SUPERVISOR 5TH DISTRICT COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO
July 8, 2010
The Budget Balancing Act
To no one’s surprise, for the 23rd time in 24 years, the State of California missed its constitutional deadline to pass a budget. When the new fiscal year begins, the state will have an estimated $19.1 billion deficit.
To find that amount of money in one year, you’d need $601 every second to reach $19.1 billion.
The colossal financial chasm will likely result in millions of taxpayer dollars for higher interest rates and more pressure on county governments to pay for mandated programs the State cannot and will not fund.
Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed no new taxes and wants deep cuts in state services, including the elimination of welfare, which would make California the only state without such a program. Democrats have two plans: one would slam Californians with a multitude of tax increases, the other is massive borrowing to be repaid through a new tax on oil that is pumped from the ground in the state.
There is also a call to transfer $3-4 billion worth of public safety, human services, and health investments to counties to administer. They claim this will not increase the existing tax burden on Californians. This is part of the sleight-of-hand game the state plays with counties; forcing local governments to raise taxes to administer state programs.
At the County, we began the final round of deliberations June 29th on a $4.86 billion budget. I am confident that we will once again pass a balanced budget without cutting law enforcement officers, deferring maintenance, or reducing library hours. Our proposed budget is $145 million less than the current spending plan. We also have 10 percent fewer employees than we did five years ago.
Even so, there is public pressure on the Board of Supervisors to spend our $707 million reserve fund for what some media members and unions say is a “rainy day.” I stand firm in opposing that action. Tapping our reserves would jeopardize the County’s AAA bond rating and no longer make it possible for us to use millions of dollars for projects and programs. Instead this money would go toward paying higher interest rates.
On the federal level, our national politicians talk in terms of trillions instead of billions or millions. These are numbers virtually impossible to imagine. A million seconds equals 12 days. A billion seconds equals 31 years. A trillion seconds equals 31,688 years. America’s national debt is $13 trillion.
With so much uncertainty, I’m reminded of where our nation is on its 224th year of existence. We live in a country founded on democratic principles that include private property rights, free trade, free speech, freedom of religion, and limited government. A brilliant system of checks and balances was put in place in 1788 to ensure that no person or group would have too much power.
Our founding fathers set up three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial, all supposedly with equal power. If those founding fathers had the same lifespan of some Biblical characters and were still alive today, I wonder what they would say about what has happened in the years since. I doubt they would be pleased with what has been done to the framework they created.
The U.S. constitution clearly defines the authority of congress and lists 18 numbered (enumerated) powers. While Congress has the power to tax, borrow money, regulate commerce, raise and support armies, maintain a navy, constitute federal courts, and declare war, I think we have gone far beyond what was originally intended.
For instance, the role of the President is not to make laws, but to execute the laws passed by Congress. Creating laws by presidential decree is dangerous; yet we often see this when it comes to implementing energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy.
If you go to the White House web site (www.whitehouse.gov/our-government), you will find a quote from Thomas Jefferson. It reads, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” The web page states that “the Congress confirms or rejects the President’s appointments . . . “ It further states that “the framers of the Constitution hoped to form what they called ‘a more perfect union’—a government that would not only serve the people but would also be a long-lived exemplar to other nations around the world.”
Citing the words “consent of the governed” seems to be empty rhetoric when without any legislative confirmation, those in power have taken control of much of our automobile, financial, and health industries.
Congress and politicians should be accountable to the constituents from the districts they represent. Some in Congress do not follow the will of the people who elected them or obey the U.S. Constitution. The ‘majority’ power brokers have their own version of Independence Day. They seem to be independent of the voters. We will see if anything changes after the first Tuesday in November.
In this edition of the “Word,” I will be sharing a step we have taken to increase fire protection for the upcoming fire season, progress on a new and improved County Operations Center, practical help for North County Veterans, and preserving a landmark that is more than 150 years old. Thank you for the honor of being your Supervisor.
Readjusting our Fire Power
A few days ago, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved my recommendation that $5 million recently cut from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program be used to improve fire protection. Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price joined me in bringing this forward. The action is in response to a report we commissioned last year to determine the most appropriate use of funds to strengthen fire protection services.
We have 1.5 million acres in unincorporated San Diego County and the presence of new flash fuels from this winter’s rainfall makes it critically important to provide additional firefighting resources.
