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The Mayor’s Corner

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Posted: Friday, June 14, 2019 12:42 pm

Last week I was in Los Cabos to attend the North American Mayor’s Summit, that included participation of mayors from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Attending with me from the region were San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo Solis and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells. I enjoyed finding common ground with mayors from around our continent including Los Cabos Mayor Armida Castro who is fighting pollution in the once pristine San Jose Estuary (a sister estuary to our own Tijuana Estuary). I talked about beach recreation and surfing with Mazatlán Mayor Luis Guillermo Benitez. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and I discussed efforts to address climate change. Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand (who grew up surfing with IB’s own Dave Recker) and I chatted about coastal development and the recent loss of surfing icon Mike Doyle.

I am grateful to Mayor Faulconer for discussing the issue of Tijuana River Valley pollution during his talk to the forum. He has been a big champion, especially when he’s in Mexico, of cleaning up our coast. Last January, the City of San Diego joined our lawsuit against the IBWC over Clean Water Act violations. I was also with Mayor Faulconer when he brought up the issue in side conversations with some of Mexico’s highest ranking officials charged with addressing the Tijuana River issue (I was able to do so as well.) I was also able to speak about border pollution with Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy Graciela Marquez who has visited Imperial Beach and is good friends with former California Senator and local resident Denise Ducheny (Denise is always pushing her extensive list of contacts in Mexico and along the border to do more to clean up the Tijuana River.)

During the conference, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gave a talk about the importance of cooperation with the U.S., which is why it is crucial to continue pushing Mexico as hard as possible to expend its own funds to fix Tijuana’s collapsing sewer system. Doing that combined with our lawsuit, and advocating for congressional funding to fund the EPA’s wastewater infrastructure program that can provide matching funds for Mexico’s investments, is the most effective strategy to push for clean beaches.

At the June 5, City Council meeting, I was inspired by dozens of children and parents who successfully urged the council to fund the long promised expansion of our tiny skatepark. These young skaters made compelling arguments for why investing in recreation is a critical public good. Their wise and mature behavior was in sharp contrast to some adults in Imperial Beach who attend City Council meetings and behave in a disruptive and uncivil manner, and throw what I call adult temper tantrums. Their behavior, unfortunately, reflects the angry and bully-filled world of online troll culture that is so prevalent in Imperial Beach and pretty much everywhere around the world.

The negative impacts of troll culture and its promotion of intimidation, bullying, and violence, is something that should alarm us all. According to author David Brooks, “Trolls bid for attention by trying to make others feel bad. Studies of people who troll find that they score high on measures of psychopathy, sadism and narcissism. Online media hasn’t made them vicious; they’re just vicious. Online has given them a platform to use viciousness to full effect.”

According to philosopher and ethicist Richard Mouw, “Genuine civility has to be grounded in empathy, a genuine desire to promote the well-being of others.” Having grown up in a bully-filled Imperial Beach, and as a witness to the violence it provoked, I look forward to continuing our efforts to support peaceful, tolerant, cooperative, and consensus driven ways to improve the quality of life in our little beach town. After all, our children need adults to work together in a civil manner to build a better future for all.

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