SUPERVISOR 5TH DISTRICT COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO
September 1, 2010
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently wrote a commentary for the Los Angeles Times in which he proposed ideas on “fixing California’s budget for good.” Unfortunately, for too many years, efforts to fix California’s budget have been for the bad.
The governor writes, “After solving a $60-billion deficit last year—which included many tough and unpopular cuts—we face another $20-billion shortfall this year.” The truth is, last year’s budget deficit was not “solved”.
Lawmakers played the old shell game: borrowing more against our grandchildren's future and shuffling a few shells to hide the poison pea. One of those poison peas is California’s government employee pension system. It is killing the state. About 80% of every government dollar goes out in public employee compensation and benefits. In ten years, the costs to taxpayers for just one major pension fund have gone from $150 million a year to almost $4 billion this year. No one had a gun to the heads of lawmakers who approved those pension plans; however, another weapon was used to gain favor with lawmakers and that was campaign contributions to candidates from public employee, teacher, and public safety unions. Union sympathizers got elected and organized labor extracted its payment in full.
The shocking aftermath is that even though the State budget deficit has skyrocketed out of control, for the past ten years State spending has more than doubled.
Last year, despite the elimination of 7,000 state jobs (many from vacant jobs not being filled), about 4,000 more full-time workers drew state checks compared to a year before, with the biggest increase coming in prison hospitals, the state’s unemployment agency and the Franchise Tax Board. The figures do not include employees in the California State University or University of California systems.
For years, I have dealt fairly with public employee unions, including the Service Employees International Union, the largest union in California that represents many of our County workers. During those negotiations, the Board of Supervisors has held firm on labor demands. Unlike the State, we responded to the economic downturn by reducing our budget and cutting our workforce. Those tough necessary decisions have resulted in the County’s strong financial condition and high credit rating.
Frustrated by our action, it’s no secret that organized labor has the County in its cross hairs. This was seen when labor spent heavily to pass and impose term limits for members of the Board of Supervisors. You can expect the same labor strategy in the November election to defeat Proposition A, a measure that would give taxpayer’s a chance to prevent future Supervisors from being forced to enter union-backed Project Labor Agreements that almost always result in higher costs for government contracts. And you are seeing strong support for candidates who while professing neutrality or non-partisan status, have the union label tattooed on their political philosophy and past actions while in office.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, often described as the “Iron Lady”, made a prediction about socialism that could very well describe what is happening today with union-controlled governments. She said, “Sooner or later, they run out of other peoples’ money.”
In November, in order to restore fiscal sanity to national, state and local government, when voters go to the polls, they must prepare themselves. They need to look for the union label on candidates. These candidates will have the union label on their campaign posters and printed on their campaign literature.
In the end, it comes down to an “either-or” decision. Either, voters elect candidates who have a track record of holding firm to fiscal responsibility, or voters bring into office candidates beholden to labor unions and special interests. If the winning candidates are people who wear the union label, you can be guaranteed future government budgets will be fixed not for the good, but for the bad. And those budgets will have a union label on them.
In this edition of the Word, I’ll be sharing the latest enhancements to public safety, help for the homeless, easier access to Board of Supervisors agenda items, and a tribute to an old friend, Mayor Bud Lewis of Carlsbad.
Our County Office of Emergency Services (OES) became the first local agency in the nation to test new technology for sending mass text alerts to people in specified areas in the event of regional emergencies.
OES is working with Sprint and California’s Emergency Management Agency to test the technology, called the Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS.
CMAS is a national program established by the Federal Communications Commission to provide emergency information from federal, state and local officials about disasters, terrorist threats and other imminent dangers.
The system is designed to reach beyond reverse 911 and those who have registered their cell phone numbers with AlertSanDiego. The system has the potential to provide lifesaving information, even to those who are visiting our area.
The alerts will be sent over a secure interface to participating wireless providers, and then sent to cell phones as text messages. The system has the capability of turning on phones that have been switched off and reach hearing or vision-impaired users with vibration or audio cues.
OES will test the system in the fall, distributing 100 phones to fire agencies and other partners. The technology may be available for public use in about a year.
Currently, the only way residents can receive cell phone alerts is to register their number with AlertSanDiego at www.ReadySanDiego.org.
For more information contact: Tammy Glenn at (619) 890-0778.
Occasionally I make unannounced visits to various County offices to see how the public is being served. One of those visits was to our Health and Human Services Agency’s Family Resource Center in Oceanside.
Along with Candyce Yee, a policy advisor on my staff, I arrived in the morning and found no long line and people being helped by the staff of Ruth Supranovich, the assistant deputy director for the North Region and the assistant manager, Dennis Mirabelli.
We spent about 30 minutes at the facility and saw how changes have been made to better accommodate the demand and claims of our food stamp recipients.
Help for the Homeless
One of the methods we use to identify the greatest needs in the community is working with the Regional Continuum of Care Council consisting of local governments and nonprofit agencies that provide housing and/or services to the homeless. Funding goes to programs in the unincorporated areas and local cities, except for the City of San Diego, which applies for its own funds.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an award of $793,560 to the County’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for two new projects that will be administered by Mental Health Systems, Inc. These programs will provide long-term housing and support services to families and individuals in North County who are chronically homeless and disabled in addition to dealing with mental illness and substance abuse.
