November 7, 2003

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

If you can’t beat them, join them.

It’s time to surrender. The Repubs are having too much fun.  I want my shot at the simple life. Perhaps it’s time to hop on the bandwagon and become a hardcore member of today’s wacky right. Yeah, that’s it. What a world that would be! Just imagine how simple life would be without wrestling with those dang complex issues! Everything would be neatly separated into black and white. There would be only good or evil. Bueno!

People would be either gung ho supporters of the administration or they are anti-American and anti-military. Religion would not be just a spiritual journey explored at home or in church. It could grow into a fierce weapon I could swing in people’s faces just like my American flag. 

I would be proud to have Bush as my president, Arnold as my governor, and the wacky right media telling me why it’s all so great. Sign me up, baby! All I need to do is believe. People like Rush and Hannity will become my sole source of news.  In fact, I’d be so swamped under the minutia of all my sports interests; maybe it would save valuable time letting the media form my beliefs about the world around me. Perfect! Tons of sports, some choice reality tv shows, my talk radio, and a big flag in which to wrap myself, and a few drinking buddies to help me blame Clinton. That’s all I need.  I can already feel myself slipping. Something’s happening... common sense and critical reasoning centers are fading... Yes, that’s it. The gray areas have vanished. All is right now. Things couldn’t be better in my country. God bless America.

Miguel Foulks
San Diego

A Better Economy

President Bush should be commended for his strong leadership on the economy. He has taken bold action to create lasting economic growth. The President’s economic growth agenda creates jobs. His economic plan is focused on job creation and helps working families with immediate tax relief. Promoting investment is another critical component in the President’s agenda. Reducing the overall tax burden on small business and eliminating the unfair double tax on dividends spurs investment by individuals and businesses, enabling much needed capital investment and spurring job creation.

President Bush understands that we must save Social Security for seniors and for generations to come. His approach preserves the current Social Security system for those at or near retirement while providing new options for young people. The President’s plan puts money back into the pockets of working Americans. Accelerating already enacted tax cuts will encourage consumer spending by giving 91 million taxpayers an average $1,126 in tax relief this year, immediately injecting billions into the economy. This issue is just one more example of how our President is providing the courageous leadership America needs.

Ron Romero
San Diego

We need to be evironmentally good neighbors with Mexico

Last month, during my interview with the Sierra Club/San Diego Chapter’s Political Committee, I was asked: “What is the biggest environmental issuefacing the State of California”?

I answered: the Bush administration. I cited the “healthy forests” initiative and other federal attempts to cut protection for our air and water, while cloaking the true goals of these damaging proposals in “green” labels. The latest example is their shortsighted cutbacks for funds for environmental protection programs that have been developed over the last decade.

[In a recent article] “EPA ends funding for system tracking waste from Mexico” it describes how funding cutbacks by the Bush Administration now threaten California’s border region: the USEPA is eliminating $250,000 for a cross border program that tracks hazardous waste along the border. They are doing so even as local agencies are struggling to control an increasing amount of hazardous materials that end up in our water, air, soil and - ultimately- the bodies of people living along the border. As the article points out, ”From 1998 to 2000, toxic waste produced by maquiladoras increased 300 percent.”

On October 24, the city and county of San Diego signed a memorandum of understanding with Tijuana, to develop a regional hazardous materials prevention and emergency response plan. But without help from the federal government, their work will be more difficult, as the burden falls on local agencies at a time when they can least afford it.

As the Chair of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission’s Advisory Council, I worked to add language to each water and sewage grant contract we approved to require pollution prevention and source control programs as part of the construction of needed water and sewage infrastructure. We recognized that the toxicity problems at the treatment plant in Tijuana, and at the border sewage plant in San Diego, are the result of lax enforcement of existing laws re:the disposal of hazardous industrial waste.

Once elected to the Assembly, I will continue to work to improve our relationships with environmental agencies in Mexico, and to explore ways we can share the financial costs and regulatory responsibilities to clean up our border. I will encourage practices that reduce the generation of hazardous waste in maquiladoras in Mexico. Given the number of US-owned companies operating in Tijuana and Tecate, we need to be “good neighbors” and support Baja California’s efforts to enforce their own laws, and prevent the disposal of industrial wastes into the city’s sewage collection system.

Earlier this year, the Comision Estatal de Servicios Publicos de Tijuana (CESPT) took over responsibility for enforcing Mexico’s source control laws in Tijuana. In contrast to the USEPA’s budget cutbacks in the US, this is a step in the right direction for Baja California.

For now, I encourage representatives from the cities, counties and environmental health agencies in this region to work with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, and push for reinstatement of these EPA funds. We know that NAFTA has contributed to rapid growth and industrialization in our communities, and it makes no sense for federal regulatory agencies to cut funds from the border, when we have yet to keep pace with these new demands.

These cutbacks show that the Bush administration is out of touch with the public’s desire for environmental protection, and is now threatening public health and safety in the US-Mexico border region. As Assemblywoman, I will work with agencies in San Diego and Tijuana and continue to reduce hazardous waste, protect public health, and improve our shared environment.

Lori Saldaña
Candidate, 76th State Assembly District
San Diego

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