The Human Chord

Even with cancer laughter is still the best medicine

By Albert H. Fulcher, Senior Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Before reading this column, grab a paper bag. Throw all of your modesty into it and toss it away. We are going to talk about anal cancer. This is what “Five of Seven” would say.

Last year, after several months of pain, my life partner was diagnosed with anal cancer shortly after our 22nd anniversary. Devastating, it instantly started shredding the core of my very being. It has been a rough and tough year.

Cancer is brutal and shows no mercy to anyone in its path. Anal cancer treatment is poorly researched, a minority to other cancers. It is also highly stigmatized, like AIDS, a result of the sexually transmitted HP virus. Farrah Fawcett’s recent death and her documentary “Farrah’s Story” shed some light on this taboo of cancers.

Watching, knowing that every procedure, every new chemical introduced into his system is lethal enough to kill, is a frightening, continuous wild ride. There is no getting off. There is no way of knowing when it will end. For a long time, you simply live with very little hope.

It began with surgery to remove a tumor. Though the surgeon was optimistic, it left him with a two by three inch hole next to his sphincter muscle. As painful as this was, he would put on his best Irish accent, look you straight in the eye with a smile and say, “By golly, I have an extra hole in me bum!” He instantly burst into laughter. At that time I saw nothing to laugh at.

Surgery results were unsuccessful. With the cancer in early stages, his choices being few, we decided on nine weeks of chemotherapy and full pelvic radiation treatments. We knew we had harder times coming.

Three days before the beginning of treatment he had surgery to place a port implant in his chest. This is a small device, a container attached underneath the skin with a tube connected to a main artery in the neck. A one-stop shop for intravenous, it saves veins in the arms and hands from the multitude of times a needle is needed.

Once the procedure was complete, sitting in recovery, we got a first-hand look at this implant. With the swelling of surgery, it looked like part of Frankenstein, a large lump with a steel rod from his chest up his neck. As he looked in the mirror for the first time he said, “I look like Borg” the automaton alien villains from “Star Trek.”

This is when I fondly nicknamed him Five of Seven.

“I’m feeling fine,” said Five of Seven to the nurse. “But tell Sigourny Weaver to run. Something is getting ready to explode out of my chest, run across the floor and come after her ass!”

Along with the nurse, I laughed until I cried. Tears flowed in fear, anger, sorrow and joy—yes joy. It had been so long since I had laughed and a tremendous amount of joy overcame me. It did not take away the fear and anxiety, but it told me that he was ready for the fight ahead, and laughter soothed me like never before.

Chemotherapy and full pelvic radiation is not a pretty sight. It is as personal and private as it gets, with only those who go through it and the ones who stand by their sides can see. Five of Seven always found humor, even in the worst of situations.

One of the chemo drugs is called FU5. Attached to the port and carried with a automated pump this chemical is slowly pumped into the body for five days. This gives a clue of just how toxic this drug is. Doctors give it a really long, unpronounceable name for a layman. After the first dose Five of Seven told the doctor, “I know why you call this drug FU5. It is really because it F’s U up for 5 days.”

“Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated,” I would say on days when he did not want to eat or drink.

With his first problem of incontinency, I saw Five of Seven running down the hall screaming and laughing. “Hit the decks! Toxic turds! Don’t touch them, they will make you glow in the dark.”

As he began losing his hair, it started with his face. He shaved one day, then did not have to shave anymore. Every day more hair would fall as he showered or combed. One morning, after spending his normal two hours in the bathroom screaming and crying from the pain, he came out with a most peculiar look on his face. He grabbed the elastic of his underwear, stretched it out as far as he could and looked straight down.

“I lost my toupee, but I just found it in my underwear,” he said.

With full pelvic radiation, he had lost all of his hair, down there, overnight. Most would be embarrassed or horrified, but not Five of Seven. This just set off a series of one-liners that still are helping us to laugh in the face of cancer on a daily basis.

Many of us take obstacles in life too seriously. Laughter really is the best medicine. Learn to take all of life’s difficulties with a smidgen of humor. A laugh quickly cools the flames of despair, making it bearable, at least for a moment. Follow the wisdom of Five of Seven.

“I find myself hysterically funny,” he said. “I am laughing my ass off—literally. Look, there’s a piece of it lying on the floor!”