That award is in addition to $4.3 million announced last December as renewal funding for 25 projects in the County that are operated by a variety of agencies that provide services such as job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and childcare.
For information please contact Dolores Diaz at (858) 694-4804 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to our County Health and Human Services Agency’s Aging & Independence Services (AIS) for being honored by the National Association of Area Agencies. AIS was recognized for cultivating a “creative and flexible atmosphere to foster groundbreaking programs” for older adults.
AIS also received two national Innovation Awards for Team San Diego and the Workforce Academy for Youth (WAY) program. Team San Diego is a training program for improving the delivery of health and social services to aging and disabled populations, especially those with chronic conditions; and WAY is an intergenerational program that utilizes the strengths of older volunteers as Life Skills Coaches in mentoring youth ages 17-21 who ‘age out’ of the foster care system.
AIS also received two Achievement Awards for their “Fall Prevention Tool Kit and Resource Guide,” and for a “Yoga for Caregivers” DVD.
Thanks for the leadership of Health and Human Services Group Director, Nick Macchione, AIS director Pam Smith and their dedicated staffs.
To contact AIS, call 800 510-2020 or visit www.networkofcare.org/aging.
I am pleased that after four years of discussion and a full Environmental Impact Report, my colleagues joined me in passing the Boutique Winery Ordinance. The action amends the County’s land use plan that will allow wineries that produce less than 12,000 gallons of wine a year, to open tasting rooms and conduct retail sales on their property.
In this case, big does not always taste better and our action is a way to be business-friendly to an important part of our local economy.
Two new improvements at the County promise to help our constituents access Board of Supervisors meeting materials. Our County IT contractor, Northrop Grumman has implemented a new web service that provides a single location to view all Board agenda materials as they appear on the agenda.
On the Clerk of the Board’s Agenda Information page at www.sdcounty.ca.gov/cob/bosa/index.html, a new calendar shows upcoming and past Board meetings. Visitors select a meeting date and a meeting type (regular Board meeting, special district, etc.), then, a new page is displayed with the agenda items listed in the order they appear on the Board’s agenda and links to access Board Letters and supporting documentation. The project has reduced duplicative staff work, made government more transparent, and may reduce the number of hard copies that are distributed.
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The Clerk of the Board is also providing more online services to the public. Nearly 10 million records of the Board of Supervisors that had been stored on microfilm are now digitized and available online. The public and county staff members now have instant access to 140 years of official records 24/7.
With the digitization project, all official Board of Supervisors records are searchable online by meeting date, subject, and reel and frame numbers.
This will save the public and county staff from driving to the County Administration Center to get copies of official Board actions.
This month, I was honored to receive the Jeremiah Milbank Society Recognition from the Boys and Girls Club of San Marcos. It has been a privilege to help the club through the years with County grants that have brought positive results in the lives of thousands of young people. That assistance has included needed repairs at the facility, computers and help in fundraising events.
Jeremiah Milbank, a businessman and philanthropist, helped President Herbert Hoover develop the national Boys & Girls Club and then worked as a volunteer in meeting the needs of disadvantaged young people.
I share his beliefs that investing in the lives of boys and girls will produce untold dividends for generations to come.
I appreciate the dedicated work of Boys and Girls Club of San Marcos CEO Shelly Anguiano Figueroa, her staff, members of the board of directors and all of the club volunteers.
I was honored to join Supervisor Greg Cox in officially commemorating the end of World War II when the Empire of Japan accepted the terms of surrender from the Allies. At a meeting of the Board of Supervisors, we presented a proclamation to the non-profit, grass roots campaign, Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive! The group held events on board the USS Midway Museum, Veterans Museum and Memorial in Balboa Park and the Veterans Home of California in Chula Vista marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. The Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive! campaign seeks to establish a permanent National Day of Remembrance for August 14.
Among those who came to receive the proclamation was baseball and broadcasting legend Jerry Coleman, a former fellow Marine and decorated combat pilot who flew missions in World War II and Korea.
Photo courtesy of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce
One of the most remarkable men I have been honored to know is Claude “Bud” Lewis, who this month closes 40 years of service on the Carlsbad City Council, the last 24 as its Mayor.
Bud was a history and government teacher and football and baseball coach at Carlsbad High School for 34 years. He also coached football at MiraCosta College. Before that, he served his nation with distinction as a U.S. Marine during the Korean War from 1951-1954.
Under Bud’s leadership, Carlsbad has become a model city, with financial stability, balanced growth, excellent infrastructure, and safe neighborhoods. Bud was instrumental in the redevelopment of the downtown “Village” of Carlsbad, the construction of the Dove Library, and has been at the forefront of desalinization and attracting high-tech, non-polluting industry to the city.
In 1970, Bud first ran for the City Council because, as a teacher, he worried about the alienation his students were feeling, partly because of classmates they had lost in the Vietnam War. When he encouraged his students to become involved in politics, their response was to urge him to run for City Council. The kids raised $100 to support his candidacy in a field of seven and, to his surprise, he won.
Forty years later, the legend of Carlsbad chose not to run for his seventh reelection and will soon step aside. The footsteps he leaves will be difficult to fill. His plans include becoming more involved with the veterans group Wounded Warriors. Buddy and his wife Bev celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary this summer.
Thank you, Buddy, for all you have meant to North County and most of all, thank you for being my friend.