Currently, the San Diego County Fire Authority spends $15.5 million annually to protect our backcountry. Our budget change letter directs the county’s Chief Administrative Officer to determine the most appropriate fire related use of that $5 million.
Bigger, Better, Built On Time and On Budget
We are making tremendous progress in constructing the new County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa. Road improvements are underway for the new entrances to the complex, as is work for the new entry cul-de-sac between buildings.
The County Operations Center construction project has proven to be the lifeblood to hundreds of local construction workers. The average daily crew is between 300-350 workers. Additionally, 25-30 architects, engineers and specialty technicians are associated with the project.
By doing this project now, we were able to take advantage of lower construction and material costs in addition to low interest rates brought on by our economic downturn. The result has been significant cost savings to the taxpayers.
Helping Set the Table for Veterans
One of North County’s most important organizations is the Veterans Association of North County (VANC). I recently had the opportunity to make a $50,000 grant from our Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to the Oceanside Rotary Foundation, which, in turn, gave the money to the VANC to help cover the costs of constructing a kitchen and purchasing kitchen equipment at the VANC’s base of operations in Oceanside.
Supervisor Horn presents a check to the Oceanside Rotary Foundation
to help the Veterans Association of North County
The VANC provides a center for all veterans where they and their families can receive aid, be connected to needed resources, and sponsor social and patriotic functions. The VANC represents more than 5,000 members throughout North San Diego and has a vision to reach an estimated 80,000 more veterans who live in North County.
Special thanks to VANC director Chuck Atkinson, Rotarians Therese Hall, Rudy Van Hunnick, Lawson Chadwick and all the caring people at the Oceanside Rotary Club.
For more information please contact the VANC at (760) 967-7254 or P.O. Box 3046, Oceanside, CA 92051-3046.
Preserving the Land
We are blessed with much open space in North County and it’s always satisfying to see key areas preserved for future generations to enjoy. One such place is the Guajome Native Garden at Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista.
Last month, the garden was dedicated a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Among those at the ceremony was Eagle Scout Tom Hird who was our selection to work on the project. I appreciate Tom’s service to the community along with docents Wayne Mathias and Paula White, who is also a Parks Society Board Member.
Rancho Guajome Adobe is more than 150 years old. Native Americans originally inhabited the land and later received it as a grant from the Mexican governor in 1845. They later sold the land, and it became a gathering place for Southern California socialites. Today native plants and arbors make up the garden and serve as a backdrop for yearly fandangos (a Spanish dance in triple time).
I invite you to visit Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista. It is a State and National Historic Landmark. Within its 7,000 square feet are 22 rooms and each adobe brick weighs between 50-70 pounds. While occupied, the adobe contained a school and a chapel in addition to a large courtyard.
Ground to Air Connection
In our effort to allow North County residents to monitor flight activity around McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, there is now an Internet-based service application that allows anyone with a Internet service to follow arrivals and departures, flight path, altitude and noise levels.
It’s vital to be responsive to the needs of pilots, airport service providers, and the airport community at large. Providing accurate flight data will give pilots, residents, the FAA, and the Department of Public Works the opportunity to work together as never before to improve airport operations and better community relations.
The system is easy to use. Just click on the Palomar Airport WebTrak link, agree to service, and start tracking airplanes around Carlsbad. Additional instructions are posted on the County Airports website at www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dpw/airports/palomar.html.
TV Appearance for North County Health Services
I appreciated the opportunity to be interviewed by Elaine Swann on Oceanside’s “Spectrum” on KOCT-TV, commenting on the great job North County Health Services (NCHS) is doing for thousands of people.
The interview included comments on NCHS’s upcoming fund-raising golf tournament August 20. Rick Martinez the chairman of the tournament, joined me on set. For more than 35 years, NCHS has provided primary health care services at ten centers and two mobile clinics to a needy population in north San Diego County.
I was honored to provide a grant of $10,000 from our Neighborhood Reinvestment Program to help cover the costs of marketing, venue, travel, entertainment, professional services and supplies for the Sixth Annual Golf Classic, “Fore for Kids.”
The Spectrum program will air on Cox Cable Channel 18 in Oceanside July 19th-31st. Please visit the KOCT website www.koct.org and click on schedule for exact times. For viewers not in Oceanside, the program can be seen by streaming video or video on demand after July 19th.