Faces of Immigration-A secret talent strides into the spotlight-Faces of Immigration

By Albert H. Fulcher, Senior Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Her long, elegant fingers dance across the computer keyboard throughout the day. At night, though, the music and magic begins.

 Leonila Baier is one of those secret talents who works hard and humbly all day as the administrative assistant to Dean Donna Arnold of the School of Arts and Communication. When evening falls she is an accomplished classical pianist.

 Baier was the breakout star of this year’s Faculty and Staff Concert, stunning the audience with virtuoso performances of Beethoven, Chopin and Ginastera. Hard-working, humble office manager exposed.

 Her parents fled the Fuchien Province of China in the early 1950s. Devout Christians, they fled the oppression of Communism.

 They created that life in Baguio City, in the Philippines province of Northern Luzon. Baier was born and raised there.

 Growing up, Baier had to tackle several languages. She learned the Fuchien dialect of Chinese at home, the native tongue of her parents. After school for 12 years she studied the Mandarin dialect. Living in the Philippines made her fluent in Tagalog and Ilocano.

All of her classes from elementary to collegiate were in English.

 Baier’s favorite language—the language of music—is spoken through her fingers and the ivory keys.

 Learning piano at an early age she took lessons as long as she could. She said the moment came when her parents could not afford the lessons any more.

 “I loved piano as a child,” she said. “But it got to the time when I could not pursue it any longer.”

 Things have changed radically for Baier since then. As an adult, her life is filled with a family, career, classes and performances. Lighting upon new inspiration, the past several years she rededicated her love of the piano accelerando.

 “My son inspired me to go back to the piano,” she said. “It is good to have talent and his is great. I thought if I continued learning, playing and performing, it would encourage him to continue his studies.”

 A long odyssey led Baier to SWC. With a temporary visa and a BA in Literature in hand, she left the Philippines in 1987 to marry her fiancÈ in America. They had met at her local nondenominational Christian church that promoted intercontinental fellowship.

Required to marry within three months, she arrived in October and married in December. She said that culturally, things were much different here than she expected. Growing up speaking English, she was not prepared for the dissimilarity of the language.

 “There are so many ways that English is spoken as compared to the Philippines,” she said. “So many complexities, even in something as simple as a joke. Many jokes require the cultural background of America to understand.”

Baier said her husband was very patient with her and would wait while she went shopping. It took her an hour or two to go through the supermarket, looking and learning about all the food that she did not have growing up in Baguio City.

“Of course, here in the U.S., there are so many more choices in everything,” she said. “I mean, how many cereals do you really need?”

 During her first trip to Fashion Valley mall, her husband only laughed at her excitement in seeing a sale sign in the window of one of the stores.

“I quickly learned that ‘sale’ in the U.S. does not mean the same as elsewhere,” she said. “The transition took some time, even today I am still learning.”

 Chula Vista is her home and November 2010 will mark Baier’s 18th year at SWC. Baier worked for the School of Business and Information Systems for 11 years, beginning as a clerical assistant. After an eight-month position with Math, Science and Engineering, she returned to Business and Information as an administrative secretary.

With recent reorganization of the School of Business, Baier was promoted to her position in Arts and Communications in July 2009.

 “I feel blessed to be in the environment of the Arts and Communications school,” said Baier. “I feel very connected. I am surrounded by music, art and teachers that have doctorate degrees.”

 Through the years, Baier has taken various classes to improve her professional status and wage. Continuing with her music she is now taking Music 125, Applied Music.

Professor of Music Dr. Jorge Pastrana discovered Baier’s talent quite unexpectedly passing a rehearsal room.

 “I remember walking by the music room one day,” said Pastrana. “And I heard classical music being played, like Chopin. This was very unusual to me.

You don’t hear that around here very often, especially considering we do not have a full time piano teacher.”

 Pastrana invited her to take his Applied Music class, designed to get musical artists of all instruments to play together and give them the tools to overcome stage fright. He said that Baier’s eyes lit up when he said that and admitted how difficult it was for her to perform.

 “Then this is the class for you,” he said. “We cover all aspects to teach you to be a better performer, how to get ready for it and get over the sweat. This can be done. It is a process of time and control.”

