they want. Where's the layout of the expansion for the public's view?

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

"It is just another chapter in the evolution away from representative democracy to direct democracy." Everything in moderation.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

the question of direct democracy is a tricky one. the masses are susceptible to 'prejudices of the day' which could leave a legacy of poor fiscal choices