I had the privilege of being one of 31 speakers at Wednesday night's budget meeting...the first budget meeting County Supervisors have ever had in the evening. It was a meaningful experience and I was proud to stand in partnership with SDOP and others in the coalition of Invest in San Diego Families. The three minutes they gave me to speak went quickly so here are my full comments.
Hello – I am Rev. Kathleen Owens, I live in District 4 and I am the Lead Minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Diego with two campuses…one in District 4 (San Diego) and the other in District 1 (Chula Vista) serving over 750 members and friends, and we are a member congregation of the San Diego Organizing project (SDOP). Thank you for this evening meeting on this important issue of the County budget. The church I serve is a partner with several of the groups that make up the Invest in San Diego Families coalition. As a lead minister with two campuses that includes multiple buildings and on-going maintenance needs and more, I very well understand the need to have reserve funds; I appreciate the strategic thinking of planning for unexpected needs; the need to have a rainy-day fund…our own church budget operates similarly. But I am also keenly aware of, as are members of my congregation, that we are not meant to be a savings bank while programs and services for people are kept at a minimum. What this coalition is saying is that the rainy day you are saving for…is happening right now. It’s raining in several of our neighborhoods whose people do not have access to mental health services – at our Hillcrest campus across from UCSD we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of folks in desperate need and without recourse; we have neighbors who live daily with food insecurity, our neighbors are in need of more shelters and available housing…the rising rents have made it difficult to find appropriate and affordable housing for so many, including many in my own community, esp. young adults and elders; and as a partner in the Interfaith Shelter, we’re fully aware of how needed and yet homeless shelters are and San Diego needs a permanent homeless shelter; as big a fan as I am of professional football, our county and cities are in need of housing vouchers, not a new stadium; our families are in need of substance abuse services, and employment training opportunities, not more prisons; we need to build up our infrastructure to increase safety rather than building up our reserves that are so much higher than the experts say we need…we are asking you to consider the values you are prioritizing in this budget...it seems like you are prioritizing the growth of reserves over feeding people, it appears like the numbers are saying prisons are more important than homeless shelters or housing vouchers; it feels like a new stadium is a greater priority than increasing mental health services or job training to folks in need…and I can’t believe this is true of you, as leaders of the County that claims to be the home of America’s finest city. As a minister of a faith tradition that honors that worth and dignity of every person, that works for equity and compassion in human relations, that has a goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all and respects the interdependent web of existence – I am asking you to consider a budget that affirms what all the great religions of our world teach…compassion for those in need and that we treat one another as we wish to be treated. I stand with our community partners asking you to invest in families and neighborhoods of San Diego. Thank you for helping make San Diego County better for all of us.
Posted on Fri, June 17, 2016
by Kathleen & Jennifer Ministers