Leadership Qualities and Presidential Candidates ~ The Deal with Trump

I’ve read a lot of hand-wringing statements over the years about ‘What’s Wrong with this Nation.’ I agree with some, and many are blown way out of proportion. Many are essentially the same kinds of generational worries that have stressed out humans for millenia (“Kids these days ain’t got no upbringin’ at all,” Dad used to joke).

We tend to have selective memories about the “good old days,” waxing nostalgic about ‘simpler’ times because the bad stuff didn’t apply to us. Or, like childbirth, we survived the excruciating parts but got a wriggly, living bundle of joy with happiness that completely overwhelms the memory of experienced pain.

That said, I’ll throw in my own “What’s Wrong with this Nation” statement: We have experienced too few admirable leaders in recent years. Servant leaders, with great strength in their ability to listen, respond, and lead. Not roll over under the auspices of negotiation, but able to compromise effectively. Able to apologize and grow from occasional mistakes. Able to take an uncompromising, unapologetic stand when needed, but porous and humble enough to adjust policies to encompass broader perspectives wherever possible.

The stalemating and strong arm tactics between Congress and President Obama have made his many compromises to accommodate his political enemies look weak, though he is still loudly blamed for executive overreach. Our media-frenzy- and dirty-money-fueled two-party system has every politician screaming bloody murder and pointing fingers at the other side, with no tact or rightful respect for elective offices.

If you trust one pundit or politician, and they’re spewing carefully tailored, angry political rhetoric, they strike fear and hatred in your heart. You care about this nation, yet they are manipulating that care for financial and political gain and making us all miserable.

It’s no way to live.

Enter Donald Trump. Because there are so few commendable leaders, not only in politics but our daily lives, his hate speech sounds like strength. He sounds like a guy who could go to Capitol Hill with guns blazing to force needed change.

Such war language, especially that which denigrates and raises suspicions toward other Americans, does not bring healing to a hurting nation. Hate does not create peace and prosperity. It’s all bluster and no substance, and it is damaging us.

America is more populated and diverse than ever before. We need a leader who will consider the whole and knit us together with words of unity, not disparagement. Not one who gets attention by saying the most extreme, shocking statements that bully the underrepresented.

Politics is a mess, and one leader isn’t going to fix our nation. But electing a person of grace, inclusion, and strength in leadership is a necessary start.

Check your own internal responses to the things you see and hear. Do you find yourself saying, “Yeah!” out of a sense of inspiration and optimism for the future, or out of fear and anger that some group of people that aren’t “The Real America” might be threatening how you envision our shared country?

We used to have 30 minute sitcom-length attention spans. Now 15 second Instagram videos or Vines seem long. We need to take more time for introspection and reflection.

There can be no political savior, but there can be a great leader. A leader will strive to serve everyone on this soil. I’m going to attune my ears to healing language this electoral cycle, and pay close attention to the red flags of language that inspires or doubles down on division.

The healing of America must come from within each of us. We can help lead our country to new greatness by taking captive the thoughts that separate us. We are accountable for our own attitudes and how we feed them, and we must give leadership positions to those who foster growth and feed our best potential, not our worst.

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Comments on “San Diego Forward”

July 15, 2015

Rob Rundle                                                                                          via electronic mail
Principal Regional Planner                                                              rob.rundle@sandag.org
401 B St. Ste. 800                                                                               sdforward@sandag.org
San Diego, CA 92101

Re: Draft San Diego Forward Plan; Draft EIR

Dear Mr. Rundle, SANDAG staff, and Members of the Board:

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my comments on The Draft San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). While I serve as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, I submit these comments in my individual capacity as a 20-year resident of San Diego County. I am a parent, taxpayer, and citizen engaged in volunteer efforts to advance social justice and environmental protections. I want San Diego to be an amazing place for tourists to visit, but primarily I want the region to be the best it can be for current and future residents from all walks of life who call San Diego home.

With great power comes great responsibility. SANDAG is one of our region’s largest agencies, and you are responsible to use the full extent of your expansive budget, power, and influence to serve the best interests of all San Diegans. Some of you, in your official capacities as SANDAG board members or representatives, have made public claims that the agency’s role is limited in scope and responsibility. When you attempt to limit SANDAG’s great potential to make a beneficial difference on climate at this critical time in history, you are shamefully abandoning your political and professional responsibilities. You are choosing politically charged language to abdicate your duties to we, the people who live here, who are impacted daily by your decisions and pay your salaries, and you are doing so in order to maintain a fundamentally broken approach to transportation planning. It is a failure of leadership.