 Baier said she loves the class and has already gained tremendous confidence in taking it.

 “We have the best here at SWC,” she said. “Dr. Pastrana is my mentor. He really knows how to bring out the best in your abilities. He is such an inspiration.”

 Pastrana said he has gotten to know Baier better with her recent position in his department and that she is very serious about music and works hard. She has performed twice this semester, at the Faculty Staff Concert and the Student Honors Concert on Cinco de Mayo.

“She has learned that she is able to control and express herself in music, without the fear and pressure,” he said.

 Baier said she has an ongoing goal to improve as a performer. Along with her classes, she takes private lessons from Lee Galloway. Considered a music institution in San Diego for decades and an expert in musicology, Galloway is listed in “Who’s Who Among Young Professionals” and “Who’s Who in the West.”

 Baier has taken lessons from Galloway since May 2009. Galloway said that adults generally seem to progress a little more slowly, but Baier is an exception. He said Baier is improving in technique and interpretation.

 “She has a distinct dedication to her music,” said Galloway. “She makes music a priority and practices regularly, making good progress and is open to suggestions. She used to believe that she couldn’t play fast, but is beginning to get over that.”

 Baier’s son also studies with Galloway.

 “She takes an active interest in his progress, practice and study,” he said.

Galloway has worked with the Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC) as president and evaluator, evaluating music festivals and competitions throughout the state. His music has remained in the Classical Top 40 since hitting the top of the charts in 1999.

 “She now wants to become a piano teacher,” said Galloway. “She is about to begin the Cal Plan program of MTAC. Membership in MTAC requires a college degree in music or its equivalent. Cal Plan enables students to achieve this equivalent through a specific study program.”

 Beginning in 2007, Baier completed a Certificate of Merit Program with honors through MTAC. This program provides a systematic and comprehensive plan in developing performance, technique, ear training, sight-reading and music theory skills. There are 10 levels of developing skills.

 “I made a goal for myself to complete all 10 steps in five years,” she said. “I did it in four. It was always nice when I went in to take a level test. Someone would always tell me how nice it was to see an adult in the program.”

 In July Baier will perform at the MTAC Convention in Los Angeles.

She said she believes that musicians need great teachers to guide them and they need to be willing to put in the work.

 “Whether you have talent or not, you have to put in your 10,000 hours,” she said. “I hope that I encourage more adults and classified employees that it is never too late, not to be afraid and to realize that we are not too busy to continue to develop ourselves.”

 Returning to school as an adult, Baier said she views things very differently. She finds that every time she plays, it is comforting and therapeutic.

 “SWC is the best environment for adults returning to school,” said Baier. “I do not think that everyone on campus sees the resources that we have right here. They let it go to waste, right in front of them. There is a need for a proper environment in learning. I have found that here.”

 Moving from a computer keyboard to ivory keys every day Baier continues her professional and personal goals to learn, educate and encourage. She plays weekly for The Church in Chula Vista. Her performance repertoire includes the classics of Beethoven, the romantics of Chopin and the contemporary of Ginastera. She believes it is important to share thoughts in life and endeavors to illustrate this in her family, work and music.

 “Sometimes this helps us sit back and rethink about our life, to make sure our next journey is going in the right direction.”

Building a legacy, crippling a college


By Sun Staff

Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Issue

The superintendent’s focus on building a personal legacy has badly hurt students

Our Position

SWC needs leadership to do what is right for students, which is to provide classes and strong instruction

26%. That is the number someone needs to justify.

Do not blame it on state budget cuts. This was a choice.

Southwestern College has become a tool to fund architects, construction companies, consultants, attorneys, special interests—and the legacy of Superintendent Dr. Raj K. Chopra.

This spring SWC turned away thousands of students after cutting funding to more than a quarter of its classes. Administrators and the governing board blamed state budget cuts. That is a cop out. They ignored faculty ideas and student pleas.

This college should never have cut more than 10 percent of its classes, but it gave in to every special interest instead of funding classes. In our last editorial, The Sun showed the board’s blind approval of hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, lawyers and self-help seminars while at the same time cutting 26 percent of its own college’s classes in one semester (40 percent over the past three.) In this editorial we will show how the hubris of Chopra, in search of his legacy, has destroyed this college and led it to within a step of losing accreditation.


