Transcription by Jonathan Goetz
October 18, 2016 (El Cajon) - Seven candidates vying for three seats on the El Cajon City Council participated in a lively forum at Grossmont College on October 5th: Stephanie Harper, Ben Kalasho, Hubert Cabrera, Steve Goble, George Glover, Joseph Fountain and Vikie Butcher. Incumbents Bob McClellan and Star Bales, along with challenger Paul Circo, declined to participate citing travel and scheduling conflicts.
Topics included the police shooting, building a new animal shelter, reopening the performing arts center, sales tax in El Cajon, marijuana regulation, strengthening our community and improving police relations with minorities, poverty and unemployment.
Each candidate had one minute to respond to questions from moderators Miriam Raftery of the East County Magazine, Karen Pearlman from the San Diego Union-Tribune, Albert Fulcher from the East County Californian, and Marya Fani from Mega Network, followed by audience questions.
Hey everyone it’s nice to have you here. I have seen some of you at City Council Meetings and some of you I have not seen there but hopefully I will be seeing you there. I’ve been covering El Cajon for six years now so I’m pretty familiar with most of the issues that are in the City. One thing that is a little dear to my heart is the plight of the animal shelter in the city of El Cajon that’s been promised since I don’t know 2010. They’ve said it’s going to be built. They made plans. The architect quit. All these different reasons why it hasn’t been built so I would like you all to weigh in on your thoughts about the need for the shelter, whatever you want to weigh in about why it’s taken so long or ideas about how to get it that going quicker than it has been so that the animals that are in pretty poor conditions over there will be taken care of properly? Thank you.
Raftery: I should mention when we move down the line so everybody gets a turn going first and last, so we will start now with Mr. Kalasho on this question.
Kalasho: When I went four years ago we had this same topic come up and I was more on the side of the East County Performing Arts Center being opened and that’s still not open. So I think it just comes down to basic economics of what how the budgeting is done. The City Manager is a good friend of mine and I think that bringing him on to this City is a complete asset and I think when I spoke with him about the animal shelter to tell you on this question I think I he said that it’s in the works and that was his answer yes he had a tremendous poker face. So I can’t tell a time frame on that but no definitely we should take care of the animals that are in East County obviously I’m a big animal buff so I do appreciate the question and yes both with respect to the animal shelter and the east county performing arts center we as a community need to push the City officials into doing what they promised but I do have my complete faith in Doug Williford the City Manager he’s just a (strident?) individual.
Raftery: Ok thank you very much. Mr. Cabrera, you’re next.
Cabrera: OK Karen, (joke about something being half price) Actually Doug Williford had, like Ben says, had been a great asset here from Santee and I love the fact that he’s back here I actually have lunch with him every Tuesday at the Rotary Club. As far as the animal shelter goes, we have the funds. We should be building it. And I think we should actually be cohesive like we did with the fire department, and we should actually work with our neighboring cities like La Mesa, Lemon Grove, I know that the Lemon Grove Mayor would actually might go for it and actually help us to construct this place and I think if we (timer rings) work together we’ll actually get it done faster.
Raftery: Just a reminder now to please silence your cell phones. And reminders to the audience that there are cards up at the front table if you have questions please fill them out and leave them up there. Let’s move on to Mr. Goble.
Steve Goble: Thank you. We need to treat animals with the respect that animals deserve. I don’t know why the shelter is not open yet it seems like it’s been a long time. All the money for bond is there that the shelter is paid for it is ready to be funded. I think it just takes a matter of will, political will to just say folks what are the obstacles, how do we remove the obstacles, let’s get together let’s work this out let’s get its scope let’s get it going the animals are waiting.
Raftery: Ok, thank you. And Mr. Glover.
George Glover: Well as the previous folks have said the money is there, it came in with Prop O so the money has been collected, it’s set aside, so it seems to me the only thing that we’re waiting for is whether or not we’re going to get buy-in on the contracts from the surrounding cities that contract out with Bonita shelter right now. So from my perspective we have the money, we planned for this, but we didn’t plan to do contracts with other folks so what we need to do quickly is look at this look at what we have see what funds we have what sized shelter can we build, is it even feasible to contract with these other cities, and if we can, it would be great to have the funds in El Cajon, for the contracts, if not let’s move on and build it just for El Cajon. So let’s get this thing rolling; let’s see if it makes sense to have the other cities contract and if not let’s just go (not) wait for them to drag their feet, to put this off any longer; El Cajon needs a new shelter.
Raftery: Mr. Fountain
Dr. Fountain: It’s Dr. Fountain.
Raftery: I’m sorry, Dr. Fountain
Dr. Fountain: (groans) Sorry I worked really hard for that though. (laughter) I think these types of issues, the animal shelter, the performing arts center, they’re all a regional issue and the reason we don’t have an animal shelter yet is because a lack of leadership and we need stronger leadership pushing forward, getting together some of us said that the Lemon Grove Mayor would buy into it and contract with us which means a larger shelter. It should happen. There I no reason for it to not and I am just seeing it as a lack of leadership.
Raftery: Mrs. Butcher.
Vickie Butcher: Thank you. I could not agree with you more. Coordination requires leadership and getting it back to what I was saying about this is what’s missing and this is what I’m bringing. Stand out in front and pull it together that’s what leadership is and we are holding funds holding plans of ours (inaudible) I have a rescue animal he is one of the better members of our family (laughter) leadership, thank you.
(confusion about who goes next)
Stephanie Harper: Well I’ve spoken out about this at the city council meetings about the animal shelter. (inaudible) We have the money, we got Prop O, we’ve completed every other project that it’s supposed to have to except for the animal shelter. I’ve suggested to them to why don’t you build an animal shelter that blows everybody away and has all the modern technologies, all those millions of dollars that they have put away, and they will come. The other cities will come. (inaudible) It’s a win-win situation but I think it’s just because it’s not something that they have as a priority doing that I do? It’s that simple.
Cabrera: Mr. Fountain alluded to my comment on Lemon Grove.
Fountain: Dr. Fountain
Cabrera: (inaudible) But I do meet with them on a regular basis. So I think I’m the most qualified to get this done and there’s 1,500 new regulations every two and a half years in the building industry business and the only person who knows how to navigate that on this board is me.
Raftery: Did you have a rebuttal Dr. Fountain or should we just move on? (Fountain declines.)
Raftery: Our next question comes from Albert Fulcher, the editor of the East County Californian.
Albert Fletcher: Hello. All of you know this question because you’ve been asked it before currently in El Cajon (inaudible) (with Proposition 64 and marijuana legalization) it’s not going to be like medical marijuana shops it’s going to make marijuana available where you buy cigarettes, where you buy liquor. How do you feel about that and what will you do to either stop or encourage this along?
Raftery: Mr. Cabrera, it’s your turn to go first.
Cabrera: (inaudible) CASA group, I belong to Citizens Against Substance Abuse, I’m a board member there. Very simply what we did in La Mesa, what we’re doing in Lemon Grove we’re going to do (also) we’re working with City of San Diego to try and get this across to. It’s simple. If Proposition 64 passes you change the City ordinance that say the ordinance instead of doing an (occupancy agreement low factor?) which says that it’s a residence. It’s about changing it to say, the ordinance reads not within a certain radius of a residence, that makes 99% of El Cajon free of having to put all of these shops… That’s the solution. Easy. I can do it.
