Councilman Carl DeMaio outlined a 13-point plan on Thursday to increase the city's use of volunteers, with a goal of 1 million annual man-hours.
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At a news conference at the North Clairemont Recreation Center, DeMaio said he hoped to reach the target by 2016. The city logs about 500,000 volunteer hours per year.
"I believe San Diegans are willing to volunteer and serve their community," DeMaio said. "Unfortunately, the city has been resistant to and ineffective in using volunteer support."
He said San Diego's agreements with labor unions require city officials to go through the meet-and-confer process if they want to increase the level of volunteerism, or use a volunteer in place of a paid employee. That discourages the increased use of volunteers, according to the councilman, who is running for mayor.
"We are turning away volunteers because it would interfere with rules that require negotiations when a city worker's job would be impacted. I think that's wrong and the rules need to be changed," DeMaio said.
Among his proposals:
-- creating a position of chief volunteer officer in the mayor's office for someone who will coordinate the recruitment, training and placement of unpaid workers -- creating a city volunteer website and mobile application -- engaging the leaders of major area nonprofit organizations -- expanding Mayor Jerry Sanders' use of leaders from the private sector to bring expertise to the city -- establishing volunteer recognition programs -- making the Neighborhood Watch and the Retired Senior Volunteer programs bigger -- starting an "extreme neighborhood makeover" program to clean up trash and remove graffiti, among other things
The package of proposals was opposed by organized labor, which funds an organization dedicated to defeating DeMaio's mayoral bid.
"It's a bit of mystery why Carl DeMaio wants to get rid of jobs when everyone else is asking how to put more people back to work," Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, said.
"But leave it to a corporate millionaire like Carl DeMaio to suggest people shouldn't get paid for the hard work they do," she said.
"Leave it to Carl DeMaio to want to get something for free instead of trying to create jobs," added Evan McLaughlin, also of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. "We need to put people back to work, not cut their jobs and hand them over to volunteers."
DeMaio cited a study by Competitive Edge Research & Communication, which ranked San Diego County as 43rd out of 51 major metropolitan areas in "civic engagement."
DeMaio plans to submit his proposal to change the rules concerning volunteers to the council in the near future.
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