January 10, 2020
Cracking down on the vaping epidemic: This week we announced that the Board will be voting next week to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes, vaping devices and all flavored nicotine and tobacco products. Vaping devices used by teens is skyrocketed: millions of kids are becoming addicted to nicotine and lining the pockets of big tobacco in the process. And San Diegans continue to be hospitalized with serious illness from vaping. And to be clear—there is no current testing, safety or regulations about any vaping devices. We need to act to protect public health.
Another mideast war is a bad idea: Although it appears we have momentarily stopped the escalation cascading us towards war with Iran, I remain concerned. In this twitter thread, I walked through my thoughts on how we got where we are and what should come next. I also joined FOX 5 to share my thoughts on air as well. I would love to hear your thoughts. Email me back and let me know.
Book that will make you think...in uncomfortable ways: I was looking for a great fiction book to break up the list I was working through. At the recommendation of one of my favorite authors, Don Winslow, I read “The Chain” by Adrian McKinty. It was wild! A one of a kind unique plot. It has been a while since I couldn’t sleep waiting to know what would happen. I highly recommend it.
Time to get moving: Public transportation benefits us all—connects us all—whether you use it or not! But to improve our system, we all have to work together. This week we unveiled the “Boulevard Busway”, a dedicated bus/bike lane on El Cajon Blvd. This was a collaborative effort of MTS, City of San Diego, business community, mobility, community and environmental groups. A win for the whole area!
Gulls Game: I recently had the opportunity to “drop the puck” at the San Diego Gulls game! It went much smoother than my last “first pitch” at the Padres game (watch video to see me get chased by zombies). Gulls games are great and their ownership is with really great community partners. I look forward to working with them and encourage you to attend an upcoming game!
January 3, 2020
Looking back at 2019: 2019 was my first year in office as Supervisor. All in all we had a great year. On its face, politics is more polarized than ever in this country but in spite of this we managed to build coalitions and get a lot done. We saw the establishment of our behavioral health hub, our Electric Vehicle Roadmap and innovating new approaches for the Child Welfare Hotline. Take a minute to check out this video outlining some of our most major accomplishments during my first year in office with support from community members like you. We also re-capped our year at MTS with this video.
Looking ahead to 2020: In 2020, we’ll be looking at fundamentally rebuilding our behavioral healthcare system, overhauling our system of public transportation to make it work for everybody and turning over a new leaf on green energy. Here’s a preview of some of my plans for 2020 from last week’s Union-Tribune (and don’t forget to check out #fletchersfirstyear for a look back on some of my favorite accomplishments of the past year).
Podcast to check out: We are hearing more about impeachment efforts of previous presidents but in the Nixon saga there is a fascinating tale lost to the annals of history—the insane case of the horribly corrupt Spiro Agnew. The podcast “Bag Man” by Rachel Maddow tells a story I had never heard—intrigue, hard ball politics and some true heroes willing to stand up to political pressure in support of the rule of law. Check out this podcast now! You won’t regret it.
I’m worried: Yesterday, the US killed Iranian leader General Suleimani. He was an awful person involved in the deaths of hundreds of US service members over the years. He also was a high ranking member of a foreign government (imagine him as our Secretary of State/Defense/CIA all in one position). It would be the equivalent of Iran killing our Vice President. Iraq is likely to be driven closer to Iran and could impose some form of punishment on us, not to mention the fact that Iran will absolutely retaliate. This region is a tinderbox and the implications on Hezbollah, Saudia Arabia, global shipping lanes, oil, ISIS and Israel could be profound. I fear our President doesn’t have the capacity, wisdom, strategic thought or patience to manage this situation and avoid a full scale war with Iran. This would be disastrous for the US, the world and the next decade. Here is an old New Yorker profile on Suleimani. It is a few years old, but pretty thorough.
Let’s settle on things (and end on a lighter note): Die Hard is not only a Christmas movie, but it is the single greatest Christmas movie of all time. No holiday season is complete without a proper viewing. Yippie Ki Yay. Any lingering doubts? Please take a look at this Twitter masterpiece from CNN’s Jake Tapper.
December 20, 2019
Let's do stuff that works: Needle exchange programs save lives, improve public health outcomes and facilitate entry into drug treatment programs. Some people don’t like the optics, but 20 years of research and data show a positive impact. I recently called on our County to come out of the dark ages and embrace programs that works! Support is building! Advocates, allies and the Union-Tribune editorial page supports our efforts! Stay tuned!
Impacting the Economy!: We know transit connects us all, lowers greenhouse gas emission and reduces traffic congestion. Now we know that the San Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has an annual $1 billion impact on the San Diego economy! A $1 investment in our transit system yields an almost $3 return in economic activity! So let’s invest more!
Deeper dive—ACES: A landmark study years ago (by a San Diego Doctor) showed the direct connection between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and health impacts later in life—alcohol and drug abuse, and even diseases like cancer and diabetes. We have to ensure trauma-informed care and a child welfare system that provides compassion, love, and stability to children in need. We have worked hard this year to improve our child welfare system—including completing 19 different recommendations from a recent report with 69 others in progress.
More than a game: Army/Navy is a football game but those playing have a commitment to service that transcends a sport. Please take a minute and watch this powerful CBS news video. Sit back and let JFK remind us what is truly on the line!
HOPE?: During a week that capped a year of conflict and drama, leave it to Obama to send out a recap of 2019 as a year of “HOPE”. But I have to tell you—if you turn off cable news and twitter there is a lot of good out there. This past week, I watched a 6-year-old girl stop cold the California Air Resources Board with her gripping personal testimony about her desire for clean air. I rode the bus with a dynamic high school junior who is organizing her community and moving our region in a better direction. And a group of employees donated their own money to buy every student at an elementary school a new bike. Maybe Obama is right!
December 13, 2019
Deported Veteran Update: It is immoral that we deport honorably discharged veterans of the United States military who were promised citizenship. While we continue to push the federal government to right this wrong, I am pleased to share that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved our “Leave No Veteran Behind” initiative. We will be deploying County resources to Tijuana to ensure they can get all the help possible while we try and bring them home! Sign the pledge today! DeportedVets.org
Well done: I want to thank our local congressional delegation (Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Mike Levin, and Susan Davis) for working hard over the years to help address the real problem of pollution in the Tijuana River Valley. The recently announced trade agreement between the US/Mexico/Canada—including $300 million dollars—will help tackle this problem. Also, a lot of love to County Supervisor Greg Cox and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina who have fought so hard for so long.
Thanks, Obama: I mean, for a lot. Healthcare, global climate change agreement, peace deal with Iran, etc, etc. It's hard to remember the days when a President’s greatest scandal was wearing a tan suit. But I digress. Today, I want to thank him for his annual book suggestions based on what he has been reading. As you head into the holidays and are looking for good gifts you can’t go wrong picking one of these great (and very diverse) book selections.
Deeper dive: This week at our California Air Resources Board meeting, we debated Clean Truck Rules. One community in San Diego (Barrio Logan) has asthma rates eight times higher than another community (La Jolla) just a few miles away. Why? Because we build freeways through existing neighborhoods and place polluting industries near underserved communities. It isn’t right. No one's child should be eight times more likely to get asthma just because of their zip code. If you want to read more about the direct links between air quality and children’s public health check out this great report by USC.
These boys: We love all our kids, but really cherish the fleeting moments of the little ones (before they stop thinking their parents are cool and move off to college and life). This week, Caleb (8) had his exhibition at school. They learned empathy by walking in someone else’s shoes, and then did a fashion show for their own shoes. And my sweet Zach (11) is an early riser like his Daddy. He loves to help me make breakfast for everyone else in the house before they wake up. They really do grow up fast :(
December 6, 2019
sanctuary cities are safer: Our immigrants are integral to the fabric of our country. Please take a minute to ready my Op-Ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune about sanctuary policies It is important we govern on a combination of values and facts. Both show us that joining Trump’s lawsuit against the California Values Act is against the interest of public safety, morally wrong and a waste of local resources.
Leave no veteran behind: Speaking of immigrants who make our country better—immigrants have served in the armed forces since the founding of our nation and we need to support those unjustly deported! That is why I am seeking to extend county veterans’ services to veterans deported to Tijuana. Join us on Tuesday, December 10th at 10:30 am at 5520 Overland Ave to speak in support of this item or send a comment here to let my colleagues know of your support!
#EscapeAlcatraz: I didn’t die in my Thanksgiving Triathlon, I actually made a third-place podium appearance in my division! I was so motivated I signed up for a lottery entry into the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon next June. Who doesn’t want to swim 1.5 miles in 50 degree-ish water with strong currents to start a race? And along the route that reportedly killed so many escapees (but we will never really know, will we). To my great surprise—I got an entry! Even better is knowing the swim hasn’t killed a triathlete in a few years:)
You can take the boy out of Arkansas: But you can’t take small-town Arkansas out of the boy:) People can mock country music, but I love the stories they tell. Jason Aldean (one of my favorites) just released his new album “9”. In an era when artists tend to release singles or a few songs to stream, this one is a full old school 16 track treat. If you have never had to “meet someone at the gate” you might not understand!
