Smoke, mirrors and burning money in Encinitas
May 17, 2007
Let's take a long pause and rethink before we hand Jerome Stocks a
Cancer Fighter of the Year Award.
Stocks is an Encinitas City Council member, deputy mayor this year, who has long been part of a threesome blocking a smoking ban on Encinitas beaches. Encinitas is an environmentally conscious city, but with Stocks, James Bond and Dan Dalager in office it is in danger of winning the label Ash Tray of Coastal San Diego County. Every coastal city has acted or is considering a smoking ban on public beaches. Every city but Encinitas.
In a sudden jolt of public health consciousness, Stocks announced in an op-ed piece last week (“Let Encinitas citizens decide smoking ban”) that he is helping form SmokeoutEncinitas and will gather signatures to put an advisory measure on the ballot next year.
What's wrong with this picture, aside from Stocks listing half a dozen reasons he still doesn't think a smoking ban is a good idea?
For openers, is there any doubt how Encinitas residents feel? Eighty-six percent of Californians have made the decision not to smoke. Do they really want to inhale secondhand smoke at the beach?
But why go to the effort to gather signatures? The Encinitas City Council, by simple vote, can place a referendum on the ballot.
And why stop at making it advisory? If Stocks, Dalager and Bonds are afraid to make a decision, they should ask citizens to vote on a mandatory measure.
Del Mar and Solana Beach have beach smoking bans. So do San Diego, Coronado and Imperial Beach. National City and Chula Vista don't have ocean beaches, but they have seen the light. Oceanside just adopted a no-smoking ordinance and one is moving forward in Carlsbad.
Enforcement has not been difficult. Signs warn beach visitors, and beach-goers are quick to politely remind offenders.
If Stocks is sincere, and belatedly so, congratulations to him. But put the measure on a public ballot by council vote, not by gathering signatures and spending tax money to verify them. Make it a mandatory referendum, not an advisory measure. Oh yes, just one more thing. Not that we question the honorable councilman's intentions (we clearly do), but we think council members Maggie Houlihan and Teresa Barth should be the ones to write the proposed ordinance in consultation with City Attorney Glenn Sabine.
Horn of plenty
When is the last time you received a $33,000 pay raise, didn't have to go through a performance evaluation to get it, and the paperwork was slipped into a stack sent to the big boss to be signed without review?
That pretty much explains the situation in Encinitas where rookie City Manager Phil Cotton, on the job just seven months, received a 20 percent raise to $198,000 and an increase in retirement benefits.
The raise had been put on the consent calendar amid routine items to be approved en mass without discussion. Only after approval of the raise on a 3-2 vote did the council get around to discussing Cotton's performance in closed session.
The pay raise puts Cotton in pretty heady company, among longtime city managers of much larger cities.
This largesse is compliments of council members James Bond, Dan Dalager and Jerome Stocks.