02/11/10

A WORD FROM SUPERVISOR BILL HORN

SUPERVISOR 5TH DISTRICT COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO

February 11, 2010

 

 

State of North County Address

 

You are invited to attend the annual State of North County Address. It will be at 10 AM, Tuesday March 9th at the AVO Playhouse in Vista, 303 Main Street.

With our state legislature in such turmoil, and the budget deficit now approaching $20 billion, our County has never faced such daunting financial challenges. I’ll share with you how the County as a whole is handling the crisis and have specifics about how we are impacted in North County.

We are fortunate to have long followed conservative fiscal policies, however, unless something changes in the Sacramento mind set, dire consequences are ahead.

I hope to see you at the Address.

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In this edition of the “Word,” I’ll have more thoughts on the state budget crisis, report on a milestone event for veterans in San Diego County and share events and happenings in the North County.
Bill Horn

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The State Budget

The nearly $20 billion dollar state budget deficit is tightening like a noose around the neck of every person in California. The debt is preventing economic expansion, costing jobs, driving tax-paying residents out of the state, and undermining public confidence.

I wonder why people in Sacramento even call it a “budget” since a budget is supposed to be a plan for the expenditure of fixed resources during a given period. The key words there are “fixed resources.” The state continues to spend money it does not have.

When it comes to dealing with the growing deficit, the strategy of the State hasn’t changed much in the past few years. Leaders in Sacramento look to county coffers and either delay or cancel reimbursements for services mandated by the state legislature. If you did that in the private sector, you might find yourself in jail.

For years I have said until a fundamental change happens in the governing mindset of those in power in Sacramento, the budget deficit will only increase. When Governor Schwarzenegger took office, California was spending $78 billion a year. Less than five years later, state spending has increased by 40 percent even though revenue peaked in 2008.

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Much of the state revenue that property owners provide in taxes goes to public education; close to $10,000 for every public school student in the system. For a class of 25-30 students, we’re talking about more than a quarter of a million dollars for each classroom in the state. How much of that money actually gets to the classroom after filtering through the hands of bureaucrats is debatable; however, it’s obvious that money is not the reason our public schools perform at or near the bottom when compared with other states.

At one time California created an infrastructure second to none in the U.S. We were on track to build a canal to bring water from the north to the south. That was under the leadership of Governor Pat Brown. When adjusted for inflation, we were spending about $1,350 for every man, woman and child in this state and doing it with money we had on hand. Today Sacramento spends more than $3,000 for every person in the state with money we don’t have and delivering not much more than political rhetoric.

We operate on an uneven playing field. As I have said, Newton’s Law of Gravity is valid every where except Sacramento because not all of what goes up in taxes comes back down to where it belongs.

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Miramar National Cemetery

This month it was my honor to be at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new veterans’ cemetery in San Diego County. After ten years of appeals, studies, hearings and public input, there will be a veterans’ cemetery on the northwest corner of Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar. The main entrance to the cemetery will be on Nobel Drive between Miramar Road and Interstate 805.


Supervisor Horn and Dr. Gary Parks,
President & CEO, Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma has been closed to most casket burials since the mid-1960’s, for lack of space. Up until now the closest National Cemetery has been 90 miles away from Fort Rosecrans in Riverside, which is the busiest national cemetery in the United States with more than 8,000 internments last year. The distance is a hardship for family members who wish to visit the graves of loved ones.

The new facility at MCAS Miramar will be built on land provided through a land use agreement with the U.S. Marine Corps. This project, based on a design by Van Dyke Landscape Architects in San Diego, will develop approximately 42 acres of the 313-acre site providing 10 years of burial services. The project will include an early turnover area, which will allow the Veterans Administration (VA) to start burial operations by summer of this year while construction continues on the remainder of Phase 1 and its permanent facilities.