Ought to be a state: Our current President doesn’t know Puerto Rico isn’t a foreign county (they are a U.S. territory). I had a chance to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed not only the natural beauty but the wonderful people who have endured “taxation without representation” for far too long. Puerto Rico had a referendum in 2017 and voted 97% to become a state!
November 22, 2019
Progress on homeless: As a member of the Governor’s Statewide Task Force on Homeless, I have met with national leaders and heard what is working across the country. This week we took the first step forward in developing a regional housing pool. This approach gives us greater flexibly to help prevent homelessness and get people quickly off the streets. Homelessness requires all of us working together. This approach holds promise to do just that.
What in the world: My beloved Marine Corps recently celebrated its birthday. And then it lost its mind. They changed 200 years of precedent that Marines do NOT use umbrellas in uniform (we are amphibious and they issue you a rain jacket). Simple terrible. Fortunately, General James Mattis restored my faith by penning this strong piece in the Atlantic about the greatest danger to the American experiment—no surprise, it is us. Worth a read.
Speaking of rain: YOU CAN NOT CATCH A COLD BY BEING COLD! This week it rained in San Diego. And it was below 70 degrees (not by much). And it broke our brain.
RIP: This week, we said goodbye to a strong, powerful labor leader in San Diego—Fahari Jeffers. In partnership with her husband Ken, together they founded the United Domestic Workers. I am honored to have known this woman who embodied courage, passion, and grace and left a profound impact on everyone she met. Our world is a better place having had her in it.
Back in the saddle: Two decades ago, the Marine Corps almost killed me—this was in training, they tried several more times in war—ends up I am hard to kill:) I had six massive hip surgeries, was inpatient at Balboa Naval Hospital for a month and didn’t walk for six months. The rehab was painful and slow—I would ride a stationary bike (slowly), then walk on a treadmill (still slow) and eventually got in a pool to swim—I could do one lap. I set a goal to do a triathlon. My first one was a sprint triathlon. I loved it and progressed all the way to completing Ironman Canada! And then I lost interest. On Sunday, I am getting back in the saddle. I have my swim cap, spandex and body glide all ready. If you don’t get a Fletcher Friday Five next week, you know it didn’t end well!
November 15, 2019
Thank you for caring about our service: On Monday we celebrated Veterans Day the day we honor all who served (as opposed to Memorial Day in May—for those who died in combat). Since, the Vietnam era, we have come so far as a country in truly welcoming and appreciating our veterans. As a veteran, I can only say “thank you” to everyone who makes us feel welcome.
Last call: There are only a few tickets left for tomorrow’s San Diego premiere of “Ready for War”, a powerful new showtime documentary that tells the story of our deported veterans. Through the generosity of a wonderful donor, the remaining general admission tickets are free! They will go quick—use this link to sign up now—the cost has been reset to $0. I hope to see you at the LOT tomorrow!
Again: I started this week at an event supporting San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention and ended it hearing about another school shooting. To be clear—Americans are not any more violent and don’t have more mental health illnesses than other countries. But we have 25 times the rate of death by a gun. And yet, so many act like there is nothing we can do.
Brown is Back: Last weekend I had the honor of watching the San Diego Padres unveil their new colors! The Fletcher Boys (that includes me) say well done—both the uniform and the event (they had brown puppies to pet). FYI—pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in 88 days, 11 hours, 32 minutes, and 22 seconds! If you need a great baseball story to hold you over, try this “30 for 30” podcast about the drama of lights in Wrigley Field!
Tweet of the Week: Just going to leave this one right here.
November 08, 2019
Ready for War: It is a great injustice that we deport honorably discharged veterans of the United States military. This story and our efforts to try and right this wrong have been powerfully told in a new award-winning Showtime documentary by my friend Andrew Renzi (some guy named Drake is the Executive Producer). Please join us at the San Diego Premier on Saturday, November 16th. After the film, I will moderate a panel with the filmmaker, a deported veteran we brought home and others. Get your tickets now--there are only a few left!
🗳🤷🏻♂️🥜🤦🏻♂️: This week things got downright nutty at the Board of Supervisors. A simple proposal to add a few satellite voting locations to accommodate changes in state law and expected higher turnout in 2020 turned into a bizarre situation with Supervisors storming out of a public meeting, accusations of voter fraud (not true), and strange conspiracy theories. Watch my remarks here or read this column by Michael Smolens from the Union-Tribune to get the scoop.
#ChooseTransit: Ridership is on the rise for MTS. In the first quarter of FY20, we are up over a million new riders! We have worked hard to adjust routes, allocate resources and engage the public. Speaking of transit, I recently had a few trips to the Bay Area (Oakland and San Francisco)—kind of crazy how convenient it is to get on BART at both airports. Let's go San Diego--time for a trolley to the airport!
Biking to work: While in San Francisco, I had a few hours on a Sunday morning. I rented a bike, rode to the Golden Gate Bridge, ran across it and back and almost jumped in the water to complete a little triathlon -- I really wasn’t worried about 50-degree water temperature or sharks—just didn’t have enough time:). The little trip got me all inspired to get my bike out and get back riding to work at the county!
Parent fail (the result): A while back I confessed that I confused which of the little boys had picture day on what day. Zach (not his picture day) looked great and Caleb (actually his picture day) went to school in a t-shirt and a baseball hat. Caleb told me he fixed it--he turned his hat around backward. Things could have turned out worse:)
November 1, 2019
BIG NEWS: My highest priority is tackling the challenges of behavioral health (mental health + substance abuse). We are working to rebuild and re-image a dis-jointed system that has the inputs in the wrong place and the outputs with the wrong outcomes! This week, we unveiled a potential partnership on a $115 million dollar regional behavioral health hub in Hillcrest. This is one piece of a broader effort—stay tuned.
Love baseball ❤️⚾️: Any seven-game World Series has great moments! I can’t decide what part of this one was best—Let me know your favorite:
- The guy in the outfield stands who took a home run ball to the gut to avoid spilling one of the two beers (one in each hand).
- Trump getting booed.
- Robert Osuna (let go by Toronto Blue Jays after domestic violence problems and then joyfully signed by the Astros) getting “roughed up” by Nationals hitters in game 7.
- The oldest team in baseball (based on the age of players) winning the world championship! #LetTheGrownMenPlay
MTS goes green: Check out these beautiful buses! Our new all-electric, zero-emission buses were rolled out this week! The pilot project to get us going on the path to a greener, cleaner, better-connected transit system in San Diego!
Vintage video: My kids will never know what “be kind, please rewind” means:) But I remember the days of going to rent a movie, browsing the shelves, reading the summary and reviews on the back and picking out a couple of movies to take home. Well, Miguel Gomez in Bend, Oregon is not going to let that dream die. He runs one of the last remaining video rental stores. Check out this story and a short documentary about his effort to preserve a part of history!
Dancing dinosaurs: My boys crack me up! Happy Halloween!
October 17, 2019
EV Roadmap: This week the board unanimously approved our Electric Vehicle roadmap! This $21 million dollar commitment puts the county on a path to make a 10 fold increase in our electric vehicle fleet, expand charging stations and position the county as a regional leader in the drive to go green! I am grateful for all the stakeholders and staff who worked so hard to help us put together such a bold and comprehensive plan!
Global Podcast: I have touted a great book and articles by former Obama national security aid Ben Rhodes—he also has a podcast. With all the news around Syria, you might want a one-stop shop for all things foreign policy. I highly recommend his podcast “Pod Save the World.” They break down all the news from around the world and have great guests!
Politics of politics: We have been working hard this entire year to drive real and meaningful progress in our region! But have neglected the politics part of our job. This Sunday from 2 to 4 pm we are doing a fundraiser for my re-election committee. Please join us. Our special guest will be Congressman Ted Lieu. He is a friend of mine from the state legislature and has become a national figure. RSVP HERE! If you can't attend we will still take your money HERE:)
Photo of the week: I will never understand why Donald Trump thought it was a good idea to release this incredible photo of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And to do it on National Boss Day. She is definitely the boss:)
Water polo: The little boys followed the lead of their big brother and made the plunge into water polo this week. Water polo isn’t a sport, it is a cult:) But a great workout. Fair warning—you will see a massive increase in your grocery bill but a corresponding decline in your laundry costs (speedos). If you are thinking about signing up someone for the first time, I highly recommend Southern Water Polo Club. Really great coaches, flexible times and perfect for beginners!
October 11, 2019
Moving Forward with MTS: This week I was extremely humbled to be unanimously elected to Chair the Metropolitan Transit System Board. Great regions have great transit systems and I am excited to work alongside the rest of the board on moving forward towards a better connected, less congested, greener future!
Deeper dive: The U.S. war on drugs has been an abysmal failure. The law enforcement-based approach has yielded as many American citizens with arrest records as college degrees while more Americans die annually from overdose than died in the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined. Take a minute (actually a few minutes) to read this piece in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristoff. It outlines the problem and then highlights a new and more effective approach being used in Seattle.
