Too many times over the past decade San Diego has supported statewide bond measures for water, parks, transportation and other items. But our share of those funds has been very small relative to our share of the state’s population. We finally awakened to this fact about three or four years ago. I argued that cities in Northern California, and even L.A., were proposing big bond measures that generally benefited them, and just threw us some crumbs for our support. We sold ourselves cheap. In other words, we sent a dollar in tax money to pay for the bonds but we only received 50 cents back in projects. Not a good deal. Bond supporters say that lots of the money is up for competition. That’s true, if your projects meet the specific criteria written into the bond measure. It’s a funny thing how that criteria is written to favor one region over another.
Why does this happen? Frankly, I don’t know. But I believe this, you don’t get respect in political circles if you roll over without a fight. I want to make sure that we have a dog in the fight; a strong dog with a loud voice.
The governor recently appointed me to the nine member California Transportation Commission, www.catc.ca.gov
where I primarily represent the San Diego region but have to make decisions allocating funds to transportation projects based upon what is best for the state as a whole. San Diego has not had representation on this commission for almost five years before my recent appointment. When it comes time to compete for discretionary funds, I want to ensure that San Diego gets a fair hearing to make its case for those projects that are most important to our region. And I want to muster a lot of political dogs to help make the case. A lot of these projects require long term planning, and that’s where agencies like SANDAG and the airport authority come into play. They actually try to look into the future and determine what projects we need to meet future demand. It’s a tough job, often it’s a thankless job, and we’re talking billion dollar projects.