In analyses of various mobility options to serve the growing San Diego population, the presupposition is that SANDAG must build roads. No other approach to moving people and goods throughout the region is given equal consideration. The “balance” you acknowledge you must consider and implement to provide a variety of transportation options to serve the whole of San Diego’s population has long been weighted in favor of roadways. This is a failure in your own terms when you use the word “balance.” ‘Widen freeways now and promise a few transit projects later’ is insufficient to actually provide a variety of functional mobility options, and you are far overdue to shift the priority to other modes of transport to correct the imbalance. The longer you delay implementation of functional, integrated transit, the more it will cost. It is imperative to prioritize transit infrastructure now, without further needless delay.

Your bias favoring roads has served to create polluting congestion with limited non-car options that is our current reality. This continued approach does not take into account one of the most important segments of our population: the young who will be middle aged and older adults by the time many of the roadways projects listed in the DEIR will be built, and who have a declining interest in personal car ownership and driving (Exhibit “A” The Clearest Explanation Yet for Why Millennials are Driving Less, CityLab, July 13, 2015).

We can’t pave our way out of the current problem, and more pavement certainly will not serve to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, stormwater runoff pollution, nor traffic congestion (Exhibit “B” The One Chart That Explains All Your Traffic Woes, CityLab, March 2, 2015) and will not adequately serve the San Diegans of the future.


Clearly, as referenced in Figured 4.8-1, priorities must shift if we ever hope to reach the greenhouse gas reductions targets necessary to achieve climate stabilization. There is a remedy. It is an approach to transportation that can exceed state emissions reductions requirements, provide complete mobility choice, benefit the local economy, and protect San Diego’s future without expanding roads and their negative impacts. You, our heavily funded transportation agency, are obligated to study it, seek federal, state and local funding for it, and prioritize implementation of it.

Your current proposal contains all the same road-based projects as the prior iteration of the RTP, although as the years have passed cost projections have increased. Thus, transit projects have been removed (including the incredibly important below-grade transit station at UTC) in the DRTP to fund your hallowed freeways, and the region thus fails to meet regional greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets set by Executive Orders S-3-05 and B-30-15. While it is not currently a requirement for SANDAG to adhere to the additional emissions reductions set forth in S.B. 32 (Pavley) (which, if passed and signed into law will go into effect January 2016), the trends are clear that California’s legal framework is evolving to include increasingly stringent requirements to limit climate impacts.

The writing is on the wall. You, our leaders and representatives at SANDAG cannot continue to plan in a vacuum as though scientifically deduced targets for the continued viability of humankind are arbitrary guidelines to be ignored.

While some of you give lip service to such principles as “Vision Zero” and its goal of zero pedestrian and traffic deaths, you continue to perpetuate the paradigm that can only induce more traffic-related deaths; not only from collisions, but also the slower forms of death caused by particulate matter emissions from vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Much like the discussion of human health impacts in the DRTP concluding in a veritable shrug (‘impacts are inevitable, because we build roads’), you among SANDAG leadership refuse to meaningfully study or adopt any vision for the region that does not include an expansion of existing freeways.

This is despite documented benefits of a no new roads plan to accommodate the transportation needs of the region by maintaining (but without expanding) existing freeways and instead adding significant investments in light rail transit networks and safe active transportation infrastructure.

Although presented to SANDAG on multiple occasions by various individuals and organizations, I include here a copy of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation’s 50-10 Transit Plan: A World Class Transit System for the San Diego Region (Exhibit “C”), which lays out the feasibility and framework of implementing fifty years’ worth of projected transit in ten years. Realistically, the first phase of such transit investments would build out capacity along existing rail lines within the first ten years, which would lay the foundation for the expansion of the network arterials in the following decade.

More recently in April of this year the same renowned expert, Norman L. Marshall of Smart Mobility, Inc., released a supplemental report: “The 50-10 Transit Plan: Quantifying the Benefits,” (Exhibit “D”).

The human and environmental benefits of the proposed planning approach as discussed in the new report so significantly outshine those documented in the DTRP, the plan deserves more than a dismissive response by you who hold San Diego’s transportation future in your hands. Roads and rail direct growth patterns, thus San Diego’s land use future is also in your hands.

I encourage thorough consideration of the documentation enclosed, primarily the quantification of the benefits of the 50-10 Plan. It is your duty to build mobility options for San Diegans that will not exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions to further degrade our health and increase climate instability.


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Help us help San Diego!

Dear friends:

As a board member of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, I have been an advocate for better transit and San Diego’s urban quality of life as responsible anti-sprawl solutions for many years.