Goble: Let’s separate medicinal marijuana versus recreational marijuana, for the sake of this discussion. There are 14 medicinal marijuana dispensaries in the City of San Diego, and one outside of Santee and one (inaudible) so those who want access to medicinal marijuana don’t lose access it’s already there so if we’re going to talk about recreational marijuana certainly the conditional use permit is a way that you restrict those businesses. El Cajon has enough problems that we just don’t need recreational marijuana sold in our city.
Glover: I have a 13 y/o daughter who just started High School. She has enough issues with what she’s going through now being a teenager and trying to get through school that to have recreational use marijuana available in El Cajon is just another burden for her, and any other teenager to overcome. Obviously they can’t buy it but it’s there it would be there. And I agree with Steve (Goble) conditional use permits are a way to fight this and I will do anything I can to keep it from coming into El Cajon.
Fountain: Conditional Use Permits are the worst idea that I have ever heard in my entire life. There are parts of the country and right here where it’s easier for a teenager to get marijuana than they can get alcohol. We need to legalize it completely, regulate it, and obviously place limits on it such as that if you are under 21 you cannot buy it the same as alcohol. It is not a gateway drug at all and all we’ve done is we’ve spent billions upon billions of dollars incarcerating people (applause) that’s going to jail. It’s not white college kids that are going to jail. It’s poor African Americans. it’s poor Hispanics. It’s people who are in over-policed neighborhoods in San Diego, National City and parts of Chula Vista and parts of El Cajon. It’s a terrible idea. You should allow growers to go out of Gillespie Field, we’ve got plenty of industrial space there that can be used...
Butcher: I think that just as we are looking at building holistic approaches for other problems in a city that harnesses its potential in terms of a Citizens Commission on Oversight I think that marijuana is another issue that this City has to come to grips with in an honest way. If it’s legalized then that’s the law but we also have City Regulation, that need to be discussed with organizations such as CASA and such as African Americans who are targeted and do have a disproportional impact with this drug and we have failed to understand that communication, discussion and dealing with tough issues such as this one requires communication, talking and using the laws that are in place, if it happens to be a CUP, then so be it. But we do have to look at what it means to the city to have legalized marijuana.
Harper: I think that, if the Proposition does pass, I think it’s a personal choice whether you want to sit back at night and have a glass of wine, or sit back at night and have a joint. I think it’s up to the people it’s not the same as it used to be with drug dealers… We have to teach our children at home. They have to learn the limits of what’s right or wrong. Drinking is just as bad as this. It doesn’t matter. What we need to do is, I think that the companies don’t want you to be able to put a seed in the ground and grow something that might take care of our illness or help our neighbor such as a medical thing they want us to spend hundreds of dollars on pills for something that just might as easily be treated by a plant…
Raftery: Ok, we’ve got a wide range of ideas. One more, Mr. Kalasho, what are your thoughts
Kalasho: I think discussion on marijuana on either side it’s always hyperbolic because every side wants to push it every which way. For me, it’s going to be a question of economics, and if we can tax it, to benefit El Cajon. When we talk about El Cajon we have to understand it’s slightly sanguine. We have more problems and I think adding recreational marijuana, what Goble said, it’s important to differentiate medicinal from recreational, but I think the people who know the most at this would be the PD, CASA, we have to look at what economic driver if any this would have, but to me, the discussion or debate on the economy trumps everything… but El Cajon is different, just because it works in let’s say Santee or any other City does not mean it would work here, or vice versa. We have different ethnicities and backgrounds here, you have to understand where everyone comes into this melting pot we call El Cajon. So for me, it’s really economics.
Raftery: Thank you very much. The next question comes from
Cabrera: Are we allowed to follow-ups?
Raftery: Okay, 30 seconds.
Cabrera: 30 seconds. I’m glad he agrees that CASA is the answer I’m a CASA. I also agree with Dr. Fountain, even if he is more liberal. CUP’s don’t work. Kevin Falconer has tried CUP’s in San Diego and they don’t work. The CUP is the worst invention ever I agree with Dr. Fountain. But. Those people have the money to get the CUP’s and they have the money to continue… right now is working on one place right now and he’s tried code enforcement. And he is trying to actively... little kids tried to go there, these are places of danger. Electricity that SDG&E cut off the electricity and still they have generators there it’s a fire hazard to everybody and the city is trying to... it’s not just about the money. It’s also about the anger to neighborhoods.
Raftery: Ok, thank you for your opinion. The next question is going to come from Marya Fani who is with the MEGA Network. Someone asked me what that stands for and it’s the Middle Eastern Global Alliance.
Marya Fani: Can you hear me? So my question, one of my questions is, sales tax in El Cajon is higher than the average for those in San Diego County and the State of California. Yet the significant portion of El Cajon, of our populations are low income families. What do you think should be done and how?
Raftery: Let’s start with Mr. Goble.
Goble: The half a percent sales tax that El Cajon had specifically for the public the new police station the animal shelter that was sun-setted, that was expired, so we no longer have that portion. I don’t know that there are parts where we can lower the sales tax. If that’s your question.
MEGA: Well since the shelter’s not being built and there’s… how could you still tax that and the five percent where does it go and what about the low income families that can’t afford to buy stuff because of high taxes. How can we balance that? What do you think should be done…?
Goble: The sales tax, or any tax, affects everybody, whether you’re low income middle income high income it certainly seems to affect those on the lower end. So I am not in favor of raising taxes to pay for things. I think that there just has to be another way to do that. The half percent sales tax was sun-setted, early, discontinued, no longer in use, taken off of the sales tax that we pay in El Cajon so we no longer pay that higher rate that we used to pay. All of that money is in the bank so to speak for the shelter (timer rings) and for the police station. I don’t think we need to add any more new taxes because that affects people of all income levels, especially low.
Raftery: All-right. Moving on to Mr. Glover.
Glover: We had Prop 0 and that was a half percent sales tax that’s since 2004. Another measure is coming up is Measure A they’re asking all of San Diego County to vote for this, this is for Transnet it’s a half percent sales tax that’ll run for another forty years. I’ll be gone by the time that thing runs its course So This is something that you can all do directly. That needs a two thirds vote to pass. It’s not a fifty percent plus one. Vote against Measure a. Second, we need more business in El Cajon. You bring in more business, you increase the tax base, you have more jobs, more opportunities for people to go and make a better income. This is a systemic thing folks we have to look at it from the ground up. We need to have good schools, we need to make sure our children are getting educated, so businesses will want to come to El Cajon because there’s a pool of educated workers here. If we can do that then we can build from the ground up and you work your way out of this. It’s not going to happen overnight but this is something you are going to have to do. I deal with this at my business all day long at my restaurant. We’re paying 8 or 9%. I don’t want to go back to 9%; my customers sure don’t want to pay 9%, so one thing that you can do, vote no on Measure A and then get more businesses to locate in El Cajon. (timer ring)
Raftery: And Measure A is the county-wide transportation initiative for those that may not be familiar with it.
