There have been describing in Encinitas city politics. For me, it started when I moved to Encinitas, and realized that the scale of politics here was small enough that individuals could really make a difference. Someone suggested I meet Teresa Barth when she was running for City Council. I did, I was impressed, and I started paying attention.
There are many great things about Encinitas, and I want them to continue. There are some wonderful people working for the City, and I want them and the new City Manager to be successful. However, the current direction of the City Council majority is worrisome, and their lack of open, honest dialog about key issues makes me wonder if we really know the whole story – are we really as fiscally healthy as they claim? What about the underfunding of the Hall property park? What about unfunded road maintenance needs? What about the extremely generous pensions that continue to be offered to new employees?
I have seen some decisions that cause great concern, and behavior that is unbecoming a fine city like Encinitas. Some examples:
- Lack of transparency: The Council majority chose to go to court rather than release a draft report on road conditions, and then to appeal the ruling when the court said the city had no compelling reason to withhold the report. In just this one case, the City spent $35,000 on extra fees for the City Attorney, whose job and pay seem unrelated to his performance in protecting the City from lawsuits and/or winning those that are valid.
- Cronyism: I have heard Council members say that their goal is to have people who are like-minded on our public commissions. I think the goal should be to have intelligent, committed people with expertise and a range of views, who will try to balance the diversity of interests and opinions that reflect the diversity of our community. If you only appoint your friends to key positions, you’ll get cooperation and efficiency, but to what end? Whose interests are being served efficiently? My priority is a Council and commissions that are representative of the community.
- Lapses of ethics: Among the recent examples of conduct unbecoming a Council, the Council majority on Nov. 2 dismissed the serious allegations that Mr. Muir used City email during his official work hours to engage in campaign activities in violation of the City’s ethics code. A few weeks earlier, Mr. Stocks voted on the expenditure of city funds to install an electric vehicle charging station that would provide free power that he would personally benefit from, as the owner of an electric car. While the decision to put in an EV charging station is great, Stocks should have recused himself. Instead, Mayor Bond joked about it as being Jerome’s personal charging station, while the City Attorney looked on silently. Ethics are not a joke.
The list above just gives a few examples of behavior by the City Council majority and the City Attorney that have motivated me to get involved, get informed, bear witness, and ultimately to enter the race to win a seat on the Council. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, I do have a deep and abiding commitment to honest, open dialog, and to treating everyone with respect. I think Encinitas can do better and I know Encinitas deserves better. Seniors, youth, skaters, animal lovers, families, and anyone else who feels unheard – I urge you to get involved. Occupy the voting booth. Volunteer in a campaign. Talk to your friends and neighbors. If you aren’t upset about what’s going on in Encinitas, you haven’t been paying attention!
This Letter to the Editor was written by 2012 City Council candidate Lisa Shaffer.
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