I wanted to highlight another issue as these discussions move forward.
When Mayor Jerry Sanders unveiled his budget last Thursday, the big word he and City Council members used was “priorities.” Closing a $56.7 million deficit and restoring unpopular cuts to the Fire Department required choices that in a vacuum look horrible: Who wants to defend a decision to close branch libraries citywide for all but 18 1/2 hours a week?
The mayor’s budget shows that he prioritized the Fire Department over libraries and recreation centers. But he could have made other cuts instead.
Sanders isn’t reducing the $6.4 million the city plans to spend on arts funding next year. The arts money helps finance dozens of nonprofits and programs, including the La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Opera Association and San Diego Air and Space Museum. But conservatives such as City Councilman Carl DeMaio and former mayoral candidate Steve Francis have argued that the city can’t afford arts during a budget crisis. To put it in context, proposed cuts to the Library Department total $7.4 million, including 77 positions.