Fountain: So, everybody complains about sales tax. And I’ve heard people say things like well I’m going to go shopping in this other community because I’m going to save half a percent or one percent. But let’s put that in real dollars. If you drive 35 minutes to someplace to spend a thousand bucks you’re going to save ten dollars. If we need those revenues, to keep the taxes where they are if we need to raise them a half a percent now in terms to low income people the way you help low income people is by not charging a sales tax on food, at a grocery store and clothing. Poor people spend a disproportionate amount of their income on clothing and food. But they’re not going out to dinner and dropping a hundred bucks at Phil’s BBQ. So people going to Phil’s BBQ they can pay a 9% tax. Just a thought.
Butcher: I think that the candidates here, if elected will have…opportunity … to make choices decisions whether to raise or to keep taxes as they are … I believe the disproportionate share of the impact on minorities on lower income people is very real and I also think that cultural workshops need to be implemented so that we can not only welcome or transition the latest comers to our city would do so in a way that we began crossing… of discussing, talking to and listen to the latest comers to determine How can we help to get them to understand the business practices in our community and we need to listen and learn what business practices do they bring to us? And we have failed to do a good job on that… the cultural differences, the economically, their difference of when people come to this community and start businesses, we who are here have perhaps have different business practices but there’s no forum and no exchange so I think cultural differences needs to be encouraged at the economic business, small business level. and I think we also need to look again at these vets that are here in terms of training them and training small businesses to hire them but I think it is a picture, a larger picture, and it deals with the lack of discussing and talking about how we deal with differences poor people are both black and white but perhaps a tax on food, clothing… supportive but I think it is a part of a larger issue. (timer rings)
Raftery: Thank you… Stephanie Harper.
Harper: I’m a lawyer...in which case I think about how that person’s going to come at you, right, and get that information. So I think I’m probably qualified to answer this question because I’m probably the (inaudible) person up here. It’s hard being poor. It’s hard struggling day to day, figuring out what you’re going to do. So when ...water rates… deep sentiment. We should think about it. And what we should be thinking about doing … taxes that we’ve got going… low income families start programs that are going to help. Just start that change. Get some childcare. Those tax dollars into it… so those low income people don’t feel like they’re working just to pay their babysitters…you feel helpless and a lot of people in EL Cajon they feel that they are hopeless that there is no future that there is nothing for them. We need to change that. We’ve got to make a future… Investing our tax dollars into our people into our citizens and not into this transit trolley station look pretty or let’s fix our citizens first get them employed get the economy going strong… all the other things built but unless you’re…
Raftery: Thank you. Mr. Kalasho.
Kalasho: I think it kind of derailed. But let’s talk about sales tax for a minute we have to understand that El Cajon will never be like Santee, be like La Mesa, we just have different attributes and driving mechanisms to this city. With that said I think we can look at thing like if my calculations were correct, if we get the sewer bill, when I was doing the calculations if we can get people to go on electronic pay that would save us $48,000 annually. So we can put another police patrol out on the streets. Another thing is that most cities aren’t really great at doing their marketing so like when they’re marketing their events or marketing public transit so we can do a better job doing that. Another outside the box idea is building billboards and I looked into what it would cost to do eight new billboards in El Cajon the cost would be thirty grand each the revenue generating… for the City by billboards… could easily put 2 and a half more cops on the street…So we want to encourage outside the box kind of thinking…. Chamber started at zero money and now we manage an account of over a hundred thousand dollars and it’s all because of this outside of the box thinking we never took money from any grants or.. is very much possible so if you’re listening to me thinking, man that just sounds crazy, it’s not.
Cabrera: With all due respect Ben, I actually don’t think El Cajon can never be Santee. (inaudible) It used to be the first place that everybody went to go. You know I was born in El Cajon. That’s right. It used to be the place that JC Penny’s wanted to have their stores, Sears wanted to have their stores. It was the first place that everybody wanted to go. And that’s what it can be again.
Moderator Miriam Raftery gives Kalasho a chance to respond.
Kalasho: We don’t want Sears in here because they’re going out of business. We don’t want poor businesses that come in and then go out of business. What I mean to say is not to have El Cajon not be great again but we just can’t be like Santee when people go to Santee it’s because they know there’s a plethora of restaurants that have been built. When you go to downtown La Jolla and there are certain attractions. So El Cajon is trying to be a car dealership hub like a national city so we have to understand the difference and I not looking at one like it’s bigger or better than the other but you know when you’re in you can build a wall and make Santee pay for it. (laughter)
Cabrera: I’ll say this much Ben; I was born here; you were not. I’ve lived here my whole life. And I know that El Cajon is… recently and I’m the only person up here who can say that. And I will say something else. About being poor. When we got here My parents came here legally and I had to wear shoes that were made out of cardboard; talk about being poor. And I ended up going to UCSD and being successful.
Cabrera: What we need to do is we need to actually work together and stop the amount of regulations that are hurting the businesses that want to come in. When both people came in the late and the earlier El Cajon what the government actually said fought for businesses that were coming in and wanted to recruit the businesses coming in. That’s what we should do again, we should be working with the people from the federal government, also we need to be getting the money that’s going to… and demand that the money get back too. I was down at the Protest when it happened and the African American people that were there told me that they want jobs. They want to work. And I actually talked and made friends with several of them and I’ll tell you something else, if we were giving companies a reprieve that hire these people they would be hiring them like that.
Kalasho: I was mentioned.
Raftery: 30 seconds.
Kalasho: I want to talk about El Cajon is different geopolitically, geographically, the make-up of mixed use, all that stuff is different. So I know where I live in Fletcher Hills, because it borders Santee. Most of the voters go shopping in Santee because of the sales tax; it’s cheaper. Especially the big ticket items like when you’re going to Home Depot and buying thousands of dollars-worth of stuff. So that’s just the difference. It’s not like one city is better than the other; it’s just the differences. The differences matter.
Police shooting: healing the community and preventing future incidents
Raftery: Ok. Time is up. All-right let’s go. The next question would be from our moderators. We’re going to give everyone two minutes on this one because it’s such an important issue
El Cajon has been in the national news over the fatal police shooting of Alfred Olango, an African American man whose family called 911 to get help for him because they thought he was suffering a mental health crisis. The tragedy has prompted protests around the city for days. What steps would you take if you’re elected to first of all help heal the community and secondly to reduce the chances of a similar incident happening in the future. And third, would you support creation of a citizens’ police oversight board which the grand jury recommended and El Cajon City Council rejected shortly before the shooting occurred. I believe it is Mr. Glover’s turn to go first.