Acting Presidential: Jimmy Carter, who recently turned 95, was back at work building houses for those in need a few hours a fall left him with a black eye, large bandage, and 14 stitches. This reminds of one of my favorite 1990s commercials with Bo Jackson and Dennis Leary, “what are you and your good hip doing, watching the commercial." If you are under the age of 95 either go build a house or give some money to Habitat for Humanity:)
Fly your flag: This week, in honor of national #ComingOutDay it was an indescribable honor to join our employees as we raised the LGBTQ Pride Flag at a county facility for the 1st time in San Diego County history! #LoveTrumpsHate
Dance, dance, dance: I don’t know who the Padres will hire as their next manager, but we can all agree they should get this guy as their security guard. And Padres, while you are getting this one through HR, go ahead and bring back the dancing groundskeeper— we MISS HIM!
October 4, 2019
Impeachment History: Harry Truman famously said, “the only thing that is new is the history you don’t know.” On a drive up and back to LA, I listened to this incredible podcast about Nixon’s impeachment. Although Nixon and Trump are very different people, the underlying motivations are not the only thing frighteningly similar. Maybe we will get lucky and the outcome will be the same! Check it out!
Team Fletcher: ...is hiring! If you know anyone looking to work really hard, on really difficult issues in a dynamic and fast-paced environment — we are hiring! We are looking for a Homeless and Housing Policy Advisor. Check out the job description and details about how to apply HERE! Please forward to anyone who may be interested!
Millennial translator: Chicago Cubs now former manager (and maybe future Padres manager) Joe Madden famously touted reading, “managing millennials for dummies”. I feel him. My staff sent me this link (of millennial terms) in hopes I might better understand these strange words they use. TBH at first I was like this is cray and extra but then after reading I was feeling Gucci. Lowkey no more FOMO. After the article, my squad was like “yeet boss, goals!” This will for sure have you shook because its dank AF. #blessed
Presidential Walk-Up Music: I find the choice of walk-up music (for baseball players and politicians) fascinating. This week, Elizabeth Warren held a rally at the County Administration Center and true to her economic message came on stage to Dolly Parton “9 to 5”. This New York Times piece compiled and analyzed the walk-up music for all the Presidential candidates. It is fascinating. My choice? On election night 2018, I went for this one from LL Cool J! I have also used a few by Eminem (Survival, Cinderella Man).
Tweet of the week: Dedicated to two badass women!
September 27, 2019
Clean air is good: We’ve been doing a lot of work around air quality (Electric Vehicle Roadmap, toxic pollution, Clean Air grant) and this week we announced the line-up for Clean Air Day next Wednesday, October 2nd. MTS is bringing back Free Ride Day for all transit lines. And we will be hosting an electric vehicle ride and drive at the county. Please join us on October 2nd from 11 am to 2 pm.
Golden Gate Bridge...is running out: 25 years ago Rick Bulan—a creative furniture maker—bought excess sections of the Golden Gate Bridge and has been making artistic furniture out of its pieces, unfortunately, the pieces are running out. So if you have a lot of money to spend and like San Francisco, you should hit him up. (H/T Cesar Diaz)
Refugees: I was disheartened to read that 68% of White Evangelicals do not believe the U.S. should accept refugees. I would encourage them to actually read The Bible which is clear on treatment of refugees. But I was excited to see that support for refugees is increasing as a whole.
Book Review: I deviated from my normal boring nonfiction books to indulge in one of the greatest fiction authors, Daniel Silva. In his new book, “The New Girl,” Gabriel Allon is back with a fascinating adventure through modern-day Saudi Arabia. Warning: Once you start this book you won't be able to do anything else until it is finished.
Parent Fail: This week I forgot it was picture day for Caleb’s 3rd-grade class. He went to school in a T-shirt (a really nice T-shirt) and a Padres hat. When asked if he actually wore the hat during his picture he said, “No dad I took care of it I turned it around backward.”🤦🏻♂️
September 20, 2019
Climate Change: I spent a lot of this week focused on not only state but international efforts to climate change. We had a contentious and marathon meeting at the California Air Resources Board to consider adopting a Global Tropical Forest Standard. If you have an interest in carbon offsets, tropical forests, you can get a lot of info from this marathon tweet thread I did:)
Piece to read: The stigma associated with mental health treatment is a major barrier to societal progress on this issue. Yes, we have to address access, workforce, and funding but when the history of tackling stigma is written, Jason Kander will be remembered as a leader. I am proud to call him a friend. Please take a moment to read this New York Times profile on his public efforts to overcome his struggles coming home from war.
Great place to visit: Lorena and I escaped this summer for a weekend to ourselves. We visited the veteran program run by Jason Kander, Eisenhower Library, Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, Presidential libraries of both Bushes but, without a doubt, the highlight was the LBJ Presidential Library (yes, we did all of that in 3 days). LBJ is my favorite president and I highly recommend a visit! If you go, please request Vicky Skinner as your docent—she is incredible!
Historic figure you have seen, but never recognized: This photo of LBJ being sworn in after JFK was assassinated is one of the most recognizable in history. However, the woman seen in this photo administering the oath has escaped the eye of history. Sarah Hughes is the ONLY woman to ever swear-in a President. But she was so much more: a police officer, lawyer, state legislator, first state judge in Texas and the only female federal judge appointed by President Kennedy. Now we just need a woman sworn in AS President!
Comic books are real books: I didn’t grow up reading comic books and I struggled with our kids to accept they are “real books”—but the are! My 11 year old loves them and they are helping him develop a love of reading. This post lays out all the reasons they are great—especially for kids. (H/T to Scott Lewis for the link).
September 13, 2019
First Responder Week: This past week we honored 9/11 first responders, we recognized a firefighter family for their loss, then the Board of Supervisors passed our new program to tackle the problem of first responder suicide. I am really excited about the Ryan J. Mitchel First Responder Behavioral Health program and will keep you posted on its progress.
Proud hubby: I am really proud of my wife. She fights and she usually wins (she pointed out on Twitter I still leave my towels on the bathroom floor, hence the “usually”) but this week she won a truly historic fight. AB5 passed! The New York Times summed up the issue well or read her oped in the Washington post for more details. But the workers of California along with the more than 90% of California companies who currently obey labor laws and don’t purposely misclassify workers will benefit.
Head-scratcher of the week: Uber spent millions of dollars fighting my wife's legislation—hired every lobbyist available and raised 90 million into campaign accounts to launch an initiative to undo it. So imagine the surprise when after the bill passed they said they didn’t care—it didn’t apply to them anyway. The company that gets you a driver to take you places, actually publicly claimed that drivers are not core to their business. They tried this out on a judge in a recent court case. It didn’t go well.
“Ready for War”: A few years ago when working on the issue of deported veterans, I was contacted by someone “working on a documentary” that wanted to interview me. I love documentaries but wasn’t sure if this was a student project or not. Well, that documentary (picked up by Showtime and executive produced by Drake) just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. It is truly incredible. Check out some initial reviews here and here and keep an eye out for the public release. I think this film can help drive the issue of deported veterans into the 2020 campaign.
Speaking of Canada: Ok, confession time. When Lorena and I went to the airport to catch our red-eye flight to Toronto, I was taken aback when the United airlines person said she could not issue me my boarding pass. My passport had just expired. There was no way around it—they would not issue my ticket. So we immediately changed to a four flight to Buffalo, rented a car and took our chances driving across the border. It turns out you can get into Canada and back into the U.S. with an expired passport, but I don’t recommend it. Check to see if your passport is expired:) If so, head on down to the wonderful people at the County of San Diego passport office and they will get you current.
September 6, 2019
Putting First Responders First: Next week, we will pause as a nation to honor our first responders who gave their lives on September 11th. This is important but the best way to honor them is to support those still here. It is a little known fact we lose more first responders to suicide than those who die in the line of duty. Next week we are launching an innovative mental health program to support them. Get the details here and please sign our petition to support our effort. Please share!
Standing with workers: Labor Day exists to honor the American worker and the labor movement that represents them. This past Labor Day Lorena and I went to LA to support SEIU-UHW. I was proud to spend my day standing with them as they fight for fairness and dignity for patients and workers.
Pay them: King James is 100% right! It's insane the NCAA, coaches, schools, sneakers and video game companies all make billions off the labor and value of student-athletes. If you aren’t convinced that we should pay college athletes commensurate with the value they create watch this documentary “Schooled”. If you still aren’t convinced let me know and I’ll pay for your cost of renting the film.
Deeper dive: Six years ago, I was a part of one of the first teams to train newly elected member of Myanmar’s parliament. I was a little star-struck to see human-rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi sitting in the front row of my class. In the years since I have struggled with my hopes for Myanmar (and respect for “our lady”) with the realities of the treatment of the Rohingya. This Atlantic piece by Ben Rhodes sums up the internal conflict, disappointment, and clinging to eternal optimism that so many of us feel.
Tweet of the week: I have previously touted the sheer comedic value of “Best of Nextdoor.” I’ll leave this one with you!
August 30, 2019
Outstanding: As we try and build an integrated, coordinated, and effective mental health system countywide, it is essential we provide regional services. I appreciate Tri-City Hospitals' decision to bring their inpatient psychiatric services back online. And I am proud the County of San Diego is stepping up to help them.
