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San Diego Supervisors Chairman Horn Declares 2015 ‘Year Of The Veteran'

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San Diego Supervisors Chairman Horn Declares 2015 ‘Year Of The Veteran'
San Diego Supervisors Chairman Horn Declares 2015 ‘Year Of The Veteran'
After touting the county's financial standing and wildfire readiness in his State of the County, the North County supervisor said he'll focus on the region's service members this year.
San Diego Supervisors Chairman Horn Declares 2015 ‘Year Of The Veteran'
San Diego Supervisors Chairman Horn Declares 2015 ‘Year Of The Veteran' GUEST:Bill Horn, chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors

This is KPBS Midday Edition I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Thursday, February to the top story on midday edition -- the year of the betterment. That was the term used by the supervisor as he delivered the annual State of the County address. He wants the county to use this to focus on veterans and their families which he says make up more than one third of San Diego's population. In addition the six term supervisor praised the wildfire preparations and the healthy financial status. The chair of the County Board of Supervisors, Bill Horn, if you to tell us more about the state of the county. Supervisor One, welcome. Naked. Good afternoon. I have you named this the year of the veteran in San Diego? I have been chairman five different times. This is my last time because of term limits. I happen to be a veteran. The only one on the Board of Supervisors. I thought it was time that we address this issue. About one third of the population is either in the military or related to the military. Or retired from the military. Currently according to the US stats 22 veterans kill themselves every day. That is a staggering number. It is unbelievable. I think we need to do something about that. So, we've -- we will emphasize that this year. Giving more services and more available services to the veterans. There is currently -- and 0 net that veterans can go to where they give out the unit and what the specialty was. Then a pop-up jobs that might be available to them. I think those kinds of connections need to be made. I have done a number of things over the years for veterans. This year we will bring us together and we are opening a veterans resource Center in Escondido where we have all of the services available from financial to legal for opportunities. If you have PTSD or TB I you don't have 2 years to wait. You need to get it right away. The recent movie, American Sniper, the issue Chris Kyle -- you should emphasize what to do with the veterans when they come home more so than what happens in the war. I think we have a number of veterans returning home. We have lost more veterans to suicide then we lost in both Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan and the war. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. Now, you've talked about the new facility -- the veteran and and family resource Center in Escondido. It will be run by the interfaith community services. What connection does the county have with that project? Well, there are two different things. The Interfaith is a private deal. Financed by Tom Hawthorn a former Caterpillar big deal. Actually a guy who flew B-29s during the Korean War. He and his wife, Dorothy, donated the money for that. We are also going to open up a regional office County HHS health and human services which will have a veterans branch so that there are 2 separate entities. We are supporting the interfaith one in addition to supporting our operation which we open. I am one of those the belief that you really help those that are making a difference. Rather than just coming up and throwing money at a problem. I would rather see mentors and those kinds of things come along. Help them straighten out their lives. You also talked about the county changing the Veterans Affairs office to a military and veteran tends department. What significance of that? The office before used to represent -- used to go through HHS and the new department will report directly to Nick [last name indiscernible], the head of the department. This will allow us to coordinate the other efforts from the different offices in the county. As you know the county has 48 departments -- 17,000 employees. Sometimes it is difficult for our own organization to navigate through. I think it is important -- this change will make it so it is like -- we will have a director. We have an appoint -- we haven't appointed this person yet. This will allow the services to come together for them. Especially in North County and it will be a one stop shop. In addition to having the veterans services in the building you will also have a child protective services, the health department, all other things at the county does. We won't have to look somewhere else or send them somewhere else or deal with multiple website and that kind of things. I'm speaking with the chairman of the chairman -- Bill Horn we are talking about the state of the county that western corn delivered earlier this week. -- That Mr. Horn delivered earlier. You also say that we've never been prepared for wildfires. What is new in the arsenal? If you remember, I've been in this for 20 years. In 2003 and 2007 we didn't have quite the air support we needed. We currently have the three County helicopters -- we just got a brand-new one. That will be in service this year. That is three firefighting helicopters. We have the city of San Diego with 2. We also have a unique contract -- one-of-a-kind -- with the military. So, we have two -- we also have the big chopper. This gives us about three dozen helicopters to put out a fire. That is really important. If we can hit the fire before it gets big or gets out of control, we can bring it down. In addition we have night flying abilities which we didn't have before because of state restrictions. We have worked our way through all of that. I would say we are better prepared. We have an event today -- Santa Ana winds. Fortunately for our sake we had brains in December which has made the hills green. Where looking forward -- we have the summer coming. You know what will happen. We are not like the rest of the state -- our fire season is 365 days a year. We've had them in October, February, May. We have to be vigilant here. I'm happy with our cow fire -- cal fire contracts. As I mentioned, the air resources -- we been able to keep the fires down to 10 acres countywide every time they start. You don't see a huge configuration like last time. In the state of the county speech, you don't like the new proposition 47 the one that reduces many nonviolent crimes from felony misdemeanor. You say it will bring more crime and drug use into the county. How would you like to see the county prepare for that? Well, it's a challenge. We had proposition 109 which was -- the law enforcement crew and district attorney and probation officer did a great job handling that. That was present realignment. The low-level offenders were taken out of prison and put into