You are not a leader if you cannot earn the trust of your employees. With trust anything is possible. With suspicion, nothing is.

It takes real talent to enrage nearly every employee under you, but Chopra has done it.

We would call him a dictator, but he might spend more tax dollars hiring auditors and investigators to find reasons to shut our newspaper down. Freedom of speech is not big with Chopra. Last year he barred four faculty members from campus after three of them stood with students against class cuts outside of his little free-speech patio.

It was not too long after Chopra arrived in Aug. 2007 that people were barred from going to the college’s public governing board meetings because the “fire marshal” said it was too crowded. This was the first time the “fire marshal” ever seemed to care about SWC board meetings. Call some employees who worked under Chopra at his former charge, a K-12 school district in Phoenix, and they will tell you that the “fire marshal” started showing up at their board meetings after Chopra arrived as well.

What happened in Arizona and then here is too similar to be a coincidence. Chairs were arranged to fit the maximum room allowance and speakers were mounted outside for people to listen to the board meeting in the dark. Face it, Chopra’s just not into democracy.

Little things, like employee morale, are not big with the superintendent either. While Don Sevrens of the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board paints his lunch buddy as a savior, he left out a couple minor points such as:

  • No Confidence in Chopra: SWC Academic Senate 2009
  • No Confidence in Chopra: SWC Council of Chairs 2009
  • No Confidence in Chopra: SWC classified union 2009
  • No Confidence in SWC Governing Board: Academic Senate 2009
  • Resolution to clarify shared governance to Chopra: Academic Senate 2009
  • Resolution to clarify shared governance to Chopra: Academic Senate 2007
  • Resolution in support of Free Speech: State Academic Senate 2009
  • Resolution in support of Free Speech: Faculty Union 2009
  • A community effort to recall the three governing board members who have blindly supported Chopra.
  • Plagiarism of his Thanksgiving letter to the college.
  • Recommending a partnership with the mercenary factory Blackwater, the most notorious company in the nation.
  • Framing 26 percent cuts to SWC’s spring classes to fund exurbanite non-academic expenses “managing the budget.”
  • A faculty survey completed by 160 of the college’s 250 full-time faculty members that gave Chopra a solid “F.”

So the man does not get high-fives from his employees and is not big on the First Amendment, what is the big deal? How about a fiscal argument? When people work in fear and intimidation it can cost an organization a lot of money. Contentiousness breeds where trust is absent, thus SWC’s over-reliance on pricy third-party consultants and lawyers.

SWC loves mediators. You name it, the college has one. Even the governing board has a paid referee it has hired for thousands of dollars to come in and make sure arguments do not get too far out of control.

It is no wonder college employees are not enthusiastic about taking a pay cut to help reduce overhead. During the 2003 recession, the entire college came together and took a pay cut to avoid layoffs. This time employee unions would not even call the vote. The very second Chopra took a $15,000 raise in 2008, and then called it “lousy,” faculty have not looked back in writing this man off.

Chopra has too much pride to publicly ask employees to take a temporary pay reduction. He would rather cut a quarter of the student’s classes than ask the people who hate him to take a salary reduction. Chopra’s talent at creating an environment of distrust has made SWC a campus of lawyers, consultants and bitter feuds—and all at the expense of classes. If Chopra had been a leader instead of a dictator, this college would never have had to pay its bills on the backs of its students.


Since Chopra has been here he has touted Proposition R as his baby, even though SWC and community members had been working on it for years before he came. Chopra even talked out of both sides of his mouth about it during the Prop. R campaign, telling some audiences he did not care if it passed or not.

Now the man wants to leave his stamp on the college’s largest construction project to date, the corner lot complex.

Conventional wisdom says the upcoming construction does not affect class funding because it is being paid for with a $389 million bond approved by the public last November, not general fund money. But what has been lost in the rhetoric is that in order to get a good bond rating Chopra and his right-hand man Nicholas Alioto had to make the college’s balance sheet look better than it really was. To do that they took money that would have funded classes and shored up low-level liabilities that have been on the books for years.

About $800,000 that would have gone to funding classes was spent to pay into a fund neglected for years that allowed teachers to teach an extra class and be paid for it later. This payment did not have to be made during a recession.