Purchase I recommend: I know the kids are back in school and summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean our state parks are not wonderful places to visit. I just received my California State Park Explorer Annual Pass for the next year. Get one today! Merely having it will encourage you to visit our state parks more and the purchase helps support our incredible parks.
Deeper dive: My recent skirmish with Rob Schneider (yes, that guy) was a little funny, but the sad reality is that celebrities playing junk scientist with public health is creating a very real threat to all our children. Vaccines work. A concerted effort of misinformation is dangerous. Please take a few minutes this weekend to read this piece from the New Yorker.
Nothing more American: This moment at a Padres game is truly incredible. Good on them for doing something so meaningful and so perfectly American. Nothing more American than baseball and immigrants!
Speaking of baseball: While I fully support baseball moving to an automatic ball/strike zone, it does mean we would never again have the pure joy of a manager/umpire interaction like this classic 21 seconds from Yankee’s manager Aaron Boone. This might be the best thing I have ever seen. (Warning: he curses, it happens, don’t complain, you can unsubscribe.)
August 23, 2019
Opportunity: Inspiration, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit exist in all neighborhoods. Sadly, access to start-up capital, mentors and other resources to launch a great idea do not. That is why we launched “Innovate Up” in partnership with the University of San Diego. The program focuses on helping entrepreneurs in six historically underserved San Diego neighborhoods. To get more information on the program visit: www.innovate-up.com. Please share!
Deeper dive: I have worked on veteran suicide and mental health issues for years, but there is another group that requires us to act—first responders. This Vox piece outlines a growing problem that many don’t know—an epidemic of suicide in the ranks of our first responders. We lose more cops and firefighters to suicide than those who die in the line of duty each year. The problem is not a lack of available services but the stigma associated with asking for help. We are working on some policy ideas to address this issue in San Diego. Stay tuned!
Speaking of firefighters: One of my favorite events of the year is the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. It is meaningful, impactful, and a great workout—plus I get to dress up like a firefighter:) The funds raised go to Firefighter Aid which helps our firefighters and their families. If you want to climb 100 flights of stairs sign up here. If you would rather make a tax-deductible donation to support my team do it here:)
Concert you don’t want miss: There are few things as great as Ben Harper live—and he is coming to San Diego. He is playing the Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival at the Embarcadero Marine Park on Friday, November 22nd. Get your tickets before it sells out! Your life will be better for it. Trust me. If you don’t know who he is, watch this or this or this and then be thankful you get these emails:)
End of Summer: It is hard to believe summer is over. I loved every minute of it—but especially this moment after a great day at the beach:)
August 16, 2019
Clean air for all: We recently announced our “Clean Air for All” campaign—we secured over 28 million dollars in state funding to provide grants to businesses, schools, and nonprofits to help purchase cleaner vehicles and equipment. We can improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, and help stimulate the local economy all at once! I am grateful for the support from the California Air Resources Board, and will continue to fight for more funding for San Diego!
Random new thing I learned: This article from this month’s Economist caught my eye. Turns out no one has died from falling space debris (that is good), but there are legit concerns it could become more of a problem (not good). Smart people are working hard to try and address this, and there is even a designated part of the ocean called the South Pacific Ocean Uninhabited Area (between Chile and New Zealand) without islands, shipping routes or airline flights that are designated to drop your space junk! Who knew:)
Saying goodbye to one of a kind: George Mitrovich was a dear friend and truly one of a kind personality. He will be greatly missed. Take a moment to watch my adjournment in memory of him:
Candidate to support: The election of Doug Jones to the US Senate in late 2017 from Alabama restored my faith in humanity. It was great to welcome him to San Diego this week! Please join me in supporting his re-election. I also found someone as strange as me—we both collect politician-signed baseballs. Senator Jones showed me a picture from his office of 100 baseballs—one signed by each of the current US Senators. So jealous!
Just goodness: How about some good news in a world gone mad? San Diego County is waiving ALL fees to adopt a cat, dog, or rabbit this Saturday. Just do it:)
August 9, 2019
Greatest event ever: A few months back, we launched “Jay’s Program” at the County—an effort to pair people with disabilities with jobs in county government! Last week was interview time! Candidates interviewed with 20 county departments to find the right match! It was wonderful.
Harder to put down: I previously recommended the Don Winslow book, “The Power of the Dog”. That was the first one in a series. The second one is “The Cartel” and the final one that just came out is “The Border”. Don Winslow devoted over two decades to writing these three books and they are truly incredible—a storyline across decades, incredibly character development and a gripping ending. Finishing the final one this week, inspired this tweet:
Enough: It continues to amaze me the only county in the world with this level of gun violence is the only one with a major political party that things there is nothing we can do about it:
- Assault weapons are weapons of war (I was given one when sent to war) and have no place in our streets.
- Universal background checks could be passed by the US Senate tomorrow.
- Gun safety legislation works and lowers death by firearm.
- If people are so concerned about access to mental health pass universal healthcare for all.
- Thoughts and prayers are well-intentioned and fine but don’t save lives.
Join our team: We are hiring! Want to join a fast-paced, dynamic and purpose-driven team? Or know someone who might? Team Fletcher is hiring an Executive Assistant/Office Manager. This full-time County of SD position is integral to the team and highly valued. Click here for details on how to apply!
While you are read this: Hopefully I will be the assistant to Captain Caleb piloting the seas of Big Bear Lake! Summer is almost over—get out and enjoy what is left!
August 2, 2019
“I’ll be back”: It was great to see my friend Arnold Schwarzenegger last week. I appreciate his continued efforts to tackle climate change, promote electric vehicles, and stand up to Trump! And Terminator: Dark Force (James Cameron is back as Director) will be out in a few months!
Really hard work: The recently enacted county budget had increased funding for a lot of our top priorities! We will highlight them over the next few weeks, but one of the toughest jobs in the world is a social worker. I value our social workers and am pleased we are making a significant increase in hiring more! I recently had the opportunity to speak at the annual social worker appreciation day--check it out here.
Do better: Speaking of child welfare, we expect parents and government to provide proper care for children (when taken into our custody). We can’t lose them, neglect them, not provide proper sanitation or healthcare. It is baffling that the federal government has been allowed to get away with not caring for migrant children in their care. They deserve better.
Program you should support: I had the chance to visit my friend Jason Kander (watch this incredible ad from his US Senate race a few years ago) in Kansas City and tour the Veterans Community Project. I am a big fan of Jason and very impressed by their work. I hope will join me in supporting their efforts.
Padres Fan: Our team has had a rough start to the second half, but let's take a breath Friar Faithful. It has still been a good year and we have a lot of fun baseball left. Yes, we will miss Franmill Reyes singing in the dug-out, but we traded a one tool player for a five tool player! The future is bright for our Padres! It is also brown— I can't wait for the brown uniforms next year!
July 26, 2019
Big week: We had a busy week at the County! I am grateful to my colleagues for passing our efforts to increase participation in our child welfare oversight body, approving an affordable housing project in our district and finalize the purchase of land needed for a coming live well center in Southeast San Diego!. All good progress!
Scrub ‘em: For clean teeth, you either need a flip-top head (yes, really old commercial) or good brushing habits. When I was a kid, my grandparents had one jar on the bathroom counter filled with dimes and a second jar that was mine. Every time I brushed my teeth I got to take a dime and put into my jar! If I was a dollar short on a toy I wanted I just had to brush my teeth 10 times:) This instilled good dental habits and I have never had a cavity. Sadly, we have a global trend of skyrocketing cavities. We need more toothbrushes, maybe jars, and much less sugar!
California v Trump: Chalk up a win for the home team. Leaders in the auto industry decided to side with California on supporting Obama era clean air standards over the Trump administrations drive to abandon them! It was great to be at CARB this week when this announcement was made!
Summer Recommendation: As a parent, I know summer can be tough in finding the right activities for your kids. Our little boys have their absolute, number one, favorite camp—ever. YMCA Surf Camp in IB. It is the best! They have flexible hours, wonderful staff and your kids will get to surf, do crafts, play games and best of all—they are exhausted when you pick them up:)
Curious Creatures: Alright, I wasn’t buying the recent report that octopuses are aliens (I mean maybe, but not fully convinced). That was until I saw this. Now, who knows 👽🐙🤷🏻♂️
July 19, 2019
Taking on homelessness: I’m honored that Governor Gavin Newsom has asked me to serve on his newly created task force charged with tackling homelessness. Joining me on the task force is my friend, former colleague in the legislature and current Mayor of Sacramento Darrell Steinberg. Take a minute and read this piece from the LA Times. He calls for bold and meaningful action on homelessness and I like what he has to say.
Love is Love: This weekend I was happy to walk in the San Diego Pride Parade and stand with our LGBTQ+ community! A tradition our family loves to participate in yearly! Thank you to everyone who came out and walked with us!
Tweet of the week: Ok, yes. I did get in a Twitter fight with Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo (Rob Schneider). He is a notorious anti-vaxxer and all-around ass clown. Some people asked why I engaged him—he has almost a million Twitter followers and took after my wife and me with fury. And it's because public health matters and untruth can not be allowed to stand unchecked.
