Congressman Bob Filner's
Fighting Childhood Obesity
I, like most, believe that childhood obesity is best tackled at the local level through improved parental involvement, increased physical exercise, better diet and restraint. However, as a parent, grandparent and former educator, I know that these practices alone are insufficient. We will never truly control this rising epidemic without greater accountability from the food industry.
Unfortunately, Congress is headed in the opposite direction, as evidenced by the recently passed H.R. 554, "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act." The so-called "Cheeseburger Bill" does nothing to curb childhood obesity. In fact, it does just the opposite granting Fortune 500 companies blanket immunity from obesity lawsuits. The bill, as passed in Congress, removes any and all incentives for the food industry to improve their products for children.
During consideration of this bill, I offered an amendment that would exempt this legislation from applying to children. The intentions of my amendment were twofold: to protect young children (under 8 years of age) and to force better accountability from the fast food industry. Experts in the field unequivocally state that the fear of litigation and regulation has prompted the industry to rethink how it markets and sells food to our children.
Sadly, because of partisan politics, and the Republican Party's agenda of defending large corporations, my amendment was unsuccessful. Once again, the majority party managed to show their true compassion towards children by leaving them vulnerable to large corporate advertisers.
Traffic Improvements in San Ysidro
In October, I was joined by members of the San Ysidro community (as pictured below), including the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, the San Ysidro Business Association, the Business Improvement District Council, Hearts and Hands, the MAAC Project, the City of San Diego and other community stakeholders to present a check for $240,000 from the recently approved Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
These funds will go towards construction of the first traffic circle in South San Diego, improving congestion along San Ysidro Boulevard and part of the Mi Pueblo pilot village project. The proposed project is in the heart of the community along the historic commercial core of San Ysidro Boulevard, stretching from I-805 to Cottonwood, and into the residential neighborhood immediately adjacent. It is linked through Pathways to Knowledge, a system of pedestrian connections throughout the community, and to the Las Americas Plaza next to the international border.
This is an innovative approach to improving the flow of traffic at the border and is an opportunity revitalize the community!
Visit My Transportation Page
Hot Bill: H.R. 4095 The "Encourage Initiative and Promote Self-Esteem Act"
There are many people in our country who receive Social Security disability (SSD) benefits because they have a "waxing and waning" diseasesuch as Behcet's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Parkinson's, Cancer, AIDS and Arthritis.
The process of seeking SSD and keeping it is often-times an adversarial one. Applicants who receive approval for SSD remember the hoops of fire they had to jump through during the application process and, fearing that it could be difficult to get benefits again, do not attempt to work during the times they feel better. With concerns over fraudulent claims, I can understand how this environment came to be, but that doesn't make it right.
These people need a program that encourages them to secure temporary employment when able without placing their SSD at risk. This bill also proposes a sliding scale. The more money one earns, the fewer benefits he or she receives. However, there is a built-in incentive to stay the course because the total monthly income when working will be more than either the work income or SSD alone.
Honoring Our Fallen Heros
In a press conference on November 4th, I announced a major endorsement by the Military Order of the Purple Heart of my bill H.R. 2369, the "Honor our Fallen Heroes Act." The MOPH joins other important veterans organizations in supporting this legislation - the American Ex-Prisoners of War, the Tiger Survivors, and the Korean War Veterans Association.
The "Honor our Fallen Heroes Act" will award the Purple Heart posthumously to all Prisoners of War who died while in captivity, no matter the cause. Currently, only those members of the Armed Forces who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action are eligible for this honor. I believe that all Prisoners of War who die in captivity, of torture, freezing, starvation and other causes, deserve the respect and honor that the Purple Heart bestows. I am very honored that the MOPH has endorsed my bill.
Visit My Veterans Page
Working to Defend Our Community from Predators
On October 22, I held a public forum to discuss sexual predators being moved into the South Bay.
