Since Sept. 1, 2018, the City of Imperial Beach has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to an entity known as Monarch Global Strategies, LLC (Monarch). Under this agreement, the City is obligated to pay up to $20,000 per month to Monarch. This amount was later reduced in September 2019, to the more reasonable (?) amount of $12,500 per month. What was Monarch supposed to do for the taxpayers of IB for all of this money? “Strategic ... engagement with respect to finding a bi-national solution to the issue of cross-border pollution that enters the City of Imperial Beach.” [Note: I would have provided a link to the actual document, but a public records request to the City for this outrageous agreement was denied].
In practice, Monarch’s “service” sounds a lot like using IB tax dollars in order to lobby the Government of Mexico. An initial problem with this is that it is not Constitutional. Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 provides: “No State shall ... enter into any Agreement or Compact with ... a foreign power ...” I am not exactly sure what the government of a small city like IB – not even a State but a political subdivision of a State - is doing trying to engage with the federal government of a foreign sovereign power when there are plenty of problems that need solving (and money to help solve) here at home.
In addition to legal objections, a practical objection is that it is a complete waste of money. I have personally observed IB City Council meetings where council members recently returned from a tax-payer-funded junket to Mexico City brief the results of their multi-day trip. As purported proof that all of the cash spent on Monarch was money well-spent, we are appraised of the fact that members of the City Council were able to personally advise Mexican government officials that “the people of IB really don’t like sewage from Mexico,” or words to that effect. Wow! Hundreds-of-thousands of dollars put to great use.
Mexico is a country that cannot control what happens within its own borders, much less what is happening in IB. Active ethnic unrest in the Yucatan and narco-insurgencies in Sinaloa are fought using the Army and the Navy to engage in law enforcement because of rampant corruption in local police forces. Its capitol city is facing a severe water shortage. Mexico has worse problems to deal with than whether or not the people of IB have a less than optimal ability to enjoy the beach.
As an unreliable partner at best, any solution in the immediate future to our sewage problems will be have to be U.S.-centric. All of that money blown in Mexico could have been put to good use north of the border funding practical solutions to our sewage problems – for example, proper waterway management through dredging, trash removal and clearing of non-native invasive vegetation, so that people don’t have to deal with sitting sewage ponds on some public streets for days after each heavy rain. Wasting all that money south of the border, like everything else flushed down the toilet in Mexico, doesn’t do anything to improve our sewage problems here.