Taxpayers Advocate analyzes and conducts studies on local government and on public and private programs and projects which impact the taxpayers including public budgets, school bond measures, development projects, etc.

September 03, 2020

Pension Watchdog Study

New Taxpayers Advocate analysis of San Diego City Hall Pension Spiking Loophole.

If you are a candidate, please click here to register your response. Candidates who choose not to respond will be presumed to be unwilling to take either the policy pledge or the ethical pledge. Your position will be communicated to voters.

Policy Pledge: I support a repeal of the pension spiking loophole for career politicians.

Ethical Pledge: I will NOT personally participate in the insiders’ loophole “Elected Officers Retirement Plan”.


Press Release
May 19, 2020


SD Fire Department Responding to Lifeguard Rescues Creates Gaps in Service

La Jolla: Scott Barnett, President of San Diego Taxpayers Advocate released the results of a two-year study that compared resources used when SD Fire Department personnel responded to daylight cliff and inland water rescues. The study was based on over 8000 electronic fire dispatch records from 2008 through 2018, and hundreds of paper lifeguard dispatch reports.

“Our study clearly demonstrates that when San Diego Firefighters usurp cliff and show up in force at inland water rescues that should be done by lifeguards, it wastes of public safety resources and creates gaps in San Diego Fire services,” said Barnett.

Downloads: (PDF)

About Us was formed in 2003 by Scott Barnett soon after ending his 7-year tenure as Executive Director of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

Contact Scott Barnett at:

Taxpayers Advocate
Award of Merit

Because Government Should be Recognized When They do Things Well!

Do you want your City/School District/Special District or Administrator to be recognized for quality service on behalf of the taxpayers?

Taxpayers Advocate believes that we should not always criticize government, but also recognize government efficiency, innovation and quality public service.

The Taxpayers Advocate Award of Merit is given based on checklists of best practices or a more in-depth analysis of budgets, operations, service level satisfaction, CIP programs, etc.

For more information on how your agency can earn the Taxpayers Advocate Award of Merit:
Contact Taxpayers Advocate

Other Areas of Expertise

Spending almost Four decades in local government, politics and public policy issues in Scott Barnett is a recognized expert in local government and politics, specializing in political campaigns and strategic consulting on public policy, and land-use issues and media strategy. He also specializes in educations issue and has assisted public charter and private schools.

Scott Barnett has consulted on campaigns in small municipalities with a few thousand voters to large school district with several hundred thousand.  And unlike most all political consultants Scott Barnett has actually run and been elected twice.  For information contact:

Strategic Partners

As needed Taxpayers Advocate collaborates with a variety of subject area experts including Dr. Richard Parker, Professor Emeritus in Public Policy, at San Diego State University. Since 1995bScott Barnett and Dr. Parker have worked together on numerous public policy studies.  continue

Facts are Facts!

All of our reviews are based on data and in most cases resulting from lengthy public records requests.  All of this material is available to members of the public or media.


Taxpayers Advocate has taken positions on dozens of ballot measures and signed numerous ballot statements and in rare instances endorses candidates of both parties for local office.

About Scott Barnett

Scott Barnett started in local government and politics with his election to the Del Mar City Council at age 21 in 1984 where he also served as the City’s representative on the North County Transit and San Diego Association of Governments boards. Since then he has been been involved in hundreds of public policy issues as Executive Director of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association where he instituted the iconic Golden Fleece and Watchdog Awards, founded Taxpayers Advocate in 2003, has run dozens of local political campaigns, and was an elected Trustee (2010-2014) on San Diego Unified School Board. As a school board member he lead efforts to implement innovative public-private partnerships which resulted in privately built public facilities, freed up budget dollars and generated new funds for student learning.

He served as a policy analyst and press secretary to Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson and was appointed by Democratic Speaker Toni Atkins to the prestigious State of California Little Hoover Commission, a bi-partisan board including state legislators. The Commission is charged with studying state government programs.

He is recognized as a skilled issues advocate and an known as expert in media relations and has appeared dozens of times on local, state and national media.