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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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City of San DiegoCandidate for Mayor

Photo of Rich Riel

Rich Riel

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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Stop the Sale of City Owned Land
  • Put all newly hired City Employees on Social Scurity
  • Use the Mayors salary of $100,000 a year as a benchmark and impose and salary and hiring freeze on all City Employees making more that $100,000 a year

Experience

Experience

Profession:Computer Professional
President, The Southern California Alumni Association — Elected position (2008–2012)
Chief of Staff, California Coastal Commission — Appointed position (1986–1987)
Student Body President, San Diego Evening College — Elected position (1977–1981)
Student Body President, San Diego Evening College — Elected position (1977–1981)

Education

The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina Bachelor of Arts, Political Science (1969)
The Citadel, Military College of south Carolina BA, Polt. Sci. (1969)

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of San Diego (3)

LONG-TERM PLANNING

What are the three biggest challenges facing this region in the 2020s, and how can you use this office to help our community prepare for (and meet) those challenges?

No answer provided.
What action (personal or professional) that you have taken most exemplifies how you would execute the duties of the office you are running for?
Answer from Rich Riel:

My Father Frank James Riel and I are graduates of The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina. We have been trained to provide principled leadership. The Citadel taught us that we have a responsibility to be leaders in war, businessmen in peace, and to make our Country a better place for having lived our lives.

Forty years ago my father and I asked ourselves what we could do to fulfill our duty to our Alma Mater to make San Diego a better place to live. We came up with three things: At the top of the list was term limits for elected officials; The second idea was that we should adopt the model of government that reflects the success of the Port District by leasing instead of selling City owned land; The third was that the City of San Diego needed to address the growing budget deficit by a reduction in high paying management positions and an unsustainable pension fund.

In 1983 I ran for Mayor on those ideas. Just as today, I was considered by the media and the king makers of this City as candidate with no chance of winning. In both cases I finished in the top twenty per cent of the mayoral candidates. The reason for my success was that my ideas resonated with the voters.

 

In the last forty years I have attempted to get career politicians to take up the cause of changing our charter to require our land be leased rather than be given away. I have met with no success because all of our pensioned politicians care more about campaign donations from wealthy developers than saving San Diego for our children.

 

Today anyone who understands the finances of our City knows the only thing keeping this City from filing for bankruptcy is the continuing sale of City owned land.

 

I am a bulldog in my focus on completing my obligation to this City, duty requires that I make this final effort to make San Diego a better place for all of us. I have committed my life to achieving goals that will make San Diego a City we can be proud of. This commitment will result in a Mayor who puts the good of the City above all else.  

 

 

 
HOMELESSNESS

How do your plans to help the City address the many causes and impacts of homelessness balance the rights and needs of all?

No answer provided.

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

three billion dollar budget shortfall

Summary

Today San Diego is faced with a three billion dollar budget shortfall that we are asked to pay back with higher taxes and more sales of city owned land. Help me balanced the budget and make San Diego a bettter place to live.

Almost a half a century of business and government experience has prepared me to be Mayor of San Diego. Back in 1983 I resigned from my job with the San Diego Housing Commission as Financial Specialist to run for Mayor of San Diego. Unfortunately for the City of San Diego, while I finished in the top 20%, I did not get elected.


During my time in the private sector when I did budgeting I have been subject to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. If I had prepared budget projections for a 3 billion dollar budget and neglected to mention a potential liability of two hundred million dollars I would be subject to fines and jail time.
When I read the material misrepresentation in Mayor Faulconer’s, “financial outlook” which showed projected deficits of $83.7 million in the budget year that begins next July, $66.6 million in the following budget year and $33.6 million during the budget year after that, I realized that the City of San Diego has no budget oversight such as the IRS or SEC and can make up any numbers they want.


These budget projections, among other things, do not take into account the liability of the approximately 4,000 employees hired after 2012 under the Prop B Pension Reform Charter Amendment. City labor unions in San Diego have filed a successful lawsuit which invalidate 2012’s Proposition B pension cut measure. The pension reform measure passed by voters in 2012 has been ruled illegal by the state supreme court, but the court did not invalidate Prop B because that was not before the court. In March of this year, the California Fourth District Court of Appeal ordered the City of San Diego to compensate employees who had been affected by Proposition B. Given the legal track record of the City in this fiasco it is reasonable to assume the Courts will mandate compensation be paid to these employees. Simple math tells us if the court mandates a low amount such as $5,000 in compensation per employee for 4,000 employees over 10 years we are looking at a liability of 200 million dollars.


Quoting from the Mayor’s projections, “The current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City’s six Recognized Employees Organizations (REO) are set to expire at the end of FY 2020. This Outlook does not project for any impact of future changes to MOUs with REOs; therefore, salaries and wages forecasts are reflective of current MOU provisions.” In simple language the Mayor and City Council are hiding an additional liability which I have conservatively estimated to be two hundred million dollars.


