Thursday, October 26, 2006

"A little bit of communication would have gone a long way,"

Operation Homecoming donations total $33K

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

---- The city received $33,000 in donations to offset $18,000 it paid to produce the Operation Homecoming at Encinitas book-reading event last month, Finance Director Jennifer Smith told the City Council on Wednesday.

The excess donations ---- $15,000 ---- will be given to the San Diego Nice Guys Victory Fund, a charity that supports deployed and wounded troops and their families, Smith said.

On Sept. 22, an estimated 850 people attended the event at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center, where troops read passages from their submissions to "Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families."

After Smith's brief report, some council members tore into the watchdogs and one of their colleagues who had questioned the expenditures.

Councilman Dan Dalager, who is credited with conceiving the national reading tour to accompany the recently published anthology of war stories, saved his sharpest words for the North County Times.

On Saturday, the newspaper reported nearly $20,000 in expenditures discovered on city warrants lists by taxpayer advocates Bob Bonde and Donna Westbrook.

"That is some of the most irresponsible reporting I've ever seen," Dalager said Wednesday. Later, he added, "We've got a press that's simply looking to do what's not right, what's not a story."

Dalager ---- with support from the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association, Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and the 101 Artists Colony ---- spent nearly a year preparing a proposal and pressuring the National Endowment for Arts to make Encinitas one of its first stops on the tour.

In the weeks leading up to the highly publicized event, Dalager said the city would spend "maybe $5" to bring it to Encinitas, but would earn much more than that in publicity and prestige.

In Saturday's newspaper story, Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan said she had understood the event would come at no cost to the city.

"I think your comments (in the story) were very irresponsible," Mayor Christy Guerin told Houlihan at Wednesday's meeting."If the paper's irresponsible, and it's their job to find something and explain something, no comment is appropriate."

Houlihan said she did not know a fund existed to cover the city's payments to vendors.

"A little bit of communication would have gone a long way," Houlihan said. "There wasn't information given to me in advance that I saw about the paying arrangement."

Operation Homecoming expenses appearing on the Sept. 27, Oct. 18 and Wednesday's warrants lists total $19,633. Smith's report, however, shows $18,062 in costs. The difference between the amounts reported remained unclear Wednesday, but city officials have said the event will cost the city little if anything.

The report shows corporate and private donations from: Cox Communications Inc. ($2,500); EDCO Recycling & Waste Collection Services ($3,000); Barratt American Inc. ($5,000); San Diego Gas & Electric Co. ($5,000); Gerald and Robin Parsky ($3,000); anonymous ($11,000); Borders Inc. book sales ($617); National Endowment for the Arts reimbursements ($1,318); staff donations ($2); Victory Fund offering ($1,624).

Councilman Jerome Stocks praised Dalager and said he would have been proud to direct public funds toward the event.

Councilman James Bond said he, too, wanted a clarification of expenditures, and added, "It would be nice if the folks who were concerned about that to say they apologize."

If Dan Dalager had more patience and was less arrogant he could have easily supplied more information to his fellow council members, the public and the press. His attitude that you can never, ever challenge his actions and choices is making him a loose cannon. He still owes city founder Bob Bonde an apology for calling him a "whiner". Bob Bonde served this country as a marine in Korea, how is that for irony?


  1. Yes, Dalager was arrogantOctober 26, 2006 8:24 AM

    Yes, JP, I agree with Maggie on this. Christy Guerin used this opportunity to heap criticism, too, on the NCT and on Maggie Houlihan, as well as the watchdogs. We were not there last night, but we can imagine.

    What was not emphasized was that the report for spending, by Jennifer Smith was $1571 under what the warrants list had shown, which was the amount that Saturday's NCT piece showed was actually spent. We thought it was, and believe it to be a good piece, NCT. Again, Dalager and Guerin are attacking the messenger.

    In Saturday's article, any reader could read that Bob Bonde already clearly stated, "I was wrong," that he would wait to see what the total donations were, to offset the City's warrants list.

    Saying one is wrong is an apology, James Bond, and Council. Jerome Stocks, jumping on the bandwagon and stating he would be proud to have produced the event, after the fact, simply shows that Council was not made aware of the financing arrangements, that the City was producing the event, ahead of time. Yes, full disclosure and communication would have prevented this bitter misunderstanding.

  2. Again, we are grateful for Bob Bonde and Donna Westbrook. Neither citizens nor Council was made aware, until after the fact, that the City, again, on taxpayer's dime, was producing, or fronting the money, for the book tour event. And it still seems like that videotape production costs of over $4,000 were excessive, as well as the VIP dinner costs of $8,100. That spending is benefiting the promoters of the book tours, more than the troops, as anyone who can add will realize. The event cost more to produce than was taken in, plain and simple. Taxpayers were not told we would be producing the event, nor was Council, until after the fact.