This is not the only liability Chopra foolishly paid off in the middle of an economic crisis. He also insisted on paying into an embryonic pension fund that could have waited until better fiscal times. On top of that, as one board member pointed out, he increased the board’s reserve by $1 million. That means the college paid almost $2.3 million in liabilities during an economic crisis while at the same time cutting $1.5 million of its classes.

And why? Because this college needed to engage in financial spin to look better for New York bond assessors so that Chopra’s friends could sell bonds easily and make a profit.

Last September The Lincoln Club of San Diego County, one of the most conservative groups in San Diego and home to construction company tycoons and bond dealers, purchased a large ad in the San Diego Union-Tribune and other county news outlets praising Chopra’s work at SWC.

There are a few disconcerting issues with these ads. First, by law, the SWC Governing Board is a non-partisan governmental body, and use of the logo implies that SWC approved or endorsed its use for a staunchly-Republican organization. Second, unauthorized and possibly illegal use of the SWC logo is a trademark infringement.

Third, Dan Hom, a member of The Lincoln Club and a known bonds broker, ran SWC’s Prop. R campaign, the measure voters approved granting $389 million in bonds for SWC’s physical plant and new building projects.

Governing Board Member Nick Aguilar, a lawyer, immediately brought these conflicts of interest to Chopra and the governing board. He requested an investigation to determine who released the rights of the logo, and appropriate action in response to its unauthorized use and future protection from infringement.

The Lincoln Club immediately dropped this ad without any questions being answered.

Board Member Dr. Jean Roesch, a conservative Republican, said she appreciated the praise from The Lincoln Group, but denied that she was affiliated with them. She also said The Lincoln Club apologized for the ad. Though Roesch denied being a member of the Lincoln Club she is clearly a fellow traveler. Roesch has donated to the organization since 2003.

The Prop. R bond will be the largest construction project the college has undertaken since the construction of the original campus in the early 1960s. At a time when construction firms are desperate for work, SWC has buckets of money for buildings but not for classes.

Something stinks. It seems like the construction companies have taken our classes and a man who is too focused on leaving a legacy at SWC has forgotten what higher education is about—teaching the students.

When you go to the polls next November show incumbent governing board members Yolanda Salcido and Terry Valladolid what you think about their superintendent and think “26 percent” when you vote for the other candidate.

San Diego News Room-Chula Vista to begin construction on natural gas-fired peaker plant

San Diego Cities Chula Vista
Written by Albert H. Fulcher   
Tuesday, 17 August 2010 23:15Chula Vista is in the beginning evaluation of constructing a 300-megawatt natural gas-fired peaker plant and substation on 14 acres of city-owned, protected land in Otay Valley Regional Park (OVRP).

Some feel this project is being overshadowed by the controversial Sunrise Powerlink and the shutting down of the South Bay Power Plant, and is thus slipping under the community’s radar. The need for additional power is not in contention, but some are concerned about this plant’s impact on a protected habitat.

Pio Pico Energy Center, LLC, (PPEC) submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) to the California Energy Commission (CAEC) on June 30. With a maximum capacity of 4,000 hours per year, the application states that this plant directly satisfies San Diego’s area demand for peaking and load-shaping generation.

Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox said she was notified by California Independent System Operator in 2007 that two of three elements were needed to remove the South Bay plant: the operation of Otay Mesa, Sunrise Powerlink and one or two additional peaker plants.

“Chula Vista has a multi-pronged approach to energy use, including conservation and solar energy,” Cox said. “A replacement 300 megawatt peaker plant contributes substantially to the demolition of the South Bay plant while assuring a source of energy for the region.” Michael Meacham, Director of Conservation & Environmental Service for the City of Chula Vista, said the city considered every industrial and limited industrial site more than 1,000 feet from sensitive receptors.

This resulted in four parcels, three privately owned and one owned by the city. SDG&E sent a Request for Offers. Chula Vista marketed every developer that had successfully completed the CAEC process and had built and operated a plant in California in the last four years.

Meacham said the proposed plant is roughly a mile from existing schools and housing. The location will maintain a distance of approximately 4,500 feet from the edge of proposed Chula Vista University.