When I ran for Mayor in 1983, I wrote,” This year the City of San Diego is experiencing a revenue short fall of between 8 and 12 million dollars…. I propose to balance the budget by asking those in City Government who can best afford a pay cut to take it. Last year the Mayor’s salary was increased by 20%. I propose to cut the Mayors salary by 10%. The new salary of the Mayor would be $33,000 a year. Using the Mayors salary as a guide, I propose to cut all salaries in excess of $33,000 dollars by 10%. There would be a savings of between 8 and 12 million dollars. All City employees earning $33,000 a year or less would be unaffected. I propose a hiring freeze on any job that requires a salary greater than $33,000. I project that this plan can make up the projected revenue short fall without laying off any employees or a reduction in City services.”

Since 1983, the City of San Diego has balanced its books by selling city owned land and raising taxes. We have gone from a liability back than of between 8 and 12 million to today’s liability of 85 million to 300 million dollars.

 

 

The solution, as it was 35 years ago, is to reduce the salaries of the management team responsible for the spiraling budget overruns. Next year the Mayor and City Council have budgeted themselves a 100% pay increase. We are rewarding the Mayor and City Council for a continuation of almost a half century of operating losses.

 

I testified before the Budget Committee chaired by Councilwoman and Mayoral Candidate Barbra Bry. I argued against increasing taxes. I was allowed two minutes to propose a solution. The solution is the same one I proposed back in 1983. Use the Mayors annual salary of $100,000 as the dividing line between management and labor. Reduce the salary of every city employee who makes more than the Mayor by 10%. In addition institute a hiring freeze on everyone who makes more than $100,000 a year.

 

No employee of this City making less than $100,000 will be affected by this proposal.

It is time that those who are responsible for the poor management of this City suffer the consequences of their actions. Not surprisingly, Councilwoman Bry decided the better way to solve the problem was to raise taxes and sell Qualcomm Stadium.

 

The Prop B problem can be solved by proposing to the courts that the City of San Diego will compensate the 4,000 new employees by putting them and all future City employees under the Federal Social Security Program.

 

The real solution to San Diego’s continuous overspending is to adopt the approach that the Port District uses to finance its operations. The Port District is not allowed to sell its’ land. All they do is negotiate leases of their land. This model will work for the City. I proposed this idea back in 1983. Had the City adopted this idea anytime after I proposed it would not have affected the income generated to balance the budget. What it would have done is created an asset base which would generate revenue forever.

 

When I ran in 1983 I was the first and only candidate running for mayor to proposed term limits. I believe elections are the marketplace of ideas. Term limits was an idea whose time had come, San Diego adopted term limits soon after I proposed it. The idea of leasing instead of selling City owned land is an idea whose time has come.

 

Rich Riel
Candidate for Mayor

Rich Riel solving the problems facing San Diego today.

Summary

My fellow San Diegians, What follows are my qualifications and solutions for the problems facing our City.

 

Almost a half a century of business and government experience has prepared me to be Mayor of San Diego. Back in 1983 I resigned from my job with the San Diego Housing Commission as Financial Specialist to run for Mayor of San Diego. Unfortunately for the City of San Diego, while I finished in the top 20%, I did not get elected.

 

Because of the current Mayor, San Diego today is suffering financial ruin, traffic gridlock and a concentration of growth in overcrowded neighborhoods. We did not arrive at this nexus overnight. The uncontrolled growth of this City coupled with the financial excess of our elected Mayor is the result of a broken political system.  This system stretches back for half a century to the election of Pete Wilson in 1971.

 

Our elections are rigged by the rich, abetted by the media and executed by career politicians dependant on a political party system designed to accommodate wealthy donors. The voter is faced with a political system that is manipulated to encourage the continuation of elected officials who owe their loyalty not to San Diego but to their campaign donors. The motivation of our elected officials is not honor or duty; it is a career opportunity to retire from, with great pension benefits.

 

I ran for Mayor twice, thirty five years ago against the power brokers of San Diego. I started out as an unknown and finished in the top 20% of vote getters both times as a grassroots candidate. I won because most voters make up their mind by reading the ballot statement just before they cast their vote. Good ideas can beat bad candidates in any election. The problem we have is the media and the rich discourage good candidates from running with the so called conventional wisdom you don’t have a chance unless you have lots of money, a party affiliation and name recognition. As a result we have a system where we vote on candidates that are owned by campaign donors no matter who the voters pick.

 

This year I am challenging the power structure of San Diego. I am not affiliated with either the Republicans or the Democrats. I am not for sale to rich donors because I am not a career politician. I am a San Diegian. I love this City and will do what is best for the City. With your vote, I am going to do something that has never been done in a San Diego Mayor’s race. I am going to win without spending millions of dollars, a political party endorsement or name recognition.