    Maggie Houlihan was correct in saying that she, and the citizens could have been informed of these "creative" financing arrangements.

  3. Misunderstanding/lack openessOctober 26, 2006 8:42 AM

    MVP Digital Ltd., video ($4,190), yeah, that seems way too high. This is about ten times what it cost to videotape the Cottonwood Creek Park holiday celebration. Some of that money, and the $8190 that was spent on VIP dinners, could have gone to the troops.

    "Basically, I was wrong," Bonde said. "But there was no record of (income) anywhere, so how do we know that was the case?"

    That was in the paper, too. So he was honestly saying that the poor communications led to the misunderstanding, but he still took accountability for what he said, before the report by Jennifer Smith.

  4. $5000 from Barratt and $11,000 from anonymous (I bet Ecke/Myer clan) saved Dalagers butt. Now he owes them even more favors. Or maybe it was the fire department union trying to keep their Ace in the hole on council. $11k for $15 million in luxury stations seems like a good return on a donation.

  5. Dalager served this county as "Pothead", and now he want to get "Butthead" elected with him.

    Cheers to Hot Chicks Danny!

  6. We believe Tom BrownOctober 26, 2006 8:52 AM

    Good piece in NCT Community Forum today, 10/26/06. Brown did serve in the special forces. That is only an "alumni association" that the "hit piece" NCT columnist J. Stryker Meyer refers to, suggesting, in his bogus column that Tom Brown "may have lied," without Meyer's checking his facts more fully or explaining what Brown meant when he said he thought he was a member of the association.

    Tom Brown had signed up to be part of the association, and was led to believe his application would be processed by the time his election materials were published.

    We believe today's piece by Retired Sgt. Maj. Carlos Cota of the U.S. Army Special Forces, and who is vice president of the Special Forces Association's Roger Donion Medal of Honor chapter No. 75 in SD County.

  7. $2.00 for staff donations?

    That seems funny.

  8. I'm glad the propaganda tour was a big success.

  9. 96 U.S. troops have died in Iraq so far in October.

  10. Previous anonymous means that it cost more to produce than was given, after "production cost were deducted," to the actual troops and their families.

    Cost more to produce than was allegedly given out, directly to the troops.

    Wish we could get out of Iraq, now, get out of the Civil War, there.

  11. It cost more than 5 bucks to put the event on didn't it?

  12. Why didn't Dalager and the city staff bring forth the cost of producing the event before the Sept. 22 book reading?
    Why wasn't the Jennifer Smith report agendized for last night's council meeting?
    Why did the council ignore the Brown Act?

  13. No Good deed goes unpunished.

    Keep it up bloggers and Dan will need to send you a thank you card for re-electing him to the city council.

    You're the best argument to vote for him. because anyone dissing this kind of an event must be insane.

    Kind of like the clown antics of the last election agaisnt Maggie was the best reason to vote for her.

    The naysayers gave Dan a big fat pitch and he hit a grand slam with it.

    Thank you naysayers for assuring the re-election of "Slingblade"

    ...and, just how much money have you raised for a worthy military charity lately.

    Thank you Bob Bonde for your service as a Marine in our armed forces, and for your efforts in incorporation. You're a big man to apologize and say you were wrong and it was the right thing to do.

    Dan should not be crowing but this was a gift on a silver plater a week before the elections.

  14. Perhaps the Grand Jury should look into Dalager's production and Guerin's city paid birthday party.

  15. Dalager used the Operation Homecoming book reading for his political advancement, plain and simple. Shame on you Dan Dalager.

  16. Our marines fight for democracy while Dalager acts like a monarch. He is an embarrassment.

  17. The anonymous contribution was $11,000. Was that from one person? If $11,000 was given as a political contribution, the donor couldn't be anonymous.

  18. A little bit of communication would have gone a long way.
    BUT......this all happened because city hall was closed that Friday. The reporter as well as at least one council member made repeated calls to many city management types at home but they could not be reached. So, again, the Friday closing of city hall causes a problem. When is the city going to wise up and keep city hall open on Fridays. A smaller staff so employees can still have their cherished 4 day work weeks but OPEN like other people serving businesses.

  19. "Dalager used the Operation Homecoming book reading for his political advancement, plain and simple. Shame on you Dan Dalager.

    Right on!

    I agree, he is so manipulative and powerful he forced the NEA to bow to his political wishes and have the event located in Encinitas and at a time when it could help him politically the most. Shame on Dan!

    He also goaded, hoodwinked, our beloved Bob Bonde and Maggie into making bad comments and accusations, which in the end manipulated public opinion in his favor thus securing him likely reelection. Shame on Dan!

