2001 Swearing-in Remarks

January 9, 2001

Today's event has a very special significance for me. My re-election last March marked the first time in over 50 years that a County Supervisor representing the 2nd District has been elected to a third term in office.

I am honored that the voters of my district have placed their faith in me in three separate elections. They obviously share my enthusiasm for the tremendous changes we've been able to make in County government, establishing it as a model of local government accountability, efficiency and innovation.

For much of what has been accomplished during the past eight years, I owe thanks to my colleagues on the Board, my hardworking staff and my husband Paul, whose support, cooperation and commitment have made these dramatic changes possible.

But I've never been one to rest on my laurels, and I'm not going to start now. So, rather than listing the accomplishments of the past, I'd like to talk today about the exciting challenges in our immediate future.

First, let me say a few words about the terrible wild fire that swept through a portion of my district last week.

While talking with families who suffered losses and many others who had been evacuated, there was a silver lining. This tragedy showcased the wonderful people of the 2nd District and others who came together to aid their neighbors at a time of need.

It also showcased the dedicated fire fighting professionals from our local fire districts, CDF, Forest Service and departments throughout the state that responded to our crisis. These people are true heroes who deserve our recognition and support.

This emergency also showcased several weaknesses in our current approach to backcountry fires.

Because of an arbitrary deadline established in Sacramento, fire season in San Diego had been declared over reducing staffing and equipment readily available. If the local CDF commander Ken Miller had not had the foresight, one day prior to the out break of this fire, to bring back into service equipment and personnel, there may have been more damage done during the first critical hours of this fire.

Because the risk of wild fires is year-round, I will push for a year-round fire season designation in San Diego County due to our unique circumstances.

I will also push to get the state to refund property tax dollars taken from local fire districts during the state budget crisis in 1993, so they can invest these local tax dollars in the staff and equipment they so badly need.

I will also work to resolve public policy conflicts regarding clearing of brush around homes, so that we don't have environmental protection restrictions endangering the life and property of backcountry residents.

And finally, I will push for renewed efforts for controlled burns and to make certain backcountry residents are able to obtain burn permits to dispose of unwanted brush.

Now, let me move on to other major challenges we face in the coming year:

Our first and most immediate challenge is the cost and supply of energy for our region. San Diegans have been on the cutting edge of these impacts since last July, but we are no longer alone, as the entire State and Nation take notice of the dislocations caused by a failed deregulation plan.

Since the crisis first hit us last summer, I've been on the front line, demanding action to protect residents and businesses from the worst of these impacts.

We succeeded in getting the legislature's and PUC's attention last fall, when they capped our rates and approved legislation to accelerate development of new generating sources.

But since those actions, it has become clear that more fundamental changes are needed to solve this problem and avoid saddling ratepayers with the entire burden for past mistakes by the state legislature and regulatory agencies.

Over the next several months, I will continue to put pressure on state and federal decision-makers to protect consumers and rectify these problems.

I will argue for a windfall profits tax on generators that are continuing to manipulate the market and sell power at exorbitant rates. Receipts from this tax should be used to refund residential and business customers whose bills were affected by these overcharges.

I will continue to argue for a more proactive role by federal and state regulators to stop the price gouging, establish fair market pricing and require full public disclosure of the terms of all such transactions.

Closer to home, I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Board and others in the region so that we can become independent in meeting our energy needs.

I've worked very hard over the past eight years to get county government finances in order, to make our operations more efficient, so more tax dollars would be available to provide high quality facilities and services for our residents.

To give you an idea of how the county's past fiscal prudence is paying off for local residents, here are just a few examples of projects we are planning to undertake in the next few years:

  • New Sheriff's Stations in Rancho San Diego, Alpine, Ramona and Buckman Springs.
  • New ball fields, skateboard park and community recreation facilities at Jess Martin Park in Julian
  • Development of an intergenerational complex in Ramona
  • Opening libraries in Alpine, Julian, Ramona, Campo, Santee, Lemon Grove and La Mesa
  • And, acquisition of the remaining land necessary to complete the Multiple Species Conservation Plan in East County.

It's a remarkable list of projects. But I want to do even more.

My goal is to develop sports complexes throughout the district so that every youngster and every family has access to top quality recreation programs year-round.

I want to plan and develop river parks and a system of trails and nature preserves that make the tremendous natural resources of the East County accessible and permanently protected as a legacy for our children and grandchildren.

I want to continue to work in partnership with SEIU to obtain the necessary State and Federal funding to help build a new Edgemoor Hospital in Santee.

And, I want to upgrade our transportation system so new growth doesn't degrade the quality of life for existing residents.

But all of these goals are now threatened by inappropriate and unplanned development occurring in our rural areas.

While I'm proud of the contributions made by the Viejas, Barona and Sycuan Indian Nations, the new proposals for casino development are problematic.

It's not right or fair for out-of-state corporations, seeking to capitalize on loopholes created by the state compacts, to suddenly burden San Diego taxpayers with additional impacts just so the out of state corporations can make a bigger profit.

Huge casino developments are moving forward, with even more in the planning stages, that threaten to overwhelm rural road systems, destroy sensitive habitat, pollute critical watersheds, and induce urban-level growth - and problems -- in our remaining rural communities.

I don't think that's what voters had in mind when they approved Proposition 1A.

Over the next year, I will work with the Indian Nations, the Governor and the State Attorney General to clarify the terms of the compact to protect the citizens and taxpayers of this County.

My goals for the next four years are ambitious. But there's nothing I like better than a big challenge, and there's nothing that gives me more satisfaction than providing better, more accountable service to the people I work for... the residents of the 2nd District. I thank them again for giving me the opportunity to serve.