The new cemetery at Miramar, expected to cost at least $20 million for the first phase will incorporate vernal pools and native brush and reclaimed water to irrigate green areas in such a way as to mitigate environmental issues. To meet those requirements, the Veterans Administration had to purchase nearly 16 acres of gnatcatcher territory near Mission Trails Regional Park to compensate the loss of habitat at Miramar.


Supervisor Horn and Brigadier General Robert Cardenas,
USAF (Ret.) Chairman, Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation.

The first phase will have: approximately 11,500 conventional gravesites; 4,500 in-ground cremation sites; 10,000 columbarium niches; an administration building and maintenance complex; two committal service shelters; and a public assembly area. Because of environmental issues, the cemetery layout will be different from Fort Rosecrans or Arlington National Cemeteries, which have rows of white headstones and rolling hills of green lawn. The graves at Miramar will be arranged in turf clusters. Between those clusters the land with native plants will be unchanged.

Part of the red tape in this project was the name of the cemetery. Technically, the new site is considered an annex because the VA did not allow creation of a national cemetery within 75 miles of each other. However, I’m pleased that an exception was made for Miramar. I was among many who asked that it simply be called Miramar National Cemetery. And that will be its official name.

Right now, more than 600,000 World War II and Korean War veterans are passing away each year. That rate is expected to begin tapering off in 2017. VA officials are hopeful the Miramar cemetery will meet the needs of veterans for at least 60 years.

The new site at Miramar will offer families in San Diego County an opportunity to relocate remains that are at Riverside. Family members who buried loved ones at the Riverside cemetery can have those caskets moved to Miramar, at their own expense.

There are approximately 253,000 Veterans in the San Diego County area.

For more information please go to www.cem.va.gov or call the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery office at (619) 553-2084. To make burial arrangements at the time of need at any VA national cemetery, call the national cemetery scheduling office at (800) 535-1117.

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E.I.T.C.
An Annual Reminder of a Good Deal

Late last month, we put out a reminder for low-income families and individuals to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Nick Macchione, Director, County Health and Human Services Agency; Doug Sawyer, President and CEO, United Way of San Diego County; and Ron Wicks of the Internal Revenue Service joined me at the news conference. In these tough economic times, the EITC may be needed more than ever.

During the EITC campaign, hundreds of volunteers will offer no-cost, tax preparation services at more than 70 sites throughout the county. Residents should call 2-1-1 for information.

The EITC is the federal government’s largest cash assistance program designed to lift low-income families and individuals out of poverty by helping them keep more of their hard-earned wages. Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service estimates that, nationally, between 20 and 25 percent of eligible individuals do not claim the credit.

Last year’s county campaign saw $5.9 million returned to our region through the EITC program. Taxes are filed electronically, which means refunds can be received in as little as two weeks.

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Saving Paper

I am pleased to report that the our Department of Planning and Land Use has followed through with a major push to go paperless with Planning Commission agendas, Planning Group agendas and other updates for various hearings.

Some time ago, the Board approved my recommendation to explore the feasibility of people receiving information on hearings by way of e-mail.

Through this system we are eliminating the need for tons of paper; something that benefits the environment and also results in saving thousands of dollars for the County each year.

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Advancing Women in Transportation

The Women’s Transportation Seminar was created in 1977 to enhance professional and personal achievement and to develop industry and government recognition of women in the field of transportation.

I have agreed to become an Honorary Board Member of this organization and appreciate the opportunity to be part of their contribution to our economy.

WTS is an international organization of more than 4,000 transportation professionals, both men and women, with 45 chapters representing cities and states in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

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Getready2go.org

I am pleased to see so many people in North County involved in disaster preparedness. One of group to highlight is Get Ready 2 Go and Disaster Mitigation Services, owned by James Beebe. James has been a resident of Fallbrook for 31 years and has volunteered for fire departments, crisis counseling, and manned the crisis hotline for the Center of Community Solutions.

He offers free, concentrated training sessions for family emergency and disaster planning the first Wednesday of each month at the Fallbrook Community Center, located at 341 Heald Lane, from 6 to 8 PM.