Glover: Ok. Yes, what happened was a tragedy. Any time any life is lost it’s a tragedy. But I think what we have to do is we have two things happening. We have the tragedy that happened and the current processes in place to handle investigations after such a tragedy. You may not like the process that’s in place; you may want to see that process changed. That’s what we have now. So for the time being I say what we need to do is let that process, that investigation run its course. Let’s see where that takes us. After that, then you do a drill down on that process. Find out did we miss something? Is there something that we can correct? Are there actions that we can change? But putting the two of them together right now is not the right thing to do. As far as the citizens review board the Grand Jury came out with their finding prior to the shooting and what they said, they didn’t give a CRP at that time. Now, (inaudible) In the last twelve years there’s been eleven complaints, against El Cajon PD. out of 277,000 contacts with the public. 11. Ok. Now I’m not saying right, wrong, these are the stats. Now in 2013 it was 8 in 2014 in was 2 in 2015 it was 1. so I say at that time we don’t need a Citizens Review Board. We may need to revisit that; but what you end up with is a citizens’ review board San Diego POD has one; they got told by the grand jury they’re not being transparent enough. So what you have then is a CRB looking at a CRB looking at a CRB. When does it end?
Fountain: I think about 21 years ago (inaudible) and I was ASB School President and a gentleman by the name of Benjamin Schofield was shot and I remember becoming part of a movement to have a Citizens Review Board unfortunately they called it (inaudible). I think in El Cajon when you look at all the things that have happened Eric (inaudible, argument with Glover on his statistics, crowd cheering Dr. Fountain) We need a citizens’ review board. We need a residency requirement for police officers if you are hired as a police officer in the city of El Cajon, you should live in El Cajon to have established it as your residency. New hires should be people that live in the community that they police so they can truly be part of the community. I think that…
Raftery: Ok. Mrs. Butcher
Butcher: Thank you. I’m going to start with a very personal story very quickly, because as a lot of people in this room know... the number of complaints does absolutely not reflect the… the one person that I have already said is on academic hall of fame has graduated … he was a stopped with his mother and four siblings in the car because he looked like someone just escaped from prison on a Sunday morning driving going to church. There are so many times when we meaning people of colors, minorities have been discriminated against and disproportionate stops by police officers, and, who are we going to complain to? The very people that are doing the act (laughter) are not going to care about what we have to say. Ok? But I think that as far as our police department goes it does not reflect the diversity of our City we need more diversity and with the police officers who are there we need more training. We had one PERT that could go deal with mental health but they could not go because they were busy dealing with another call… we need more training for the people that are out on the police force. I definitely think that we need to have a Citizens Review Board and I definitely think we need to have and cannot afford in a city this diverse to not have that diversity reflected in our governance, and on our police force and create environments where we need to have an open dialogue. We need to heal. We cannot heal if people on the one side say oh police and marchers on the other side saying 217 black males who have added themselves to that disturbing statistic. (applause)
Harper: I think we need accountability. There are two officers, that come at it they both have 21 years of experience each, one pulls out his Taser, the other pulls out his gun. Which one do you think did the right thing first? It’s to stop them not to kill them. We need to be protecting our citizens, to serve and protect that’s what it means. (applause) We as the citizens have the right to be overlooking them and tell them hey we have the right to tell you because on the chart of how the city goes, the very first circle up there, of who is in charge, citizens! We have a right to say hey, you know what, we have an oversight committee saying check up on them. It’s not just… there’s sexual harassment by cops… citizens getting thrown out of their house… Now don’t get me wrong, because I think the police officers are doing a great job because they’re the first people you call when you’re in trouble, but some of them don’t do their job right, you know? …. Maybe some cops need to be re-evaluated and it’s not something they need to be doing. I think it’s all about accountability. They need to be responsible.
Kalasho: I know that I am going to offend some people in this room. I want to ensure/assure you that that is not my intention. I want to drop all the political correctness stuff and just talk to you guys like a normal person. Police have almost an impossible job; you’re going to a site where you’re complete strangers and don’t know the situation is so fluid. They have an almost impossible job. In the situation that happened recently I think it was everybody’s fault. I think they’re both right and they’re both wrong. What do I mean by that? From the footage that we’ve seen I’m human and just like everybody else know the same amount of footage that each and every one of us has seen… What we see is I thought the cop was standing too close but obviously you can never point anything at a cop. A personal story, just really quick. My wife’s brother was 14 years old and he went into a Starbucks in Temecula and he’s blonde green eyes and some lady complained that he was playing with a toy gun outside with his two twelve-year-old cousins and the cops came and the lady called and said somebody was shooting at her with blood everywhere and the cops came guns drawn had her brother pointed the gun, he would have got shot. So I I’m torn between the situations that differ every time we have to call a spade a spade about this. Police have a horrible job, you know, you can’t point anything at a cop. It’s a tragedy anytime something like this happens, it’s a complete anathema but it’s such a complicated thing that we can’t just gloss over it. Her brother is a blond hair green eyes and he was going to die that day, his parents came out of the Starbucks and the cops said don’t come or we’ll shoot. Of course racism is real. Two, are there cops who are assholes yes, are there cops who are good, absolutely, are there people who are assholes, yes. So all this, you need to call a spade a spade and speak honestly about the situation. Sorry for being candid and I’ll get back on being PC, sorry about that.
Cabrera: I want to be respectful.
Kalasho: I thought we were all adults here.
Cabrera: No (inaudible)
Raftery: Cussing by the way, is really this will be broadcast so if you can stay away from the seven words you can’t say on radio, that would be appreciated.
Ben Kalasho says something that makes the audience laugh
Cabrera: Well talk about a minority that’s been pulled over, arrested all sorts of stuff. Guess what? You’ve got the … thing, that happened. We’re here tonight to discuss these things but guess who is not here, Star Bales, she wasn’t there, guess who was not there at all, none of the City Council members. Guess who is not here? Paul Circo. Who is not here? Bob McClellan, who else is not here, Star Bales, the people that the Lincoln Club loves, East County, and so why are they not here? Why were they not there? Why was it up to citizens like me to be there when it happened.
Audience member: Where were you?
Cabrera: I was there right in the middle of the whole thing talking to so many of them…
Laughter, cross-talk, Cabrera mentions Facebook.
Cabrera: Yeah I did, and you’re a nice guy… making more out of it than the rest. I’ve actually had a chance to talk to Jeff Davis who is the Chief of Police quite a few times and he you should ask the chief of police, he hasn’t even been there a year, now he is a minority also. And him and I had a discussion about what we were going to do about this matter. So who is qualified to handle it, I think that everybody here that is a minority and also, everybody here who is an American there is a problem and we need to do something about it and we have to stand up for these people. Stand up for everybody. And then as far as the Chief goes, he’s actually got some things going, some programs, it looks like I’m going to be cut short… we’ve got some programs that we’ve got going on…
Raftery: You will all have a closing statement…Lastly, Mr. Goble.
Goble: It took 50 minutes for an officer to respond. 50 minutes that is too long (audience snaps fingers). Why did it take an officer 50 minutes to respond in El Cajon? Because we don’t have enough officers to provide a response. Could the outcome have been different if an officer had come there sooner, could the situation not have escalated if there was an officer there sooner? But 50 minutes is too long. We have 20 fewer officers today than we did in 2003. These Officers are mandated to go through a PERT training and the reports are that they are doing well in terms of being responsive to that mandate. There are 40 PERT officers in the County, 8 in East County, two assigned in El Cajon, two assigned to La Mesa four assigned to East County Sheriffs substation. one, we don’t know the facts, really of where that one person was. We kind of think we’ve heard but we don’t know the facts. The other is a vacancy right now and there are three people who are finalists for that job… is that my two minutes? I’d like to spend that time, thank you. You know, the incumbents are not here. What helps a City heal is to be accessible
Goble: and we are here; we are accessible; we will listen. We will learn.
