Saturday, September 26, 2009

El Centro: Shame of the Border

We conclude this week's special examination of SCAG related issues with a virtual exploration of El Centro, the town where this organization's current president, Jon A. Edney, presides as a member of the City Council.

You might suppose that so esteemed a gentleman as Mr. Edney, the fellow who presumed this week to inform our City Council about how they should conduct the affairs of Sierra Madre, would be running quite a snug little operation in his own bailiwick. After all, if you are going to be a leading voice in California planning circles, and wish to share advanced opinions regarding how other cities should function, then you must be running quite a paragon of the art form yourself. So here at The Tattler we decided to take a good close look and do a little comparison shopping.

The first place we went was the City of El Centro website itself. And there the following praise of Mr. Edney's unmistakably excellent efforts were clearly spelled out:

Councilman Edney was first elected to the El Centro City Council in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007. Working together, Council and Staff, the city has been able to move forward with an aggressive agenda that has revitalized the community, added jobs, balanced the budget, and strategically planned the cities (sic) future.

So far so good! Now let's go deeper into the internet and see if we can't find some corroboration of the bold claims made for Mr. Edney on his City of El Centro bio page.

The next place we went to was Automopedia.org. Cars are an important part of any real city's culture, and you can often tell what a place is all about by the way they regard their automobiles. Those looking for good news about El Centro, however, will be disappointed because the information we discovered is not very positive. Here's how Automopedia.org breaks that unfortunate news down:

Walletpop.com released a report on the Top 25 Car Theft Cities in America this week, and some of the results may surprise readers. It's like an easter Egg hunt out there, and if you own a Honda Civic or GMC pickup best to install LoJack on that puppy. Basically, if you live in any of the cities listed below, and own a nice ride, it will probably be stolen before you're finished checking out this blog post. Better get your rear to the closest used car dealer.

El Centro's rank in the Top 25 Car Theft Cities in America hit parade? Number 16. Fortunately, Sierra Madre does not show up on that list.

When I want to discover the goings on in a small city, the first place I go to is e-podunk.com. They dig out the important facts and lay them out in a way that is both accessible and clear. And right away this site establishes for us that El Centro holds a first place in something. They are "The Most Air-Conditioned City in the United States." That is quite a distinction if you think about it. And with temperatures occasionally hitting the 120 degree mark during the summer months, the acclaim is understandable.

But some of the other facts we found aren't quite so chipper. Such as on the matter of El Centro's crime rate. According to e-podunk.com, "The number of violent crimes recorded by the FBI in 2003 was 325. The violent crime rate was 8.5 per 1,000 people." And the contrast with Sierra Madre's crime stats is not El Centrocentric, either. "The number of violent crimes recorded by the FBI in 2003 was 13. The violent crime rate was 1.2 per 1,ooo people." Quite a stark difference, and I'm not sure that is the way we would want to go.

And e-podunk.com shows quite an income disparity as well. El Centro's Median Household Income for the year 2000 was $33,161, or nearly $9,000 below the national average. Sierra Madre's Median Household Income in 2000, by way contrast, was $65,900, or over $23,000 above the national average. And nearly $32,000 more than what the average wage earner made in El Centro. So I am not quite sure what Mr. Edney has to offer us in that regard, either.

Unfortunately, the news gets even worse. According to City-Data.com the City of El Centro is a rather radically impoverished place. In the year 2007 residents with income below the poverty level comprised 21.7% of El Centro's population. The average for cities in the State of California was 12.4% That figure for Sierra Madre? A rather paltry 2.9%. And residents with income below 50% of the poverty level in El Centro was 8.4%. In Sierra Madre that figure was a very low 1.7%.

City-Data.com's family statistics are not very attractive for El Centro, either. For families with children, married couples comprise 24.4% of that population. However, in households where the adult member is female (no husband present), that percentage balloons to an astronomical 70.9%! In Sierra Madre the percentage of "married-couple families" is 85.7%. Oddly enough, in Sierra Madre single adult households are more likely to be headed by a male.

In El Centro the percentage of children living below the poverty level is 29.9%. The California state average is 16.9%. In Sierra Madre that figure is 1.9%.

And when it comes to the average value of homes, El Centro is a banker's nightmare these days. Sorry, but there is just no other way to put it. According to Zillow.com home values in El Centro collapsed from an average high of $239,000 in 2006, to less than $109,000 in July of 2009! Sierra Madre, by contrast, saw property values decrease from an average of $800,000 in 2006, to $690,000 now. A far milder collapse.

Now after reading all of the above you might not think of El Centro as being the sort of place you'd want to go for a vacation, but according to MyTravelGuide.com, there is something for the tourist trade in town. Here are some of the reviews of the Sunbeam Lake RV Resort in El Centro.