In that time, we have utilized our limited funding on experts who have done the work our tax dollars SHOULD do: identifying key areas already zoned for density in San Diego, funding thorough, professional comment letters on our local transportation plans demanding they prioritize building low-pollution, functional transit alternatives to highways, producing and submitting our own “50-10” Plan: a transit-first vision for San Diego and recently released study quantifying its benefits, and winning litigation when our agencies fail us as residents.

The next phase of CNFF’s advocacy has begun, both in defending our prior court wins and in yet again giving our local transportation agency highly qualified transit-first input regarding the next iteration of our region’s multibillion dollar, multi-year mobility plan.

Our historical successes have been fruitful in establishing some of the good projects and policies around the city and a modification of some language in the new Plan, but we must continue to engage to ensure SANDAG implements responsible planning. So we must continue our efforts.

My biggest request right now: Please help us fund this critical work.

Additionally, there are two upcoming public forums hosted by SANDAG. One is tonight, 6-8:30 p.m. at Jacobs Center (404 Euclid Ave., SD). This will be live streamed at sdforward.com, though you will not be able to submit questions and comments at the forum if you view the live stream. The final forum is tomorrow at UTC Forum Hall, 6-8:30 p.m., 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite E-25.

You can also submit comments on the latest Regional Transportation Plan through July 15, 2015.

Thank you for being a friend and an ally, protecting San Diego and making it a vibrant city for the future, and thank you in advance if you are able to make a donation to support our work.



Duncan Points to San Diego from Descanso

Duncan Points to San Diego from Descanso

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SANDAG Closed Session Dec 5: Please Support Transit and Do Not Appeal RTP Ruling

Dear Elected Representatives of San Diego County:

Thank you for your service to our region. I know each of you came into your positions with different goals and visions for change you hoped to effect, and you all serve many members of your respective communities with integrity and valor. Politics can be an ugly business, and preservation of soul and best intentions can fall by the wayside at times.

It is especially difficult, I would imagine, when devoted and engaged citizens disagree with your actions as elected officials. The sentiment of many nonprofit and volunteer community members, many of whom work full time jobs and are raising families, is that their voices and the advocacy they pursue are dismissed when more powerful interests are at play.

As a San Diego County resident, I sometimes commute by bicycle, take the Coaster when possible, but mostly sit in freeway traffic on a regular basis. I would GREATLY prefer to take functional transit than suffer the same traffic congestion on a wider freeway in the years ahead.

I have attended a few SANDAG meetings over the years, and have been dismayed to hear my comments dismissed by some Board Members as “not representative of the community” and/or “infeasible.” That despite the fact that some of the same Board Members have vocally bemoaned the small number of members of the public who attend and participate in public workshops and SANDAG meetings.

The transit and bike advocacy public is showing up in greater numbers over the past months. Many are regular, busy people who deem this engagement with you worth their time.

However, we are still being dismissed, both in the public comments some of you have made and functionally in the Regional Transportation Plans you direct staff to prepare, then approve. Our preferences are too often dismissed in the funding allocations of budgets we provide, yet you control.

I love San Diego County. I went to college here. I am raising my children here. My daughters and I love playing at the beach and camping in the mountains. Now that they are teenagers, I wish they could safely and conveniently go to the beach, shopping, or the movies with friends via transit, avoiding the dangers presented by cars. It is with this love for our natural and built environments, my family, and my fellow citizens that I approach my advocacy, and it is personally upsetting when my science-, data-, and law-supported views are so readily dismissed.

I submit these comments in my personal capacity, but I also serve on the board of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation. While CNFF has engaged in many SANDAG planning processes over the years, including privately funding infill and transit studies with our modest budget and presenting these as options staff could build upon, our input is largely unwelcome. Efforts to engage meaningfully are treated disparagingly by some members of the staff and Board, as though our mission to increase quality of life in the region and protect environmental resources is somehow in conflict with SANDAG’s mission. Indeed, had our straightforward, pragmatic input over the years been met with an attitude of collaboration rather than hostility, Friday’s meeting would be about moving San Diego forward rather than the topic currently on agenda. Unfortunately, I have come to believe some at SANDAG think their role is to increase roads; not mobility.

I am writing to quite honestly share from my perspective, because I maintain hope that you as our regional leaders will recognize signs that the winds are changing, and you will likewise adjust your sails to facilitate moving the region in a new direction (pun intended). We are reaching a critical point of climate disruption, public awareness, a “peak road” condition with disappearing open space, and copious helpful data from other populous regions with successfully implemented transit and infill scenarios. Rather than waste more regional resources, including time and money, in litigation, I encourage you to be wise leaders in these changing times.

