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Border cities seek legacy of cooperation

January 22, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

MEXICALI — Mexicali Mayor Jaime Diaz Ochoa vowed to build on a legacy of cooperation and friendship between his city and Calexico to foment positive change on both sides of the border.

He made the comments during an informal Monday afternoon meeting with Calexico Mayor Victor Carrillo, Mayor Pro Tem John Renison, councilmen Javier Alatorre and Frank Montoya, City Manager Richard Inman and Police Chief Mario Sanchez.

The meeting of the dignitaries from the two cities was the first since Diaz was elected in November.

Renison told Diaz there are a lot of problems along the border but also a number of opportunities. Renison stressed the importance of building on the relationships that Calexico enjoyed with former Mexicali administrations to take advantage of those opportunities.

Diaz said there is a good amount of harmony in Mexicali since the Baja California governor and nation's president are both from the same party. He said that harmony could help make this a "very, very special" time for relations between the two cities.

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Diaz told the Calexico officials to expect the fruits of that potential within the next three years.

Alatorre spoke of economic development. He said the cities need to work together to attract business to the border region.

Diaz said members of his administration would be happy to meet with Calexico staffers. He said special attention needs to be paid to retail stores and tourism.

Diaz then turned over the floor to his police chief, who asked if the local "bomberos," or firefighters, could train in Calexico as in years past.

Sanchez said that would not be a problem. He said he will meet with Calexico Fire Chief Carlos Escalante to schedule the dates.

Later, Diaz explained what the new city of Mexicali's logo represented.

He took great care to point out each symbolic facet of the design, which led to a member of his staff presenting each councilman with a representation on a tie pin.

Diaz said the logo symbolizes the hope Mexicali residents have for the future. He said they hope for their children to grow up in a safe and clean city.

Diaz said his administration is working on making those dreams a reality but it isn't easy because some Mexicali residents expect attention to detail that is not possible with his limited budget and resources.

"They want the city to sweep their front porch," he said.

Diaz also spoke about the problems he faced as police chief and faces now as mayor, including protecting his city's children from drug dealers.

He said there are many good programs and ideas but not enough money to fund them all.

"President Fox is not handing out blank checks — there is no check. There is no Santa Claus," he said.

Toward the end of the meeting, Montoya asked about the power plants under construction near the west Mexicali wastewater plant.

Diaz said he is familiar with the Imperial and Mexicali valley residents' concerns about potential air pollution from the plants.

He said the plants have been approved by the federal government and won't come under the jurisdiction of the local municipality until they are operating.

Once they are, Diaz said he will make sure they meet local regulations.

While those regulations are less stringent than California emission standards, Diaz said they are "very tough."

He stressed the importance of protecting the environment and said his party has made progress along those lines.

Capping the meeting, Renison raised a fist in tribute to the pose made famous by Diaz during his campaign.

Diaz smiled and gave it back to him.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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