For more information: www.getready2go.org, jbeebe_cert@sbcglobal.net, (760) 723-1338.

Four years ago, when I was Board Chairman, I made disaster preparedness a key part of what we wanted to accomplish that year. I spearheaded the distribution of a special personal and family disaster preparedness booklet to every home and business in the County. I’m grateful to people like James Beebe who understand the importance of having a plan when disasters such as a fire storm evacuation or floods strike and go the extra measure to spread the word.

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   Supporting the Right to Life

Last month I was privileged to attend the Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center’s 5th Annual Fundraising Banquet at the Zion Lutheran Church Fellowship Center in Fallbrook. It was a great turnout as we honored the efforts of this organization to preserve and protect the sanctity of life. Thanks so much to the Knights of Columbus for providing and preparing the dinner.

The mission of the Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center is to be a safe refuge for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. It also offers valuable parenting skills and healing resources to women, men, and other immediate family members struggling with a past abortion decision.

This organization is a volunteer-based ministry and is headquartered at 1075 S. Mission Road, Suite I in Fallbrook. I appreciate the great work of director, Tracee Metten and her board of directors, Ellen Bailey, Maurice Bernier, Jody Duffy, Gary Golike, Miriam Kirk, and Ann Niese.

I was pleased to provide $10,000 from our Fifth District Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to underwrite the entire event, enabling 100% of the donations (nearly $30,000) to go directly to the work of the center. For more information: www.pregnancyfallbrook.com, (760) 728-4105 or fprcdirector@att.net.

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Breakfast, Lunch and more at the Landings

Palomar Airport’s recent renovations and major improvements include the Landings, a brand new restaurant located next to the terminal.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers happy hour from 4 to 7 PM with TVs for watching sports and news. Owners Bill and Michelle Slattery of Carlsbad own seven restaurants, including five at regional airports, so they have a good understanding of what it takes to make the place successful.

The restaurant seats about 50 people inside at 20 tables and offers an additional dozen tables outside for a great view of Palomar’s flight operations. Catering for aircraft and orders to go are available.

The menu features a “$100 burger” that sells for $6.95. Slattery calls it a $100 burger because in his words, “it costs $100 in fuel to fly in and get one.”

You can also expect a family-friendly atmosphere. Children are provided kid menus and crayons along with special kids’ meals.

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Parking at Palomar Airport is free for the first two hours, 50-cents for every two hours after that. A golf cart shuttles people to and from the parking lot to the restaurant.

For more information call (760) 929-0200 / (760) 802-0079 or e-mail bill@bslattery.net. It has been six years since we had a restaurant at the airport. That one, which was generously described as an old greasy spoon was razed to make way for new hangers. Now, with the Landings, we have a great addition to Carlsbad and the entire North County.

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Staff Changes

We have had several staff changes, mostly in the areas of policy position realignments:

  • Dustin Steiner is now my Deputy Chief of Staff (working with my Chief of Staff Joan Wonsley) and continues to handle all things “Land Use.”
  • Chris Champine has been given the responsibility of Senior Policy Advisor and continues to handle matters concerning roads, airports, energy, fire districts, disaster preparedness, and SANDAG.
  • Candyce Yee has added the responsibility as a Policy Advisor for areas that include health and human services, fire districts (medical/emergency) and our website maintenance. She also continues to serve as our Director of Constituent Services.
  • Caylin Guerin is now a Policy Advisor with areas that include libraries, the Sheriff, Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, TOT, and the courts.
  • Christi Knight continues as our Community Liaison, Marisol Eaton is our Office Manager and Executive Scheduler, John Culea is our Media and Communications Director in addition to handling military and veterans affairs; and Lindsey Natzic is our Receptionist and the first line of contact.

For a full listing of all policy areas and assignment distribution for the entire staff, please go to our web site at http://billhorn.cloudapp.net.