By Ryan Lescure
Emerald defends vote for power-shut-off; tells opponents in backcountry to “bellayche to the County Supervisors” and urge use of Prop 172 funds for firefighting
August 6, 2009 (San Diego)--Water issues were the main topic of discussion at the San Diego chapter of Democracy for America's meeting last night. The event featured Marti Emerald, San Diego City Councilmember from District 7 (which includes some San Diego neighborhoods east of I-15, such as Allied Gardens and Del Cerro) and Howard Wayne, former Assemblymember and City Council Candidate for District 6.
Marti Emerald was the first speaker, choosing to informally field questions from attendees from her seat at the end of the table rather than using a microphone to address the group.
Emerald initially answered questions about her stance on healthcare, stating that she believes we need a system where everyone has access to healthcare. Emerald then went on to mention that San Diego will receive $260 million in federal stimulus money. She also stated that she is concerned with providing San Diegans with jobs and wants to look into clean energy.
The discussion then turned to water issues, where it remained for a while. Emerald discussed the need to consider that certain industries such as the biotech industry and hospitals need some exceptions to water regulations because they are special users.
Emerald then discussed the idea of sub-meters, which she said will hopefully be before the City Council in November. Emerald stated that multi-family housing units, such as condominiums or apartments, usually receive their water bill in the form of a flat rate. Since this takes the building as a whole into consideration instead of individual units, it does not recognize that an individual tenant may be conserving water. Emerald argued that individual sub-meters will take the conservation efforts of individual tenants into consideration and will therefore offer an incentive to save water. Illustrating the importance of this, she stated, “nearly 50 percent of people in San Diego live in multi-family housing projects…this is where the water saving starts.”
Regarding water conservation, Emerald concluded by reinforcing its urgency. “As a global community, we’ve got to be on it,” she concluded. “We absolutely must address this problem.”
After fielding additional questions about water issues and healthcare, Marti Emerald was asked by ECM to offer some comments on why she supports SDG&E’s plan to shut off power to the backcountry when five conditions indicating fire hazard are met. Upon answering this question, Emerald became very animated. Her first response was “because my fire chief says she needs the tools,” referring to the testimony of San Diego Fire Department Tracy Jarman in support of the shut-off plan.
Emerald argued that San Diego has been paying for fighting the wildfires in the backcountry and it has been San Diego’s equipment doing the firefighting. She argued that the role of the City Council is to stick up for the people of San Diego and for the firefighters who have been endangered by the wildfires in the backcountry. “I’m going to stand up for the people of the city,” Emerald stated.
Emerald cited Proposition 172 as providing a source of money that can be used for fire protection. She said that this money is used by San Diego County law enforcement, but not fire protection. She stated that Los Angeles County uses money from Prop. 172, but San Diego County does not. Emerald advised that those with complaints should “bellyache to the County Supervisors,” regarding the money from Prop. 172. She then stated, “these people in the backcountry need to take charge and demand accountability from their governments.”
Emerald concluded by stating, “We’re all in it together, but at some point we’ve got to step up.”
Howard Wayne was the next speaker. He discussed his candidacy and offered some information about himself. He stated that he grew up in San Diego, went to Hoover High School, and attended San Diego State University. He has served as a Deputy Attorney General, and he teaches at the University of San Diego and Thomas Jefferson Law School. He is also a former member of the Assembly. While in the Assembly, Wayne stated that he “got 61 bills signed into law by governors of both parties.”
Wayne is currently running in the District 6 City Council race. Councilmember Donna Frye currently holds this seat in the City Council, but she is termed out and cannot rerun. When asked who he is running against, Wayne quipped, “Anybody foolish enough to get in the race.” He then said he is running against one other Democrat, who is a staff member from Frye’s office, and two Republicans. “I’m the only candidate running in the sixth that has held public office,” Wayne stated.
The next meeting of the San Diego chapter of Democracy For America is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 2 at 7:00 PM. Speaking will be San Diego City Councilmember Donna Frye of District 6. The meeting will take place at Giovanni’s Restaurant, 9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. in San Diego.