Ellen from Ocean Shores: "Wide street and nice sized lots. Management/staff not that friendly. There is a feed lot or something that stinks quite badly. Regulars joke about it. Don't know how long you have to stay to get over it. Between the stink, constant field burning close by, wood and garbage fires, not a nice place for the nose and lungs."

Dick from North Dakota: "We were parked by the back by the dog run. It was in front of a huge area of dirt that just blew and blew. There is no grass anywhere in the park. Just dead grass and places where grass use to be and died. The rates were really high for what you get. Storage area looks like a junk pile. We will not be staying there anymore."

Fredrika from San Francisco: "The lake is a mud puddle. There is a bad smell at the campground. The sidewalks are duck poop everywhere. The management is very unfriendly."

Kevin from Temecula: "This so-called resort is nothing more than a 'canal' they call a lake. Don't be fooled by the website, this place is nothing more than a dump surrounded by trailer park trash and dead fish floating in the 'canal.' Really I can't believe this place is called a 'resort.' It's garbage!"

I'm sorry, but having Mr. Edney, City Councilman from El Centro and President of SCAG, show up in Sierra Madre to instruct us on how we should conduct our affairs is like a fry cook from Arby's suddenly appearing at a 5 Star Restaurant to gripe about the egg creams. Rather than traveling here to offer his opinions on regional governance and strategic sustainability, perhaps Mr. Edney should consider reporting to the United Nations in New York to beg for a UNICEF grant to feed all those impoverished kids from single parent homes living right there in his town?

That this guy thinks he has something to tell us is just unbelievable.

37 comments:

  1. my brother in law is from el centro. we tease him about it. he doesn't even try to defend himself.

    that said, it is a bit disconcerting that SCAG is led by someone from the coachella valley - an area with zero growth issues. however, i am not a griper - or tonight a sleeper. nope. i am a can do fixer. and i have a fix.

    first, the city resolves its scag issue by getting out. second, we help our brothers in el centro by sending them a man who can help them realize their pent up dreams of urbanization. a maven of mixed use. a lauder of lofts. a man too busy thinking the big thoughts to bother attending any boring old meetings. yes, we send our brothers in el centro the great JOE MOSCA.

    this will be a win win. we (reluctantly) say God speed to the man whose duplicity brought us measure V. el centro gains JOE MOSCA's wisdom and admittedly crude triangulation skills. and JOE MOSCA can once again pursue his dreams for JOE MOSCA before a population not wise to his ways.

    bienvenidos mi compadre!

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  2. El Centro de Nowhere.

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  3. But he must have tons of international experience with organized crime and police issues

    Benefits and the Border
    http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14259012

    From City of El Centro website
    "Help us keep our city Drug Free. Report illegal drug activity anonymously at..."

    Operation Money Train
    http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/states/newsrel/2008/sd100908.html

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  4. If El Centro is the example of where SCAG leadership will take us,
    then I'd say let's run as fast as we can the other way. Why we would
    want to consider taking the advice of a guy who runs a town noted
    for its poverty, unemployment, and single parent families is beyond
    me.

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  5. Great Mexican restaurant, as you would expect in El Centro, discovered on way to Baja one winter camping trip, so good in fact that we made a point of stopping there on the way back home after a great time at Laguna Hansen in the highlands of Baja. Tried to google the place but could not pick it out of the listings, even though tried to pin it down further by looking for auto parts places (there was one next door) to recommend for your field trip to El Centro. Could find it while driving through town again I am sure.
    Adios, amigos y amigas, buen provecho!

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  6. sendjoemoscatoelcentro.blogspot.com

    Is that name already taken? These things are free, you know

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  7. I have some misgivings about the "Send Joe Mosca To El Centro" movement developing here this morning. Haven't those poor people suffered enough?

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  8. Was he responsible for having SCAG pay for El Centro's downtown plan?

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  9. I think an "export list" would be just fine. Nice checklist for local elections and commission appointments

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  10. Joe and John are on our council to serve special interests and have dedicated their careers to these agendas. They care more about SCAG and COG and SACRAMENTO than they do serving the people's best interests.
    Just like unfortunate El Centro's Mr. EDNEY obviously dedicates his career to the CAR AND THE BIA AND SCAG AND COG.

    How about some TRANSPARENCY in government?
    Watch last Tuesday's council meeting, Sierra Madre, you'll see and hear TRANSPARENCY in action. What a concept! Honest elected officials!
    KURT ZIMMERMAN, DON WATTS and MARYANN MACGILLIVRAY took ACTION against these SCAG and COG special interests. They had the courage to ask them questions. Questions these SCAG people struggled to answer. They had the courage to CHALLENGE some of their false claims. I've never been more proud of Kurt, Don and MaryAnn.

    I pray Kurt and Don will be re-elected (if anyone ever deserved to be re-elected, it's these fine men).

