By Don Greene/Escondido Democratic Club
In his fourth State of the City address, Mayor Abed continued to tout successes brought to the city by its “forward thinking council.” After playing yet another
campaign informational video, produced by the city’s media department at taxpayer expense, the Mayor presented slides demonstrating the success stories that Escondido has and will experience.
All in all, the success of the newly renovated Westfield Shopping Center and Palomar Hospital continue to be at the top of the Mayor’s list of accomplishments, only this time he got it right to say that private industry was behind these things, not the city council. He even showed an artist’s conception of the pie-in-the-sky, tech park that they are calling Cross Roads Business Park, on the site of the Public Works yard and the rest of the area that was set aside for the construction of a ball park.
The Mayor was quick to point out that this “forward thinking council” promised that it would balance the budget, and it had. This is an common mantra from the Mayor and he produced a slide to demonstrate how – in his words – the council brought the city out of a $16 Million deficit to a $6 Million surplus. He added all the money that had been used from the reserve accounts (which, by the way, is the purpose of a reserve account) and came up with his $16 Million figure. Then, he added all the “surpluses” that we’ve had the last 3 years to arrive at $6 Million. I’ll state the obvious that a balanced budget has neither a deficit nor a surplus. More importantly, was the Mayor’s offhand remark that the city will be “using surpluses for core services.” Core services are supposed to be in the budget, aren’t they?
While the Mayor focused on what he believes are accomplishments, he overlooked many of the problems that the city has experienced while he was at the helm. As an example:
- The only branch library in the system was first closed, then liquidated, and then leased off to his friend and economic advisory committee member Dennis Synder for a charter school; expelling 3 long-term tenants in the process.
- The city has devoted an additional $300,000 to graffiti removal while greatly reducing the access to recreational activities to youth in the city. Bored kids find things to do, and without providing useful outlets, they will involve themselves in more destructive pursuits.
- The city has thrown $3 million at fixing the roads that have fallen into horrible disrepair. Had Mayor Abed been more concerned about infrastructure instead of his ability to boast to his base about “balancing budgets” we would have better streets on which to drive.
To round out the morning, the Mayor continued to promise that we would pass a charter and build a full service hotel. It was exactly what we have come to expect from Sam & Co these past few years.