Take me out to the ballgame: I recently joked that I knew I had succeeded in life when I heard my boys pause their baseball video game in the 7th inning stretch to sing the second greatest song in the world (behind Marine Corps Hymn). Well, this week, we snuck out to a game and got to sing it together! Love these kids.
All Eyez on Jerry: Iowa Department of Human Services Director and 2Pac Superfan Jerry Foxhoven (66-year-old white guy) was let go after he included a Tupac quote in an email to 4,000 state workers. But it's ok, "he ain't mad at cha," Jerry knows how to party and is going to celebrate his 67th birthday with a lil 2Pac. He is more than welcome to come out here --where like Tupac-- we have "California Love. " "Keep ya head up," Jerry.
July 12, 2019
Busy week: It was a very busy week at the County of San Diego! I am grateful that we were successful in passing three measure including a first step towards increasing voter turnout, important funding for our social workers, and the formal launch of our effort to hire persons with disabilities in county government—“Jay’s Program!"
Climb on: I used the holiday weekend to get outdoors a little bit. Max and I climbed to the top of Mt. San Jacinto — it has stunning views from its peak of over 10,800 feet! And then like normal people, we hiked down. This stands in stark contrast to Andrzel Bargiel who climbed to the summit of K2 (probably the hardest and most technical — not to mention dangerous) mountain in the world. And then he SKIED down! Talk about nuts. Check out these incredible National Geographic photos!
Shine Bright with Pride: Speaking of a busy week we also lit up the County Administration building and recognized historic leaders in our LGBTQ community! Leaders included Senate Pro-Tem Toni Atkins and the Honorable Christine Kehoe; two monumental leaders in the path towards equality! But pride isn’t over! RSVP here to join us tomorrow at the Pride Parade!
What a way to go out: Last week, minor leaguer Cody Decker came to bat in the bottom of the 9th with runners on base and his Reno Aces down a few runs. He fulfilled every baseball dream by hitting a “walk-off” home run to win the game. And then he retired. You see, Decker was drafted more than a decade ago with big-league dreams, but unfortunately, his major league career consisted of one short call up in 2015 where he went 0 for 11. But he loved the game and crushed it in the minor leagues. He walked off the field as the hero of the Reno Aces AND the career leader in minor league home runs! A modern-day “Crash Davis”.
Tweet of the week: I am trying to be a better person.
July 5, 2019
Deep dive into the Aloha spirit: Moises Velasquez-Manoff penned this NY Times piece, “Want to be less racist, move to Hawaii” that combines research, history, and compelling individual stories to show us what the Aloha spirit might teach us about race! It is worth a read.
Book I just finished: As you head into a holiday weekend, if you are looking for a great read, I just finished Don Winslow, “The Power of the Dog” and highly recommend it. This engrossing novel tracks the involvement of the DEA and federal government with the Mexican cartels over three decades. It powerfully tells the story of America's voracious appetite for drugs, the real impact of violence, and the legacy of bad public policy. It is an incredibly well-researched novel and while the events took place, it is a fiction novel. Added bonus—large portions of it are set in San Diego.
Standing with workers: This week I met with Carlos Castillo. He told me horror stories about job sites that don't include clean drinking water and basic safety equipment. I was proud to sign his petition and will continue to fight until all our workers are treated fairly!
Baseballs: I love baseball and the brave souls who run for elected office. Thank you to a few of those elected officials and candidates I respect, including Governor Gavin Newsom, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Former Governor Jerry Brown, and a whole lot more who have helped me start the geekiest of all collections:)
Quote to ponder: “Until the Lions have their own historian, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” -African Proverb
June 28, 2019
Strong step forward: This week, the county approved the budget! With significant increases in funding (and staffing) for mental health, child welfare, housing, restorative justice, and immigrant services we are moving to address the needs of our region. I am grateful to the community members who gave input at one of our three community budget hearings and the newly restored evening budget hearing! To read a list of our priorities funded in county budget CLICK HERE.
Docudrama you must watch: There is no way to explain the indescribable injustice done to a group of children by the New York “justice” system in the late 80s--the Central Park 5. I have seen documentaries and read about this case, but "When They See Us”, is a powerful Netflix series puts a powerful human face on this case. Take two minutes and watch the trailer. I promise you will want to stop what you are doing and watch all four episodes. If you need to borrow my Netflix log in — let me know!
The Boss: Bruce Springsteen is back with “Western Stars”, a souly, mellow album that brings the New Jersyan out west for 13 songs that are classic Springsteen. This album trades the orchestra and volume of previous efforts for understated guitar and songs that while absent the edge or overt agenda of a “Ghost of Tom Joad”, “American Skin (41 shots)”, or “Youngstown” still tell personal stories about life and those finding their way. If you haven’t seen the Boss live, don’t worry—I will share tour dates when announced:)
He is back: Arnold is a trip. This video really made me laugh but made a strong point about electric vehicles. Last week we hosted a meeting of our electric vehicle working group and talked in depth about steps we can take to build out EV infrastructure to power the future. And this week at CARB, we took action to create a more workable statewide charging system. But none of that wonky, policy work will ever be as much fun as “under-cover Arnold”. Enjoy!
Photo of the week: I loved watching the democratic debates this week! I am fortunate to know and have worked with several of the candidates and while I haven’t decided who gets my vote, it is great to see them all in action. Several years ago, I traveled to Myanmar as part of an effort to promote human rights and help build a new democracy. One of my fellow trainers was none other than Mayor Pete Buttigieg. I’m thrilled to see him doing so well!
June 21, 2019
Standing up for mental health: I will never back down in the fight for more mental health services. A year ago, Tri-City, a public hospital district, closed 100% of their inpatient mental health care services, walking away from their obligation. This is not acceptable. I will continue to push until the services are brought back online. The Union-Tribune nailed it, "The lack of hospital beds for those with behavioral problems is a major problem...Especially since the county is now considering how to beef up psychiatric care, Tri-City should make clear its intention..."
Young people want transit: I recently said in an interview that we should invest more in transit in part because a younger generation wants more transportation options! I see it daily with our own kids, my students at UCSD and research and data makes the case. My comments set off a whole debate that is one we must have as a region. I say let's reduce carbon emissions, relieve traffic congestion, improve air quality and connect our communities! And millennials responded and let us know they agree!
Random budgeting tip: When I was a kid, I lived with my grandparents. My grandpa took his paycheck and put set amounts in little envelopes for things (groceries, eating out, etc). If we ate out less one month, we had a little more for the next month. And when it was gone for the month, well it was gone. A few years ago, I started using a modern-day “envelopes” budgeting system that draws on this exact concept. It syncs with your bank accounts and credit cards and helps us stay on budget! Check it out!
Photo of the week: I wish I could freeze my kids as they are but did take great joy watching Zach “graduate” from elementary school this week! He is a wonderfully kind, inquisitive and loving young man! And he was clear with me before his ceremony-- he didn’t want his slacks and blazer—he wanted a regular suit “like Daddy”. Nothing better in the world!
Hump day: I don’t watch much TV, but when I do it is only in hopes of seeing this GEICO commercial “Hump Day”. I have no idea why it makes me laugh so hard, but it does. But you really should only watch on a Wednesday. Whatever you do, do not be tempted to watch this video until Wednesday. My only question is what were the ideas deemed too silly for GEICO to make in an ad:)
June 14, 2019
Mental health matters: And it is worth fighting for! It is unacceptable that Tri-City Hospital closed its inpatient and crisis stabilization mental health services last year. They are a public health district and have an obligation to provide care for those in need--all other hospitals do! Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath and I are calling on them to reverse course and invest in meeting our regional needs. The County of San Diego is stepping up to do more. It is time for them to step up as well.
This guy should run for Congress: I really miss John Stewart. I loved the Daily Show and his witty and ironic take on the world. This week it went to a new level--he made one of the most impactful and authentic cases for an issue that defies logic--our failure to care for 9/11 first responders. John Stewart should pick a member of Congress (anywhere in the country) who has failed these heroes and run on this single issue! I would support him.
Stop the snooze: I had a new years resolution to sleep more (proper sleep is vital to overall health). I am failing. Must do better. This article helped me find a good first step--stopping the snooze. I get up early every day but set two alarms--20 minutes apart so I can snooze. It never really made sense and this information confirms snoozing is bad all the way around! I’m going to try and be a better person. Starting tomorrow. Well, maybe Monday:) Will let you know how it goes.
Candidate to consider: Olga Diaz is an incredible person--daughter of immigrants, first to attend college, college dean and ten year veteran of the Escondido City Council! I am proud to support her for County Supervisor! Lorena and I are hosting an event for her campaign on Tuesday, June 25th. RSVP HERE! And if you can’t make it, please consider making a donation--any amount helps!
Valedictorian Address for the Ages: I don’t think anyone remembers anything said at any graduation. That makes this San Ysidro High School Valedictorian speech truly incredible. She thanked her parents, mentors and good teachers (nice, but not memorable). Then she went on to thank the high school counselor who missed appointments and ignored students needs for teaching her to fend for herself. And she thanked the teacher who showed up drunk daily for teaching students about the perils of alcoholism! Oh my!
