July 13, 2007

Editorial:

Gaylord Debacle, a clear lack of leadership

With a single letter faxed to the Mayor of Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego the once promising future of the Chula Vista bay front came to a screeching halt. This project was to be the signature project for the city and the beginning of the rejuvenation of the west side. The fact that this project was in trouble caught most Chula Vistans by complete surprise. The community thought the bay front project was a done deal and it was just a matter of waiting for the construction to begin! Now all that is left are dashed dreams.

In the letter to the mayor and the Port, Gaylord stated that they could not come to terms with organized labor and the Environmental Health Coalition and as such decided to pull the plug on the project. The fallout was immediate from Mayor Cheryl Cox, the Port Commissioners, the city leaders who blamed the Unions, Congressman Bob Filner who blamed Mayor Cox, and the Unions blaming Gaylord. Bottom line: there is plenty of blame to go around for all concerned.

With all this blame swirling around one thing was painfully clear: there was a total lack of leadership from the elected officials of the city on this project! For this we have to look to the Mayor of Chula Vista, Cheryl Cox, for not providing the leadership to see this project through. We were dismayed to hear from the mayor on a project this important to the city, state that she had taken a “hands-off” approach to the Gaylord-labor negotiations. One would have assumed that she should have been in on every negotiation associated with the project to ensure its progress. The Mayor did not become actively involved until the last minute, after it was too late. This was a clear lack of leadership.

Chula Vista is a working class community and the assuring that there is adequate employment is required to keep the citizens from sliding below the poverty line and into possible bankruptcy. Provisions are required in order that these people get the adequate support needed in order to maintain a sound economic structure, in serving the people of the city of Chula Vista.

The Unions were insisting that the 6500 potential jobs to build this convention center should go to the workers of Chula Vista and we couldn’t agree more. For the Hispanic community to escape the vicious cycle that they find themselves in of poor education, gangs, drugs, and poverty, it takes jobs. Economic opportunity empowers a community. We believe that is worth fighting for.

Hiring practices at the Federal government level are at a dismal 7.5%. Contracting with the city of San Diego is also a disgrace, and the hiring and contracting with Hispanics in the City of Chula Vista is unclear in that they don’t make this information readily available to review so that it can be determined what their minority hiring/contracting practices are. But if the upper echelon of the city is any indication we would venture to say it is not good.

A good example of where we are coming from can be found in our good friend Art who lives in Chula Vista and has a cement pouring company with his work coming primarily from the South Bay. He plays by the rules, hires union workers, pays all his dues, fees, health care, insurances, workers comp, and bonds. He has managed his business okay but has never gotten that one big job; those always seem to go those who know the right people. We think that Chula Vista residents, whose tax dollars would provide the $300 million for infrastructure, should get first crack at the work with this billion dollar project and Art would have an opportunity to get his first big contract, one that would put his company on track to bigger and better things.

Do we believe that the Unions were fighting the good fight with an altruistic goal in mind for the Hispanic community? We doubt it, but the end result would have served this purpose.

At the same time we find it hard to believe that the Unions would let such a monumental project just leave without a plan to fall back on. The future of Chula Vista rests not on what the unions want, what the corporations want, or even the failure of the elected officials to carry out their duties. The citizens are ultimately responsible to help decide whether Chula Vista survives as a city worthy of respect. 

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