November 21, 2007

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Chula Vista’s budget troubles laid at the feet of last administration

The Book of Genesis tells us that some three thousand years ago Joseph explained to the Pharaoh that there would be seven fat years followed by seven lean years. Lesson: save some surplus in the fat years so you will have enough in the lean years! Does this sound like rocket science? Apparently the former Mayor and his council thought so. If “fat years followed by lean years” was true three thousand years ago, is it still true today? You know it is. Today it is called the “business cycle,” and if anything is as certain as death and taxes in the United States, it is the business cycle.

Former Mayor Steve Padilla ruled for four years in Chula Vista, and was responsible for the budget years, 2003-2006. In the recent election, Padilla stated that the Council adopted a balanced budget every year. True – but totally irrelevant. What counts is the ACTUAL budget at the end of the year. And in every single year of his administration, the Council spent far more than their revenue. In fact, in those four years they spent a total of $23 million MORE than was budgeted – POOF went the Reserves. So that is why the City of Chula Vista is having to make such drastic budget cuts today. During Chula Vista’s “fat” years, Padilla and the Council not only spent all they had coming in, but spent the reserves as well. Now that Chula Vista is in their “lean” years, and the excess Reserves have all been spent, they have no choice but to cut, and cut deeply. To balance the budget in the current very lean years, the Council has to cut $14 million in the yearly budget. The $23 million in excess Reserves that the Padilla Council spent would have seen Chula Vista over two or three years of lean times, with some minor cuts. What a pity.

Less anyone put all the blame on former Mayor Padilla, during his four years I do not believe the Council ever denied him – he never lost a vote during the entire four-year period of his administration. In 2003, there were only TWO individual “no” votes cast all year; in 2005, there was only ONE individual “no” vote cast all year. The four Council members could just as well have stayed home and sent in their rubber “yes” stamps.

Peter Watry
Chula Vista

Centro’s efforts should be applauded

I was quoted in the November 9, 2007 article “Stephanie De La Torre: New Leadership and a New DIrection for the Centro” by Michael Klam. The quotes were the result of over 3 hours of long and nuanced conversations that I had with Michael Klam (a former collaborator and friend) in preparation for what he told me were a number of articles he was writing about the arts in San Diego.

Unfortunately yet predictably, a few of the more lurid and “National Enquirer-esque” phrases were pulled out for the profile of Ms. De La Torre. I am not disputing the accuracy of Klam’s reporting but I question the efficacy of using such sensationalism in a profile of an administrator and organization attempting to move forward. Stephanie and the current board have every right to be proud of their accomplishments and should be applauded in any effort to move forward.

Cecil Hayduke
via email

Mayor Sanders lied to my face!

I am writing this to express my feelings about another “fire” that was lit a nearly year ago.

[Recently} the Mayor (Jerry Sanders) went on the Roger Hedgecock show to express his support for the San Diego Minute Men’s project to “clear out the canyons.” (see The southern Poverty Law center site or www.minutemenunvarnished for more on the S.D.Minutemen). These canyons have been the sites for unspeakable hate crimes committed against Mexican workers. But perhaps even more disturbing, is that the Mayor himself gave credence to the growing rhetoric of hate being spread by White Supremacist groups who are trying to blame the migrants for the San Diego fires.

He said in response to Hedgecock’s accusation that the immigrants are the real fire hazard, “we can’t have the camps down there with the fire danger”. Instead of using this forum to quell the reactionary fear mongering by right wing radio hosts, he decided to join forces with them.

His decision to repeat a wrong he was publicly chastised for not even a year ago requires examination. As many of you know, last year, the Mayor looked a contingency of human rights workers, which included me, in the eye and said he would “never again” lend the legitimacy of his office to organized violence in our communities. This was after he had gone on the Rick Roberts’ show and gave a “wink and nod” to White Supremacist groups planning to “campout” in the canyons last fall. In the interview with Roberts, he said “a fire had been lit.” Prophetic words indeed. Two months later after over 150 phone calls and emails, and a prayer vigil in front of his office, he told us that he “was sorry” and that “it was a mistake he would never make again.”

I have been lied to by politicians before - but I must say-this is the first time one looked directly in my face and lied so up close and personally.

One can only conclude that after coming out so courageously in support of gay rights, he needed to find another way to let his right wing contingency know that he was still “one of them.” Mexicans and Mexican Americans it seems are easily used as scapegoats for this vicious campaign of hate and mean spiritedness. A campaign he has now willing become the poster boy for-again.

Of course, what is very transparent here is that if Sanders is really looking for answers, he should look to decisions made in his own office. He, and San Diego taxpayers, have continually refused to compensate firefighters fairly for the work they do. And they have continued to turn a deaf ear to the pleas of city leaders, including the former fire chief, for more and better fire fighting equipment. The last fire chief himself resigned in frustration.

Please write or call his office to express your concern at 619-236-6330 his fax number is 619-236-6330. People, we have to let our elected officials know that hate radio is not an appropriate public form. In this climate of fear, we can no longer stay silent.

Fredi Avalos

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