Raftery: All-right, and now it is time.
Glover: I’d like a little more time. There were some comments directed at me. Can I say something?
Raftery: 30 seconds, yes, rebuttal.
Glover: Just quickly I’m not saying these numbers I quoted reflected the reality of the situation; what I’m trying to point is this is what we’re giving numbers as. We need to do something going forward, and come together, and again, where’s the incumbents? Where were they? Humbert was at the scene
Audience member: Where were you?
Glover: the night of the shooting. I was at the PD. The night of the shooting, so, we’re here, we want to do something to help fix the problem and heal the community.
Raftery: Ok, thank you very much.
Glover: Thank you.
Raftery: We’re going to move on to some audience questions now, and I ask you, audience, to please not interrupt so we can get everybody’s points across and answer as many of your questions as time permits.
East County Performing Arts Center
Raftery: The first question is about the East County Performing Arts Center that has been closed since 2009 for 7 years now. Of course we all know that when they first closed it, it was going to be 2 years for a remodel and they haven’t even started the remodel. So the question from the audience is, what would you do to ensure the refurbishment of ECPAC and the re-opening of it thereafter. Let’s see. Dr. Fountain, you go first.
Dr. Fountain: They need a professional management team that actually know what they’re doing to run it properly…. Simple as that they need a professional management team.
Raftery: Ok, Mrs. Butcher.
Butcher: The arts were active and very vibrant when ECPAC was open. They brought the community together. We are lacking the ability to do that. I believe that the lack of leadership, lack of professional management, and lack of keeping this issue on the front burner has allowed it to …. And in the picture I think that the El Cajon friendship festival went a very long way to bring the various cultures that live in this city together and to do so in a positive way. I would like to see that friendship festival come back and not as a city expense but as a volunteer effort.
Raftery: Very good. Ms. Harper
Harper: ECPAC is something I am very passionate about…. (something about speaking at Council Meetings) Once again this is about what they want to spend the money on it on and not where the people want to spend it. I went up there in front of them and asked them to put it there; they don’t want to. They’re not going to. They’ve got that vote. So in order to get ECPAC open we have to get the people off the Council that were making those decisions. So we’ve got to remember who is for it and who is against it. And I know that they could open it, you know they spent two million dollars on the Ronald Reagan Center to re-do a banquet room. If all of us can’t use it in El Cajon; I can’t afford … dollars for a birthday party but I can afford twenty dollars to take my son to see a play. But it’s got to be picking and choosing and they choose to do what they want and not the will of the citizens and until they listen to us nothing is going to change.
Raftery: Ok, thank you. Mr. Kalasho.
Kalasho: Four years ago I was in charge of setting up… for the ECPAC foundation there were other candidates who ran and I don’t want to say we didn’t get anywhere it just wasn’t a priority for the City at that time. But I opened this Middle East Beauty Pageant that opens 30,000 in revenues… so we’re more than ready and willing to rent out ECPAC whenever it’s open and other organizations that we’re tied into so we want to use it. But the call comes down to Economics, if it’s feasible, but I just think right now they’re concentrating on the hotel that’s in the front and I think that that’s going to be the next project. I talked to Doug about this I think a month ago or two if we wanted to book an event there and he said that it’s going to open they can’t give me a definitive answer to it, but just like everyone else, I’m eager to use it, for the community to participate in it; the acoustics are tremendous from what I hear.
Raftery: Yeah, they used to say it had the finest acoustics in San Diego. Mr. Cabrera.
Cabrera: The person that actually designed it was my mentor.
Cabrera: So Spencer Lincoln. So what I would say is the Chamber of Commerce has a leadership program that has some people working on this particular thing. One of the things is actually getting … that knows what they’re doing so the city doesn’t lose money. There’s also some deals that can be made with some other non-profit organizations we have to make it available to everybody that’s one of the conditions I would have as a City Councilmember. Also we I want to say one thing about this why is it it’s a City Building we can fast-track and we can get the city buildings remodeled very quickly when somebody else has a little doctor’s office has a cellular telephone company or something else and they want to come into the city of El Cajon and they are put through the ringer. They’re put through CUP; they’re put through new ADA requirements they are put through that light switch has to be moved over 42 inches high that needs to be incandescent or florescent this switch from there, this has to be done, you have to put all new windows through the structure, you have to have new HVAC systems, and that’s why companies are having such a struggle hiring people but yet when it’s their own building they exempt themselves that’s just not right.
Raftery: Ok, thank you. And I should mention it’s a one-minute max on the rest of these questions, Mr. Goble.
Goble: I think when the casinos opened they stole business from ECPAC. Casinos can certainly subsidize a lot of the acts with gambling money. So I think what we used to see in the B level in the C level of town I think went to the Casinos so we’re going to have to think of a different way to do this and I think we might have to partner with schools, other organizations. But certainly the schools don’t have the money to build a thousand seat auditorium. It seems like we could work together and get something with the school district to go with the program. The arts are very important; a color, a fabric to the community. It’s important to invest in kids and in seniors. It teaches good life skills for these kids. I talked to a … today and he was telling me the story of a surgeon and there I was in surgery and I didn’t know what comes next in this situation but I was in theater where I learned the show must go on because he had been in theater he had to learn how to keep it going when things don’t go your way. So the arts teach kids self esteem, they teach developmental skills, they teach social skills, they teach them great things we need to invest in kids and move the obstacles and let’s get this thing open.
Raftery: And let’s see, Mr. Glover
Glover: Yeah, ECPAC, we need to do something with ECPAC. Right now they’re trying to do the City Council is doing this like they’re trying to do a lot of things in El Cajon: a patchwork. They’re not looking at things from a systemic view. ECPAC needs an entire renovation: you have to go through this thing to make it a twenty first century facility. You’re going to have to put in new seats, new sound, new lighting, new restrooms, new concessions, and then you have a first class facility that can be used for, not only as Steve was saying for B and C acts, but also for local things, for Friday night things in ECPAC, but you have to do the whole thing from the top down and you have to have a use and management portion of the plan. That needs to be part of the plan. Not just fix it, then manage it, wrap it all together, understand what you’re going to do, not doing it after you fix it, and then you can move forward with it. Don’t try to do it in pieces…
Strengthening our community
Raftery: All-right. Karen Pearlman has an audience question now.
Pearlman: What ideas do you have to strengthen our community?
Raftery: I believe it’s Vickie Butcher’s turn to go first.
Butcher: Okay. I believe that we must deal with healing the diverse groups that are here and that the way to do that is to build trust and communication and listening to each other. This is true in… because businesses … talk or need to further explore cultural differences that will create cultural strength. The recent incident that has pointed out that the police department and the community have a great divide… a confrontational attitude black men have come forward with a preconceived notion that they are violent. These are our children, our boys, our girls, and we need to learn to communicate with each other and to respect the children that we have. We are not communicating, dealing with our cultural differences and I will use that as a stepping stone for businesses and
Raftery: Time, thank you very much. And Ms. Harper.