“Tucked in a corner with mountainsides to the north, east and south, it will not be seen except from the valley floor. Public process addressing potential color and vegetative screening should make it almost disappear from view,” said Meacham.

Gary Chandler, president of Apex Power, the project’s developer, said the proposed site is the preferred and only choice for the PPEC project and is needed to support renewable energy in the region.

Surrounded by utility trails, this property has above ground transmission lines, underground water lines, natural gas lines and is immediately adjacent to the Otay Water Treatment plant.

“We looked at other possibilities. Sites are extremely limited because of necessity for gas lines and water supply,” said Chandler. “This site already has resources in place and an industrial character to the area next to the water treatment plant.”

This mesa stands directly below Otay Lakes County Park. Made up of more than 8,000 acres, the OVRP is a diverse environment, containing at least 14 habitats that are home to several rare and endangered animal and plant species. Native nesting and migrating birds, a large variety of mammals, reptiles and tiny bionetworks depend on this river valley.

Frank Ohrmund, the secretary of Friends of OVRP, said community awareness is needed now concerning the proposal.

“I just cannot comprehend why a 20 year effort to create a regional park is being trumped so easily for expected tax revenue,” he said. “Especially when a site is for sale just south of Otay Mesa. City Council should pass on this revenue source to validate the years put into creating OVRP and save Otay Lakes Park.”

Ohrmund said there are 19 acres for sale, with a 30-inch gas line, next to the peaker plant at the corner of Otay Mesa and Harvest Road. The land has a $5 million price tag with grading plans ready to go.

Chandler said the proposed plant can start partially or totally within 10 minutes and is designed for peak periods of power needs. He said this project will also bring revenue and jobs to the city.

“This project will generate more than 200 temporary construction jobs, all local union labor,” he said. “It will create 12 permanent jobs to run the facility.”

Meacham said revenue from PPEC has potential to replace some of the nearly $3 million in average annual revenue from the South Bay plant, and will be reinvested in providing local public services.

“The plant’s ramping ability makes it a perfect candidate to complement growth of local solar and wind resources,” said Meacham, adding that its efficiency would lower the cost to San Diego area ratepayers.

Mayor Cox said the South Bay plant carries negative environmental impacts to the community and bayfront. But as there are plans to demolish the South Bay plant, the energy source has to be replaced.

“Chula Vista uses 125 megawatts and our current population is about 231,000,” she said. “The 2010 Census will edge us towards 240,000 by 2020.”

Environmental impact on the area falls under the guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act. Preliminary reports were submitted to CAEC July 12.

Apex presented the current proposal at OVRP to the Joint Policy-Citizen’s Advisory Committee (PC-CAC) on April 29. The agenda included site location and nearby facilities.

“The whole review process will be very public and conducted locally,” said Chandler.

Established in 1990, PC-CAC is a multi-jurisdictional OVRP planning effort by the County of San Diego, San Diego and Chula Vista. It consists of a three-member Policy Committee of elected officials and a 30-member Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, a policy committee member, said the peaker plant is much more energy efficient and affective than the South Bay plant, calling it a big improvement with less pollution.

“All things being equal, this site would not be my first choice,” he said. “This site is part of Otay Lake Park and will impact the look and feel of the park. Taking family out for a picnic by Otay Lake, they will see a power plant. It is not necessarily what people want to see.”

Katie Westfall, CAC member and WiLDCOAST Otay River conservation manager, said there are still unanswered questions about direct impacts to habitat, wildlife and future trail connections, but it is not a place for a power plant. She said the PC-CAC has done a great job creating the OVRP.

“It is one of the last areas of open space in south San Diego County and represents a place where community members can go hiking, biking and appreciate nature,” said Westfall. “Bottom line, it is a public land for people to enjoy the outdoors and a crucial habitat for wildlife.”

Supervisor Cox said he understands why this site is attractive, with access to natural gas and reclaimed water, and if approved, mitigation is needed to ensure the least amount of impact possible.

“We want, and are asking for, a call for public meetings and being kept abreast of policies,” he said. “We want to know specific impacts this project has on this area’s environment.”

Meacham said there are undoubtedly other places in SDG&E’s service area physically large enough, but he doubts there are many, if any, equally based on available resources.