county jail. They were put on probation. This proposition 47 has reduced drug use, property crimes like theft. They have made them misdemeanors. We released thousands of prisoners in the state and we don't know the full impact of that. We expect to see drug use rise and we expect theft of property crimes to increase because now they are just -- misdemeanors. That's another issue. I don't know how this will affect us. I'm sure people have a problem the second largest county in the state. There wasn't any real significant increase in crime from prison realignment to you expect the county law enforcement to meet the challenge as well? Only experience will tell. I don't know. We are prepared and working toward this. One of the big issues I mentioned in my speech highlighted five deputies up in San Marco's for the first time in 20 years I've seen a program that actually gets kids out of gangs. When I say kids -- 20-year-olds also. I've never seen this before. I didn't think they could get out of the gangs. But with this program they have mentors from Victory Outreach to come alongside and the respect program the deputies are doing this -- the ones with the businesses and towns. They are helping these kids get out of the gangs and mentoring them. Assisting them in getting out. That is amazing to me. In addition, we have a tattoo removal machine that gives some of the tattoos off of them so they can go to work wherever they might go. Let's say Walmart are wherever it might be. The people are leery to hire people with gang tattoos. I highlighted those kinds of programs in the state of the county. I think the county employees do a tremendous job. Supervisor Horn you have represented us for 20 years now. Where would you like to see development in the unincorporated areas of North County? That's the only place you have left both Diane's district and mine are the only places where County land use applies. My district, as you know, in 20 years has grown. Every time we redistrict I have to give away a large number of people. Last time I had to give away -- times ago I had to give away Escondido because I had 79,000 many people. I have to give it away. Last time I had to give away forest ranch. Part of that area. I had to give away another 32,000 people. North County is growing. That means the other district have to be brought up to that number. Every 10 years we try to them on an equal basis. I think you are going to see -- I would like to see the development of various development of their along the 15 corridor along the freeways and infrastructure that exist already. I don't want to ask the taxpayers to build a new facilities in the hundreds of millions of dollars when I already have a 15, 76, 78 it makes sense to me to be along those transportation corridors. One reason I ask is there is an updated version of the Marian Mountain development project about submitted to the planters. Supervisors defeated a similar measure that would build more than 2000 home north of San Marco second 2010. Would you like to see that development go through? I haven't seen the plans for it. You have to put these people somewhere. We haven't built a shoddy product and 50 or 60 years. Long before me. When you go to the ranch area and the Delmar Heights area, and the [indiscernible] area, you see what development has happened. So if you are going to develop I would rather -- as I mentioned before, I would like to stick with the corridors that already have the infrastructure. I really don't want to see the sprawl going all the way into the hills and Palomar and that kind of thing. I think it's more important to keep a close to the corridor is. You mention Palomar. Let's talk about the airport. You said the master plan is about ready for public input. Popular do you think a lengthened runway will be with the residents? I don't know about the residents around the airport -- probably not popular. The extension will bring international flights in here. I it would be a big boon to the entire county's economy. Instead of having Lindbergh Field where you can bring in flights from China and Australia, what have you, they can now go through customs at Palomar. So, I think it will be a boon that not only to Carlsbad at the entire fourth county and I think the entire county will benefit from this. Give us another option rather than just Lindbergh Field. As you know, it is almost at capacity. Where else do you go? In addition to that, the runway lengthening would be another 900 feet. We are going to put another 300 feet safety April the West side. Those are all lands and I don't think it will impact the neighborhoods. In fact, probably less because you will be using much larger silage equipment going in there. I think it will be good for North County and good for the county. In addition we have I've been the chairman for the last two years of the North County transit to extract -- district. You have the railroad if a structure there. You have North County transit that can move people from the airport onto other people movers and get them around. San Diego is embarking on another stadium study task force to find out where to put an have to pay for a new charger stadium. How much do you think the county should be involved in those plans? We were involved last time. It is the city issue because they are going to build it in the city. I believe if the county could get involved we might be able to put in some revenue bonds something like that. I would have to say to the taxpayers you will not have to pay for this. This will have to be for bonsai will pay for themselves. We haven't been invited. We have to be invited first to see how that works. We are obviously -- we are prudent financially. We have a $5 billion budget -- extremely good credit rating. We would help is in danger but I could see us floating maybe some revenue bonds. To help make that happen. But, we are not a party to the negotiations whatsoever. Do but he has asked? No. Your colleague on the board -- Diana Jager, is running for reelection next year. The county GOP is supporting another Republican for that fee. Will you support Dianne Jacob for reelection? I won't support either party. I asked Diane for her endorsement last time and she didn't give it to me. So, payback is fair. I won't endorse the other party, either. I have a hard time -- I talked to Audrey Hitchcock the other morning and we agreed we don't have enough Republican office holders in the state that we have to run one against the other. That is an issue for me. I think Diane has done a fine job. She is a good calling. As I mentioned in my speech all of my colleagues have been good stewards for 20 years. As you know I can the kind of ironfisted about the money and what happens and the things that happened and I have to give them credit. We may not agree on everything but as far as the money goes and the operation of the county and maintaining our reserves, they've all been very good stewards. I would all give them all an A+. Thank you for coming and speaking with us. I've been sick begin with the chair of the board of supervisors -- Bill Horn Thank you very much. Have a great day.

