By Joe Cahak
Recently the Ramona Community Planning Group held their monthly meeting and one of the issues was the South Bypass or Dye Road project. Along with this was the Ramona Street extension and the 13th Street bridge projects. The meeting was well attended especially so after the CFARR group and a certain individual when all down Main Street to purposely gin up every business owner that he (they) could. They got 70 signatures for what they claimed was a plan to re-route all Highway 67 traffic to the south bypass and away from town. They had a quite elevated and hostile group all worked up at the meeting ready for bear. Mean while the meeting progressed and the RCPG came to the agenda item. I was one of two people that showed up to voice my concern for the community looking to be asked to give away the easements of the south bypass and stop the road project. I voiced that this is the ONLY route left of the north and south routes that were on the Federal Highway Administration maps and was eligible for Federal funds. The RCPG voted years ago give up the easements for the north bypass I pointed out and this was the LAST and ONLY route left to our community and our future. Carol Fowler also braved the onslaught to speak her opine that this would not hurt business and was an opportunity for Ramona and why she felt so. After some deliberation, discussion and statements the RCPG voted to add the south bypass and the Ramona St extension back on the Ramona Road Priority List and to approve the list.
This Road Priority List was set up by the RCPG that I was involved with, after the RCPG appointed me to the Ad Hoc Ramona Master Road Plan committee. We did our work to analyze the info, road statistics , the geology, the occupancy and road engineering, capacity and future needs. We made our recommendations to RCPG. RCPG voted to approve the Ramona Master Road plan. Then we worked with Supervisor Jacob and the Department of Public Works to establish the Road Priority list and get Ramona some attention on focused and prioritized work. We are seeing the results of this on our roads today and have some significant results coming soon. While I helped this community get there, I did not do this alone. I was a voice among many. We worked diligently over years to see Ramona in general and yes my Estates get some road attention. We used a road tour to get county and state folks to see firsthand our problem and we got results.
I tell you this to inform you these results today are not an accident. They are the result of many people being involved recommending, analyzing the needs and possible solutions and making recommendation for the community. This was not Joe Cahak doing this. I was one of many working hard to sell Ramona and working together to get results by being one voice for the main items. This was all done through and with RCPG voting to approve, recommend and consider. They did so and it is now the majority expression for the community. I am proud to have been a small part of this community’s success to get some big things done for us, our neighbors and our friends. I salute our planning group members for having the time, taking the patience and the for suffering they do, to serve us without compensation.
I tell you this to say that my efforts for the community have been marginally selfish, mildly stern and definitely community based. I hold no office, I ask for no political position or power. I do not want to be glorified. I just want to see OUR Ramona improve and be a better place for us all. I do not ask people to follow me, but to work with the planning group and Supervisor Jacob. What I am saying is if you don’t like the roads or plans please go to the RCPG and T&T meetings and give your 2 minutes and use them wisely if you want them to be meaningful. As to the legitimacy of the Road Priority and the majority opinion of the community, we are represented to the county of San Diego by RCPG. They were elected to represent us. They have voted the road priorities not just once, but each and every year since the group we work with set it up. It has stuck through so many years of many of RCPG members being reelected or newly elected alike. They re-affirmed the list items and priority over and over. I consider it to have standing. The county of San Diego considers it to have standing. I stand by our planning group and the decision they made.
I am not an Estates snob, nor have I used what little influence I was able to muster by persuasion for selfish gain thru property, business or other adventure other than living here and trying to be a good neighbor. I do offer that I did see to the “selfish” adding of a Bicycle network throughout to community and intra community. That was my one big hope to add to the plan that would serve me to be able to safely ride my bike on local streets. Please do note that San Vicente Road project does not just serve me, but a lot of people and small communities around us. It includes the largest trail addition and connection for the Estates to Ramona for the first time in this community’s history. I can ride my bike through the park and to town and back when I want to.
That said, what I am about to express is my opinion, mine alone and no one else. If I fail to express my opinion in a positive way I suffer. That said no planning group member, no one of my friends or “cohorts” at the Estates asked or encouraged me to this expression. I am friends with Jim Piva, Dennis Sprong, Kristi Mansloff, Chris Anderson and many former planning group members and have spent my time at RCPG meetings. I am not dinner or golf buddies. I am friends because I got to know of and about them and their work for the community at RCPG meetings. They earned my respect following through on the big and important road and other project in our community. They earned my respect for being good people and good business people. I especially admire Jim Piva for also joining the Estates Board of Directors to see our road project and communities are brought together.
I have seen some pretty bad and less than entertaining RCPG spectacles in my time. I have never felt more insulted and intimidated than I have after Carol Fowler and I left the meeting with the CFARR group behind us. We received many hostile comments and were given menacing stares as we left. While these certain individuals may feel they have the right to express their opinions. They have in my opinion violated mine and Carol’s in doing so. I have spoken to a fair number of planning group members present and past and have heard many allegations of group hostility, threats and character assignation rampant. Threats to members business and more alleged. We certainly got a “taste” during Ms. Chapman’s guest commentary (April 10 issue). Yes I got a taste of her and her group pretty well, not just at the meeting but afterwards in the Ramona Sentinel online comments following up after the paper edition. Some of the comments are quite interesting, certainly damaging to the CFARR group. Any altruistic thoughts or possible opines one might draw from their biased, prejudiced and downright deceptive and manipulative postures, actions and printed words. To them I say thank you. I could not have done a better job trying to explain others just what CFARR stands for and how they operate. So yes I thank you. I also point out the whole of it to this community and our Editor at this Sentinel has graciously helped others to be able to see as well by leaving it up for all to see for another longer and I have linked it at the end of the article so anyone can read.
I have heard a lot from this group and certainly they tried to distort my words, manipulate my opines, all to fuel their manipulative statements. They then accused me of running for position, of harassing certain of their individuals who put himself off as the solution to local road problems and to get residents to work against RCPG. When this individual didn’t like my facts and the argumentative debate and it was not going his way, he challenged me to meet him at the corner of Dye Road and Hwy 67. Not just once mind you but on up to 5 times now. I was told that this was the “American Way”. Somehow it seems so Chicago thug to me, doesn’t it to you? I grew up in northern Wisconsin and was very aware of Chicago politics. So after a bit of thought and some soul searching I proposed the following.
I meet him (them) at the next RPCG meeting 7 p.m. public input section of the meeting. I get to state my case that I felt hostilely treated, threatened and have been subject to harassment, character assignation and hostility and now threats myself, by this CFARR group and certain individuals. In addition they get the prize of explaining and defending their actions and positions to the community. This is no longer about the South Bypass but about CFARR tactics and who represents what in this community. Rather than meet at the corner, I suggest in front of all Ramona for all to see. I want a laser on this, don’t you after all?
I called Mr Piva and asked for the time to speak and was granted the right to speak for my 2 minutes. So I realize I have, what, 2 weeks to ready my words and strengthen my argument. I plan to use my words and time as wisely as I can. I certainly hope to give Ramona a bit of theater. My goal is to have CFARR seen for the disreputable actions, hostile words and disingenuous argument and certainly irresponsible hyping and ginning up emotions to gain false support for their cause. If I had any sympathy for the group or individuals, it has long since past.
Maybe they can be nice to RCPG to see if they can garner any help for some compensation for their easement losses. They made the gamble with their property purchases and they lost. So what can be done to ease their financial or other perceived pain? I do not know, but I know this community and this person has suffered enough.
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Joe Cahak is a Ramona resident.