“If a better site can be found, I hope and encourage the public to give alternatives, addressing challenges through robust open, transparent and inclusive local process,” said Meacham.

This project contains a property purchase of equal or greater habitat value adding 16.5 acres adjacent to the park. Requirements include a set of open space parcels of at least 14 acres near the park to be preserved.

Meacham said at the end of the lease, all property remains under city ownership and can be restored and reverted to the park. OVRP will gain at least 30.5 additional acres and have a substantial new infrastructure. PPEC is applying for a 20-year power agreement.

Chula Vista is a leader in sustainability, reducing municipal operations’ greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent since 1990, double the Kyoto commitments any country has made.

“We have lowered our energy use and cost, increased total square feet of parks, recreation facilities and roads for public use and are working on water and energy conservation every day,” said Meacham.

He said this plant would use reclaimed water, treat it on site and put it into a sewer trunk in Chula Vista.

“New sewer infrastructure will make park ground water cleaner,” he said. “It will extend the water agency’s reclaimed water lines, conserving potable water for best use in the South Bay and give access to reclaimed water for irrigation and industrial use.”

Meacham said the city believes this design and location is the best option in the community’s fair share to maintain regional energy reliability while complementing the long-range goal of reducing fossil fuel dependence.

“This improves local air quality by reducing total local emissions. The city continues to lead implementation of conservation for municipal operations and community consumption of energy and water,” he said.

Mike McCoy, an environmentalist and member of the OVRP Committee, disagrees. He has worked evaluating soft energy paths and implementation of alternative energy since 1976.

“If you are going to protect a park, then protect it,” he said. “We keep compromising the OVRP and are turning it into a great spectacle. You cannot compromise one area without putting an end to the whole process.”

McCoy said the city needs weaning off fossil fuels and strongly supports community choice aggregation as a viable alternative, as Marin County, Calif. adopted in February.

“Chula Vista needs to return to its path of less fossil fuel dependence and costly imported energy, and look beyond immediate tax revenues. Decisions we make today will affect the local and global community over the next century,” said McCoy. “Every bit of carbon loading we prevent now will save our future generations. Not to do it is just irresponsible.”

Dr. Serge Dedina, executive director at WiLDCOAST, said WiLDCOAST is committed to preserving the OVRP. Future trail plans will allow community access from Chula Vista Bayfront to Cuyamaca.

“Protecting our open lands to the community is essential. The more people are involved in nature, the happier they are. Quality of life depends on the balance of nature and access to healthy, open spaces is part of that balance,” said Dedina.

On July 30, CAEC Data Adequacy Recommendation stated, “Of the 23 technical disciplines reviewed, we believe the information contained in the AFC is deficient in eleven areas which are: air quality, alternatives, biological resources, cultural resources, efficiency, project overview, soils, traffic and transportation, transmission system engineering, visual resources and water resources.”

Chula Vista City Council approved a resolution giving the city manager authorization to negotiate and execute a lease for the property subject to final CAEC approval on February 2.

San Diego News Room-Marine Group Boat Works pumps millions of dollars into local businesses

Business and Finance San Diego Business
Written by Albert H. Fulcher   
Friday, 06 August 2010 08:39

Marine Group Boat Works pumps millions of dollars into local businesses

Chula Vista, Calif.: Marine Group Boat Works, LLC, with a government contract valued at more than $30 million, delivered the first of three Range Training Support Crafts (RTSC-110) to the Navy, Friday, July 23. RTSC-110s are equipped with 100 percent biodiesel (B100) engines and cold ironing capabilities.

Able to launch and recover small high-speed crafts, aerial targets and test weapons, it is a multi-mission boat supporting evolving naval requirements.

Todd Roberts, vice president of Marine Group, said the Navy is a front-runner of cold ironing with its ships, but not with smaller crafts.

“It is a big deal. It is a zero discharge boat,” said Roberts. “It does not have the capability of discharging into the ocean. Nothing can go over the side. There are no valves to allow any other type of discharge. This way no mistakes can happen.”

Roberts said the launching of the first craft was a terrific success, meeting contractual obligations and far exceeding government expectations. Internal sound and minimum speed requirements were well surpassed. “We did a lot of things not required in the building matrix,” said Roberts. “With a requirement of one crane, we added several to give it extra functionality we thought it needed. Wing control was not specified—we put them on anyway.”