    Then he demanded and berated corporate pig sponsors who want to develop and rape our town to pony up to cover his ass. (I’m sure all of the money came in after the controversy arose and none of them really wanted to support our city and troops)

    And then the clincher,

    He demanded and used a female staff member (Jennifer Smith) Who is unqualified to be our finance director because we found out she did have a masters degree in finance but is dating the city attorney, through inappropriate degrading offensive language directed at her because she is a female, to cook the books and show that the event raised $15,000 for the families of deployed military.

    (catch breath after long sentence)

    In my heart, I truly feel as if the event did not raise that much money.

    All for the single selfish cause of maintaining his Encinitas City Council seat and big fat “pig at the public trough” pay check that goes with it.

    An investigation by the fair political practices committee, the grand jury, and the states attorney generals office is very warranted. If we lose there, it will be because the judge who is clueless and uneducated, did not read the correct interpretation, and was a political appointee, and we will appeal it to the United States Supreme Court.

  20. Funny that anonymous who starts posts with



    agrees with herself in the previous posts starting with

    "Right on!

    I agree"

    That gets old.

  21. Everything does.

  22. folks,

    the last one,

    Right on!

    was clearly tounge and cheek, stringing together some funny comments from several events.

    Geez can't you see that?

  23. I'm happy to read people's posts, whether they split them up, or not.

    The longer ones are usually worth reading, too.

    No blog cops here, previous anonymous criticizer.

    People have different posting styles. Listen, Dalager should have let us, COUNCIL, know about the production costs upfront.

    Sounds as though somebody came through with $11,000. I don't think that can be anonymous, if it goes through the City. Calaware would know if "anonymous donations for a city production of events (was it a charitable event or not? tax deductible, or not, through the City?) are open to mandatory public disclosure laws, throught the Brown Act, the Public Info Act.

  24. I can assume it wasn't a Jewish person who saved the day with that extra $11,000.


  25. As Dan Dalager has repeatedly said: "The devil is in the details." Unfortunately he always seems to be uninformed about the details until he gets got with his pants down. I personally am very suspicious of the donations made to cover the expenses, especially that $11,000 made by anonymous.

  26. Someone suggested to me that maybe the $11,000 came in cash donations at the event? Supposedly about 850 people attended. But were those donations separately listed?

    I think we should find out if the $11,000 was really a roundabout campaign contribution. The deal is, if it were on the up-and-up, then why wasn't Jennifer Smith's "staff report" about the spending on the Agenda, so people could have prepared questions, know to go to the Council Meeting last night?

    We can watch at 6:00 tonight, on Cox County Television Network, CTN, Chanel 19.

    We are glad money was raised, for the troops and their families, but we don't think it should have been "produced" by the City, without Council's advance approval at an open session. The timing of the book tour is quite suspect, right before election time. People are bound to wonder.

    More warm & fuzzies for Dalager's campaign.

  27. Maggie was involved in a great program for the 20th anniversary calendars and banners that currently fly along Hwy 101.

    There was an anonymous donor who supported that effort for $10,000 and there was no outcry from the blog.

    should we be suspicious of that as well?

    Oh could it be that good folk out there want to support their city without calling attention to themselves.

    Anonymous donors supporting worthy cause are part of the fabric of this country. It's their money.

    It would be ironic if the same anonyous person donated to both Maggies efforts on the 20th aniversary and Dans Operation homecoming.

  28. I like people who donate anonymously as opposed to the few who scream look at me.

  29. Dalager full of bile & venomOctober 26, 2006 7:22 PM

    Wow, just watched the Council Meeting. I can't believe how rude Christy Guerin was to Maggie Houlihan. Dan was too, but he saved most of his bitter diatribe for the NCT.

    Attacking the messenger, Dan, won't win you any "brownie" points.

    I think Jerome Stocks said 190% of the expenses were raised by donations. I think it was less than that, but that's not the point. The point is simply that others should have been made aware, through letting Council approve the production costs in open session, beforehand. They would have, and the miscommunication would have been avoided.

    Dan Dalager was downright rude, too, about Bob Bonde and Donna Westbrook. He said he was so tired of "whiners who don't do anything."

    NOT. They both do so much, more than you would dream of doing, Dan Dalager, and they do not get expense accounts, Council pay, SDWD pay, and assorted other "benefits," some from developer "buddies," like you, Dan.

  30. I saw the Council Meeting, too.

    Previous poster, the banners for the City and the calendars were open and direct. The donar knew who he or she was donating to, and for what. Did the anonymous donar know about the $8100 VIP dinner, or the $4100 videotaping expenses? If the City was not producing the event, would the budget for production have been more modest, assuring more money for the troops and their families.

