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Remembering the Fires…

This was a rather informative video. But, it brought back a lot of painful and scary memories. During the fires, I was listening to KPBS non-stop, and had the car packed JUST in case we had to evacuate. The TV was muted, showing videos from around the county, and I welcomed my birthday in complete terror as I watched the Eastlake fire inch closer and closer.

The city was quiet, even in Chula Vista. It was like we all held our breath in anticipation, but we were all ready to go if the call was made. During this time, I walked around my neighborhood and made a video of the area. You can still see the ash and smoke in the air, despite the crappiness of the camera I used.

But why dwell on the past? Why focus on all of these fires, and remember what happened? Because, in this coming election, I want to know what our candidates for mayor will do to ensure this doesn't happen again. San Diego's current plan, and it seems to be their plan for several years, is to beg the Native American tribes with casinos for fire fighting equipment. So, we have all this top-of-the-line gear, but only recently have we decided to pay the men who USE these tools what they are worth.

I think this is a good metaphor for how San Diego, as a whole, works. Look at our brand-new shiny toys, and look away from how we treat the people involved in it. Our schools have some high-tech gear 'for the children', but soon they won't have teachers to mold their minds. Our highways and streets have expensive cameras and deterrents to stop speeders and road rage, but barely enough police to cover the area needed.

So, I'm asking a question to our mayoral candidates. It's a serious question, and one that we should all demand an answer to. What, exactly, do you plan to do to ensure the fires never happen at this magnitude again? I'm not talking about giving news conferences every 30 minutes, nor am I talking about getting 'new toys'.

What are you going to do that will REALLY help ensure the safety of your constituents. Personally, I think paying our firefighters and cops a livable wage was a step in the right direction, but we need more. We need a candidate to come out with a clear plan that works with what we have NOW, and focus money into better fire monitoring, and better fire control.

Now, the ONE thing I won't knock is our evacuation plans. Well, except for the reverse 911, that was a bit of a fiasco. Nor will I knock our recovery plans, as those embarrassed the heck out of FEMA, and they should take a lesson from our city, county, and state. No, I just want to know, in plain terms, what will be done to help make sure fires of that level never happen again. &

And I do not think I'm asking too much. In fact, I think it's perfectly fine to ask this. In a time of uncertainty over foreclosures, low job markets, and the like, I think it'd be nice to point and say, 'In this, at least, you are safe.' And that's what I think about that.

- Citizen Voices blogger Steven Garrett is a professional food blogger who lives in South San Diego.

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