Carl DeMaio: San Diego's Taxpayer Watchdog
Carl DeMaio is a businessman-turned-taxpayer watchdog. He's a nationally-recognized leader in the effort to reform federal, state and local government.
DeMaio helped uncover the fiscal crisis in the City of San Diego. After years of financial crisis, draconian service cuts, crumbling roads and infrastructure, and little action by city leaders on a host of pressing problems, DeMaio stepped forward with a comprehensive "Reform Agenda" to fix the problems.
DeMaio won a seat on the San Diego City Council in 2008 -- and ran for Mayor in 2012.
Carl DeMaio is no stranger to adversity. Carl's mother passed away two weeks after his father abandoned the family. At age 14, Carl was taken in by Jesuits and given the opportunity to earn his way to Georgetown University.
"I learned from a young age that no matter how bad things get, there is always a way to overcome any challenge," said Carl. "I'm grateful to the Jesuits for instilling in me both a disciplined work ethic and a strong sense of public service."
A Businessman with Real World Experience
After college, Carl founded two successful businesses before the age of thirty. In 2000, he launched the Performance Institute, a non-partisan, private think tank dedicated to reforming government through the principles of performance, transparency, competition and accountability.
Carl built the organization into the largest government reform think tank in the nation and the leading authority on performance-based management in government, law enforcement, non-profits and schools.
In 2003, Carl founded the American Strategic Management Institute (ASMI), which provides training and education in corporate financial and performance management.
In late 2007, Carl sold both of his companies to Thompson Publishing Group.
San Diego's Taxpayers' Watchdog
As a resident of San Diego, Carl turned his expertise toward his own local government. In 2003, Carl underwrote and directed a study of the city's budget and reporting his findings of widespread waste and inefficiency to the City Council.
"It became obvious to us that there was a complete lack of transparency and accountability in city government. City leaders were more concerned with pleasing city labor unions and giving city employees the most generous benefits imaginable, rather than providing taxpayers with the quality of service they were paying for."
Carl realized that the true depth of the problems could only be exposed by city employees themselves. He solicited input from city employees on where the waste occurs, and received dozens of whistleblower reports revealing misuse of public resources, lack of accountability measures and deceptive budgeting practices.
"City employees have good ideas, but they need effective management and support," said Carl. "City government suffers from a culture that punishes well-intentioned city employees rather rewarding them for coming up with good ideas. The really talented individuals get fed up and leave government. Taxpayers deserve better, and I believe we can bring a results-oriented culture to our city government."
The media took notice of Carl's findings and began digging deeper into the city's ethical failures, financial gimmicks and excessive giveaways to public employees.
Carl quickly became a prominent spokesman on issues related to reforming city government – even authoring a major financial reform report in 2004 known as the "San Diego Citizens' Budget Plan."
Not content to wait for city leaders to implement reforms, Carl repeatedly took his case to the voters – sponsoring city-wide voter education drives in 2004 and helping defeat tax increases.
In 2006, Carl helped craft and sponsor two major ballot measures: Prop B that gives voters final say on any future pension benefit increases, and Prop C that requires competitive bidding and outsourcing of some city functions to cut costs and create jobs.
"I have learned that if the system won't reform itself, you have to go directly to the voters and impose reform on city leaders from the outside," said Carl.
Leading Reform on the City Council
On June 3, 2008 Carl DeMaio was elected to the San Diego City Council to represent District 5. Carl made history as a non-incumbent taking a Council seat by the widest margin in a primary-winning 66% of the vote.
Carl has put constituent service as a top priority in his Council office.
Refusing to shed his watchdog roots, Carl has worked tirelessly to change the way city government does business.
Carl has fought wasteful spending by using his Council position to direct performance audits of city departments and thoroughly reviewing department budget requests. Carl has offered a laundry list of cost-saving proposals to the Mayor and City Council. By educating and engaging the public on these common sense proposals, Carl has been successful in getting a significant number of reforms enacted – saving over $100 million dollars in the first two years of his term.
In 2010, Carl led the fight to defeat Prop D, a $500 million tax increase. His message was clear: force the politicians and unions to start reforming city government by refusing to give them more money.
Focused on Solving Problems: The Roadmap to Recovery
Days after Prop D was overwhelmingly rejected by voters Carl released his Roadmap to Recovery, a comprehensive five-year financial recovery plan that balances the city's budget and restructures long-term city finances to eliminate the city's structural budget deficit.
The reforms Carl laid out in the Roadmap to Recovery received widespread praise from non-partisan organizations such as the San Diego Taxpayers Association and the Citizen's Fiscal Sustainability Task Force.
More importantly, Carl took the Roadmap to Recovery to the people, holding a series of Town Hall meetings in every community in the city. The reforms received enthusiastic support from the public, along with many additional ideas on ways to improve city services.
In March of 2011, Carl announced that he would be leading the charge to reform the city's dysfunctional pension system by sponsoring a ballot initiative based on the pension reforms laid out in the Roadmap to Recovery.
"We cannot wait for city leaders to develop enough courage to stand up to the public employee unions," said Carl. "The people of San Diego know what's right, so we're taking the issue to them."
You can read the full set of reform plans authored by DeMaio here: http://carldemaio.com/city-reform-agenda