The First Amendment is the biggest weapon in the arsenal for any citizen activist in the United States. As Coronado's leading sewage activist, I utilize the First Amendment to write articles and editorials for local and regional publications, I have spoken at city council meetings in Coronado, Imperial Beach, San Diego, and County Board of Supervisors, I have organized and attended marches, protests, and rallies, I have organized and spoken at press conferences, I have done television interviews with every network in the region, I express views on social media, and I have founded CE News & Commentary. At its core, the purpose of the First Amendment is for citizens to be able to question, criticize, and petition their government and elected officials for a redress of grievances without fear of reprisal. However, in Coronado, we can observe, often in real time, reprisal against citizens for exercising the First Amendment, and we are seeing a related chilling effect on free speech in our town.
In February of this year, shortly after the USMCA trade deal was announced that allocated $300M towards transborder sewage remediation efforts on the U.S. side of the border in the Tijuana River Valley, I exercised my First Amendment rights to draft an editorial piece titled "Was Coronado's 'Diplomatic Approach" to the Sewage Crisis the 'Correct' Strategy"... this piece merely asked a list of questions for our City Council or federal sewage lobbyist to address at an upcoming Council meeting -- again, it was only a list questions. However, these questions have never been publicly answered by our elected officials, and these questions are apparently so dangerous, that the last citizen to share my article and ask these questions to Coronado's mayor on his official mayoral Facebook page, had her character quickly assassinated by the mayor's Hit Squad, and was subsequently the victim of a string of felony vandalism attacks against her home during the next few nights that CPD believes were "targeted" attacks, with heavy potted plants being carried from a block away past other homes and windows and thrown through plate glass windows of her home.
Whether conclusive evidence is ever obtained linking the character assassination and felony vandalism attacks targeted against the same resident, the end result is a tremendous chilling effect on the First Amendment in Coronado, with many residents fearful to place political yard signs and/or express their political views on social media, etc. I can say personally, as a citizen activist who has been the target of a multi-pronged smear campaign, and character assassinations from the mayor and his hit squad over the course of the last several years, my family is locking our doors and gates at night, we have taken other security precautions, and I am taking every single threat, smear and personal attack on my character and credibility very seriously.
I'd like to conclude by reprinting the list of questions asked in my article from February of this year... please note, these are questions the mayor does not want asked... these are questions the mayor has never officially answered... and these questions have proven to be dangerous for any resident brave enough to ask the mayor in a public setting:
• Are Coronado elected officials claiming credit for the $300M per USMCA deal?
• If Coronado is claiming credit for the $300M per USMCA, please explain in detail how the $300M would not have happened but for Coronado’s “diplomatic approach.”
• If the $300M per USMCA would have happened without Coronado’s “diplomatic approach,” why was Coronado’s “diplomatic approach” the “correct” strategy?
• If Coronado’s “diplomatic approach” was instrumental in securing the $300M per USMCA, why did Coronado not have a representative at the press conference [in early February of this year] when the San Diego delegation celebrated the $300M?
• If Coronado’s “diplomatic approach” was instrumental in securing the $300M per USMCA, why did Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina at the press conference to celebrate the $300M per USMCA thank everyone in the San Diego delegation except City of Coronado?
• Why did Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina say in May of last year that Coronado “has done almost nothing to help us, and their beaches are almost as polluted as ours?”
• Until fairly recently, the only details disclosed to the public about Coronado’s “diplomatic approach” was their purported efforts to draft with the County of San Diego legislation titled “U.S.-Mexico Transborder Sewage Protection Act of 2019”… what was the outcome of that proposed legislation?
• Why has Coronado been so secretive about disclosing specific details regarding their “diplomatic approach” to the public and other stakeholders?
• Did Coronado organize the [early 2020] key meetings at the White House attended by San Diego Mayor Faulconer and IB Mayor Serge Dedina, or is it a more accurate characterization to say Coronado elected officials were tagging along and lucky to be invited to attend?
• Why will Coronado not declare an emergency for the sewage spills when our beaches are closed due to cross-border pollution? [Cities of San Diego and Imperial Beach have ongoing declarations of emergency for the sewage spills, and Coronado is the city 2nd most adversely affected in the United States by beach closures from cross-border sewage which is the longest ongoing environmental crisis in the nation].
• Why will Coronado not issue free Nixle alerts for beach closures, when the public is begging for such notifications? https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/nixle-alerts-for-beach-closures
• Many who encouraged Coronado to join a sewage lawsuit suggested Coronado join with a “cap” on expenses of around $100K – $150K. In comparison, how much in total has been spent on Coronado’s federal sewage lobbyist in connection with Coronado’s “diplomatic approach,” and how much taxpayer money has been spent in total to send Coronado elected and public officials to D.C., Mexico and/or Hawaii in connection with the transborder sewage topic?
• Will the photos of Coronado elected officials in D.C. be used by the relevant elected officials in their 2020 re-election campaigns? [update - Councilman Benzian is not running for re-election and Bailey is running unopposed for mayor]
• If Coronado’s “diplomatic approach” was the “correct” strategy, why do most sewage activists, sewage NGO’s and regional stakeholders feel the approach was at best not enough, or at worst, “almost nothing?”
For a comparable list of dangerous questions related to the proposed purple pipe sewage plant on the Coronado golf course that City Council does not want asked, see here: https://www.coronadoelectorate.com/post/10-questions-for-council-on-sewage-plant Daron A. Case, Esq.
Resident letters submitted to Coronado Electorate News & Commentary (CEN&C) are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CEN&C. Submit letters to CoronadoElectorate@gmail.com