Saturday, October 27, 2007

Reflections on the Wildfires...Part I

For the second time in 4-years San Diego County experienced the wrath of Mother Nature. Santa Ana winds whipped wildfires into firestorms across the county and once again demonstrated that both the county and city are still woefully unprepared to deal with such contingencies as they arise.

For starters the city of San Diego still lacks sufficient fire protection resources that a city of this size needs. As the VOSD reported on Thursday, “San Diego has only one firefighter per 1,466 residents, while Phoenix (997 residents per fire fighter), Dallas (702) and San Francisco (421) employ more favorable ratios.”[Link] Events like the fires this week and the Cedar Fire back 2003 highlight the serious shortcomings in fire protection resources in here in the city. At the county level, the fire protection resources are even in worse condition. The county is still, the largest county in the state without its own fire department. It has been like this since 1974 when the county decided to stop funding for fire services.[Link] While incremental steps have been taken by the county, you would think that the destruction brought on by the Cedar Fire, and the continued development in the back county motivated both the supervisors and city council to act with a greater sense on urgency.

It also appears that the much vaunted “Reserve 911” system has some serious problems. For one it doesn’t include cell phone numbers. A case in point is a co-worker, I know who lives in RB. She is part of the growing number of people who have only a cell phone as their telephone. According to this person, her neighbor who has a standard telephone at home, received a reverse 911 call, but my co-worker did not receive a reverse 911 call. In addition, I heard that the reserve 911 system didn’t make any calls in Spanish; the calls were only made in English. For a county were 1 in 4 residents speak Spanish as their primary language at home, a greater emphasis needs to be made to communicate with non-English speaking residents during emergencies.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Union Assistance Center Open for Union Members Affected by Fires

The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council has opened a Union Assistance Center to union members Affected by the San Diego fires.

Any union member in need of assistance should contact their local union directly, or the Labor Council’s Labor Participation department at (619) 641-0074 or (619) 641-0095.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bush Go Home!

Today, most of Rancho Bernardo's evacuees from the Witch Creek fire were given the go ahead to "repopulate" their neighborhoods. No such luck for the residents of Westwood, one of the hardest hit neighborhood in RB. They were given poor excuses like they may not be safe, or there may still be smoldering houses. Well, my friends and many other Westwood residents decided to take a look themselves. They were out there today, looking right into their neighborhood from Rancho Bernardo Rd. All looks tranquil. While many houses burnt, many streets in Westwood were untouched by the fire.

I took in my friends who are not allowed to return home. As we sat and chatted this evening, one of my friends figured it out! Westwood will the the next pile of rubble Bush will be standing on for his photo op tomorrow! He'll have his sleeves rolled up, and he'll say gushingly, "Heck of a job!" to some GOP crony suck-up. It makes perfect sense! Bush can't handle the 'Q' since they can't control the audience. So... Westwood is the perfect place. Airtight security, a handpicked audience, big piles of rubble... GOP stage craft at its finest! They can even land a helicopter right in the community park, and make a spectacle of themselves, like Chertoff did at the Q with the two gunships.

These poor people were evacuated early Monday morning. They want to go home! What a bunch of creeps!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Week in Review

I usually wait until Monday mornings to post a wrap-up of the political rumors rolling around at the week's end, but I am headed out of town for a few days. Here are a few interesting morsels:

With all the buzz about Jerry Butkiewicz's potential run for Mayor at the CPI dinner on Thursday, a few juicy details about the dinner were left out.

I was shocked to see Republican candidate for Mayor, Steve Francis in attendance. He was definitely making the rounds and pressing flesh with labor leaders, enviros and other progressives. He looked eerily at ease in this left-leaning crowd. Less surprising, Republican candidate for School Board Scott Barnett was also seen in the crowd AND even bought an ad in the dinner book.

Also seen in the crowd, former Assemblyman Juan Vargas - sitting with Firefighter's Union Prez Ron Saathoff. I had heard the firefighters were courting him to run for City Attorney, maybe his sudden public appearance means something.

One of the funnier sites of the evening, was City Attorney Mike Aguirre standing up to be recognized when Donald Cohen asked all of the San Diego City Employees to rise for an applause. I don't think that is what Cohen had in mind.

Finally of note, I saw a very relieved looking Toni Atkins giving what looked like a congratulatory hug to Labor Council's political director Lorena Gonzales. If the press accounts prove true, Gonzales, who was planning to run against Atkins in 2010 for the 76th AD, will stay with labor and Atkins may have a free-ride for the Democratic nomination.

I got a call from a Republican family member of mine that lives in Tierrasanta, it seems Marti Emerald walked to his door on Saturday. Good to know she is walking, I had heard rumors about a back injury.

I hear there is a new potential Democratic candidate in San Diego's 1st district. Lobbyist and strong mayor proponent Adrian Kwiatkowski is allegedly considering throwing his hat in the ring.