Harper: How would I heal our community? Well, I would start with the people, because that’s what I am about, and looking at the people. As you know El Cajon is the poorest City in the County and I would start with that, there are so many people who are just one step away from being homeless. There are so many people that are living in their cars, children, veterans, homeless, sleeping on the street. I think that the way we build our community is to help our community. I would start with the people who need the help the most. Those are the people that are sleeping on our streets. I don’t want to see El Cajon become like downtown San Diego, where there are camps and tents and everything like that. I live right off second Street, so it is happening, it is really happening and we need to strengthen our community; so we need to reach out, invest money and shelters and help get those people off the streets, if they want help, if they don’t, the ones that are left, the police can deal with.
Raftery: Thank you.
Harper: Ok, thank you.
Raftery: Mr. Kalasho. How would you bring our community together?
Kalasho: If you haven’t noticed, if you reside in El Cajon you more than likely live next to a Middle Eastern Person. And more of them are coming over, from Syria, from Iraq. Retired Senator Juan Edetta said I would be the perfect liaison between that Middle Eastern Community and everybody else. And I believe that I would be still. And I speak their language, and I don’t mean that literally, I mean that metaphorically, and I would strengthen their businesses, I can educate them on commerce and how business is done here. In addition to helping businesses, I fight fear and division. Fear and division is prominent here, in a city like El Cajon. I have walked to over nine hundred homes, and asked people about their concerns and everyone says they don’t want El Cajon to turn into Little Baghdad and I can appreciate some of that point of view. I think that somebody like me could help the business owners there maybe have multi-lingual signs I know some of the signs, most people here can’t speak Arabic so I know we have to have signs in English as well as Arabic if they want, I know I’m trespassing on my time but fear and division is real, thank you.
Raftery: Ok, Mr. Cabrera
Cabrera: One of your ideas to strengthen our community. I’ve been working in this community since the fifth grade, I built my first… I’ve done it. These groups like LAPA for example in San Diego we’re working with Kevin Falconer and police to go into Chicano Park. We have block parties. I’ve worked together with the police officers and we’re getting to know each other in these communities. I’m helping build the Salvation Army foodbank where 29% of our children live in poverty… four thousand children are on the food program two miles within the Salvation Army. I’ve also worked with STEP-FREE, in order to get their permits so that they can help people that are on the streets. I’m also working on programs with the homeless and with different non-profit organizations to help not only here but also in Africa and that’s the kind of ideas that we need to have in mind.
Raftery: Thank you very much. Mr. Goble.
Goble: We need to take care of our homeless. They have mental health issues, they have substance abuse issues, with their PTSD issues. Some are veterans; some are just temporarily down and out. Certainly if we provide the resources from the County, $2x million this year $2x million next year, to help the homeless, it’s going to positively impact everyone’s life, they can help themselves, and the surrounding community. There are veterans, a family of four, down the street, they just didn’t know where to go and …. So I talked to that family of four and said how can I help? You’re a veteran, I know where you can go tonight, the family went there that night. I do believe we need more officers; we have 20 fewer officers today than we did in 2003. Do you know when they start their shift they have up to 20 calls waiting for them. What does that do to a person when they have twenty calls waiting when they start their shift? If we had 20 more officers like we did in 2003 they can walk their beat; they can listen. They can learn; we can dial it down, and strengthen our community. I will be an accessible Councilman.
Raftery: Thank you, Mr. Glover, how would you strengthen the community?
Glover: Well there’s a number of things we can do… that story from Chief Davis and our homeless veterans’ family. We need to help the homeless, we need to help the veterans, we need to help, we need to help our entire community, and the way I see this is to set politics aside, ok? We need to get everybody involved in things like the homeless task force that’s starting out. We need to do involved, everyone in this room needs to get involved, and the other thing we need to do is have a grassroots movement. That’s where it comes from. Look around the room, we already have a diversity task force, right here. This is El Cajon, sitting in this room. We all need to work together. Get in a room, talk it out, yell it out, if you have to, and if it turns out bad that day then come back the next day and do it again until you get it right. Because it’s us that are going to do it. The politicians are not going to do it. They’re not here, where are they? Where are the incumbents, and where is Paul Circo? (applause) They’re not here. We have to do it folks. Thank you.
Fountain: Perception is reality. (audience clicks) When I, right before I moved here, people said, oh you’re moving to El Cajon, such a terrible city. There’s crazy people that live there. And then I moved here and you know what? I think Main Street is beautiful; it looks great; I’m amazed at all the businesses. It is really nice. And now what we need to do is we need to empower the stakeholders empower the community members, we need to go to district representation, let the neighborhoods change the way they envision their neighborhoods and not the way City Hall wants it to be and when we do that we increase pride in being members of the El Cajon community and the city will improve. But until we take pride in living in El Cajon nothing is going to change.
Raftery, Moderator: Thank you, I don’t think you were mentioned specifically and we really want to get some more audience questions in. The next question will be Marya Fani with MEGA Network.
Restructuring police, resolving strain between police and minority communities
Fani: It’s actually the audience questions and some of these questions… so I’m going to ask a few of them all together.
This is, do you plan to restructure the police department, if so, what plans do you have?
And what are your plans to resolve the most recent strain on community police relations? And if you guys don’t mind another one,
What are you plans for the black (and Chaldean) community and especially in reference to Ben Kalasho, one more thing law enforcement in our community doesn’t know how to approach I guess it says citizens or situations (in a way that is) intimidating and violent and often makes situations worse. As far as police are concerned, we do not trust them with the responsibilities to protect and serve. What are your plans to improve this responsibility?
Goble: And that’s one question.
Kalasho: We get 45 minutes on this one. (laughter)
Kalasho: Should I go first since I mentioned?
Woman: One minute or two?
Raftery: Stephanie’s Turn.
Harper: I can understand how people feel about when a cop approaches you, they’ve got attitude sometimes. They’re not all bad though either. I’ve had cops come at you when they wanted to help you know, wanted to do the right thing. I’m going to tell you a little story I had a neighbor who had some squatters staying in his house. And the cops came to try and help and he was on section 8 and he ended up getting kicked out and losing his place to live. Why? What’s so wrong with squatting? So I went down to the police station to try to help him out you know, and I said what’s the law on squatting you know, when someone comes into your house to stay one night and you know, won’t leave, and he says, he was a disabled man and nobody at the Police could tell me what law they followed, so I went to the Sheriff’s Department, inside of the El Cajon Courthouse and nobody there could help me there either. And I’m asking the police officers; they need to know their job, the laws they’re following and what they’re doing. They need to care about people, and if they you have to have empathy, sympathy and caring towards people. When you’re protecting them you want to have that connection with them, don’t treat them (different) because they’re black or white or Mexican it doesn’t matter you treat them like a human being... If you’re in that job because you want to protect people then be about people.
