Could city’s budget impasse prompt SLO-questration?

letters@thetribunenews.comJune 16, 2013 

Why can’t the San Luis Obispo City Council get its act together and pass a budget?

The 2-2 stalemate — Jan Marx and John Ashbaugh vs. Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith — has gone on too long. If it continues much longer, it will necessitate passing a continuing resolution to keep government operating.

Under a theoretical, worst-case scenario, government services could even shut down, if a continuing resolution were to fail … a form of “SLO-questration,” if you will.

We’d expect as much from “professional” politicians in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento.

Call us old-fashioned, but on a local level, we believe elected officials should be able to reach a compromise. We’re talking, after all, about four — usually five — decision-makers, not 100 senators or 435 representatives.

To be sure, the absence of the fifth council member has, ostensibly, been the reason for the deadlock. But we still see no reason why four council members cannot come to terms.

We aren’t talking, after all, about any massive layoffs or program cuts. The main sticking point has been over a proposal to hire two additional police officers to patrol the downtown area, where problems linked to transients — aggressive panhandling, public intoxication and some incidents of violence — have been a big concern.

As Carpenter and Smith want to hire two more officers. However, police Chief Steve Gesell believes he could boost downtown patrols with just one additional officer, and Marx and Ashbaugh support that approach.

We find it hard to believe that a disagreement over the hiring of one officer would bring the entire process to a standstill — especially since the police chief has given the council various options to increase police presence in the downtown, without the need for a second officer.

Those options — in addition to other remaining budget issues — will be discussed Monday.

We strongly urge the council to make a decision then and put the budget — and the wrangling — to bed.

Council voting ends Tuesday

If you are a SLO city voter and you have already cast your ballot in the special election for City Council, good for you.

If not, time is running out; ballots must be received at City Hall by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

There are five names on the ballot, but two of those candidates — John Spatafore and Kevin Rice — have dropped out of the race.

Of the three remaining candidates — Paul Brown, Carlyn Christianson and Donald Hedrick — The Tribune recommends Christianson.

She has served on the city Planning Commission and sits on the county Planning Commission, where she’s been a strong voice for workforce housing as well as a supporter of commercial and industrial developments, including the two solar projects on the Carrizo Plain. We believe her combination of private industry experience — she’s an administrator for a medical group — and public service at both city and regional levels make her an excellent fit for City Council.

No matter who you support , the most important thing is to make your voice heard.

Postmarks don’t count, so if you have not turned in your ballot, be sure to drop it off at one of the following locations:

• The ballot box next to the utility payment boxes on the sidewalk in front of City Hall, 990 Palm St.

• The City Clerk’s Office inside City Hall, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

• On Tuesday only, a drive-up drop box located in the City Hall parking lot on Mill Street.

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