Last October, the La Mesa City Council voted 3-2 against designating the city the first “Fair Trade Town” in Southern California. But advocates were not dissuaded.
Last week, the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego reported: “La Mesa is well on its way to being proclaimed nationally as an official ‘Fair Trade Town’ and hopes to receive that certification in October.”
The news in The Southern Cross, the monthly diocese newspaper, came in a brief Page 10 article headlined “Fair Trade Gift Faire to Be Held in La Mesa.”
Certification in October?
Councilman Ernie Ewin emailed Patch: “Really??? News to me.”
In fact, the paper jumped the gun.
On Friday, in response to a Patch query, Fair Trade Town advocate Anne Pacheco wrote: “At the time the information was submitted for publication, this was our projection/goal. However, since then the timeline has changed due to the fact that Fair Trade Town requirements are in the process of changing.”
Pacheco has not responded to further Patch questions. But the La Mesa City Council agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting shows no item about Fair Trade Town status.
Proponents say the fair trade movement seeks to assure that Third World workers such as coffee growers, artisans and maquiladora employees are paid a “living wage” in humane conditions.
In October, they insisted that La Mesa would be saddled with no financial obligations or limit its choice of vendors.
But only Mayor Art Madrid and Councilman Dave Allan supported the resolution. Council members Ewin, Ruth Sterling and Mark Arapostathis opposed it.
This week, in response to questions, Fair Trade Town critic Scott Kidwell said the campaign is “an eternal faith-based optimism in a religious missionary effort [and] a misguided and wrongheaded belief that it’s okay to use taxpayer-funded resources, such as the good and valued name of the City of La Mesa, to promote or endorse or influence a religious or political agenda!”
That language [in the newspaper article] is the same that has been used everywhere month after month. I can only guess that it’s a standard political tactic to promote as if all is well and going according to plan.
With all due respect to the Patch and other publications, the general public and general local Catholic Church membership is probably unaware of the actual status and work surrounding the issue and really believes what they read. And why not? If you can’t believe your church newsletter, what is left to believe in?
According to a San Diego blog and the national website devoted to the cause, La Mesa is just short of being named a Fair Trade Town. [See attached images.]