If you vote on Friday to further appeal the 2050 RTP ruling, I will be a voice of dissent. I will be critical of that choice, but I hope you know better now the “why” and “who” of yet another San Diegan who has a different vision for our shared future. Regardless of your vote, I maintain hope that you will be open to new information in the years to come, and be willing to adjust your policies accordingly.

The younger generation among our population is more interested in mobility and online connectivity than car ownership. I hope you will represent the future, rather than dig in on transportation planning principles of the past that have created many of the problems that impact all of us today. There are many of us who wish to be partners in that process, and the benefits outweigh the challenges.

Thank you for your consideration of my contributions to this regional conversation.

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A heart for justice.

There’s a song that’s become popular in some churches over the last decade or so that includes a line… “Break my heart with what breaks yours…

I believe we are all made in God’s image. Being made in God’s image is a fundamental attribute of being human – not just for Christians, but for every person. And God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

Most of my friends are justice-minded: opposed to oppression of any kind, though some issues resonate more than others based upon life experiences. This hatred of injustice and pursuit of justice is like God’s heart. In God’s image.

Discussions around the Hobby Lobby decision are, in my mind, two sides of the same slippery-slope coin. On one: people are genuinely afraid of being compelled to support something to which they are morally opposed. They take the argument to the extreme (beyond medical and legal realities), and sympathize with presumed pro-life employers who would be forced to fund employee abortions. Some of these are rolling their eyes at “liberals,” saying their arguments are invalidated by the “narrow” rulings. They’re celebrating what they see as a victory for religious freedom, which is a very American freedom. Some even think it’s appropriate for nonprofits to be treated like churches, some of which refuse to provide contraception of any kind for any employee.

On the other side: women’s privacy. Women’s employment options. Unintended pregnancies for those who can least afford them. My ability as a single parent to provide for my children without invasive conversations with employers. A whole new opening to awkward and unprofessional conversations between pretty young female employees and their male managers, who might not hold the same religious views as the company owners, and who might take advantage of conversations about presumed sexual activity. Erosion of doctor-patient confidentiality and access to medication deemed most appropriate (some people are allergic to many forms of birth control, for example, and some have to take it for reasons other than sexual activity – whether single or married).

The worst possible outcome for everyone: An increase in *actual* abortions because employers institute policies wherein they will not fund any form of contraception on religious grounds. (Monday’s ruling was clarified on Tuesday, indicating this is a very real possibility).

This is a travesty of justice. The implications double down on the notion that sex is for women to avoid. The government is endorsing employers’ moral control of straight female employees’ private lives, presumably enforcing standards of “chastity.” This is invasive, and assumes birth control is only for unmarried whores.

It may negatively impact any women applying for jobs, because most employers don’t list the full range and limitations of healthcare benefits prior to hiring. If a woman asks about contraception during an otherwise successful interview, assumptions will be made and she may be passed over. Or the hiring manager may be a male who is inordinately interested to learn the new young employee is presumably sexually active. There are so many unprofessional, awkward, innuendo-laden moments experienced as a woman that are not readily defined as sexual harassment in the workplace that will be exacerbated in this scenario.

One right within our country’s laws (freedom of religion) should not force those changeable standards on others. Christians cannot dictate chastity to the rest of the unmarried world, or even within the walls of a church containing humans with free will. There are so many layers of judgment, our rights as Americans, rights of others who do not subscribe to Christianity, and many discussions this week are triggering notions of authoritarian dominance that have nothing to do with God’s love and should have nothing to do with laws in America.

So, yes, my heart for justice is breaking, and I’m tired of *only* men establishing rules that only impact *only* women.

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Welcome home, we wish you were dead.

Congratulations, those of you who think you know all the inner workings of our government and the hearts and minds of President Obama, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and his father. His welcome home party has been canceled.

All you lovers-of-American due process who have decided Bergdahl deserved to die as a tortured POW, who believe Obama probably set the whole thing up because he’s secretly a Taliban sympathizer, good job. This soldier’s hometown is afraid to openly welcome him home.

Your mind is made up. He shouldn’t have due process within the military’s protocol, because YOU’VE already decided he is unworthy of anything but a rotting, torturous death at the hands of the Taliban.

You can spend days obsessing over details and portions of “evidence” that “prove” the position of your already-made-up-mind that Obama was negligent to free him in exchange for Guantanamo prisoners (to date, President Obama has freed 88, compared to more than 500 released by President Bush).

