Monday, December 18, 2006
The San Diego Union Tribune ran a story about Christy Guerin over the weekend. Click headline link below:
Guerin says she adjusted, but never changed
ENCINITAS – To those who say the Christy Guerin who stepped down from the Encinitas City Council on Dec. 6 was a different Christy Guerin from the one sworn in eight years ago, she has a simple response.
“I don't think I changed in office,” Guerin said in a recent interview.
She will concede a couple of points, however.
“I think I was a little bit naive” when first elected. And “I may have become more cynical at times,” she said. “Politics can be a game of 'I have to win, you have to lose,' ” when it needn't be that way.
Guerin chose not to run for a third council term, and in July she became district director for U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, the Carlsbad Republican who won a June special election to serve the remainder of disgraced Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham's term. Bilbray was re-elected Nov. 7.
Some thoughts about Christy Guerin:
The good: Christy, along with Dennis Holz, introduced the Community Character workshops. Even after the developers and some of the staff tried to sabotage the process she stuck with it.
Same thing goes for the Trails Master Plan. Again, there was resistance from some neighborhoods. But, rather than scraping the whole project Christy was willing to compromise and got as much as possible.
The bad: Christy took over the Sister City program and made it into an insiders club, which was worse than just taking over the program. She became a diva, criticizing public speakers when they had no opportunity to respond. She had a personal vendetta against Maggie Houlihan that was borderline irrational. Christy developed an US against THEM mentality at city hall which created a toxic atmosphere in Encinitas.
You get the feeling that Christy started to believe it was all about her and not about the community.
Before, when Christy was on the council with Maggie and Dennis and they were in the majority, Christy worked with Dennis on the Community Character Ordinances. Dennis was the strong one so Christy followed his lead. That was the good Christy.
When Dennis left, Christy was influenced by Dan Dalager, Jerome Stocks and Jim Bond and became the bad Christy because she discovered she was now the strong one. Jim Bond once said Christy is an alpha male and the only way to get along with her is to stay out of her way.
Christy used her seat to talk down to people and when she disagreed with a speaker (which was often) she lectured them as a parent to a child would knowing they could not talk back.
Christy was known to be divisive and vicious and the council as a whole grew that way because of her leading the way. Christy caused a great fracturing of the council by getting them to remove Sheila a month before her term as mayor was over.
Note the article in the S.D. Union today, "I gave her every chance possible to be a good leader." Not we, but I gave her every chance.
She spent money, planned activities and appointed people to positions without bringing such actions up at a council meeting. And was surprised when anyone questioned her.
She told the fire boys to "shoot for the moon" when requesting fire station upgrades; which is why we now have fire McMansions on the drawing board.
She made sure her boy Phil Cotton was chosen before she left by not doing a search and hand-picking one of the good old boys (and he definitely is one of the good old boys).
Now, let's look at her going away evening at city hall. Traditionally, many friends and supporters give the outgoing council member gifts and speak in glowing terms of how wonderful that person is and why. These friends and sentiments were conspicuous by their absence and we had instead the usual suspects - DEMA, the Enc. Chamber and THE FIRE BOYS.
It will be some time before the open wound that was Christy Guerin heals. It may even take the leaving of some of the council members she trained to follow in her path.
This blog was created in response to the Leucadia Redevelopment plan. I still remember Christy's astounding words at the volatile RDA workshop meeting, "I just don't see the blight."
I think her realization that an RDA was the wrong direction for Leucadia was key moment. It was also an eye opener for me that maybe the city council wasn't set in stone after all, that the public could change the council member's minds.
A lot of people didn't like Christy for her often sharp style at council meetings. On one hand I've seen here wisely take control of meetings that were getting heated with emotion. On the other hand, I think sometimes she was rude to some of the older residents who were not that experienced at public speaking. It doesn't make your heart swell with hometown pride when your mayor is rolling her eyes at some old guy just trying to get through his 3 minute speech.
Christy was always a little scary to criticize. As a former cop turned influential council person and mayor who is married to a local sheriff, she was a powerful personality. I kept waiting to get pulled over and have all the local cops go Rodney King on me.
Voters love to cast ballots for former cops, but I think it's a bad idea. Sure, voters love cops because of their public service and safety concerns. But cops are not about compromise. Cops are about enforcing power and taking charge of a situation. I wonder how times Christy Guerin dreamed of tazering perennial critic Lynn Braun?
Before her election to the City Council, Guerin worked as a sheriff's deputy from 1980 to 1990. She left that job because of knee and back injuries she suffered on duty. She said she can continue to receive a $2,000-a-month disability pension despite her return to the workplace.
Is she getting this $2,000 check every month for the rest of her life? Is she feeling better or is she in pain? I hope she can live a healthy life, but I never did understand how she could receive that check and run in a marathon. That seems like fraud to me. Maybe someone can enlighten me on how all of that works?
What are some your memories and impressions of Christy Guerin's tenure in Encinitas?
See also: Leucadia!: Little Known Facts about Christy Guerin