SUPERVISOR 5TH DISTRICT COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO
August 6, 2009
The Law of Gravity (Sacramento-style)
More than 300 years ago Sir Isaac Newton put forth his Law of
Gravity that states “What goes up must come down.” Today that theory
holds true on earth with one exception: Sacramento. For years we have
seen that not all of our tax dollars that go up to Sacramento come
back down to the County of San Diego. The latest example is last
month’s budget deal between Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative
leaders that promises the worst fiscal impacts to local governments in
Faced with a threatened law suit by the County of San Diego and
other local governments, the legislature backed off on taking $1
billion in gasoline tax money known as the Highway Users Tax Account
(HUTA) from local governments. Sacramento amended what would have been
an illegal raid on HUTA money and changed from a straight take of
funds and instead made it a loan which would be repaid over a ten year
period. Because of the ill-advised term limits provision that state
legislators have, the final pay back date conveniently is beyond when
most of them will be in office.
Of local concern is shifting $1.7 billion from local redevelopment
agencies (RDA) and a one-year extension. Since it was done by a
majority vote, it will not become effective for 90 days.
After the budget was submitted to him, the governor made additional
cuts in child welfare programs, funding to counties to administer
Medi-Cal, medical care for the poor, AIDS prevention efforts and state
parks. He agreed with legislators who say if the state’s economy
remains stagnant the state deficit will increase. Unemployment in
California has climbed from 7.1 percent to 11.6 percent over the last
year and some economists predict it will reach nearly 12 percent next
year. At a time when finding new revenue is essential, I was
disappointed that the Assembly wilted under pressure from
environmentalists who opposed a plan to drill for oil off the coast
for the first time in 40 years. That would have brought at least $100
million a year for about 20 years to the budget solution.
The budget remains a maze of smoke and mirrors, patched together
with big borrowing and raids. One phantom “solution” is to defer state
employee paychecks one day, from June 30 to July 1, 2010, for a
savings on paper of $1.2 billion. Another involves boosting income tax
collections by increasing withholding by 10 percent that amounts to an
interest-free loan for the state. Taxpayers can reclaim the money
during tax season.
Cutting state spending by nearly $15 billion is a step in the right
direction; however, there is much more duplication, waste, and fraud
that can be cut from the state bureaucracy.
Hundreds of years ago in England when people with money took to the
roads in coaches, horses, or wagons, the poor would resort to holding
up travelers. It was called “highway robbery.” Victims had no choice
but to handover all that they had.
When we fast forward to 2009, elected officials in Sacramento are
doing the stealing, raiding accounts filled with local tax dollars.
The current budget deal would suspend Proposition 1A, a measure voters
passed to protect local property taxes. Sacramento wants to borrow
$1.9 billion from local governments, diverting an amount equal to 8
percent of the total property tax revenues received by cities,
counties and special districts. There is a not-so-convincing promise
of paying the money back to counties, cities and special districts in 2013.
The budget deal further betrays communities and the counties that
serve them with massive health cuts aimed at the most vulnerable; the
elderly, mentally ill, homeless families, the poor, and children.
After the governor finished his cuts, there were no smiles on the
faces of the so-called Big Five made up of Governor Schwarzenegger,
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D – Los Angeles), Senate President Pro
Tem Darrell Steinberg (D – Sacramento), Senate Republican leader
Dennis Hollingsworth (R – Murrieta), and Assembly Republican leader
Sam Blakeslee (R- San Luis Obispo). Steinberg had said the Big 5 had
held together California’s safety net. In truth the net is a
tight-rope held by local governments while Sacramento does its high
The governor called the $85 billion budget “the good, the bad and
the ugly.” In my opinion, there is nothing good about it. Unlike the
County of San Diego which has a credit rating of AAA, California
continues to have the lowest credit rating in the nation, except for
the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Fitch Ratings rates California’s
general obligation bond debt at “BBB.” With the certainty that nothing
was solved, the problem has gotten worse and true reform is more
distant than ever before.
Meantime, we are using every tactic to fight back including the
County of San Diego reserving the right to sue the state for its
actions. We also support a bill in Sacramento that allows us to send
the state IOU’s for any IOU’s it expects us to use as cash. Enough is
enough. Too much of what has gone up is not coming back down.
In this edition of the “Word,” I have exciting news about a
tremendous resource for Veterans, major progress in building a new
library in Fallbrook, evidence of a successful partnership for fire
protection and a mind-boggling number for our County library system.
County Offers More Help for Veterans
Last month, it was my privilege to help launch a new website by our
Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) aimed at providing veterans,
service members, and their families access to mental health
counseling, emergency housing, and employment assistance.
There are many organizations, public and private, that help
veterans. The problem is there has been a lack of a central resource
to aid in finding them. I believe we have created that resource with
the Network of Care for Veterans and Service Members website www.sandiego.networkofcare.org.
Information is offered in 11 languages.
About 1.5 million veterans from all over the nation are expected to
return in the next two years from Iraq and Afghanistan. A significant
number of those military warriors will come back to San Diego County.