 

During my time in the private sector when I did budgeting I have been subject to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. If I had prepared budget projections for a 3 billion dollar budget and neglected to mention a potential liability of two hundred million dollars I would be subject to fines and jail time.
When I read the material misrepresentation in Mayor Faulconer’s, “financial outlook” which showed projected deficits of $83.7 million in the budget year that begins next July, $66.6 million in the following budget year and $33.6 million during the budget year after that, I realized that the City of San Diego has no budget oversight such as the IRS or SEC and can make up any numbers they want.

 

These budget projections, among other things, do not take into account the liability of the approximately 4,000 employees hired after 2012 under the Prop B Pension Reform Charter Amendment. City labor unions in San Diego have filed a successful lawsuit which invalidate 2012’s Proposition B pension cut measure. The pension reform measure passed by voters in 2012 has been ruled illegal by the state supreme court, but the court did not invalidate Prop B because that was not before the court. In March of this year, the California Fourth District Court of Appeal ordered the City of San Diego to compensate employees who had been affected by Proposition B. Given the legal track record of the City in this fiasco it is reasonable to assume the Courts will mandate compensation be paid to these employees. Simple math tells us if the court mandates a low amount such as $5,000 in compensation per employee for 4,000 employees over 10 years we are looking at a liability of 200 million dollars.


Quoting from the Mayor’s projections, “The current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City’s six Recognized Employees Organizations (REO) are set to expire at the end of FY 2020. This Outlook does not project for any impact of future changes to MOUs with REOs; therefore, salaries and wages forecasts are reflective of current MOU provisions.” In simple language the Mayor is hiding an additional liability which I have conservatively estimated to be two hundred million dollars.


When I ran for Mayor in 1983, I wrote,” This year the City of San Diego is experiencing a revenue short fall of between 8 and 12 million dollars…. I propose to balance the budget by asking those in City Government who can best afford a pay cut to take it. Last year the Mayor’s salary was increased by 20%. I propose to cut the Mayors salary by 10%. The new salary of the Mayor would be $33,000 a year. Using the Mayors salary as a guide, I propose to cut all salaries in excess of $33,000 dollars by 10%. There would be a savings of between 8 and 12 million dollars. All City employees earning $33,000 a year or less would be unaffected. I propose a hiring freeze on any job that requires a salary greater than $33,000. I project that this plan can make up the projected revenue short fall without laying off any employees or a reduction in City services.”

 

Since 1983, the City of San Diego has balanced its books by selling city owned land and raising taxes. We have gone from a liability back than of between 8 and 12 million dollars to today’s liability of 85 million to 200 million dollars.

 

The solution, as it was 35 years ago, is to reduce the salaries of the management team responsible for the spiraling budget overruns. Next year the Mayor has budgeted a 100% pay increase for the Mayor and City Council. We are rewarding the Mayor and City Council for a continuation of almost a half century of operating losses.

 

I testified before the Budget Committee, I argued against increasing taxes. I was allowed two minutes to propose a solution. The solution is the same one I proposed back in 1983. Use the Mayors annual salary of $100,000 as the dividing line between management and labor. Reduce the salary of every city employee who makes more than the Mayor by 10%. In addition institute a hiring freeze on everyone who makes more than $100,000 a year. No employee of this City making less than $100,000 will be affected by this proposal. It is time that those who are responsible for the poor management of this City suffer the consequences of their actions.

The Prop B problem can be solved by proposing to the courts that the City of San Diego will compensate the 4,000 new employees by putting them and all future City employees under the Federal Social Security Program. I propose to put all employees in City government under social security. I will propose to the State Court of Appeal the solution to the pension deficit is to adhere to the voter approved pension plan by allowing the employees to remain in the 401 K program approved by the voters or enrolling them in the Federal Social Security Program. I will point out that this law suit is intended as an excuse for the unions to continue stealing from the taxpayers of this City.

 

It is matter of equity.  It is unfair to reward legal incompetence by allowing the beneficiaries of a ponzi scheme pension fund to continue stealing from taxpayers who wanted out of the scam. The voters were victimized by a Mayor and City Attorney who were vested in the program. The voters were informed of the con game being run by the unions and voted to end the scam. The Unions suing the City argued that the will of the people should be overturned by a technicality created by the Mayor and City Attorney so that the unions can continue their ponzi scheme.  

 

The real solution to San Diego’s to income shortfall is not increasing taxes, but to adopt the approach that the Port District uses to finance its operations. The Port District is not allowed to sell its’ land. All they do is negotiate leases of their land. This model will work for San Diego. I proposed this idea back in 1983. Had the City adopted this idea anytime after I proposed it would not have affected the income generated to balance the budget. What it would have done is created an asset base which would generate revenue forever.

