There were so many inaccuracies (I’m being polite) in Mayor Sam Abed’s Wednesday workshop as to make it difficult to cover in one blog.
Abed began his Wednesday workshop with a Chamber of Commerce type video about how great Escondido is. The video touched on the good weather, the great parks including Daley Ranch, its great health care facilities, and two great tourist attractions, the Safari Park and Stone Brewery. It bragged about all the new businesses in town. It touched on the City’s increased code enforcement and efforts to improve neighborhoods.
Abed then gave his “update”, which he mainly used to expound upon his conservative philosophy rather than Escondido matters. He started with his oft-repeated refrain that it was his conservative fiscal policy for Escondido that made it successful, and that the greatest burden for City Hall was the Federal and State Governments. He expressed his belief that the current $18 trillion dollar national debt is an immoral imposition on future generations, implying it was all the fault of the current administration. Time for a little history. The national debt is added to most years by the annual federal deficit. Bush inherited an annual surplus then grew the deficit yearly with his foolish war in Iraq. The recession and the efforts to keep it from becoming a depression about tripled the deficit between 2008 and 2009—this tripling, of course, is blamed entirely on Obama by types like Abed, even though that’s like blaming Bush for 9/11. Obama has decreased the 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion, every year he’s been in office. Last year the deficit was $492 billion. http://www.davemanuel.com/history-of-deficits-and-surpluses-in-the-united-states.php . Where was Abed’s concern for the National Debt when Bush was adding to it so recklessly?
Abed continued his misinformation campaign with the outrageous claim that the Affordable Care Act had raised insurance premiums by 41%. Actually the rate of insurance premium increase has slowed down considerably as a result of the ACA, to a national average of less than 5% for 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2014/10/31/key-study-on-obamacare-2015-premium-rates-is-out-and-you-wont-believe-whats-going-to-happen/ The number of uninsured Americans has dropped from a high of 18% in 2013 to 11.9% in 2015. http://obamacarefacts.com/sign-ups/obamacare-enrollment-numbers/
Abed then complained about the State of California. It too, had a massive debt he complained, while at the same time complaining that the state had “taken away our redevelopment money. So, I guess with Abed, it’s OK to cut back on schools, healthcare, food stamps, etc., as long as you leave the taxpayer money that benefits developers (the redevelopment fund) alone. See: http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/explainer-end-redevelopment-agencies-14624 for more information.
Abed again applauded the conservative fiscal policy of the City Council majority that he claimed made Escondido so successful. Businesses are thriving, and crime is down he bragged. He did admit that the poverty level was high, Abed said 30%, but it’s actually 18.7%–higher than California’s 15.9%. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0622804.html This would be solved by bring in more businesses and therefore jobs to Escondido, Abed claims. Of course, there is never any guarantee that the new jobs formed in Escondido will actually be filled by residents of Escondido. Programs that might help Escondido’s youth be better prepared for employment are frowned on by Abed as “not the government’s role.”
Abed kept affirming that the City had kept balanced budgets under his guidance. Actually, under California State law, all general law cities (as Escondido is) are required to have a balanced budget. Yes, during the recession, the City did reach into its reserves to keep its core programs going—before Abed became Mayor. Abed would rather close down libraries than reach into reserves. Abed talked about the importance of education, as crucial to lowering the poverty rate, yet he had no program in evicting the Escondido Education Compact from its home in the East Valley Pkwy. Community Center to make way for his buddy Dennis Snyder’s Heritage Digital Academy Charter School.
Abed included in his “update”/rant an admission that there were problems with Escondido’s financial situation, the unfunded pension problem, and the cost of voting districts. I have no idea why voting districts are a financial problem—but perhaps Abed meant his general dislike of district rather than at-large elections.
Most of the discussion during the time Abed gave to answering questions from the audience had to do with the Escondido Country Club fiasco. I will write of that in another blog, but there is one topic discussed that left me very sad. Abed was asked a couple times why did it make sense for the City to approve some 850 new homes to be built, when the drought had brought about water restrictions. Abed avowed that the City could only put a moratorium on building permits when the water shortage was more severe than it is now, and that the City could not legally deny a property owner’s right to build. He then bemoaned the fact that 50% of California’s water was used for the environment, and he wished that he (meaning Escondido?) could be treated as well as the Delta Smelt. The profound ignorance of environmental science his statements illustrated always makes me despair for our nation. Half of that 50% for environmental use is in Northern California coastal rivers, separate from agricultural or urban use. In the rest of the state, 33% of water is considered environmental, 53% agricultural, and 14% urban. http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=1108
The Delta Smelt is an indicator species. It is on the edge of extinction, but almost every other species of fish in the Delta is showing a similar decline, left unchanged, the deterioration of the Delta habitat will lead to the decline of all species higher on the food chain than the smelt, including the salmon, including the Orca’s that eat the salmon. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150403-smelt-california-bay-delta-extinction-endangered-species-drought-fish/
Perhaps I too wish that Abed were treated “as well” as the Delta Smelt.