    This "City production" with anonymous donations is questionable. The timing of the event immediately before the election does make it political.

    Maggie Houlihan was attacked and cut off by Christy Guerin. She was at the Council Meeting via "teleconference." Christy Guerin cut her off, said other people want to speak; you had your turn. That was rude. Council Members get to talk as long as they want.

  31. You will get no argument from me that Christy is rude. I totally agree and think she has a bit of a queeen and lower subjects disorder.

    The fact still remains that both the banners and operation homecomeing were great events/activities and both had anonymous donors. I disagree about your point on the one was bettter than the other. If you support one, you support the other. If you dis one, you dis the other.

    If anything, the fact that operation homecomeing generated 15k for a worty cause plus the great event is laudable. The banner program did not have a charitble component.

    I hope your objection is not to the fact that money was raised for charity and some how the donors did not know what percentage went to the event or charity.
    That's a bogus issue and a no win for those opposed to Dan.

  32. "I think we should find out if the $11,000 was really a roundabout campaign contribution" from a previous post.

    If we ever get to the point where we are investigating anonymos donors to charitble causes....
    Beem me up Scotty, I want to get off this planet.

  33. Dalager did a poor song and dance to divert attention away from what the city presented as a free book reading. Remember, this event wasn't presented as a fund raiser. It was a free book reading.

    There is a difference in definition between anonymous donations given directly to a charity and donations given to pay off the city's production costs. The charity donation is deductible. The city donation isn't.

    No, the city shouldn't accept anonymous donations. It would be too easy to launder money or gain political favors by using the anonymous donor smokescreen.

  34. agreed.

    But I like J.P.'s comment about the spirit of anonymous donors.

    No doubt Dan loved the timeing and the result.

  35. same rules for all then including Maggie and the anonymous banner Donor?

    No, the city shouldn't accept anonymous donations.

  36. Same rules. No anonymous donations.

  37. great debate, great blog.

    council members can call in chits from anonymous donors who support their issues without public scrutiny.

    Pay back comes later at a cost.

  38. Of course, it's just a coincidence. Councilman Dan Dalager is listed as a supporter of the SDG&E Sunrise powerlink. SDG&E is listed as a donor of $5000 to Dalager's event production of the book reading.

  39. Dalager postured and tried to divert attention away from himself by calling people whiners. It won't work. Our form of government, to survive, must be questioned on spending, policies, and procedures. Be proud to be called whiners by them. If there is enough whining, taxpayers may be able to stop the out of control council spending. Whiners unite!

  40. Is Dan Dalager a commercial fundraiser for the city of Encinitas?

    The California State Attorney General's office has a definition of a Commercial Fundraiser:

    Commercial Fundraiser is an individual, who is not an employee or volunteer of a charity,
    paid to solicit donations on behalf of the nonprofit organization. Commercial fundraisers
    may be paid a flat fee or percentage of the donations collected in the charity’s name. It
    is not unusual to find contracts that provide that the fundraiser will retain 50-90% of
    the net proceeds after all fundraising expenses are deducted. These types of contracts,
    on average, yield a relatively small return to charity. Financial reports filed by commercial fundraisers are posted on the Attorney General’s website.

  41. man,

    you guys will stretch the issue to great lenghts to justify your paronoid world.

    Do you really think that Dalager pocketed 50 to 90% as a commercial fundraiser.

    Smoke a dube and chill.... and do something productive with your life.

    this sets a watermark for a new low on the blog

  42. Adam Kaye scored one against Dalager, and Houlihan was right in raising the issue. Encinitas was well served.

  43. Adam Kaye should be paid by Dan to be his campaign manager. You cannot by better press.

    He scored one by cementing the fact that Dan will be re-elected.

  44. Dan better get a new striped suit.

  45. No one said Dalager pocketted the money. We said that this was said billed to be a book reading, and ended up justifying production costs, which exceeded the amount "raised" by contributions, including $1100 anonymous, just before an election, "filtered" through the city, where Dalager is an incumbent. This book tour was supposed to be a feather in DD's hat. It ended up otherwise, because of the simple fact that Council was not informed of anticipated "production costs" ahead of time. Can you say "old boys," no communication?

    The production costs were more than what was raised for "charity," for the troops and families, or whomever. I would not want my charitable contributions to go to the City of Encinitas to reimburse production costs which include $8100 VIP dinners or $4,100 dollar videotape productions.

    Can anyone say "kickbacks?"

    We don't need blog police, judging us, and the reporter who just stated the facts.

    We need a change on Council, including "new" incumbents. Dan has done his best, we guess. Time to go.

  46. Would anyone want Dan Dalager to demand a donation of $5000 on behalf of the residents of Encinitas?


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