Raftery: Ok thank you, Mr. Kalasho, your turn.
Kalasho: Now it’s difficult because it’s a long question. About restructuring the police force I don’t know if restructuring is the right word, or if it’s about re-training introducing them to the new elements we have to deal with. (inaudible) was on TV and he said the whole world is watching and I think that’s a true statement… throughout different cases because we have cell phone videos and things like that so I think that retraining with different situations, people in different communities. (the police and I go to places) Middle Eastern communities, I’m in touch on behalf of the (inaudible) community… it’s like domestic violence and they don’t know their civic duties when to call the police when not to… stomach ache… leaders don’t know and I have to be there to translate for them… the African American community is a vital part of our community we can’t be a community, we can’t be El Cajon without them. So protests, healthy protest is vital to a good community. Dialogue is important. Having, even if we don’t agree, if we disagree, go outside, talk to 100, come back in, we’ll do that until we come to a conclusion, a meeting of the minds, a meeting in the middle about how we can move our community forward. We don’t want the black community to be disenfranchised at all, they are as much a part of this community as Chaldeans or Caucasians or Asians, or whoever, and I’m not just saying that to pander to anybody here, I think it’s really important; I think the protests are healthy but we have to protect, where I come from in the country where I come from you can’t do that so it is super important and I don’t know if I addressed fully the question or if somebody has their hand up out there.
Man in audience: I do have my hand up.
Kalasho: Sure, go ahead.
Man: The rest of the world is watching us because El Cajon citizens are keeping things people, that’s why people are watching, because we’re guarded from that it has nothing to do with anything else. They are learning how to do something they are not used to.
Raftery: That’s a good point…That wasn’t really on the mike. The audience member indicated that the rest of the world was really watching because El Cajon has remained peaceful, people had legitimate concerns but you know they kept it peaceful they didn’t burn down the town--
Kalasho: Like I was saying, it is absolutely vital that the Iraqi community doesn’t feel disenfranchised and it’s important that you have the right to protest and it was done I think effectively people need time to mourn and grieve and do all that stuff but yes the world was watching, technology makes it that much better and I think obviously having body cams is really important (several audience members murmur “Yes”)
Raftery: … just be honest… they’ve been ordered but they just weren’t here in time for that particular incident. Mr. Cabrera,
Humbert Cabrera: Well I remember the first night we were out there (laughter) everybody
Woman: He was there! (laughter)
Cabrera: We were all saying, hey look at, let’s show everybody that we’re El Cajon and we’re not going to be doing this violent stuff. Somebody threw at bottle at the police as they were leaving and everybody got mad at that person, and said, hey, don’t do that, don’t show that, that’s not who we are and I was proud of that. El Cajon is diverse. That’s who we are... instead of voting how we always do this one club or this other group, decide who they are (council members), and then they don’t even show up here. And I think part of it honestly is your responsibility as the Press. You guys have done a great job, East County Magazine, the Californian and the Tribune. I’m not familiar with the other one but um, they’ve actually done quite a lot of work holding people’s feet to the fire. And if I were the Press I would every day write an article about how these people shouldn’t be voted for that didn’t show up. So that’s what I would have done. But it’s not just about being accessible with all due respect Mr. Goble it’s about… doing it, being there. And doing the things that need to be done and actually digging in the ditches and helping the homeless. Pulling together and doing what we can. That’s what it’s about. The El Cajon Police right now Is actually in review there’s over 4,000 applicants every year, it costs about $200,000 to each year for all the applicants to be reviewed. Out of all those applicants only 1 person gets to be a police officer typically. They are changing the things that they’re doing, Jeff Davis is looking at (a lot of changes to things a lot of procedures) and I think that he is doing a lot of stuff for the good of the community.
Woman: What would you do for the black community I think was the question.
Cabrera: I think black and minority communities need to be listened to, they need to be given jobs, they need to be on different committees to help with each other. We have, one party one system right now that’s just, we have, ok, so we have some minorities as you know, there’s a Latina lady that’s in Cuyamaca College now, we have Dr. (inaudible) the head of Grossmont right now, we have Jeff Davis right now who is the Chief of Police. We need to have somebody else in the City Council, whether it is me or someone else, that is a minority.
Raftery: We should note; it would be inaccurate not to note that Star Bales, who is not here, one of the incumbents is an Iraqi, so there for what it is worth there is a member of a minority community.
Cabrera: Yeah but my point is that she is part of the group that left us out. And Ben and I actually put things aside to get work done together in El Cajon for the homeless even though we’re on separate sides of the aisle.
Raftery: Thank you. Mr. Goble.
Goble: You know as a leader in my organization, as a business owner, I have staff that works for me. And my job is to give them the tools, the skills and the resources to succeed. So I if I am Councilman I am going to ask the Chief, do you have all the tools, skills, the resources that you need to succeed? When it comes to training do you have all the tools, skills, the resources that you need to succeed? I’m a Councilman. I am in charge, not somebody below us, we’re in charge the Council, it’s our responsibility to the people to equip the police or it any other city agency with the tools, skills and resources they need to succeed. And to succeed is to have a healthy, vibrant community. I still come back to Mr. Cabrera accessible, yes, absolutely, you have to be accessible as a Councilperson, it’s not just talking to the police chief, it’s about talking to community members, they have a stake in this too. They get a seat at the table. A good leader listens, learns, and then leads.
Raftery: Thank you. Mr. Glover.
Glover: Ok, I’ve got to stand up for what I’ve gotta say because I’m going to go back to this grassroots systemic approach. You know there was a point here specifically, what are we going to do about helping the black community. Help your community as a whole folks because that’s what it is. It’s blacks, it’s whites, it’s Asians, it’s middle eastern; that’s the entire community. Get a grassroots effort going, and if I’m on the City Council we’ll do that. And like I said if we have to get in front a room and yell and scream for an hour. And then come back the next day and do that a few more times then fine then that’s what we’ll do until we figure it out. We have to do that to move forward. As far as the police, I’ll make myself available to the police, to the fire department, to the public works, to you.
Man: Who is going to be accountable?
Man: Who is going to be accountable?
Glover: (emphatically) I am accountable. I am responsible as a Councilmember that’s what we are. (more talk from crowd) We need to stand up. We need to stand up (as a community) and take the grassroots approach of building our community back together. We can’t look at it as a piece here a piece there a piece there. You end up with a quilt and a patchwork. We have to pull together, sir.
Man: What did you see when you went down. You said you went down to the Court?
Glover: I was down to the PD. (more said from the crowd) When I went to the PD that night the majority of the crowd was black.
Raftery: We do have a lot more questions, if we could ask--
Glover: Ok, let’s talk after.
Raftery: We’d all like to talk but if we all interrupt there won’t be time for everyone’s question.
