Fixing San Diego—A Conversation with Councilman Carl Demaio


"What I'd like to do is create a city government that is as beautiful as the city of San Diego has become. And we aren't going to stop until we get that," says city councilman Carl DeMaio.

DeMaio has his work cut out for him. City employee compensation has gotten out of hand, the city pays millions to subsidize its convention center each year, and in the midst of this fiscal crisis, other San Diego politicians are pushing for new legacy projects like a brand new downtown library.

DeMaio is a former fellow at Reason Foundation who is now working as a city councilman trying to make the San Diego city government more transparent and accountable. He was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2008, winning by the highest margin of any non-incumbent in a San Diego city council race ever.

"Fixing San Diego" is produced by Paul Feine, shot by Alex Manning, and edited by Paul Detrick and Hawk Jensen. Approximately 10 minutes.

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  1. As a former San Diego resident, I wish him luck, and lots of it. He’ll need it.

  2. DeMaio’s sort of got crazy eyes in that video still there.

    1. “What’s that you have there? Is that a…IS THAT A DANISH?!?!?”

    2. He’s a libertarian with (some) power. What would you expect?

      1. There’s a libertarian with power? This should make the headline.

    3. Looks like he spent too much time watching Hypno-Toad.

    4. Listen to his ideas–he can’t help how he looks. Please post pics of yourself so we can all decide whether you’re crazy by looking at your eyes or your knees, or your ear lobes.

  3. Personally, I think it has gone well beyond fixing!


  4. Is the city “broken,” just like health care is “broken” and our banking system is “broken.” I find this to be a handy word. Where’s my helmet?

  5. I’d vote for him.

    San Diego should have changed it’s name to Cesspool City back around ’55, then maybe it would have had a chance at remaining a nice little Mediterranean-style city instead of the sort of Dallas-by-the-Bay it reminds me of now.

  6. Thread jack:
    Asshole public school administrators cancel basketball team trip to Arizona because of “safety issues.” Never mind the same school feels safe in letting the kids go to China and the Czech Republic.

    Also, the kids had numerous bake sales to pay for (at least part of) the trip.

    What right do these public school administrators have to make a political statement on the kids behalf? Yet another reason government should not be involved in the school system.…..ety-fears/

    1. I am interested to see if your comment gets any traction here. Which is more distasteful to Reasoners? The Arizona law or school administrations that make professional decisions based purely on personal political beliefs?

      1. The petty tyrants bother me more, mostly because even a bad law has limits.

      2. Death Panelist, I don’t believe that this is an either/or question. I can think simultaneously that the Arizona law is abhorrent and, without contradiction, believe that these administrators are dicks for denying these kids because of petty politics.

      3. It depends if they are anarchist libertarians (in which case it could go either way) or minimal government libertarians.

  7. I thought you guys were going to fix Cleveland first.

    Focus, focus, focus.

    1. I’d rather they fixed San Diego.

      1. Only if they fix it the same way you “fix” a male puppy.

    2. I’ll fix ’em good. Tonight. In Boston.

  8. Which is more distasteful to Reasoners? The Arizona law or school administrations that make professional decisions based purely on personal political beliefs?

    I’m an equal opportunity hater, and hate is, as far as I can tell, an infinitely renewable resource.

  9. ps- San Diego sucks.

  10. San Diego rocks. California’s only decent large city. Sometimes I don’t even believe it’s the city closest to Tijuana. It’s so white.

    1. Illegal entrants just don’t feel safe until they’re past the border patrol’s 100 mile zone – it’s L.A. or bust.

    2. agreed. there is something special about san diego but unless the path its on is diverted i think it will turn into a LA. vomit

  11. I would love for DeMaio to turn things around. I grew up in San Diego, school in California, and elected to get out just because I couldn’t stand having all my money going to public employees. Now I’m stuck in this southern heat in Texas, but not paying state income tax and actually having a job makes it a lot easier to pay an A/C bill.

    To the rest of the San Diego politicians trying to build ridiculous things on a negative budget and all the citizens voting for it under the flag of “for the children”, I default to the great Rod Burgandy… “Go… f yourself San Diego” (and all of California for that matter).

  12. De Maio, be prepared for flaming bricks through your window if you even broach the topic of increasing contributions and reducing benefits (from the public sector unions, not me).

    I also expect to see that annoying, screamier version of Woody Allen union rep. guy do some more screaming in front of your doorstep. (You know, the annoying piece of shit that protested the LA charter school move, inter alia.)

    But I wish you well, anyway. (Not that I’d ever move to the hellhole that is CA if you succeed, though.)

  13. I propose that the southern coast of California suceed from the union.

    1. We tried that. Damn yankees put a stop to it. Go here for more info:…..fles2.html

  14. I remember when councilman DeMaio used to play the Peach Pit. Those were the days. But I thought he was schtuping Megan Fox now. What’s he doing on the SD council?

  15. How is increased employee contributions meaningful? It’s taxpayer money either way, and the public employee’s unions are just going to demand (and get) higher wages to make up for it.

  16. I’m a SD Libertarian involved in local politics. DeMaio has already made some beneficial changes that we were told “can’t be done.”

    The good news is the bad news here — even our union-bought-and-paid-for city council knows they are running out of options. Many of DeMaio’s reforms will likely prevail after things get get just a bit worse.

    Don’t ask me to define “a bit.”

    Our job in SD is to make sure the “raise taxes” option is closed off. It looks like we’ve sealed that door shut in the foreseeable future.

    1. I hope the councilman does well – and more people give ‘common-sense’ libertarianism a second look…..

  17. DeMaio may be a former fellow at Reason Foundation but he’s not a libertarian–he’s a paleoconservative Republican. He was the only one on the SD city council to vote against condemning the AZ immigration law. I didn’t agree with that vote, but I agree with a lot of his other positions. Openly gay Republicans like him are mavericks against the status quo from the Right anyway.

  18. Whatever he is, Carl is the closest thing to a libertarian that libertarians can hope for in San Diego, and I say that as a volunteer for the Rider for Mayor campaign a few years ago…

    WRT San Diego’s future, well, we owned rental property there, and were quite glad we were able to cut our losses and unload it. We, ourselves, left some time before. Good luck, San Diego. If I thought that there was any possibility of a good short-term prognosis, I’d still be there.

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