May 29, 2009

The Public Forum... El Foro Público

Cities need to become involved with trade

For thirty years, America has tried everything, but with little results. The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration spends huge sums of money but has not made a difference – deficits continue to grow. Organizations like World Trade Centers, District Export Councils, and Foreign Trade Zones make only a marginal contribution. States have developed their own programs but, truth is, private sector manufacturers are out there on their own.

What’s missing from our effort?

Cities!

This letter proposes a grass-roots change to the means by which we attack the trade problem.

To combat America’s enormous imbalances mayors should roll up their sleeves, become involved, and hold their city councils accountable for methods that contribute to exporting.

Innovation is the key word and it includes cyberspace because it brings with it network security, data transmission and the sharing of information that can be used to propel America back to the front lines of international trade. International trade is too important not to seek solutions from the bottom up.

One innovative idea is the formation of Export City Clusters (ECC).

What is an ECC?

These are public/private partnerships that serve the unique products of their region. ECCs would display city or regional products year round. Some might provide buildings, rooms or space on the city’s website. Historically exporters travel to foreign buyers, but since 9/11 such travel has been reduced. The ECC might include a travel company, an import/export marketing company, a bank, hotels and restaurants, thus attracting buyers to the export city. Sister cities should be factored into the cluster equation.

An ECC would encourage council members to study and understand their city’s international commercial strengths and weaknesses and demonstrate their city’s involvement in trade. It would require leadership, vision, and creativity as well as some stimulation funds for the long term. City council’s throughout America should get into the fight for America’s jobs by putting international trade on their agendas, conducting feasibility studies, and developing long term plans including investment.

My interest is to bring this matter to your attention.

This recommendation, submitted by a private citizen, could trigger a surge of our nation trade. 

Dr. Carl A. Nelson, DBA
Chula Vista

The curtain is coming down on the final act of our budget crisis

City Hall, (Chula Vista), will be closed to the public on Fridays, city council meetings will start at 4 PM every week, the libraries will be closed at least two days a week and services like tree trimming, rest room cleaning, graffiti control and park maintenance will be cut. The firemen are even going to mow the fire station lawns.

I cannot forget that the grandiose $63 million Police Station is a huge part of our financial chaos. It was built (in the wrong place) to serve a population of 300,000 people with a futuristic jail that was going to pay for itself. Now we can’t pay for it without restructuring our debt and the jail has never paid for itself. It is for these reasons that I feel no sorrow over Police Chief Emerson’s departure.

What bothers me more is that police and fire who account for 64% of our budget seem to be bearing less pain overall. Somewhere along the line they became the untouchables but until their salaries, overtime and pensions are put on the table for change in the future we are never getting out of this hole our city leaders have dug for us.

I was a supporter of the sales tax which failed. But we all need to be watching very closely what the city does with every penny it does have. No more $63 million Police Stations, $51 million City Halls, $7 million fire stations! No more grants that give us a “free” USAR fire truck that costs us thousands of dollars to man.

Susan Watry
Chula Vista

The Lords of Water

While attending meetings with members of our Water Department with the City Council in attendance, and after hearing many other conversations concerning water, I have been struck by what appears to be a certain culture of thinking in relation to water rights and allocation. It seems that we have commoditized our natural resource Water, so that it seems that this substance, an imperative to all life, can be had at far greater rates to the rich over and before the poor, to some types of profit making venture before others (such as agriculture.)

Is that what we have become in our American society, will we start charging for air next? I remember a film staring our fine governor, set on a planet (Mars) lacking a breathable atmosphere. The poor and the weak were deprived by their conditions of unequal suffrage of fresh clear breathable air, to the point to which mutation took place.

I could be wrong, but in my model of justice and human rights there is no one person more deserving of fresh air as to deny an equal amount of clean breathable air to the least among our population. This same truth I would extend to the natural resource of water. Water is a shared resource. It belongs as a condition of our natural environment to one citizen as much as any other does. Equal access and rate of use is, I believe, a basic human right. The conditions of one’s private economy, and private profitability dependent on control and access of that natural resource, must not be allow to control a fair and truly just allocation to all sharing our human environment.

Gregory Morales
San Diego

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