Fountain: So you might notice I’m a white male (laughter) and I know that I have benefitted from white privilege because (audience snaps fingers) I can honestly say I have never had a bad interaction with a police officer ever. And I’m a bad driver… and I basically never get a ticket. And I’ve wanted to be a police officer in the past. What I think we can do is structure the police department because that’s what you asked, is we have a citizens review board, we put penalties in effect where that body cam goes off they’re getting suspended (applause) without pay. Absolutely every time a police officer un-holsters their firearm they have to write a report. Their first instinct should not be go to the gun it’s go to the tazer and until we change that philosophy people are going to be shot and it is not right and there is no accountability for the district attorney’s office to prosecute because they work too closely with the police department. (more snapping) And In terms of and what I would like to see happen for the African American community and I said a couple things there to Ms. Butcher and she had it correct actually her idea is a lot better than mine, but what we need to do is look at how many African Americans are on the police force, how many African Americans there are in the community and then systematically recruit African Americans from the high schools and see to it that they get every opportunity and even more-so to become police officers in our community. (applause and snapping)
Raftery: Ok, thank you. And Mrs. Butcher.
Butcher: I thank you all may have noticed that I am a minority and sitting next to a white male but I am a black African American woman and how would I support and change the police department I’m going to go quickly, I’m going to definitely state that I would vote and am very disappointed that our city council did not vote to have a citizens review commission to have independent investigations for transparency. I will check the again, I would talk about hiring and including diversity, not just African Americans but middle easterners, if not so a larger percentage, the demographics of this city are changing more Latinos, more Chaldeans, more African Americans and more refugees. We need to look at these populations that are (proving?) that when we hire onto the police department we need to consider training all of them in dealing with mental health. One fifth of every person in our culture has a mental health issue. And if we are saying how do we live together, police together, then understand how do we approach how do we deal with these people, people who are suffering. I believe in community policing so long as people do not know their police officers they don’t know who to, they don’t even have a thought of a friendly face even the police officers that are on the school campuses they are using that as campus as an office away from the police department as opposed to really getting to know the kids the familiar enough to call them community police. We need to check new hires to see if they have suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. We are putting people in charge of other people with mental illness and we need to be clear and sure that those that we’re hiring and whether or not they can carry out the peaceful support of our community and we need to strive to welcome not only newcomers but all the diverse cultures that are currently in our city.
Raftery: Ok, thank you, time. (inaudible) healthy discussion with so many different ideas on these important issues. We’re going to go down the line again and I’m going to give my moderators a choice here whether they want to ask an audience question or one of their own whatever they feel is most important as we’re running short on time I’m going to combine a couple of them here.
Poverty and unemployment
Raftery: El Cajon has a very high poverty rate one of the highest in the County, as well as a high unemployment rate especially so in some certain sectors such as the Chaldean community, the black community, What kind of businesses are you going to attract and I would add to that specifically do you have an idea of how to bring certain businesses to El Cajon that aren’t just minimum wage jobs but would be the type of jobs in which one could earn a living on.
Kalasho: I’m the creator I’m not very good at anything else but creating, you know I created the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, the Pageant we now had the largest gift drive that we have done, so this question I think it’s about 28% of the people I meet here are below the poverty rate here in El Cajon so this is near and dear to us as a community as a whole. How do we bring in new business, we first have to talk about the tax, the sales tax here, everything is working together this is like a big engine and small businesses have a tough time making it out here because of the sales tax because people go out here to the neighboring cities. So I think that to bring in new businesses you have to talk about the sales tax. And that’s going to be the kick-start to everything else, and if you go back to the sales tax issue and to make it at least competitive, if not the lowest. I’m always asking myself this question why can’t we have the lowest sales tax? We have such a high rate of poverty here in this city whether they’re going to be middle eastern or they’re black or other minorities and this is all part of the community so if we work together we have to talk about the sales tax issue first, that’s all, I don’t know how much time I have.
Raftery: Thank you, thank you.
Cabrera: 29% live in poverty here. 36% of children are in poverty. Minorities are in poverty but I tell you what everyone didn’t come to live in El Cajon and we drive out across town on Interstate 8 because we’re the hardest working minorities around. And they know that we are. We drive all the way they use us and we’re proud of our city. We’re proud of how hard we work.
I was one of the first minority Rotary Club Presidents around and I was the second minority to be citizen of the year and I’m hoping to be a minority on the city council. Talking about bringing jobs into El Cajon who has done it? Me. (story of El Cajon car parts manufacturer that brought 200 jobs to El Cajon) that El Cajon was a great place he loved it he moved his whole industry here now what’s going to happen four hundred more jobs here you can’t just talk about it you can’t just say I’m going to be accessible you have to do it.
Goble: In the seventies people, refugees from Vietnam received thirty-six months of federal assistance to help them assimilate to American culture. In today’s refugees get nine months of assistance, one fourth of that that the refugees got in the seventies. The way out of poverty and unemployment is through skills, education and training, and that skills, education and training has to be made available to everyone. However we have to make it to happen. To do that, we have to businesses here that can hire them to do things. I think technology is the way/wave of the future. Anybody can learn technology. It, we can have people teach us that. Why not have a tech incubator type of industry here in El Cajon. Let’s teach people computers. Let’s teach people internet things, let’s teach people business skills... there’s nothing better than the American dream of working for yourself, of doing something for your family it’s what I do every day for 650 stores. I’m helping them create jobs; I’ helping them build a future for themselves, their kids, I think technology is a great opportunity and the way out of unemployment is to get those skills, education and training and reduced regulations we’ve got to make it easier for people when they say I wanna come to El Cajon. The CEO of Carl’s Junior said I can take two dollars and invest one in California, one in Texas. And because of regulation it’s going to take me two years to get return on that first dollar from California, it’s going to take me six months in Texas. Where do you think I’m going to go build my company? We need to be the six month people, not the two year people. And in El Cajon, let’s make it three months, not six months. Let’s make it easy and quick. Let’s get everybody who wants to have a job the skills, opportunity and training to succeed in this country.
Raftery: Thank you.
Glover: Well Steve’s right. Anybody can learn technology I’ve made a 35-year career of it and it’s worked for me. (laughter) I’m kind of smart. And I think what we need to do is make El Cajon an education center. If we can put some technology bring some technology schools out here or something along those lines of a Coleman College sort of thing. We also need to work with our school systems to understand so they can understand what we’re trying to do. If we want to bring technology jobs out here then we need to have programs that our kids come up through in the school systems that they can move in to these jobs once they get out of schools. If we don’t have that, our kids are just going to go somewhere else. They’re going to go to Silicon Valley, they’re going to go up the road 805 and work up there. They’re going to, my office is up in the golden triangle. There’s no reason why Oracle, the company I work for, couldn’t be out here in El Cajon. But we have to have the employment pool and we have to have educated workers to do that. So I would like to see us put something together, work it with the school systems to get our children educated and let’s keep them here in El Cajon, and make El Cajon better by educating them.
I would like to say something to Mr. Goble, from what we know shows that schools in different (audio truncates)
Note: With apologies, the tape was cut off at this point. We also apologize for not having full video and high quality audio of this event. Grossmont College required that we rely on their audio technician, who did not turn on a hookup to record through the microphones. Mega Network also had one of two cameras that was bumped and stopped recording during the event. The transcript above was made by ECM off a poor-quality audio from the remaining camera provided by Mega Network.
We encourage all candidates to post comments below and if any audience members have audio or video of any portion of the forum, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.