You can ignore the parts of the story that don’t fit your narrative (leadership problems in his unit, for example, that his parents thought they were being ignored by Obama because they’re Republican Ron Paul supporters, that top GOP leaders were supportive of an exchange until it became a political hot potato, the intentions and heart of a father doing everything within his limited reach to keep his son alive and get him home).

You can ignore these or explain them away with a shallow, self-satisfied explanation if that helps justify your hatred and judgment of our country’s leadership – hatred you somehow find patriotic and comforting.

It’s unfortunate that this man, who has clearly suffered much, is doomed to a marked, dishonorable future, regardless of the facts (that none of us actually know at this time). If he commits suicide (as do so many of our soldiers) as a result of his past trauma and, more likely, losing in the Court of Public Opinion before he could even set foot on U.S soil, how much more of a waste will this exchange have been?

I can relate on one point: I am not thrilled that *every single one* of our presidents of the last 20 years or so have acted in flagrant violation of U.S. laws surrounding military action. However, even at my lowest point of disgust for President Bush’s wars, I assumed he was surrounded with intelligent advisers and was privy to information I was not.

As for me, I’m going to leave any further investigations and potential punishment up to the proper authorities who have access to privileged information, and who I’m sure will be speaking to the Sgt soon. I’m going to celebrate from the heart of a parent, finally able to gratefully wrap arms around a long-lost son. And I will not doom him for a list of presumed offenses and malintent ascribed to him based upon spotty information.

Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

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He wants them to leave Barrio Logan.

Chris Wahl, spokesman for Shipyards industry executives, wants Barrio Logan residents to move away.

Play at sunset. Shipyards presence is ever-looming nearby.

Play at sunset. Shipyards presence is ever-looming nearby.

Under the new Barrio Logan Community Plan Update, the foreign-owned companies Wahl represents can expand up to 20% by right, then go through special permitting processes if they want to grow further.

Nobody is kicking them out, the zoning for the Shipyards remains untouched, and the Navy has unilaterally stated it will not leave San Diego because of the Barrio Logan Plan (if you heard that condos were being built at the Shipyards or that the Navy was leaving, it’s because Shipyards representatives like Wahl lied about it).

Pollution and picket fences.

Pollution and picket fences.

The facts of the Barrio Logan Plan – assurances that existing Shipyards businesses are protected – are not good enough for the wealthy executives, however. They would prefer the residents move away and quit impeding their unbridled profits. They think the people who live there should disappear, because they don’t want to be forced to be responsible neighbors by submitting to sensible restrictions on future growth.

Chris Wahl said recently on KPBS Midday Edition, “…you can put community housing in any city or any part of the city.”

He also told KPBS in September 2013: “Everybody wants to have a better separation of uses, we are all on the same page on that,” he said. “But it can’t be at the expense of the shipyards and their future.”

‘Separation of uses’ means “We’ll stay; you leave.”

To San Diego’s credit, there seems to be support and sympathy for the Barrio Logan residents in their battle for a healthier future versus the Shipyards – especially when contrasted with recent deep disappointment in vocal, anti-density members of the Clairemont community.

Chicano Park: Barrio Logan roots run deep.

Chicano Park: Barrio Logan roots run deep.

Will this respect and sympathy equate to YES votes on Propositions B and C on June 3?

Is Barrio Logan a legitimate community of San Diego residents? Do they have a right to live and thrive in the neighborhood they call “home?”

If the Shipyards executives had their way, the residents would leave. Where would they go? Another area of San Diego that is equally affordable because it has poor air quality? Should they leave San Diego, en masse, and go… where? El Cajon? La Mesa? El Centro? Arizona? Certainly somewhere out of sight.

These colors don't back down.

These colors don’t back down.

A “no” vote on these propositions is an intention to erase this community; to support the false notion that Barrio Logan residents are somehow less valid citizens of San Diego. To vote “no” is to endorse the sickness of their children. To vote “no” is to agree with Chris Wahl and the executives he represents that the residents should move somewhere else. A “no” vote endorses lying and bullying to get a public vote in an attempt to overturn Barrio Logan’s hard won plan.

I hope you’ll vote YES on June 3. If you live in San Diego, you have until May 19 to register to vote.

You can also financially support the Yes on B and C campaign, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and tell your friends that a simple YES vote on June 3 will help right some of the injustices suffered by this culturally rich, valuable community.

They are San Diego, their children are our children, and Barrio Logan voices will not be silenced.

Barrio Logan knows how to come together.

Barrio Logan knows how to come together.


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