A recent study conducted by the Rand Corporation revealed that about
300,000 Gulf War veterans report suffering from major depression and
post-traumatic stress disorder; yet only about half of those
individuals sought help. Fear of rejection and discrimination often
prevents people from accessing needed mental health services.
Left to right, Nick Macchione, Supervisor Horn and Tom Splitgerber
Having been in combat as a Marine officer during the Vietnam War, I
know firsthand the challenge of adjusting to civilian life after
experiencing the horrors and stress of war. The peer support provided
by the website is critical so that returning veterans can interact
with others who have similar experiences. The new website is designed
to connect all veterans with state-of-the-art technology.
I appreciate the commitment of people like Nick Macchione, HHSA
Director, Alfredo Aguirre, Director of County Mental Health and Tom
Splitgerber, our Veterans’ Service Officer to see this project through
to completion. The finished product has been such a success the
Department of Defense is looking to use it on a national level.
A year after the Board of Supervisors created the San Diego County
Regional Fire Authority to improve regional fire protection and
emergency medical service; we have been honored with the Fire Safe
Council of San Diego County’s 2009 Outstanding Partnership Award.
The County Fire Authority unified six rural volunteer fire agencies
under the Fire Authority’s administrative umbrella and could add
another six agencies by 2012. When the consolidation is complete, the
Fire Authority will cover more than 1.2 million acres in San Diego County.
The Fire Safe Council is a nonprofit organization formed 12 years
ago that educates, exchanges information and promotes fire prevention
and safety. Since forming, the council has developed and distributed
fire prevention education materials to industry leaders, evaluated
fire safety legislation, and helped grassroots organizations implement
fire safety programs. The County has worked closely with the Fire Safe
Council and the Forest Area Safety Taskforce in our ongoing efforts to
remove dead, dying and diseased trees.
Bravo for Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheater!
I was honored to be part of Opening Night at the Moonlight
Amphitheater in Vista. I have been privileged to contribute $164,000
over the last six years from my Community Projects fund for this great
It was good to share the evening with Mayor Morris Vance and Council
Members Bob Campbell and Judy Ritter, as well as other sponsors and
donors including the Moonlight Cultural Foundation.
The 2009 season kicked off with the 1930’s tap dancing musical 42nd
Street. Information on the entire season of shows can be found at: www.moonlightstage.com.
Working Together to Build a New Fallbrook Library
Our partnership with the community of Fallbrook has moved us closer
to the commitment to build the new Fallbrook Library. A $100,000
donation from the Rotary Club of Fallbrook to the Friends of the
Fallbrook Library (FOFL) and a grant from our Community Projects Fund
of nearly $78,000 will help furnish the new library with chairs,
tables, shelves, books, computers, carpeting and art features.
The Rotary gift will help build the teen center, a room for young
adults with after-school programs and a place where teens can do their homework.
Our most recent grant will pay for construction of an entryway
trellis and landscaping for the library. Over the years, grants from
our Community Projects Fund for the library total more than one
With the latest contribution from the community, the volunteer group
has raised $2.3 million for the 20,000-square-foot library that will
be located at the corner of Mission Road and Alvarado Street.
Construction of the library is expected to begin this fall.
I appreciate the leadership of people like Jerri Patchett, Vince
Ross and Marlo Miller along with Betsey Levering, director of
community service for the Rotary Club of Fallbrook and more than 150
volunteers who run the Bottom Shelf used book store and support
the library by stocking shelves and assisting with children’s
programs. Other major contributors to the FOFL include:
- Jessie Young Estate - $630,000
- Rose Tarquinio Trust -
- Bratcher Family Trust - $60,000
Estate - $50,000
- Stapes Foundation - $50,000
Society of Fallbrook - $50,000
For additional information, please contact Jerri Patchett at
760-723-8635 or Marlo Miller at 760-731-9986.
8,000,000+ and Counting
This summer, our County libraries reached a milestone by having
8,311,125 items checked out between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009.
This is the first time in its 96-year history that the San Diego
County Library has exceeded the eight million mark in annual materials circulation.
Last year, the County Library ranked eighth in circulation among
California’s 16 libraries serving a population of more than 500,000.
That ranking is likely to improve with the latest numbers.
Our library director, Jose Aponte, and his team at 33 libraries and
two bookmobiles have done a tremendous job in placing a variety of
resources in the hands of citizens along with hosting programs and
events for children and adults. The economy has been a special focus
of the past year’s events, with programs on such topics as job and
career planning, foreclosure prevention and managing finances.
Our County Counsel, John Sansone, and his team of attorneys have a
remarkable record of protecting the County from lawsuits and regularly
prevail when challenged in court. I appreciate John’s leadership and
as a result of his hard work he is featured in the San Diego Daily
Transcript’s “Top Attorneys 2009” for Municipal-Government
practice. This honor involves peer nomination and voting conducted
annually by the newspaper. John was recognized for his work as the
County’s longest serving County Counsel. He has been the head of the
Office of County Counsel since 1996.
