Escondido, CA

Turning down a grant

The California Department of Traffic Safety Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety offers grant funding to communities to provide safety related services. This grant money does not require using General Fund operational funding. Why does CDTSPBS do this? The department states that, “DUI checkpoints reduce alcohol related fatal, injury and property damage by about 20%.” It gets even better.

California is famous, or infamous, for mandating communities conduct activities for the public good but NOT providing funding to follow these mandates. Some are extremely expensive to administer causing city budgets to constrict funding for other purposes. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, remember that’s Wikipedia in hard copy, the meaning of mandate is, “an authoritative command,” ‘to officially require something.” Command and require are the operative words here. Understand that a grant does not have to be repaid unlike paying for a bond or a loan.

Imagine my disdain when I heard our Escondido City Council, not a majority, refuse to accept this grant funding after 15 years of saying yes. The implication of that action is if the city wants to continue DUI and saturation patrols they will have to find a source for the $515,000 cost that these services provide for our own safety and quality of life. By the way, these are funds that City absolutely does not have available. It seemed to me that two council members either do not want to continue DUI patrols or they want to defund the police department.

And speaking of the EPD, last week Gary Arant wrote a very informative Letter to the Editor regarding our EPD. As to EPD funding, the latest statistics show that Escondido police spending is less per capita than any community in San Diego County except the City of Coronado. This was all discussed at the June 10, 2020 Council budget meeting. The National City average funding for police is $378/capita. San Diego County average is $333/capita. Escondido is $280/capita. Additionally, the national average for police staffing is 2.8 officers per thousand population. Escondido is 1.05/thousand. So when people talk about defunding our police department how low do you want to go and why would you turn down a state grant to continue a vital public safety service? A grant that does not exacerbate our operating budget. After all, we’re just receiving back some of our tax dollars.

I really hate to continue with this screed but if the State of California, thank you Governor Brown, had not dissolved the Redevelopment Agencies in the state in all probability communities statewide would not be in the financial pinch that we all find ourselves. The RDA established in Escondido was done to build our new city hall and the Center for the Arts. We, all communities, should still be collecting the tax increment from the RDA but the State saw a potential cash cow and took it away from the locals.

Hard to grasp that noted Woodstock guitarist Jimi Hendrix died 50 years ago. Also hard to believe that Woodstock happened 51 years ago. Living in New Jersey at the time it was an event a few of us almost attended. We were set to go until we heard the traffic report about the miles and miles long backup on the New York State Thruway. Not going turned out to be one of our better decisions.

A couple items of historical note in Escondido include both Gavvy Gravath and Ken Roberts. Cravath was appropriately recognized as an Escondido Legend and as I have noted previously should be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. He was the home run king before Babe Ruth came around in what is referred to as the ‘hardball’ era. With the recent proliferation of home runs it would appear the baseball is getting harder. Just sayin’. Ken Roberts Men’s Wear store is the September feature on the Pioneer Room calendar. The store was where men with increasing midsections could purchase the expandable Sansabelt slacks. No need to have your slacks “let out.”

Okay, this week’s plate CACHILI. Chili’s favorite restaurant or owner?   

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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