San Bernardino City Bankruptcy is pleased to bring you this online interview with City Council Candidate John Abad.
Mr. Abad is challenging incumbent City Councilwoman Virginia Marquez to represent the 1st Ward on the San Bernardino City Council.
What do you believe the top priorities of the City of San Bernardino should be?
First, the city is currently in a fiscal crisis and needs to deal with the Bankruptcy to settle debts with the creditors. No debt is completely wiped away clean. San Bernardino will have to pay a percentage of the debt it owes creditors.
Second, the city must understand that law enforcement (police and fire) is working overtime trying to rid the city of prostitution, homeless panhandlers, early released criminals, gangs, and violent criminals in the city.
The cut in funds and policemen have left the city with a staggering small force of approximately 12-15 police protecting the city at night, protecting about 200,000 citizens.
Third, San Bernardino is considered NOT business friendly. To bring business creates jobs. Jobs create income where citizens will spend their money at local establishments. However, in this blighted city they currently travel to neighboring city’s to spend their money.
It is evident when a recent developer wanted to build a warehouse on Tippecanoe Avenue with a 12 million investment, to employ approximately 400 workers. But the City planning and Council did not approve the deal, until it was brought to the attention of the City Council about the stagnant city managers and planners not approving his plans after eight months.
The investor was about to abort the deal and bring litigation to Quit the city but the City Council all wanted to look good spent 45 more minutes patting themselves on the back to recommend that the plans be approved (the business had built two identical warehouses in other cities with the identical plans).
This was a despicable display of who wanted the whistle stop put on this man’s property anyway. This hostile climate toward businesses needs to stop.
If you are elected to the City Council, the City of San Bernardino will exit bankruptcy during your term in office. What policies need to be changed or implemented to ensure that a financial crisis like this does not happen to our City again?
First, the city needs to mandate a 6% reserves fee on any money brought into the General Fund before it is disbursed to the other 27 departments. The emergency reserves needs to be maintained and can serve as a bond to secure future loans from banks.
Second, the city needs revise its contracts and to make it a policy to negotiate with the upper hand to companies who want tax incentives and breaks. The city needs to have a contract price where businesses must pay taxes on their profits.
Third, the city needs to eminent domain blighted, dilapidated, crime ridden neighborhoods and demolish the area. Many parts of the city require more repairs due to antiquated structures, plumbing, wiring and potholed streets.
New low income or affordable housing would bring homeowners and tax paying citizens. This increases the tax base for all services.
Fourth, the city needs to stop cosigning for businesses and stop giving them 100 percent tax breaks. An example is the old Sun News building where the city cosigned for the current owner who had the property in foreclosure a couple of times. Yet, he pays no taxes on the property and has done very little business, enterprise or contributed to the city revenue.
I would want to see the records of the City Assessor and make it public of which companies pay no taxes and which citizens are exempt from paying taxes and why.
In addition to the City’s financial problems, San Bernardino has an extremely high number of jobless residents. What do you believe the City should be doing to help residents find employment and bring jobs to San Bernardino?
The city needs to be a major employer and owner of cement plants, refuge collection, and construction companies. This ownership of in-house construction would have city planning and neighborhoods built from a master plan to modernize the city. It would benefit by employing more workers with a vested interest to improve the city, live in the city, and shop in the city and pay taxes in the city.
Currently San Bernardino pays Orange County or Los Angeles companies, out of the area to come here and do business but they return to their cities to spend the money. We have experts in our own city who would be more loyal to upgrade the city and be proud of the community they build.
The local students in vocational education would strive to become a city employee and schools could partnership with city employment.
Public safety is also a major concern in San Bernardino. Unfortunately both the San Bernardino Fire and Police Departments have been hit hard with cuts and loss of staffing. What types of public safety complaints are you hearing from the voters?
More citizens are complaining of the prostitution on Baseline between Waterman and the freeway. Many have witnessed sexual activity and have called police however nothing is being done.
There are a couple of schools on or near Baseline where children witness the prostitutes walking with their risqué garments taunting drivers, yelling at students or threatening students and continuing to engage in their business.
Violent shooting of policeman or murders have happened near baseline that parents fear for their children and will not let them go near the street, businesses or walk outside after dark. Common citizens are being held hostage by the crime in the city.
Another complaint is from businesses about code enforcement ticketing them for frivolous complaints. The businesses do business, pay taxes and try to make a decent living. However, when they are harassed by the city code enforcement, the first chance they get to leave they will.
Neighborhood senior citizens on social security income complain of the code enforcement to remove trees and brush or trash. The senior citizen can’t even pay the ticket. Yet code enforcement does not ticket the homeowners who are in foreclosure or the apartment slumlord who does not clean or improve his apartments.
What do you think the City of San Bernardino should be doing to improve safety for its residents and families?
Many citizens are being encouraged to join a neighborhood watch program and call a central phone number to complain but if the police are needed immediately it takes hours for them to show.
I believe the city needs to hire more police, fire, and ambulance regardless of the cost. What we have here in San Bernardino is a situation where citizens will eventually file a federal class action lawsuit that will sue the city for it’s endangering the lives of citizens.
There are murders waiting to happen and it becomes a hostile environment with the city government as the negligent party. One citizen believes the state should sue the City council and the Mayor for their negligent action to renegotiate with the police to increase its’ force.
Staying with the issue of public safety, in 2006 the voters approved a 10-year tax by passing Measure Z. Many residents and city employees are questioning whether Measure Z funds are being used as demanded by the voters when they also approved Measure YY, directing the Mayor and City Council to use this tax revenue to enhance public safety. Do you believe these funds are being used in accordance with the voter/s intent?
The taxes raised were to assist the police and it did, however there are more transient renters who do not pay the taxes.
We have investors who purchased the homes below price then reassess the property tax and the tax revenue is lower than before. If this happens to 1000 homes tax revenue being cut 50 percent, we have less money to support the law enforcement.
Public safety begins at the high schools where many of the courses such as Protective Service Academy, Fire Academy, and Paramedic courses are no longer held. The bridge between law enforcement and students has been broken and the funds that were to be used to improve the police relationship with the community are gone.
Neighborhood police stations were a proactive approach to have police near high crime areas, however many criminals are bold and threaten police. I believe the early release prisoners are a problem due to the fact that they are not from San Bernardino but reside here because they are on parole and can’t go back to their city for 6 months to a year, depending on their parole conditions.
I have encountered some homeless early release parole’s have sophisticate methods of manipulating a living in the area. Some homeless have mentioned they come to San Bernardino because they are not driven out of the city like the surrounding cities, during the day.
However, they go back to their cities because it is dangerous for them and they may get robbed, beat up, or victimized by violent homeless who are territorial here in San Bernardino.
Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
It is time to make a change in the city. We cannot continue to live with this stagnant city council and lame duck Mayor.
I have attended the city council, SANBAG cutting back 4 million a year from Omni-trans, the Norton board run by the Mayors son, meetings and the Parks and Recreation hired a new director for $149,000. but not one cent to improve the parks.
I attend meetings and find they are all run by the same council members and associates who only serve themselves.
I want your support and endorsement so I can make a change for our city.
You citizens have opened your eyes, I have opened my eyes, and now it is time to “Embrace the Change.”