June 7, 2019
Standing with our VA workers: On a week we honored those brave souls who stormed the beaches at Normandy, the Trump administration continued its efforts to dismantle the VA. Our country committed to our veterans to care for them after their service ends. That promise is fulfilled by having a fully staffed and funded VA. I was proud to stand with our VA workers to call on Trump to stop his efforts to underfund and outsource this vital work.
In Memoriam: 51 years ago this week, Bobby Kennedy was killed in California. A few months before his death he gave this speech after the death of MLK. He asked, "What type of nation are we and what direction do we want to move”. His words speak to the state of affairs in America today. It is worth a watch.
Podcast to ponder: It is 241 days until the eyes of the nation focus in on the Iowa Caucuses. So you have plenty of time to listen to this fascinating podcast by a veteran reporter of the Des Moines Register called, “Three Tickets: History and Culture of the Iowa Caucus”. You can learn the ins, outs, and amazing history (including campaigns milking cows for votes).
Unnecessary meltdowns: San Diego is in the midst of an epic meltdown over transportation funding. Maybe everyone could take a little time out, breathe deep and figure out how we build a better future. Seattle did that and amazingly they lowered congestion (with a significant increase in population), lowered carbon emissions, improved air quality and built a regional system that is benefiting their economy! This is possible!
Picture of the week: This little surprise note from Caleb is the best thing I’ve ever seen logging into my computer and continues to make my day. Now, if they could just stay little and sweet forever:)
May 31, 2019
In memoriam: Memorial Day is one of my least favorite days of the year. In this twitter thread, I shared the story of service and sacrifice of my cousins who were killed in Afghanistan. But I also laid out some obligations for those of us still here--continuing to live a life of purpose, a simple step we can take now to ensure those who survived combat survive the peace that follows and the need to fight daily to have a country worth dying for.
Never give up: Marilyn Webb didn’t give up on her dream of earning a Ph.D. even when two male professors stood in her way when she refused requested sexual favors in exchange for serving on her dissertation committee. That was 1967. However, next month, at the age of 76, Marilyn will finally receive her Ph.D. This is a tale of a past injustice that must continue to change attitudes and actions today!
Truly moving: This week, I moderated an event hosted by Jewish Family Services tackling the stigma of mental health injury. The guest was Kevin Hines--one of the few to survive a suicide attempt from the Golden Gate bridge. His incredible story is a testament to hope, resilience and the ability to fight daily. Check out and consider supporting his work.
Deeper dive: The opioid crisis has brought significant change in how our society views addiction (primarily because it impacted white people), but we still have a long way to go. Proven and effective treatments options like medication for addiction treatment and needle exchange are still widely resisted. In this great piece by Vox, a philosopher explains why addiction is not a moral failure. It is worth a read.
For the win: My boys absolutely love, “Old Town Road”, a crossover between country star Billy Ray Cyrus (yes, that one) and rapper Lil NasX. It's not bad--even for the fourth consecutive time on the drive to school:) This 3rd grade class in Ohio got quite a treat. After a teacher posted a video of the kids singing and dancing to the song, Lil Nas X made a surprise visit to the school. It will make you smile!
May 24, 2019
Clean Air is Good/Cancer is Bad: It is sad that we measure the impact of toxic pollution based on how many people are likely to get cancer as a result. While the federal government is weakening protections for air quality, I am pleased the Board of Supervisors approved our effort to crack down on polluting industries!
Got Milk?: “Milkshaking” is the newest political form of protest for controversial politicians in England. Yup--instead of the heckle, protest or mean tweet--an outbreak of people throwing milkshakes has broken out. It has gotten so bad, that police have started asking restaurants to stop selling milkshakes when politicians are near! Our politics seems so tame:)
The way the cookie crumbles: The Trump administration has seen staggering turnover and major positions (Defense, Interior, Homeland Security, OMB, Small Business, and UN Ambassador) without Senate-confirmed leaders. We have Secretary Ben Carson as a source of stability as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. It came as little surprise that someone with no experience in the agency he leads would confuse a common housing term with an Oreo cookie. 🤦🏻♂️
Bad pitch: There is nothing worse than watching your favorite player get robbed by a clearly missed ball/strike call. A recent analysis shows that major league home plate umpires--the very best in the world--are getting 20% of the ball/strike calls wrong. It is time to modernize this age-old practice—use the technology available to get it right!
Sweetness: Jay Bariuan started working with me when I was first elected to the State Assembly and is simply wonderful. Jay has autism and came to us via Partnership with Industry. This week, the Board of Supervisor approved our effort to establish “Jay’s Program”--dedicated funding so every county department can hire their own “Jay”. Check out PWI to find hardworking team members who will bring indescribable joy to your office!
(Photo credit: Gary Warth UT)
May 17, 2019
Standing up for the environment: This week we announced CARB funding to monitor and then improve the air quality in San Diego. A child in Barrio Logan is 8 times more likely to have asthma than a child in La Jolla—that's wrong. Clean air and carbon reduction go together. A new report shows our CO2 levels are at the highest point in human history. Last time we were this high, beech trees grew on the South Pole.
Lessons of recent history: I fought in Iraq and see daily the incredible damage and lasting realities of a war that should not have happened. In the years since I have read a lot about Vietnam—another tragic reminder that getting into conflict is easy, getting out is hard. I am very troubled by the actions surrounding Iran. It is eerily similar to the early days of both Vietnam and Iraq. This piece by the conservative National Review helps put in perspective why a war with Iran would be a colossal mistake.
(After impending global doom and war, let's lighten up the last three bullets!)
If you need a break: The Best of Next Door is one of the funniest twitter accounts I follow. Trust me—you will laugh—just click on this sample of the pure random joy that will come your way. You can thank me later:)
Kids these days: I took the boys this week to get hair cuts. Zach (age 10) says very seriously, “Daddy—maybe she can cut the white out of your hair. You should ask her.”
Moves like Jagger: Speaking of getting old, this man should give us all hope. At 75, he can still do this (and they clearly “cut” the white out of his hair)
May 10, 2019
Enough: Another school shooting—children having to take on armed intruders. In New Zealand, it only took 26 days for action after a mass shooting. Why can't we do the same? A quarter of all gun purchases do not use any form of background check. While the House of Representatives passed universal background checks, the GOP controlled Senate declared the idea dead on arrival. The only way to drive change is to change the Senate and that runs through the state of Arizona. Please join me in supporting former astronaut and husband of Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly.
Proud of my wife: Lorena has been an advocate for working families and has worked for years to eliminate a tax on diapers and tampons. And she got it done!
Deeper dive: This powerful article from The Atlantic tells the story about West Virginia doctor who got pulled into the opioid explosion--both prescribing them to patients and then tragically addicted himself. A tale of a healthcare system that drove us headlong into a national crisis and the power of personal redemption! Check it out.
Priorities: This week the initial county budget was released--it is a step in the right direction. I am pleased to see the largest increase in behavioral health, housing, and homeless services! You can read more about my response HERE and more about the overall budget HERE.
Parading for the environment: It was my honor to serve as the Grand Marshal for the Earth Day Parade. It was a beautiful day full of great energy and wonderful people. It was a time to collectively re-commit ourselves to the work of defending our planet and fighting for a cleaner future!
May 3, 2019
Time for talking: This week my colleagues put forward two symbolic votes, they are correct that we should take a stand on values. We had an honest conversation about race debating a change that can save lives, lower police officers injuries and modernize standards based on national best practices. And we also picked sides on the realities of climate change and transportation planning science.
“Remember” to Exercise: I get an Alpine start to my day--that means early morning for you non-mountain climber types. It ensures I can get in a workout. A new study shows that this isn’t just good for the body--it is good for the mind! A New York Times story explains why exercise can improve memory and other brain functions -- particularly in older adults!
Ed Balls Day: This past week we celebrated “Ed Balls Day”. Mr. Balls, a British member of parliament not familiar with the use of Twitter thought he was searching the internet and simply tweeted “Ed Balls”. The internet exploded and now he has his own day--April 28th! He wasn’t the first politician to screw up on social media--paging Ted Cruz:)
Tweet of the week: I don’t want my kids to die a hero at the hands of a madman.
Happy Birthday, Caleb!: The sweetest boy in the world (the inspiration for the tweet above) and my “baby” turned 8 this week. Yes, he got lava cake for dinner and doughnuts for breakfast! I asked him to stop growing and stay little forever. I’ll let you know how that goes:(
April 26, 2019
News of the week: Wednesday, I stood with the American Lung Association, public health experts and community leaders as we unveiled this year's State of the Air Report. The bad news--we received an F for our ozone levels. The good news-- there are a lot of people very committed to providing environmental justice and cleaner air to all our neighborhoods. It is a basic human right.
