Superscoopers are Here!
A super scoop of fire insurance is part of our latest weaponry in the fight against wildfires. This month is National Preparedness Month that coincides with our unveiling two Superscooper amphibious aircraft that can bombard brush fires with large drops of water and foam. The Bombardier CL-415 tankers are joined by an Aero Commander 690 command and control aircraft.
The leased aircraft, crew and maintenance personnel will be on call for the next three months during the height of our wildfire season.
It was thrilling to see first hand how the aircraft worked during a live scoop and drop demonstration in Mission Bay.
As we are poised to respond to emergencies, we also know that people can help defend themselves by clearing or cutting back weeds, dead and dying trees, and potentially combustible shrubs and vegetation around their homes. Despite wide paths of destruction in the 2003 and 2007 firestorms, much of the County is thick with vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades and could become fuel for new fires.
There is a map created by the County and Forest Area Safety Task Force that shows several unburned areas. The map can be accessed at www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/docs/Fire_Appendix_Q.pdf.
County codes require homeowners to create 100 feet of “defensible space” around houses. The County’s Office of Emergency Services, in partnership with the Department of Planning and Land Use, the Farm and Home Advisor and CAL FIRE has an excellent brochure that will be mailed to County residents. The brochure can be downloaded at www.ReadySanDiego.org.
In this edition of the “Word,” you’ll find news of a special
partnership between our mobile library and Public Nurses, great news
about county agriculture, upcoming road improvements along Highway 76,
and the continued fiscal muscle-building of the County’s credit
rating. I appreciate the opportunity to serve you as your
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came to San Diego last month to meet with a coalition of officials and urged the California Legislature to end the budget stalemate without raiding funds designated for local use.
As you know, the way we do business at the County of San Diego is just the opposite of the mess in Sacramento. We have a balanced budget, a strong credit rating and a healthy reserve. Here is a sampling of my remarks at the governor’s news conference:
“Elected office is not for the faint of heart. Our legislators have to make tough choices . . . we call upon them to start making them. Control spending and resist the temptation to raid local taxpayer services.
Once again, I make an offer to Sacramento. We’ll send the San Diego County budget team there and teach you folks how to manage your budget. And Governor, I encourage you to veto any budget that requires more borrowing. We have to have real cuts in the state.”
One of the defining differences between the County of San Diego and most government bodies is our credit rating. While others have difficulty passing a budget, let alone balancing it; the County of San Diego remains financially strong.
The latest round of credit ratings reaffirmed the fiscal stability of the County and its pension obligation bonds. Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s assigned the County of San Diego credit ratings that rank among the highest in California. In fact, Standard & Poors has just upgraded the County’s underlying rating to AAA. That is the highest rating on their scale.
Once again, I congratulate our County team that includes Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard, our financial wizard Don Steuer and County Treasurer and Tax Collector Dan McAllister.
One example of the benefits of excellent credit is the planned issuance of taxable Pension Obligation Bonds, Series 2008A (POBs). They will be used to refund a portion of the County’s 2002 POB debt originally issued at Auction Rates Securities. The refunding will result in about $200 million in interest savings for taxpayers over the life of the debt.
Chances are, this was not included in local television newscasts or newspapers, but it should have been.
The Road through Pauma
This summer, the Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians reached agreement with the County of San Diego to pay for $38 million in road improvements along State Route 76 and Pauma Reservation Road.
The tribe will also pay $400,000 a year for sheriff’s protection, $40,000 for the cost of prosecuting casino-related crimes and $200,000 for gambling addiction treatment.
The agreement also includes the tribe’s commitment to form its own professional fire department with two new engines and provide an additional fire truck to Cal Fire.
Part of the agreement involved scaled-back plans for the tribe’s Casino Pauma including cutting the number of floors in a planned hotel to 19 from 23, reducing the size of the casino floor and eliminating an outdoor amphitheater.
On August 6, the Board of Supervisors gave unanimous approval to the Pauma agreement.
I appreciate the spirit of cooperation between the County and tribal leaders led by Chairman Chris Devers.
Justice for All
The Intertribal Court of Southern California (ICSC) has officially moved into its new facility on the Rincon reservation. I appreciate how the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians remodeled a 4,000-square-foot building to accommodate a courtroom, conference room, library and administrative office.
The ICSC, in cooperation with the State of California and County Sheriff and District Attorney, is the first of its kind center in California offering efficient and economic judicial processes to multiple tribes.
The Intertribal Court’s chief judge is Anthony “Tony” Brandenburg. Christi Knight, our Community Liaison presented Judge Brandenburg and the ICSC with a proclamation honoring the August 1, 2008 dedication of the new facility.
A Healthy Partnership
Deputy Director Donna Hand, Library Director Jose Aponte, Agency Director Nick Macchione and Policy Advisor Caroline Smith celebrate the Olive Elementary School & HHSA partnership with students
This summer our County Library team in North County began partnering with Public Health Nurses in the County’s North Regions Health and Human Services Agency.
Twice a month at two locations, a bilingual (English/Spanish) Public Health Nurse will be available to provide education, basic health assessments, referrals to health and social services including health coverage, and a variety of materials to help families stay healthy.
You’ll find the nurses at our North County Mobile Library at the following locations:
|Olive Elementary School |
836 Olive Avenue
2nd and 4th Tuesday
|Boys and Girls Club of Vista |
410 W. California Ave.
2nd and 4th Tuesday
North County Improvements
There are two Public Works projects of note that have been completed in North County:
County Agriculture Production Up
Despite a year that started with freezing temperatures and ended with devastating wildfires, local growers produced the best agricultural year on record in 2007. That’s the 15th straight year it has happened. The value of county crops for 2007 was more than $1.5 billion, an increase of more than five percent from 2006.
Several factors figured in the positive news, including a rise in the value of indoor plants and outdoor trees and shrubs and higher avocado and citrus sales.
San Diego County has the second highest number of farms of all U.S. counties and most of them are family-owned and under ten acres. When everything is added up, agriculture is the fifth leading factor in our local economy.
For detailed information on the agricultural production, please go to http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/awm/
Congratulations to Harold Tuck and his I-team at our County Technology Office. San Diego County was ranked number one in the Digital Counties Survey by the Center for Digital Government.
The Center recognizes counties that use information technology to foster and increase innovative ways of improving service to their citizens. The check list is long with more than a hundred measurements and data points about online service delivery, infrastructure, architecture, and governance models.
Congratulations to Daniel Scott, President/CEO of Faith Based Federal Credit Union (FBFCU) and his team in Oceanside. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has awarded FBFCU a grant of more than $220,000 to expand its outreach in economically distressed parts of North County.
FBFCU is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial service and the only low-income designated credit union in San Diego County. Its core mission statement is “To bring together those who have to help those who have not.” One of the ways it achieves that is to provide affordable alternatives to predatory providers of financial services. It also offers opportunities of service for those motivated to help the disadvantaged by volunteering to help run the financial institution.
FBFCU was one of 13 credit unions in the nation selected for funding assistance. For more information on FBFCU or volunteer opportunities, please call (760) 721-2117 ext. 304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
County Administration Center
1600 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92101 tel: (619) 531-5555
fax: (619) 685-2662