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OK, I’ve been talking a lot about this story the last few days.
But there’s another angle to all of this. Yes, these round-the-world junkets the county supervisors are taking – apparently in exchange for sending taxpayer dollars to certain organizations – are upsetting. But I’ve always been concerned about the supervisors’ slush funds for another reason.
Here’s the deal. The five supervisors each get $2 million every year to spend however they please.
They usually give the money to good organizations. But that’s not the point.
When they give the money to these groups, they take credit for it individually. Take the annual “Creek to Bay Cleanup.” For a few weeks around the event – a good event by the way – you’ll see flyers and posters up describing it and thanking its main sponsors: Supervisors Greg Cox and Pam Slater-Price.
But they didn’t sponsor it. Taxpayers sponsored it. Slater-Price and Cox just wrote the check. This is free advertising for them.
Downtown the other day, we saw this van:
The KidCare Express mobile medical unit program provides health services to medically underserved children, youth and adults in collaboration with local schools, community centers, social service agencies and neighborhood health fairs.
Good. That sounds like an important program that may indeed deserve taxpayer support.
Now, look closely at the van:
Roberts has given the Family Health Center $65,000 in taxpayer funds this year out of his slush fund. To recognize his support for the group, the Family Health Centers have emblazoned his name all over their KidCare Express.
What a sweet deal for Roberts. He gets a pot of taxpayer money that he can hand out to whomever he pleases and then, in exchange, he gets a rolling billboard. Not only is it a mobile billboard, but it’s a billboard on the side of what is hailed as an amazing public health service.
Ron Roberts did not pay for the Family Health Center’s KidCare Express – we all did.
But look closely at that photo. If you can hardly see that under Roberts’ name it says “County of San Diego,” it’s not our photo. That’s just how difficult it is to see “County of San Diego” and, comparatively, how easy it is to see “Ron Roberts.”
Again, if the Family Health Centers are worth taxpayer dollars, and this is a priority, then we should, indeed, fund them. But why does Ron Roberts get the rolling billboard after he sends them taxpayer funds? And doesn’t that, in a roundabout way, allow him to supplement his campaign advertising with taxpayer dollars?