I have long-promised local residents that I would continue to fight the release of sexual predators being reintroduced into the South Bay. As a result of the recent events surrounding this issue, I have introduced a bill along with Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the "Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde Act," that authorizes the Attorney General to assist state and local governments in carrying out a program to outfit sexual offenders with electronic monitoring units. By combining these units with a Global Positioning System (GPS), local authorities can monitor and track sex-offenders at all times.
During my forum, I informed attendees that they should periodically visit Attorney General Bill Lockyer's Megan's Law website, www.meganslaw.ca.gov, where they can easily locate detailed information on sexual predators living in any area of our state. This information is updated every 24 hours by local law enforcement agencies in an ongoing effort to regulate their activities and movements.
I am committed to working towards making sure every predator is registered in every community of every state!
Crime Fighter of the Month
As I mentioned earlier in this newsletter, I recently held a community meeting about sexual predators. At this meeting, I had the privilege to name Lorna Sorrell as my "Crimefighter of the Month" for October. For her consistent dedication to educating her community about the dangers of sexual predators, Lorna has not only taught the necessary precautions to keep children safe, but she has made a difference in their daily lives.
Lorna Sorrell has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the fight against sexual predators, actively working to unite the community to protect children. Four years ago, before moving to San Diego, she was instrumental in the capture of a sexual predator who had attempted to kidnap a child. This sexual predator is now serving life in prison.
Lorna has shown great valor and loyalty in the fight against crime. Sexual predators are extremely dangerous to our community and children--and thanks to Lorna, we are becoming more informed and taking precautions against them.
"Congressman Filner and October 2005 Crimefighter of the Month Lorna Sorrell"
Citizen of the Month
For their dedication, service, and leadership in sponsoring the Freedom Fest, I have chosen to honor Gene and Gloria Blister as my "Citizens of the Month" for October.
For over fifteen years, Gene and Gloria have served as the chairpersons of Freedom Fest and have led the way in coordinating and planning one of the Valley's most celebrated annual events. Gene also serves as President and General Manager of 107 FM KXO Radio. Through the support of Gene and Gloria, the radio station produces and sponsors the annual fireworks show. With Gene and Gloria's sincere dedication and effort, Freedom Fest has attracted over 60,000 people--making it one of the largest community events throughout the Imperial Valley. Freedom Fest is also the only large Imperial County community celebration during the 4th of July that brings thousands together to experience our nation's Independence Day.
Gene and Gloria's commitment has given children, families, friends and neighbors a place to create special memories while celebrating our nation's Independence Day--and for that I am honored to present them with this well deserved recognition!
San Diego County
For his leadership to advance the cause of equality, empowerment, and justice in San Diego County, I have awarded October's "Citizen of the Month" to Carlos Varela.
Carlos is the outgoing President of La Raza Lawyers Association and currently serves as the Deputy District Attorney with the San Diego District Attorney's Office. He has worked in specialty units prosecuting narcotics traffickers and violent juvenile offenders. Carlos is also co-chair of La Raza Lawyers Mentoring Program which provides mentors for young Latino and Latina lawyers and law students.
Carlos' commitment to the law and to the community has helped to push forward the movement to eliminate injustice--and has inspired youths to pursue careers in law.
Constituent Mail Bag
From San Ysidro:
Dear Congressman Filner,
I have serious concerns about the most pressing environmental problems of our time.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel consumption, deforestation and other human activities can trap heat in our atmosphere for 100 years or longer--with devastating environmental consequences.
Current U.S. policy on climate change is one of indifference, out of step with world opinion. Therefore, I urge you to co-sponsor and support the Climate Stewardship Act, which tackles the problem of global warming by putting limits on dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.
Congressman Filner Replies:
Thank you for contacting me about global warming.
I wholeheartedly agree with you! The federal government must make a commitment to promoting a clean energy economy and limiting heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming. As you requested, I have co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act. You can count on me to continue fighting for environmental protections and a 21st century energy policy!
I appreciate your advocacy on this most important issue.