Climate Action Plan
Press Release from Mac 4 Mayor
I applaud the recent release of the Second Edition Climate Action Plan Report Card by the local Climate Action Campaign. This objective analysis does a great service to our region by evaluating all Climate Action Plans and on the progress local governments are making to effectively address climate change.
It is inspiring that five local cities, including San Diego and Chula Vista, and three in North County have adopted a 100% commitment to clean energy for their business and residents. I’m not sure if Escondido can get there, but I would like to evaluate what that might take. Several models I have reviewed show that this could be a new revenue source for Escondido.
I support many of the recommendations in the Report Card for Escondido. I would like to see us in-crease public involvement and release annual updates. Escondido should adopt aggressive clean energy goals that make fiscal sense, including water and conservation targets. On the transportation front we should promote ZEVs and get serious about smart growth strategies and effective transportation strate-gies. I also support evaluating a zero-waste goal if it works for our city.
I strongly support adding a significant goal for tree canopy cover, especially in our neighborhoods where trees are few and far between. Trees make for a more beautiful neighborhood, offer shade, in addition to helping reduce climate impacts.
While I am encouraged that the city of Escondido is currently updating its plan, it is clear that it is long overdue. In the first report card, under Sam Abed’s leadership Escondido was dead last of all the governments with a climate plan. Ours was the worst. It isn’t surprising since Sam Abed has not been a leader on climate issues and, in fact, has rejected opportunities to partner with other cities to improve climate policies.
As Mayor, I will take seriously the opportunities presented by the crisis and embrace innovative technol-ogy, public-private partnerships, and input from our residents and organization with expertise like the Climate Action Campaign, the Center for Sustainable Energy and our own local Escondido Climate Action Alliance. The report card can be found here.
Escondido And Sanctuary Laws: Hostile Action Endangers City
Union Tribune Op-Ed April 12, 2018
Escondido’s politics are broken; its governance is dysfunctional. The most recent example of this dysfunction was last week’s City Council meeting during which the council majority and mayor voted to join federal legal action against the State of California’s Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act. Mayor Sam Abed’s efforts to convert police officers to immigration agents have reduced public safety and civic trust. This complicates police work and alienates much of the community when we need to work together to reduce crime in our city.
The consequences of that action are endangering Escondido police and our residents. Since the founding of this country there has been natural friction between the roles of the federal and the state government. Abed’s action won’t alleviate that friction or resolve the complicated and difficult issue of immigration. It is election year political theater that unnecessarily divides our community.
The decision to join the lawsuit is troubling in many significant ways. Law enforcement experts warn the signal this action sends will force some citizens and immigrants into the shadows. It is well known, in Escondido especially, that there are many families in homes that have a blend of members who have legal status, and those without.
This action forces a no-win choice in those homes when it comes to reporting criminal activity — report crime and then possibly be deported, or remain silent and have the criminal activity receive no consequence. It is no secret that when a segment of our community is reluctant to report crime, criminals will be emboldened, and crime will go up. Our police will then be faced with ever increasingly dangerous situations, all of which could be avoided with more thoughtful leadership. This runs contrary to Abed’s statement after the vote that he “was elected mayor to keep the community safe.”
This action is linked to a larger, albeit failed, strategy. Abed claims that his approach, which targets the immigrant and minority populations of the city, by partnering with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, enforcing gang injunctions, and supporting traffic safety check points is what caused the lowest level of crime in our city since 1980. This argument ignores the success of preventative efforts by the Escondido Police Department and does not acknowledge the downward trend of crime nationally. Furthermore, evidence that his solution has not worked is shown by Escondido having a higher crime rate than our neighboring cities of San Marcos, Vista and Poway. Abed’s approach has not reduced crime and has created a negative public image of this city in the county and beyond.
It is also inevitable that city personnel will divert their time (and, therefore, tax dollars) to an area that is outside the scope of the mayor, the council and the city staff. Abed and the council have plenty of consequential issues to address such as traffic, housing and economic development. Instead, they are attempting to distract the citizens of Escondido by drawing them into a national political drama. The citizens deserve a mayor and council that stick to what they were elected to do: fix the roads, clean up the water, attract much-needed industries and higher paying jobs, limit sprawl, help improve schools and services and provide help to our homeless population and others in need.
Under Abed’s leadership it has become commonplace in Escondido to waste taxpayer dollars (approximately $1 million) on senseless and unsubstantiated lawsuits. And this decision, yet again, pits one group of neighbors against another. Furthermore, it deteriorates the city’s reputation as a welcoming, values-based, family-oriented place, and misrepresents the majority of citizens to the surrounding communities. Abed intentionally and unnecessarily forced Escondido into the national spotlight in exchange for some perceived political gain.
We can have legitimate public conversations about the distribution of responsibilities among federal, state, and local governments on matters such as sanctuary policies. But using those conversations to peddle anti-immigrant sentiments is flawed, low politics.
Escondido is a city of faith and values. We should be using public debate to find ways to uplift our city. Abed could do this; after all, he is an immigrant and should know that it is better to take the high road. Let’s stop making decisions that endanger residents, misrepresent us and destroy our reputation. Escondido will only begin to thrive when it embraces its rich, diverse heritage and people. We must do better.
Statement on Escondido Amicus Brief Action
Speech Delivered To Escondido City Council, April 4, 2018
I’m speaking today against the passage of the proposed Amicus Brief on behalf of the city of Escondido in the case of United States v State of California.
Taking on this issue of Immigration is way beyond the scope and authority of this city council. It comes across as the magician’s misdirect to take the audience’s eyes off of what is really going on. Or maybe more accurately what is not going on. You can’t solve the immigration problem, and you weren’t elected to do that, but you can solve city problems like restoring library services to the residents of the East Valley parkway. When asked at a previous meeting what that plan was the city manager said there was none in place. As Mayor you should be working on Escondido issues rather than divisive national politics. Do the job you were elected to do.
This is bad at many levels. It is a terrible optic for the city. It will make our police department’s job more challenging. Crime as Sheriff Gore stated will go unreported and increase. It will not make us safer but the exact opposite. It will further divide a city that needs unifying not more divisive issues. It is a waste of our taxpayer dollars to have anyone on the staff focus on this issue.
Stop making us look like a city we are not. We are a city guided by our faith and values, who understand there are complexities to all our problems and that they have second and third order effects that need to be considered. We know there are no simple answers. Don’t make us look like a bunch of xenophobic nativists. It’s just bad for the city. I suggest you pull this item from the agenda.