Book I recommend: 15 yrs ago this week, Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan. Where Men Find Glory by John Krakauer is an emotionally charged read that tells the complicated legacy of Tillman. A hero who gave up fame/fortune for service, but grew disillusioned with war. His death was deceptively used to tell a story that wasn't true. Every Krakauer book is great, but this one moved me. I struggle to grapple with the reality of this tragic situation and my own conflicted experiences on the realities of war versus the recruiting posters.
A day to set in your calendar: We stand with survivors of sexual assault daily, but every April 24th we show that symbolically by wearing jeans. “Denim Day" day was born out of an OUTRAGEOUS Italian court ruling where the judge overturned a rape conviction because "the victim wore very tight jeans” she must have consented. This mindset must change and raising awareness is one way to help. Next April 24th (set in your calendar now), feel free to rock a little denim on denim.
The Few, The Proud: Lance Cpl. Caleb Eudy is a fighter. He had a lifelong desire to be a Marine, but during recruitment training, he was diagnosed with cancer. Eudy beat the odds and came back stronger. He has just graduated boot camp (after 956 days as a recruit) and is headed to the fleet! He exemplifies what it means to be a Marine! You are never out of the fight! Semper Fidelis LCpl Eudy!
Sacramento visit: I had a busy trip to the state capitol this week—started with our incredible President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, met Senators in advance of my confirmation hearings to CARB, helped push funding for homeless programs in SD, had dinner with Mayor Darrel Steinberg brainstorming behavioral health ideas, and stopped in to see my friend and our incredible Governor! But most importantly got to hang out with my wife--she is pretty cool:)
April 19, 2019
First 100 days: This week marked our 100th day serving the people of San Diego! It is an honor to serve the public. Enjoy this recap video of a few of the highlights from our first 100 days! We are excited about the possibilities ahead.
Deeper dive: This ProPublica pieces takes a deep dive into the recent Carr fire in Northern California--with a focus on warnings ignored and actions not taken. This was one of four immense fires that killed over 100 people, destroyed almost 30,000 properties and burned 700,000 acres. And it didn’t need to happen.
He must do yoga: Or this Houston Astros pitcher is the real life “Neo”from the Matrix (or maybe the matrix is everywhere. It is all around us...). The ball which grazed his finger will look like a routine 1-6-3 double play in the scorebook, but nothing routine about this.
Book I recommend: The Power Broker by Robert Caro (author of great LBJ series) has been on my list for a while. I read on the Kindle app and this one is only available in old school paper, but I lugged it around and am glad I did. The lessons from the failures of the Robert Moses approach (he had some successes) made their way into a little tweetstorm about “induced demand”! If induced demand interests you, then we are definitely friends:)
Picture of the week: I love a great comeback. Tiger Woods overcame incredibly personal and physical setbacks and won a major after everyone said it couldn’t happen (watch him watching them say that). Zach was nine days old the last time Tiger won a major--it was wonderful to share this day with my boys! And to the guy who borrowed money to bet on Tiger and won over 1 million dollars--his first time every betting. JUST. STOP. NOW.
April 12, 2019
Way to ride: This week the Board of Supervisors approved our “Roadmap to the Future” to start to position San Diego as a national leader on electric vehicle infrastructure! I took Shawn Styles from CBS on a little James Corden carpool karaoke style tour of SD in an EV!
Thing to savor: I know it is a long season, blah, blah, blah. But come on Padres fans--our team is in solo 1st place and has more wins than any team in the National League. Just allow yourself to enjoy this incredibly young and exciting team playing really great baseball!
Cause you should support: The Mary Seau CTE Foundation was founded by Junior Seau’s sister, Mary, after his passing. Junior told her to “take care of the kid's brains” and she works to do just that--increase awareness and education to detect and treat brain trauma and enrich the lives of all those affected. Oh--she also works full time as a nurse. She is amazing.
En Espanol: I am fortunate to have several amazing native Spanish speakers on #TeamFletcher. They are always pushing me to show off my skills (or their teaching skills). I am not sure I will get many points for actual language ability but hopefully some points for effort:)
Tweet of the week: I love inquisitive kids--especially my own:) But this tweet is spot on and really cracked me up!
April 5, 2019
For the People: This week, hundreds of community members came to the FIRST ever County of San Diego Community Budget Forum! A packed house in City Heights heard from top county leadership on budget structure/organization and then we heard directly from the community on their budget priorities! It was a great evening!
Dream big: Senator Kamala Harris wants DREAMers to work on Capitol Hill. Smart move! The DREAMer who works in my Supervisorial office and was the campaign manager of my election is terrific! I don’t know anyone more committed to equity and opportunity for all!
Must read story: I have reached the summit of two of the “seven summits” (Denali and Aconcagua) and have Everest in my sites! But K2 is a MUCH more challenging mountain. Climbing this beast is intense but skiing down from the top had never been done. Well, National Geographic Adventurer of the year Andrzel Bargiel has done it. Truly insane.
Photo of the week: We got away on Spring Break to Big Basin Redwood State Park. All of our State Parks are great, but this is the only one home to the largest organism on the planet -- the giant sequoia tree! Along with waterfalls and views of the Pacific Ocean, you can see trees that are as tall as the Statue of Liberty and that predate the Roman Empire!
Tip of the (cowboy) hat): Goes to county music mega-star Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley-- they just broke ground on a free grocery store in Nashville for those food insecure. They got the idea right here in California -- volunteering with their kids at a similar operation! You can support the good cause HERE!
March 29, 2019
Mental Health Matters: This week the Board of Supervisors passed our measure to not only repurpose county land previously designed for luxury condos to build mental health facilities but more importantly to create a regional network of these vital behavioral health centers! Thank you to all who stood with us!
#LetTheKidsPlay: Opening day of baseball season is one of my favorite days! Our Padres won and are above .500 for the first time in 1,390 days:) Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis promise to make this an exciting season. For the record—I love bat flipping, showboating and firey play—baseball should be fun!
Small town, USA: Climate change isn’t just a coastal issue about sea level rise and polar bears. Hamburg, Iowa has 1,100 people (about the size of my small town in Arkansas). This heartbreaking story details how in the absence of federal help, the citizens came together to fight climate change. And how they lost. This county gave Donald Trump 68% of the vote in 2016.
Tweet of the week: Speaking of Trump, this week we saw him double down on taking away healthcare from millions of Americans. The stakes couldn’t be higher—support your preferred candidate in the primary, but remember the goal:
Your excuse for not working out?: “An 84-year-old pole-vaulter isn’t putting her pole down anytime soon.” Florence “Fo” Meiler took up the sport at the age of 65 and doesn't have any plans to stop competing in pole-vaulting events around the world. Let her spirit motivate us all to move a little bit more!
March 22, 2019
Child Strengthening: Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to restructure our board that oversees the child welfare system. I am honored to serve as Co-Chair of this body with Supervisor Greg Cox. Too often, children are forced to pay for the mistakes of adults and we owe them everything we can do to ensure a strong and stable life. We have a lot of work to do!
Documentary you should watch: The Central Park Five is an older documentary that I just saw. It's about five Black and Hispanic kids convicted of a brutal attack in Central Park. Under pressure and duress, they all confessed to a crime, they clearly did not commit. This shocking and heartbreaking film will make you think and rethink the justice in our criminal justice system.
Picture of the week: This week it was great to meet with Congressman Joe Kennedy. He has quite a name to live up to and he is certainly doing it. I am grateful he is serving our country!
Let’s go!: This week I stood with local leaders to announce encouraging signs that San Diegans are ready to invest in transit. As a member of the Metropolitan Transit System Board, we are going to get to work engaging our communities to see if we can bring a measure before the voters in 2020! As our region continues to grow, we need to invest in more sustainable transportation and transit.
Tweet of the week: Men can be really dumb.
March 15, 2019
Rise and Shine: I like to get an “Alpine Start” to the day--out of bed at 5 am. I love the time--it's quiet and the kids are asleep. I can read, workout and get ready for the day. This new book outlines the personal (and some scientific) benefits to this habit. I suggested this to a night owl friend of mine telling him, “you know, the early bird gets the worm.” He immediately deadpanned a response saying, “yeah, but the early worm gets eaten.” True:)
Engagement is good: This week, the County Board of Supervisors approved our measure to add an evening budget hearing--our democracy is stronger with more opportunities to engage and hear directly from those we serve. And we also took the first steps to create a platform for bold action to improve our child welfare system. I appreciate the support of my colleagues on both!
State the states: Of course, I know the 50 states. Wait, is that Vermont or New Hampshire? That happened while working with Zach learning the 50 states. Try this great website that tests your ability to properly place them all! My 10 year old now scores 100% in less than two minutes. (Tips: Nebraska has a notch, Vermont is shaped like a V, Connecticut “connects” New York to Rhode Island...).
Correlation is not causation: Diagnosis of autism has risen over the past few decades. Children have received vaccines over the last few decades. But that doesn’t mean the two are connected. By the logic of anti-vaxxers, the rise of autism has been caused by Jenny McCarthy -- it happened while she has been alive. But, as we know, correlation is not causation. We now have yet another study that shows what every other one has shown--vaccines do NOT cause autism. Not vaccinating children does cause preventable disease outbreaks. That causes death. Those are related!
