Tonight’s City Council meeting began with the usual Christian prayer—gave me a chance to do my crossword, and the salute to the flag, for which I stood, and repeated sans “under God”. Then there was a delightful presentation of rewards to Escondido students for their posters about water conservation. Kudos to Mayor Sam Abed for inviting the entire Council off the dais to shake the hands of the girls and boys who won.
This was followed by “oral communications”. Well, actually, before any such communications from the public, Abed attempted to curtail the public outcry over the possibility of canceling the City’s “Tiny Tots” program by avowing it was just some sort of miscalculation. Instead of a $200,000 shortfall in the program—it was only $20,000—so just a small error. Nothing to see here, move along. There was certainly no plotting behind closed doors to cancel the program. The “Tiny Tots” program will continue as before. Please go to the excellent blog, http://www.escondido2014.com for more information about this kerfuffle. So, Abed noted, were there any “oral communications” speakers left? There were.
Several members of the audience were wearing placards around their necks and wearing black and red to support Justice Overcoming Boundaries. Marco Lopez began, stating that he was a citizen and a registered voter. He noted that Abed and Councilman Ed Gallo had signed on to the illegal, and un-Constitutional rental ordinance of 2006 that began the discordance within Escondido’s population. A discordance that had been enhanced by the “Operation Joint Effort” program wherein the Escondido Police Department cooperated with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The supposed DUI checkpoints carried out by the Escondido Police had resulted in veterans of the US military being deported, Lopez stated. Applause broke out. Abed tried to reiterate his “no clapping” rule. He was rudely interrupted by a member of the audience, who was finally silenced when Abed implored him to let Lopez finish. Lopez went on to note that the policies of Abed and Gallo had created a hostile environment. Escondido children had seen their parents deported.
Joanne Tenney painfully spoke about the loss of her daughter to cancer. Losing a parent to deportation was as painful she avowed. She had been able to be with her daughter to the last, assuring her daughter of her love. Children of deported parents were not able to be with their parents. This deportation could be stopped. It was not mandated by law. Escondido could stop its participation in Joint Effort.
Luis Romero spoke next. He noted that the check points weren’t just stopping drunk drivers, they were stopping citizens like him because of the color of his skin and hair. He shouldn’t have to show papers. What was being gained by these checkpoints? The City is safe.
Tom Cowan took exception to Abed’s claim that nothing had transpired behind closed doors to cancel the “Tiny Tots” program. He apologetically said he could not trust either Abed or Gallo not to cancel that program if they were re-elected. I agree with Cowan.
Retired San Diego Police officer, Carlos Ronquillo spoke next. He presented a PowerPoint that presented some interesting statistics. He asked why were checkpoints aimed at stopping DUI’s timed from 5:30 to 6:00 pm—at the end of the work day. Was the bounty of the evening’s work—two DUIs worth the expense? Why weren’t they held later in the evening when they might catch more drunk drivers? Mr. Ronquillo has spoken out before on this issue on KPBS, http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/mar/12/escondido-police-under-fire/.
I will comment on the rest of the meeting in another blog, but at the very end of the meeting, an older, grey-haired, rotund white woman spoke. She represents, I believe, the impetus behind the anti-immigrant emotion that elects people like Abed, Gallo, and former Councilwoman, now Assemblyperson (that’s right Assemblyperson, not Assembly Woman—I don’t make up these rules,) Marie Waldron. Waldron was the instigator of Escondido’s infamous rental ordinance. This older woman railed against motorcycles that were parked outside a restaurant in Escondido during “Cruising Grand”. She wondered why the City was no longer vigorously implementing a program of returning shopping carts to markets instead of letting homeless people use them—some of them had two carts she moaned. Another concern of hers was allowing smoking in apartments and condos. Everyone knew about the problems of second-hand smoke. Then she ended by saying she commended the City for their checkpoints, implying that such checkpoints were necessary to keep the city safe from drunk drivers and drivers without licenses. (Evidently the data presented by Ronquillo did not penetrate her skull.) She ended her tirade by employing the Council to end the awful vice in the city—illicit drugs, human trafficking, etc. Basically, what she really meant, I believe, was get rid of as many brown people as possible. Just a feeling.