A man and his money
Last September, Paul Fisk heard something that gave him hope that there was a stack of money somewhere that was rightfully his. He soon found out that there had been a stack of money waiting for him, but he'd missed his chance to grab it two years earlier, when San Diego County gave up on him and took it.
Fisk is the man Dave Maass wrote about in last week's CityBeat. After Fisk lost his job in 2004 and could no longer pay his rent, he became homeless and moved his possessions to a storage unit. When he no longer could afford the storage fee, his belongings were auctioned off. The balance of the proceeds—$744 after the storage company was paid—should have gone into Fisk's pocket. But he had no idea he had money coming to him.
Under a process called escheatment, the county has the authority to take money that's been in its possession for three years without being claimed by the individuals to whom it's owed. That's what happened to Fisk's money.
We realize that the county followed the law—it had no idea Fisk would ever come forward. But he eventually did. He ended up back on his feet, and now he's 64 years old and living on social security. A sum of $744 would be huge for him. We asked county Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard if the county could simply cut Fisk a check. Unfortunately, he replied, that would be an illegal gift of money that now belongs to taxpayers.
There must be a way to reunite Fisk with his money. We urge county officials to find it.
Attitude adjustment needed
Another story we published last week, Kelly Davis' overview of San Diego County's food-stamps program, deserves comment. The county has seen its enrollment increase, but up was the only direction it could have gone—a 2005 study said that San Diego County was worst among 22 urban American areas examined.
Davis' story included an alarming statistic: Last year, roughly one of every five requests for new or renewed benefits was denied in error. Advocates for the poor speculate that perhaps this is a result of county workers erring on the side of caution: Workers might get in trouble if they approve benefits for people who aren't eligible. That speculation has its basis in the hyper-focus that the county Board of Supervisors places on fraud prevention. In reality, actual instances of fraud are low.
Our editor, David Rolland, discussed the county's food-stamps program on KPBS's The Roundtable radio show last Friday. One of the callers to the show described the application process and said he felt as if he was being discouraged by a county worker from completing it.
County officials should resist the urge to congratulate themselves on increased enrollment. There's still a lot of work to do.
Plan an Iraq-vets parade, San Diego
The city of St. Louis on Jan. 28 hosted a grassroots, Facebook-started parade for veterans who fought in the war in Iraq, which ended late last year. Since then, the nonprofit organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has launched a campaign to urge President Obama to designate a National Day of Action, when cities across the country could hold parades and services honoring the roughly 1 million men and women who served in Iraq, the more than 45,000 who were wounded there and the 4,474 who were killed.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and the City Council should get on board. More than a dozen cities have begun planning their own parades; San Diego should join them.
The war in Iraq was a stupid and costly one. It should never have happened, and the families who've suffered because of it have done so needlessly. But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the sacrifices made. A parade and services can raise awareness of the plight of veterans who need physical- and mental-health treatment, as well as financial assistance. Money for services can be raised. We'd imagine that corporate sponsorship of events would be easily obtained.
San Diego loves to call itself a military town. If that's true, it should show it.
What do you think? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.