Picture of the Week: One of these guys walked on the moon—the other one thinks that is incredibly cool! It was an honor to meet Buzz Aldrin. In addition to walking on the moon, he is the main character in probably two of my favorite internet videos of all time: Buzz Aldrin handles land moon denier and Buzz Aldrin reacts to Trump speech.
March 8, 2019
Getting things done: This coming Tuesday, we will be bringing before the Board of Supervisors a measure to increase access, transparency and public engagement in our budget process! This story mentions that pending item and does a quick recap of a few of the things we have been working on!
Grand Canyon just got grander: Rose Torphy is the newest member of the Grand Canyon’s Junior Ranger Program--she is 103 years old:)The national park is only 100 years old! She is committed to preserving this natural monument for generations to come. Her secret to long life? Exercise and a daily glass of wine 🍷
Story you might have missed: This is a very troubling story that shows despite low unemployment and high corporate profits, an all-time high number of Americans are missing their car payments. This shows a critical weakness in our economy--and the problem with relying on the stock market or GDP as a prime measure--wages are not keeping pace with growth and workers are falling further behind.
Happiest place on earth: Last Saturday, we escaped the daily grind to take the family to Disneyland. The downpour was a blessing as it weeded out the weak and gave us shorter lines:) Being there reminded me of a friend who was pulled over by a cop while driving into the Disneyland parking lot a few years back. My friend protested saying, “I thought this was the happiest place on Earth”. The Cop replied, “well I am happy, sign right here.”
Picture of the week: Always excited to have visitors come to our office. Even more excited when its Governor Gavin Newsom. Proud to call him my friend and Governor!
March 1, 2019
This week the Board of Supervisors approved a progressive proposal put forward by myself and my colleague Dianne Jacob. A big thank you to the environmental leaders who supported our effort!
Priorities Matter: The media plays a vital role in our democracy, but doing our job comes before talking about it. Pretty sure had I missed a vote to do an interview that would have been a story:)
You can’t make this “shit” up-literally ;) My wife tells me bathroom jokes are always bad—and this story validates her! A man in a Home Depot bathroom was heard saying, “You all need to get out of here because I’m fixin to blow it up”. Yup—turned into a 911 and bomb squad call:)
The art of the extreme: Free Solo won an Oscar for best documentary. I highly recommend this doc for all of those with adventurous spirit but know that it is tough to watch Alex Honnold scale El Cap without a rope! He is truly nuts!
Speaking of mountains: This weekend I climbed to the summit of El Cajon mountain. A great hike with spectacular views! Just one of many incredible parks and open space preserved and maintained by the County of San Diego.
February 22, 2019
NOT ABOUT THE SHOE: The Nike shoe of Duke superstar Zion Williams fell into pieces at the start of a high profile game. I don’t care about the shoe--I care about the injustice that the coach makes close to 10 million dollars a year, the NCAA makes a billion dollars off march madness, and the university sells jerseys with HIS NAME ON THEM. Pay the damn players! Don’t just give them shoes and a scholarship. Their labor and true value are being stolen.
Strong move 💪🏼: Los Angeles County is stepping up to address the problem that a huge percentage of those in jail are suffering from mental health injury. So they voted to tear down a jail and build a mental health treatment facility. Baseball is approaching so my “beat LA” chant is warming up, but on this issue, I say “bravo LA”.
Manny Mania: Speaking of baseball, what a week to be a Padres fan! I am beyond excited we signed Manny Machado! I feel the need to point out (for cynical ones out there--like the guy I sat with on the plane): you play 162 games a year in baseball, we will not win them all (more than half this year would be good), Machado will strike out a few times, probably make an error. But we are headed in a new direction!
Go Green: This week my office met with a group of environmental leaders to lay out a path so we can address climate change, water quality, air pollution, open space and a lot more. There was a lot of green this week--my first meeting at California Air Resources Board and getting ready for the vote on Tuesday to have County join the Community Choice Energy Movement--sign our petition to support that cause here!
Unsolicited tip: After all this rain, I imagine your shoes look terrible! Get a great shoe shine from my friend Joey (Joey’s Shoe Shine). He is a character with a compelling personal story of redemption and rehabilitation. He will make you smile and your shoes will shine. Be sure you tell him I sent you—he is also a voter in my district:)
February 15, 2019
Trumped: The County Board of Supervisors - yours truly included - voted to sue the Trump Administration over their inhumane and morally corrupt immigration policies. It is truly a new day in our county:) I am proud of the way San Diego County and our community has stood-up to Trump’s bully-tactics.
Overheard: Last week, we hosted Chelsea Clinton in San Diego for a discussion on transforming our foster care and juvenile justice system! Like myself, she grew up in Arkansas and laughed saying, “when I started my day, I never dreamed we would be talking about Smackover, Arkansas.” Yes, she has been to my little hometown:)
Social media reply of the week: Speaking of Arkansas, I couldn’t resist sharing this little Facebook exchange. Sadly, I don’t have time to respond to all the trolls out there, but it is important we point out facts and never back down from being on the right side of an issue:
This week in history :) On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and first democratically elected and first black president of South Africa. His legacy lives on and continues to inspire social justice activism throughout the world.
Throwback: This one is a sad throwback. Last year this week, I had to say goodbye to my puppy, Jagger, who helped me 15 years ago when I came back from war. He was a sweet boy, with a strong spirit. On this last day, we shared a shared a final trip to the beach and all the peanut butter he could eat. I’m grateful these amazing creatures exist:)
February 8, 2019
Straight bragging: It is always cool to have the Governor come visit San Diego. Even better when he comes to praise the work our county is doing to help asylum seekers. Take a second to hear directly from Governor Newsom.
Kind of a big deal: Due to climate change, the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is one of the most unstable in the world. New research released this week from NASA outlines the frightening reality that a massive underwater cavity is accelerating the glacier’s decay.
If the Thwaites Glacier all melted it would raise the world’s oceans by over two feet—think about that San Diego.
Book I just finished: “The World As It Is” by former Obama National Security Aide Ben Rhodes is about as good as you will ever read on a political memoir. He talks openly and honestly about the challenges of navigating a complex world, the realities of politics and gives an incredible look into the day to day life during the Obama years. I can’t more highly recommend it.
Nailed it: If you watched the State of Union you might have noticed the honoring of 97-year-old World War II veteran Joe Reilly. Joe is truly the greatest generation and a wonderful man. A few years ago he joined us at a veterans event I hosted, and his words from that event about who we are as a people are some the most powerful you will ever hear.
Quote of the week: In Honor of Black History Month here is this quote from Bayard Rustin; an unsung hero from the Civil Rights Movement. The definition of intersectionality, Rustin was an openly gay man who advocated for both Civil Rights and Gay Rights.
"We are all one and if we don't know, we will learn it the hard way."
February 1, 2019
ICYMI: This week we had an enormous win at the County! The Board approved legislation we authored with Supervisor Greg Cox to provide a shelter for families and children seeking asylum in San Diego.
Never give up: The PGA tournament in San Diego last week featured big stars--Tiger plus whoever actually won:) But the biggest star is 37 year old, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, a Mexican immigrant who worked for 10 years as a laborer on a golf course and is now on the PGA tour! He didn’t make the cut this week, but is clearly winning in the game of life.
Now it makes sense: This LA Times story highlights efforts by Governor Newsom to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. I was struck the opponents didn’t have an argument against what he is doing, they just say he just wants to run for national office. It is good to the opponents acknowledge common sense gun control efforts have nationwide support!
More baseball (and documentary suggestion): Last week, I shared our countdown timer to spring training:) This week, I saw an incredible documentary, “Battered Bastards of Baseball”. This story tracks the Portland Mavericks--at the time, the only independent minor league baseball team. Team was started by Bing Russell (actor) and included a merry band of misfits, plus his son Kurt Russell. This moving story is about what can happen when the love of a game trumps profit or ambition.
Tweet of the week: I am thrilled to be have been appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California Air Resources Board! I hope to earn the support of the Senate through the confirmation process and get to work! Nothing better than clean air!
January 25, 2019
News story: Climate change is real and it is impacting the military and their missions. This article titled, “The awkward dance between Trump and the military over climate change,” details how climate change has become a matter of national security. It is clear that when it comes to climate change we need to do more.
Podcast that made me think: Gladiator is a podcast brought to you by the Boston Globe spotlight team (same folks who did the heartbreaking but important work on the scandals in the Catholic Church) that focuses on the tragic story of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. A tragic story of death, childhood trauma and the impact of CTE.
Something you might not know: As we head into another week of the federal government shutdown over what Trump calls a lack of commitment to border security, it is important to remember this study from 2013: “U.S. Spends More on Immigration Enforcement than on FBI, DEA, Secret Service & All Other Federal Criminal Law Enforcement Agencies Combined”
Key stat: We are 17 days, 9 hours and 44 seconds away from the start of Spring Training! Hope springs eternal for our Padres:) If you don’t want to do the math on the kick off of America’s Pastime here is a handy countdown timer!
Photo of the week: Ok--it isn’t from this week, but I love this picture of our family at swearing-in!