North County Supervisor Bill Horn, appointed this year by his colleagues to chair the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, wants to enhance the county’s support for those who’ve served in the military.

"These men and women have made sacrifices that often take terrible tolls on their personal lives. As a county and as a community we have a responsibility to take care of our veterans,” Horn said at his Tuesday night State of the County address.

Horn, who served in Vietnam as a Marine, said veterans, active duty service members and their families represent more than one-third of the county’s population.

“That’s more than a million people,” he told the audience at the San Diego County Administration Building in downtown San Diego.

Horn said the county is transforming its veterans affairs office into a military and veterans department. The new director will be announced in the next few months, he said.

Horn also announced the opening of a new facility in Escondido that will serve as a one-stop resource center.

"The veterans resource center will have county representatives, direct access to programs, services and 15 organizations to provide support to veterans in one location,” he said.

The facility, set to open in the summer, will have a 30-seat computer, a conference room and additional interview rooms, the chairman added.

“Veterans who require benefits counseling, college-fee waivers, employment, rapid re-housing, transition assistance, case management, legal and financial services — they can take care of everything in one location,” Horn said.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday.

Horn also wants to expand some services so they’re accessible to veterans countywide, such as Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s program that links veterans to resources via FaceTime at their local library.

"Veterans will be able to apply for benefits or seek assistance without leaving their community or even licking a stamp,” he said.

Additionally, Horn touted the county’s wildfire preparedness, plans to build and expand libraries and its good financial standing.

Horn said for 14 years in a row, the county has received a triple “A” credit rating from Standard & Poor’s.

“I intend to keep this excellent credit rating as long as I am supervisor,” he said.

But Horn acknowledged that this will be his final four-year stint on the board.

“With term limits, this board will be changing, but I challenge the next generation of supervisors to maintain this high standard and protect this pristine credit rating we have here at the county,” he said.

Horn will have to step down in 2018 after 24 years on the board.