August 13, 2010

Geo-Politics 2

(click on map to make it larger)

The June recall election in Poway shifted geo-political power to the north.  Literally and figuratively. Betty Rexford, who lived on the southern border of Poway was recalled and replaced by John Mullin who lives on Del Poniente in north Poway.  The entire council now hails from the north, except for Boyack, who lives but a hop, skip and jump south of the Twin Peaks boundary. The change had an impact immediately. The council decided to raise water rates 33% for the lowest water users in order to give a break to the highest water users. For all practical purposes, the tiered water rates will disappear in January and everyone except the most extreme high water users will pay the same flat water rate.  But the fixed water fees that disproportionately tax low water users will increase and the sewer charges that are skewed so that the lowest users pay more per unit than the largest users will stay that way until, oh, maybe, Jan 2012...if they have time for it. It is a win for the greedy large water users, and their new guy, John Mullin, was right with them all the way.

None of the current councilmembers lives anywhere near Wal-Mart, or the proposed Lowe's. With the exception of Boyack, none of the current council members lives anywhere near a retail store or commercially zoned property. Most of them probably shop in Rancho Bernardo, which is closer to them than the retail stores on Poway Rd.

None of the current council members  have traffic from the industrial park or a car dealership winding through their neighborhood. There are no affordable housing projects in their neighborhoods. It wouldn't "fit", as they say.   There are no shopping carts littering their streets. No lights from the industrial park spill into their backyards. None are threatened with a proposed automobile paint shop just feet from their living rooms. Or a noisy car wash. Or a late night deliveries of a Wal-Mart truck.

For the most part, the current city councilmembers live in neighborhoods that have a different quality of life than the "urban" part of Poway. They seem blind to quality of life issues in south Poway neighborhoods. They easily vote to sacrifice our quality for revenue generation but they would be aghast at a proposal to put some of the same type of revenue generators anywhere near their homes.

For the upcoming November election, the map looks much the same. At least physically. Three candidates will challenge the incumbents: Nick Stavros, Pete Babich and Dave Grosch. Stavros lives in north Poway, as does Babich, although the Babich family lived near Valley School for many years when his sons were growing up. Grosch lives in south Poway, just a hop, skip and a jump further south than Boyack.

I'm not going to say that these 3 guys have hearts of gold or the vision of Ghandi or anything like that. Politics is too tricky and people seem to change after they are elected. But I can say that all 3 have shown that they care about other people's neighborhoods in Poway and not just their own.

Dave Grosch has led the NO WE group which opposes the Wal-Mart expansion in its present location. Interestingly, Grosch owns Wal-Mart stock. It is in his own interest to see Wal-Mart grow and expand.  So chalk one up for Dave for being able to set aside his own best interest to look out for the interest of the community.

Dave's campaign against a monolithic Wal-Mart isn't even his best stuff. In his professional life, Dave was a financial manager, advising a couple of defense firms. He's retired now and has his eyes set on reducing the huge salaries and publicly-paid pension benefits of some city employees that are becoming more and more unsustainable. He wants to change that before we need to build a big box store or two every year just to keep up with it. Go Dave!

Nick Stavros has a long history of civic activism in Poway. Some of his issues are primarily north Poway issues and some are primarily south Poway issues.   Nick led the fight against development in east Poway. He has also taken a deep interest in the widening of Espola Rd. issues.

Nick certainly cares about his own back yard, but he manages to care about other people's backyards, too. Nick has long supported finding a spot in Poway for public athletic fields that are not adjacent to someone's backyard. He opposed the Girl's Softball Park in its current location because the noise and traffic had such a negative impact on that neighborhood.  Nick supports the expansion of the green spaces in Community park and increasing the passive park space (park space that is free to use and not signed out to sports teams or commercial entities) in south Poway neighborhoods.  It is one thing to fight against something like a noisy park that affects YOUR own backyard, but it is a whole different kind of person who will also fight to protect quality of life in someone else's backyard.  Yay Nick!

I first met Pete Babich when our son started playing soccer. We coached our son's team for, oh let's see, from age 6 to age 19, so about 13 yrs. Pete was one of the people that kept the Poway Soccer Club going from week to week and from season to season.  This was back in the day when people had land lines for phone service. And you couldn't just turn them off. Even back in those days, people took their wins and loses and bad refs calls a little too seriously, so I know Pete's phone must've rung about a billion times with complaints. Hmmm, perfect preparation for being a city council person, don'tcha think?

I don't remember calling Pete very often. At least not with complaints. But what I do remember is that Pete gave me some coaching advice. He told me to take a chair and sit in it.  And I did. It helped prevent me from running up and down the sidelines trying to scream directions at my players. It was the best advice. Good for my players and good for me. That's one of Pete's fortes- analyzing things and figuring out what really works and what doesn't. Pete refereed our games sometimes, especially when the boys got older and into the upper divisions. I never heard them complain about his calls. They knew how he would ref, and he was consistent. He got control of the game early by calling the first flagrant foul he saw and giving the player a yellow card. Then everyone knew what the limit was and would settle down.

After our soccer years were over, I kindof lost contact with Pete. I knew he moved up to north Poway and was running a successful consulting business. I knew he had gotten involved with Poway Dem Club and was also protesting against the War in Iraq.  I was thrilled to hear that he was running for city council. Not because he had a long history of community involvement outside of the billions of hours he put into soccer, but because he seemed to have a real innate sense of fairness and a lot of competence.  And I don't think it hurts that Pete recognized and protested against the the tragic human and financial waste that was the War in Iraq.  Thanks, Pete.

So, for the November elections, all of our choices live in or near to North Poway. The incumbents have shown that if they have to chose between quality of life in south Poway or revenue generation, they will chose revenue generation every time. But they would staunchly oppose any revenue generators in their neighborhoods. The mere thought would make them go apoplectic!  The challengers, Stavros, Grosch and Babich, are untested as Poway decision makers, but they are south Poway's only chance for a council member that would give a damn about our quality of life too.

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