 

When I ran in 1983 I was the first and only candidate running for mayor to proposed term limits. I believe elections are the marketplace of ideas. Term limits was an idea whose time had come, San Diego adopted term limits soon after I proposed it. The idea of leasing instead of selling City owned land is an idea whose time has come. I will change the City Charter to prohibit the sale of City owned land. As Mayor of this City I will get our City out of the ponzi scheme pension fund and replace it with Social Security. If you are a San Diegian and recognize that we can change the direction of our City from the mistakes of the past, vote for Rich Riel.

A CHARTER CHANGE TO STOP THE SALE OF CITY OWNED LAND

Summary

A Tale of Two Governments, The Port District and the City of San Diego. 

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times. One is a government that does not need to tax it citizens and is a model of financial rectitude. The other is a government filled with corruption and failed leadership.

 

Today, the most successful and financially sound government entity in San Diego County is the San Diego Unified Port District. It is totally self sufficient without charging taxes. The reason for the success of the Port District is that it is prohibited by its charter from selling Port District land.

 

The San Diego Unified Port District was created in 1962 to manage in trust the tide and submerged lands within San Diego Bay. By statue the Port is only allowed to lease the land. The Port District manages 2,404 acres of land which generate over $200 million dollars in annual revenue.

 

This year the Port District budget surplus will be $40 million dollars with no unfunded liabilities.  Unlike the City of San Diego, the Port District Pension Fund is fully funded with no contingent liability.

 

In contrast to the Port District the City of  San Diego relies on four major General Fund revenue sources which are composed of property taxes, sales taxes, transient occupancy taxes (TOT), and franchise fees. These four categories account for 70% of the revenues generated for City of San Diego. Unlike the Port District, less than 4% of the budget is generated from leases and sales of City owned property.

 

Since 1968 the City of San Diego has sold over sixty thousand acres of City owned land. There are a number of benefits to a charter change that would required the City to maintain ownership of all City owned land.  Had we leased that land to the developers, the City today, like the Port District, would have the revenue stream of our leased land. In addition we could control the price of housing by controlling land costs..

 

The wealth of San Diego is not in the physical structures that we build on our land, it is in the underlying land and how we zone the land. For the last half century, City government has been making developers wealthy by changing zoning and density for projects owned by politically connected developers. 

 

The developers assemble a project buying cheap vacant or low density land. They buy the property that is priced by the density allowed under the existing zoning. The developers design a project with increased density making the land more valuable because of the anticipated zoning change. They want an exception to zoning, arguing it creates jobs. They say it will transform a blighted property into a newly built project. The developers tell us by adding more housing it will bring down the cost of housing and create more housing opportunities.

 

They find a Mayor who wants political contributions and will support the project. They donate a lot of money to the Mayor so he can get elected. The money is spent on advertising with the major media for political ads to get the Mayor elected.  The media, fat on advertising revenues, is a big proponent of the project. The Mayor is elected he approves the zoning change and the developers make millions.

 

The only losers are the Citizens of San Diego. We sell our land for nothing, the developers make millions and increase our population with no corresponding infra structure. Our highways became gridlocked.  Housing prices continue to increase as available buildable land decreases. We can no longer enjoy our parks and beaches.

 

As buildable land disappears the price of housing continues to increase. Perhaps the biggest lie told by the developers is that with every project approved the developer tells the politicians the more housing built the more it will bring down the price of housing. It is a lie that continues to be told and believed by the current Mayor and other elected officials. Today we have a housing crisis and the politicians continue to tell us that increased density for politically connected developers will solve the problem.

 

The solution to bringing down hosing costs is to require all developers who are seeking a zoning change to sell the underlying land to the City. Together with a charter change that only allows leasing of the land, the City of San Diego can regain control of spiraling housing costs.

 

Horton Plaza is an example of a politically connected developer changing zoning and density with the support of the current Mayor at the expense of the citizens of San Diego. The current plan proposed by the owners of Horton Plaza is a nightmare of no parking, no housing and no retail space where there should still be a vibrant shopping center.

 

When I am elected I will use Horton Plaza to demonstrate how City ownership of the land and the use of zoning will bring affordable housing to San Diego. I will not allow the current plan to continue. I will require Stockdale to sell the land back to the City. I will work with Stockdale to leave Horton Plaza as a retail shopping center with the parking garages remaining.

 

In return for the land The City will rezone the property to allow for a high rise residential project that will have long term leases for low, moderate and median income San Diegians to live down town in affordable home owner housing. The developer will be allowed to build and sell the units with construction and take out financing provided by the City of San Diego.

 

As your Mayor, working with, The Housing Commission, the Planning Department and the owners I will build a team that will build low, moderate and median income housing which will actually bring down the overall cost of housing in San Diego.

 

This charter change coupled with a Mayor who will trade zoning and density changes for developers that sell their land to the City, will correct the years of poor planning that has resulted in the current problems.

 

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