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

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.

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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.

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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:
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Other Areas of Expertise

With over Four decades of experience in local government, elections and public policy issues 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 1995 Scott 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.  In 2003 Barnett founded Taxpayers Advocate and has run or been involved in dozens of local political campaigns.

in 2010 Barnett was elected as a Board Trustee on San Diego Unified School Board, defeating a five-term incumbent.  As a school board member he lead efforts to implement innovative public-private partnerships which resulted in privately built public facilities, freeing up budget dollars and generating new funds for student learning.

He left the board in 2014 but in 2018  assisted in the passage of Measure YY, a $3.4 Billion school bond measure. Since 1998, Barnett has participated in the design and passage of over $13 Billion in SDUSD school bonds.

He previously served as a policy analyst and press secretary to Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson and was appointed by Democratic Speaker-now Senate President Pro Tem-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.

In 2021, Barnett was tapped to be Chief of Staff and Press Secretary to Supervisor Joel Anderson, hiring and managing a 13 person staff.

In the Spring of 2022, Barnett joined Harris & Associates as a part-time Project Manager, focusing on special projects at San Diego Unified School District.  Barnett continues to consult on public policy issues and political campaigns.

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