    I pray Joe Mosca will NOT be re-elected or any other Bart Doyle puppet the DIRTS try to sneak in to push Sacramento,BIA,CAR,COG,SCAG agendas on us, the people of Sierra Madre.

    Thank you Sir Eric for your reports. We NEED to know these things, and it is rare we read them in any of the development biased local newspapers.

    Thank you readers and posters on the TATTLER.

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  11. not always sleep deprivedSeptember 26, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    4:17 a.m., brilliant solution!!!
    And who says insomnia doesn't have it's good side?

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  12. His pitch makes a lot more sense to me now.
    His town needs development.
    Our town is BUILT OUT.
    It's a different world between there and here.

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  13. 9:59

    They have some sort of grandiose DSP for El Centro......however, there is a big problem.
    Who would want to live in that God-forsaken place?
    Of course SCAG wants to build it out, but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

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  14. SCAG is a one size fits all dress and it looks ugly on everyone.

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  15. When I was in High School....50 years ago, they used to refer to very ugly females as SCAGS.

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  16. And very ugly men were SCALLIWAGS

    ;-)

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  17. HYSTERICAL!!!! scags are pimples, Joe, John, Bart and the dirts proved it, they are a big gross infection. They should all move to El Centro so their self-CENTERED interests could be nurtured in a lonely little border town. They all would love it there, they would have a zip code all their own and build to their heart's content!
    All of the great reviews from Sunbeam totally describe the Dirt's Character. Thanks Mr. Edney for finally revealing the real truth about yourself and the real SCAGS. Once again our Sir Eric unveils the wolf in sheep's clothing. Another one bites the dust!!!

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  18. Funny!!!

    You got it, friend!
    Let's all spread the word around about these wolves in sheep's clothing.
    Don't underestimate the destruction they can cause.

    "oh, what a nice sheep, oops......you just lost a leg"

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  19. The Urban Dictionary has around 20 definitions for Scag, most of them unprintable on this site. But here is a few:
    - Junk, heroin, a highly addictive opiate derivative
    - All the disgusting and nasty things you can think of put in one word. Extremely appalling. Basically a skanky hoe.
    - A lowlife, cad, overall a person of ill repute or character.
    - A Cadillac Escalade. An extremely expensive and and absurd wasteof money.
    - To throw spite at somebody
    - Addicted gamers
    The rest are worse ...

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  20. Beloved Citizen!
    You're the greatest....have a nice weekend!

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  21. You're all GREAT AMERICANS! God Bless us all, God Bless America, God Bless Sierra Madre, thanks Sir Eric your the best!

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  22. Anyone driving out to beautiful downtown El Centro today?

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  23. Road trip has been delayed. There was some talk about The Tattler getting the keys to the city along with a parade, and we're awaiting confirmation. Plus it is going up to 111 there today. Not the kind of thing most people would willingly do.

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  24. Might I suggest a short road trip to Pacoima?
    I wonder if they have a SCAG rep?

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  25. Wherever there are elected officials with hopes of being big boys in Sacramento, there are SCAG reps. That they are willing to stab the people who elected them in the back in order to further their petit bureaucratic dreams is the prerequisite. And apparently the supply of those is near endless.

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  26. Yes, pretty disgusting, 12:32

    I never realized this was going on (naiveté) until this past year.

    People need to wake up and put a stop to this.

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  27. It's lots of fun to ridicule poor people, after all, we are rich and live on a hill. Yay!

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  28. It's even more fun to stigmatize people who have something, and then guilt trip them into believing that they have to sacrifice the town they live in because otherwise they would be mean. Yay! Whoever would have thought redevelopers could be so politically correct?

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  29. There is a flaw to that argument. When properties are sited for redevelopment in this Sierra Madre, it is always the homes of the poorest people that they target. Kick the poor out so that the rich can build? Yay!

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  30. My comrades don't care where you live - or don't live. But why ridicule? Does that make you feel richer? I think some day the cadres will come up that hill and the first oak tree will be decorated with anybody that styles himself "Sir". The billionaire will get plenty of votes in Sierra Madera, that is plain. The booshwa idolize the rich.

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  31. All this article stated was the facts. And you don't think Edney, a wealthy man by all accounts, isn't exploiting El Centro for all it is worth? That, after all, was the point. I think your sensitivity is just a little too one sided, comrade.

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  32. Wow! Sir Eric gets a death threat! Quite a way to kick off the week. Should we call the sheriffs?

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  33. We got the ISP and we've sent it in.

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  34. Whew! Emergency over. Pass the scones.

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  35. Whew! Emergency over. Pass the scones...please.

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  36. Looks like 8:31 a.m. did a good job of dragging the thread down to meaningless hostility and personal insult. Middlin' result for a troll. We've seen better.

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  37. The death threat angle is sort of deja vu. Haven't seen that sort of thingaround here in a while.

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