In a press release, Capt. Bill Jensen, Navy Range Office resource sponsor said, “The RTSC-110 class of craft will satisfy aviation, surface and subsurface warfare training requirements. Moreover, our Sailors train towards a higher fidelity of threat representative scenarios thanks to the numerous capabilities the 110 brings to the fleet.”

Ronald Powell, director of communications for the Port of San Diego said this venture with one of its tenants is a wonderful thing for the Port to watch unfold. As the project is pumping more than $5 million into the local economy, the Port expects the total contract to exceed $15 million regionally.

“This is a true partnership in the true sense of the word,” said Powell. “Jobs are created and local businesses profit. It is a win-win situation for San Diego County.”

Family owned and operated, Marine Group reinvented itself in 2006. When renovating their facilities, Roberts said they built their redevelopment process on superior customer service.

“What we are known for is not being a typical government contractor,” said Roberts. “We listen to their needs, incorporate them and treat them as a commercial customer.”

Marine Group is one of the largest non-nuclear ship repair facilities in the country, gaining a strong reputation when it fronted a series of repair jobs for the Navy on smaller naval specialty craft.

Roberts said the economy was booming then. Defense contractors had ample work and a hard-nosed approach to government contracting. Marine Group’s unconventional mindset gave way to a request from the submarine warfare community to participate in the RTSC-110 project.

“We had done new construction historically, but not in 15 years,” said Roberts. “This project is unique. It is a design-build project.”

With a 30-page matrix from the Navy, Roberts said that after listening to their needs and expanding on them, they delivered a design the Navy described as fantastic. After hundreds of hours of designing the product, the government issued a Referral for Proposals, opening bidding nationwide.  Marine Group was awarded the contract in 2008 and is due to deliver the third boat in 2013.

“We had done a lot of investment in the design work. It was a huge relief when we were awarded the project,” said Roberts.

RTSC-110 construction begins inside on an aluminum jig, upside down, from deck to hull. It is then taken outside and flipped right side up while all inside and outside sections are completed.

Contractually, all purchases for supplies are limited to the U.S. or free trade countries. Roberts said Marine Group’s philosophy of business is to try to buy materials from local vendors whenever feasible. He said keeping commerce in San Diego turned out great.

Roberts explains that their ownership team was born and raised in San Diego, and has been a part of the region’s shipping industry almost their entire careers, so they will only go out of the region if the product they need is unavailable. “With a little more effort and explanation to vendors, I do not think it costs us more to buy locally,” he says.

The RTSC-110 contract added more than 30 employees to Marine Group and increased revenue to local vendors across the county, including Hawthorne Power Systems, N & D Trophy Shop (San Diego), South Coast Welding, Pacific Yacht Refitters (Chula Vista), Reliance Metal, South Bay Boiler (National City) and Reliable Pipe (Logan Heights).

Don Reese from N & D Trophy Shop said their contract to create labels to identify specific elements of the craft accomplished several things.

“This contract brought needed income in and was very helpful to us,” said Reese. “Creating aluminum labels, we discovered we could use our existing machinery in a different capacity. This opens the possibility of looking into new ventures and other projects, expanding our future progress.”

Hawthorne Power Systems, an authorized San Diego Caterpillar dealership, built the 1,800 horsepower engines, EPA Tier 3 emissions standards compliant, and provided an auxiliary marine generator set for house power.

Roberts said they worked very closely with Caterpillar to make sure they had a fuel system to accommodate the variety of fuels.

“What’s interesting about our boat is fuel can be intermingled. You can fill half a tank of regular diesel and fill it up with biodiesel and it won’t matter. The boat doesn’t know the difference,” he said.

Ron Dehne, from the marine engine sales division at Hawthorne Power Systems, headed conversation and sale of the biodiesel engines and house power generator. Dehne said that projects like this do not come by every day, but when they do they create jobs and revenue for all involved.

“In today’s business world, forming bolstering relationships is essential,” he said. “Projects like this make relationships stronger. Our business with Marine Group and others involved in this project is a real relationship here in San Diego.”

%d bloggers like this: