By PATRICIA MOONEY
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher paid us a visit at our October San Carlos Area Council meeting. (Please note that Dianne Jacob is the County Supervisor for our district and we hope she will come and talk to us in 2020.)
Turns out Supervisor Fletcher is a good speaker and opened his presentation with a story about two women who were excited to meet him. They both asked for selfies with him. As they were walking away, he overheard them say, “I can’t believe we just got a photo with Governor Newsom.” He had to tell them, “I’m not Gavin Newsom. The governor is taller and prettier than me.” Later on, Supervisor Fletcher met someone who demanded to know why he had spent taxpayer dollars on frivolous things, such as a plane ride for a pet bunny. Fletcher said, “I’m not Duncan Hunter Jr. either!”
Fletcher related details about his upbringing in Arkansas where his working-class family struggled to make ends meet, his father working in a paper plant, and his mom working in a battered women’s shelter. They were not wealthy but young Nathan never missed a meal and he had a great education. He then signed up for the military where he learned a lot about life and fighting and running to those who needed help.
After his military career, he became involved in politics so he could change the system from within. He asked himself, “How can we have a system where veterans can survive combat but not the peace that follows? How can our government fund all kinds of weapons but not support the veterans?” He started a nonprofit and raised $1,000. Then he found out San Diego County was sitting on $168 million of unspent mental health funds and his anger motivated him to become more involved in helping veterans, including those who are deported after being promised citizenship. Fletcher also gave a shout-out to some older veterans in the room. “The Vietnam veterans made things easier for my generation of soldiers, as we get thanked and apologized to in their stead.”
Another issue that gets him out of bed charged and ready to go is the homelessness issue which he said is paired with a mental health issue. David “The Water Man” Ross once told me that, “If you don’t have a mental health issue when you get on the streets, you soon will.” Fletcher echoed that statement and related that the Board of Supervisors has recognized the truth of it. They have begun a redesign of the entire system including the deployment of mobile crisis outreach teams, regional behavioral health hubs, and publicizing the number to call regarding someone who needs help is 211.
More than half of the homeless population is comprised of veterans. SCAC President Mark Schulze and I learned this factoid first-hand while producing a documentary called “The Invisible Ones: Homeless Combat Veterans” in 2008. It’s an eye-opening glimpse into what is really going on here in San Diego. We gave a DVD to Supervisor Fletcher to help him in his work. We also invite you to see the documentary in its entirety on YouTube at youtu.be/upue5Ti30ho.
The Board of Supervisors has also been working on MTS and increasing ridership. They want to provide options for everyone. Studies have found that expanding the freeway merely leads to an increase in usage and congestion. Seattle provides an example of light rail bussing, bike lanes, with walk paths and housing closer to where people work. Solving our traffic congestion problems will also address air quality issues
SCAC Potluck Holiday Party
Our next SCAC meeting is actually going to be a potluck holiday party on Dec. 11 (the second Wednesday instead of the first) at 6:30 p.m. at San Carlos Branch Library, 7265 Jackson Drive. Join us! Bring a dish and/or beverage to share. We’ll have plates and utensils. Let’s celebrate the season together.
No regularly scheduled meeting in January due to the holiday. Our next meeting will be on Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m., at the San Carlos Branch Library.
If you wish to be added to the Interested Persons List, have a topic you would like to learn or give a presentation about, please contact San Carlos Area Council Vice President Patricia Mooney at email@example.com.
—Patricia Mooney is vice president of the San Carlos Area Council. Email firstname.lastname@example.org