May 14, 2004

Editorial:

Ewell Proposes That Minorities and Working Class Pay for the City’s Mistakes

New City Mananger P. Lamont Ewell proposed budget cuts last Monday, May 3, to begin to rectify damage that was done long before he took office last month. He preceded the city management escapee Michael Uberuaga, who jumped ship during a U.S. Attorney and Securities Exchange Commission investigation pertaining to the illegal sale of San Diego pension fund bonds, which supposedly trail back seven years.

Accepting such a heavy baton, filled with a $1.1 billion deficit, damage done due to numerous litigations lost by the City of San Diego, and the Charger’s ticket guarantee to name a few, Ewell proposed a budget that would supposedly increase the city’s general fund by $814.4 million within the first year, beginning July 1. Sounds like a job well proposed on behalf of Ewell, having just waltzed into his new position. But it is a fact, and not a supposition, that his proposal mends the local elite’s economic charades off the back of working class San Diegan families, especially children.

Within Ewell’s proposal, San Diego’s 6-to-6 Extended School Day Program will suffer a $2 million loss, 15 community service centers will be closed and their will be a 48 hour per week decrease at recreation centers. With education paramount to our society, Ewell absurdly recommends that libraries be closed on Sundays.

You can’t cancel social services out of the equation to quantify a positive figure without their being any drastic consequences.

6-to-6 programs, according to San Diego City School’s 2004 Fact Sheet, receive $3.9 million from the city, which in turn, provides extended studies pertaining to art, leadership skills and tutoring to 41 elementary schools. Deducting half of those funds will leave 50% of those parents without a “safe place where [their] children can have fun and learn new skills in a supervised setting.”

Children living under conditions that depend on such services will be subject to find alternative means of passing time without supervision. This will in turn would compound a latchkey problem within our communities, leaving children susceptible to the so-called “local gang problem” that the police are currently battling and that mainstream media is keeping under a microscope to circumvent the true issues of our community.

This may exhibit somewhat of a reciprocal relationship. Ewell’s plan would leave children without recreational facilities, and in the same breath, police just received an additional $10 million from a unanimous city council approval this Tuesday, something that Mayor Dick Murphy called a “bright spot” in Ewell’s proposal.

The city council “tentatively approved” a $157.7 million increase for more fire department personnel and equipment, which was also laid out in Ewell’s plan. Having been a fire chief in Compton, Los Angeles himself, could he be acting more out of sympathy for this sector of the city?

Had the city not spent so much money over court fees and pending paying off plaintiffs, such as Roque de la Fuente ($94.5 million), the Boy Scouts ($950,000), developer Corky McMillan ($8.5 million and 81 acres of land), building a baseball stadium, and ultimately granting a laughable ticket guarantee to the less-than-mediocre San Diego Chargers, city protection would have been flourishing with the means to battle the recent fires, which led to an approximate 1,100 homes lost in total.

But in reality, they didn’t. That’s understood and Ewell must rewire the flow of capital, but this understanding only leaves the most obvious solution to San Diego politicians: reversed Robin Hood-ism, take from the poor and replace what the rich have misused.

When you compound the city’s budget cuts with California Governor Arnold Schwarze-neggar’s plot to terminate funds to programs like CalWORKS, which provides not only cash payments but job training to 480,000 struggling/working families, it becomes crystal clear that it is the Hispanic, working class communities that will be burdened with the lion’s share of the budget cuts.

All in all, the thread tying together the local and statewide governmental tactics remain the same. From Ewell to the Governor, the working class families continue to pay for the misuse of public money, and in the meanwhile no one is asking where the money is coming from to defend San Diego City Council/strip club wheelers and dealers like Ralph Inzunza, Michael Zucchet and Charles Lewis. No one is asking where the funds are coming from to litigate the best way to capitalize from having the Chargers stay … or leave. Who knows?

It is the same old story, whenever government is in a financial bind they tax the poor, the voiceless, to support the rich. It is time to stop sacrificing the security of our children’s future like Ewell is proposing.

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