* * * * *
The County was also recognized at the EMC World Conference with the
Leadership Award for Documentum & Records Management. The honor
was for the way our Community Services Group provides advice and
regional leadership to other government agencies that use Documentum.
Our willingness to share our experience through site visits, phone
calls, presentations and a published article, which helped other
government organizations with their records and content management
implementations, was specifically mentioned.
North County is blessed with thousands of people who volunteer their
time and talent to make our communities a better place to live and
work. Wendy Beye is one such person. She has been a faithful and
tireless volunteer in Fallbrook.
Along with her husband, Dr. Nicholas Beye, Wendy has been a resident
of Fallbrook since 1981 and has regularly assisted the Boys and Girls
Club of Fallbrook with fundraising and helping place “Memory Blocks”
in the downtown Village Square.
Wendy Beye & husband Dr. Nicolas Beye
from Supervisor Horn
Wendy was also a community leader during the Rice Canyon fire,
opening her home as a warehouse for donated goods and worked to set-up
stores in local schools to get needed supplies to fire victims.
It was my privilege to present a proclamation to Wendy for her
outstanding service, leadership and commitment to her community.
County Land Use
Last month, the County’s upgrade of its growth and development
guidelines reached a significant milestone with the release of its
revised General Plan Update and its Draft Environmental Impact Report
(DEIR) for public comment.
The Department of Planning and Land Use released the DEIR and the
revised General Plan Update, which was previously released for public
comment in November, for a 60-day comment period. The General Plan
Update remains on track to be presented to the Board of Supervisors
for consideration next year.
The General Plan Update would significantly improve land use and
protect the environment partly by shifting 20 percent of projected
growth to western unincorporated communities with established
infrastructure. The proposed plan would balance growth with the needs
to control traffic congestion, protect the environment and ease the
strain on essential services such as water and fire protection.
The proposed Update has been developed with broad input from
homeowners, farmers, landowners, renters, developers, business owners
and environmentalists. To see the plan and report and find out how to
submit comments go to: www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/gpupdate
Passing of a Special Person
The community of Valley Center is coping with the tragic death of
Angel Guadalupe Galvez who was a longtime volunteer at the Valley
Center Library. Angel was killed when he was hit from behind by a
pickup truck on his way to the library while riding his bicycle on
Cole Grade Road, just a few blocks from the library. He was 37.
Angel spent his mornings checking in books, pulling books to be sent
to other branches, and helping wherever he could. Afternoons found him
composing poetry or memoirs on his laptop computer.
Angel Galvez at the Valley Center Library.
Photo courtesy of
Library manager Sandy Puccio, assistant manager Regine Thorne and
the entire staff marveled at Angel’s uncanny ability to sense when a
library customer needed help.
Angel encountered numerous health problems from birth. He had
open-heart surgery as an infant and was blind in one eye; yet inspired
everyone he met and countered physical challenges by keeping his legs
strong with constant cycling, including a journey up Palomar Mountain
and to Temecula.
Angel lived with his parents and our sympathies go out to his family
and host of friends.
North County Projects Completed
Several Public Works projects in District 5 are now completed and include:
- Asphalt concrete resurfacing and culverts, curbs, gutters and
sidewalks replaced at various locations
- Removed and
replaced existing metal beam guard rails and end treatments at
- Raised roadway grade and installed new
culverts under the Pala Mission Road at Pala Creek and Trujillo
- Placed asphalt concrete resurfacing at various roads in
the Borrego Springs area
A Dark Honor for a Bright Place
The sun always shines bright in Borrego Springs. However, when the
sun goes down and the stars come out, it is a haven for star gazing—so
much so, that the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has honored
the Village of Borrego Springs as an official International Dark Sky
The award is the second in the nation and the first in
California—the culmination of more than two years of community work
and written comments to IDA from our office.
To qualify for the honor communities must adhere to stringent
standards that protect the natural night sky and endure the
continuation of this protection through community directives.
I appreciate the tremendous work of so many in Borrego Springs,
including Betsy Knaak, Executive Director of the Anza-Borrego Desert
Natural History Association, Scott Kardel, Palomar Observatory, Joan
Malone, Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, Dennis
Mammana, Astronomer, Sally Theriault, Anza-Borrego Institute, Sam
Webb, and Paul Ericson.
Kim Patten, Programs Director for the IDA, a non-profit organization
in Tucson said, “The application to the IDA (by Borrego Springs) is a
testament to their dedication for dark skies. By collaborating with
all the key stakeholders, the committee was able to achieve broad
community support, which is one of the key elements to this award.”
Congratulations to everyone who worked to achieve this prestigious
honor. There are 600,000 acres in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and
in this case, it is good to not have them in the spotlight.
County Administration Center 1600
Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92101 tel: (619) 531-5555 fax: (619) 685-2662
North County office: 325 S. Melrose
Ave., Suite 5200, Vista, CA 92081 tel: (760) 806-2400 fax: (760) 806-2404
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