U-T gets an F for Prop. D math
The Union-Tribune appears a tad math-challenged when it comes to analyzing the pros and cons of Proposition D, the June 8 ballot measure that would lock in San Diego’s experimental strong-mayor form of government while boosting the number of City Council offices from eight to nine.
In the wrap-up of a two-part series on the ballot measure that appeared in today’s U-T, a front-page summary of the cost breakdowns of an average council office suggests that the average number of employees per council office is 10. Strange, considering the only office with 10 employees — including the councilmember — belongs to Council President Ben Hueso.
A simple review of each councilmember’s website staff listings indicate that the employee counts — including each councilmember — range from a high of Hueso’s 10 to a low of seven each for councilmembers Carl DeMaio and Tony Young. Averaging all eight council offices, the number is actually 8.25 employees per council office.
Contacted this morning, DeMaio — a vocal proponent of Prop. D — said he had yet to read the U-T story but acknowledged that the average number cited by the conservative daily “seems a little high.”
Councilmember Donna Frye, an equally vocal opponent of Prop. D, told CityBeat that she didn’t know how the newspaper arrived at that number although she thought the two-part series was “fairly balanced” otherwise.
“But I think what people are not understanding is what’s going to happen to a simple majority vote,” she said, referring to the ballot measure’s six-vote requirement to overturn a mayoral veto. “I don’t think they understand that the process would allow a minority to essentially block the majority.”
Perhaps, Frye added amusingly, the U-T was including the mayor’s staff in its calculations, since if Prop. D goes down to defeat, the mayor, as the U-T correctly noted, “would once again … become the ninth council member.”
Although noting that “it is much more difficult now, than in the past, to determine the number of mayoral staff simply by looking at the budget — it’s much more opaque,” her analysis indicates that for fiscal year 2011, the mayor is proposing a staff of approximately 27 at a cost of $4.5 million (more than four times the cost of a council office, which the U-T estimated to be a shade less than $959,000.)
With the mayor’s staff lumped into the mix, that would bring the average office staff to 10.3.
Either way, the U-T — a big Prop. D supporter — would be well-served to explain its math.