Wednesday, March 31, 2010

San Diego Water Authority Finds More Water!

Thank you for pledging to the take the 20-Gallon Challenge, our region's campaign to reduce water use on average by 20 gallons per person, per day. The challenge began in 2007 as a voluntary campaign to increase conservation. However, escalating water supply challenges in 2009 have resulted in a water shortage, and mandatory conservation for the San Diego region is now in effect. Contact your local water agency for details on water-use restrictions or special conservation-related water rates that may apply in your community. Keep encouraging others to take the pledge!

You can help the Water Authority and its member agencies achieve required regional water-use reduction and water-saving goals by sharing the 20-Gallon Challenge message with your family, friends, and co-workers. It's as easy as forwarding this email to a friend or visiting the "Take the Pledge" web page at 20gallonchallenge.com/mypledge.html and clicking on Email this Page to a Friend.

Meanwhile, back at City Hall...




See also: Water, water anywhere?

Monday, March 29, 2010

State of the City Address

Here is the Mayor's script:
STATE OF CITY ADDRESS
MARCH 26, 2010
MAYOR DAN DALAGER

I want to thank you for inviting me to share some of my thoughts on the State of City this evening and thank the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce for putting on tonight’s event. It is an honor and pleasure to serve as your Mayor for 2010. I’d like to frame my remarks tonight around the three guiding strategic business priorities that were adopted by the City Council in 2009 and just recently reaffirmed by the Council last February for 2010.

These strategic business priorities are:
-Public safety;
-Infrastructure maintenance; and
-Citizen services.

These three strategic priorities guide the City on how it allocates funds, prioritizes capital projects and provides direction and focus in providing city services. Let’s start with Public Safety. The City enjoys the second lowest crime rate among all cities served by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. Much credit can be given to Captain Don Fowler and his crew at the Encinitas Sheriff’s Station for their proactive law enforcement and prevention activities. While many other cities in the region were forced to reduce law enforcement personnel in 2009, Encinitas maintained its level of law enforcement. In fact, one School Resource Officer, slated to be dropped by the School District because of budget cuts, was saved and re-deployed to provide City-wide law enforcement service. The deputy is now part of the Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing team providing specialized law enforcement for the entire City.

The Fire Department provides fire protection and emergency medical services protecting the life and property of all citizens of Encinitas. The Fire Department employs 48 full-time fire fighters including Deputy Chiefs, Captains, Engineers and Firefighters. They are trained in everything from Emergency Medical Service to swift water and confined space rescue. The Fire Department responded to over 5,000 calls for service in 2009.

In October 2009, four North County Fire Agencies entered into a Joint Fire Management Service Agreement. The Encinitas’ Fire Department now provides senior fire management support for the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach, including the sharing our own Fire Chief, Mark Muir. We picked up battalion chief coverage from Rancho Sante Fe Fire Protection District personnel. We now have better coverage at a lower cost. Alexis de Toucqueville said, ‘Americans love change, but fear revolution’. We’re taking it one step at a time, but if this agreement works out as well as we hope, it may open the door to better service at even lower cost in the future.

A new fire station was completed in 2009. The old Fire Station #3 in Leucadia was torn down and a new station constructed on the same site with many money saving “green building” features. The bottom line is, more efficiency equals lower costs. The station has excess capacity in the event of regional disasters such as wild fires or other large-scale emergencies. During the fire station’s construction, no emergency service levels or staffing levels were reduced. The new Cardiff station is in the final design phase and will be the next fire station under construction.

Our lifeguards provide beach safety for 4 miles of Encinitas beaches. In 2009, our Guards conducted 2,034 service contacts - from minor incidences and first aid, to rescuing swimmers from rip currents and other dangerous conditions. In March 2009, Encinitas, in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard, hosted a multi-agency regional emergency drill at Moonlight Beach simulating a major oil spill. Hopefully we’ll never need to use the acquired knowledge. The City has a very active Community Emergency Response Team or CERT program. The CERT program trains volunteers in skills to assist in large scale regional disasters. The City now has over 200 certified CERT volunteers which are ready and able to assist in emergency situations.

The City places a high priority on maintaining and improving our City streets, sidewalks, parks, beaches and water, sewer and storm drain systems. Over the past year, several projects to improve our City’s infrastructure were completed.

o Encinitas Boulevard was repaved from Highway 101 to the City limits;
o San Elijo Avenue was just recently repaved from Sante Fe Drive to Interstate- 5;
o New curbs, gutters and sidewalks were installed along McKinnon Drive and
Regal Road providing missing sidewalk links and other street improvements;
o And in the long awaited Cardiff Alley Improvement project was completed.

2009 also saw the addition of 22 new parking spaces in downtown with the construction of parking lot on the corner of Vulcan Avenue and E Street. Across the street, a contract was just awarded to construct an additional 80 space lot. This second project will be completed in 2010.

Two local excavation projects have helped our beaches this year. Sand from the Pacific Station development on Coast Highway 101 placed 39,000 cubic yard of sand on our northern beaches. We got the award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association for the best restored beach in the country. Last month, the Scripps Hospital parking structure excavation provided 4,500 cubic yards of sand that was placed at Moonlight Beach. The best part is that the sand was free and delivery was paid by short term rental taxes recently approved by our voters. We want to thank these visitors for picking up the tab to improve our beaches.

We are committed to the maintenance of infrastructure in Encinitas. I would like to share how we did on some key performance measures last year:

o 78% of reported potholes were repaired within one day;
o 79% streetlight outages were repaired within 3 days;
o 100% of all sewer spill calls were responded to within 1 hour;

o 207 miles of sewer and storm drain pipes were cleaned;
o 60 cubic yards of debris was removed from our storm drains;
o And 100% of speed limit signs on arterial and collector streets were replaced.

Water conservation is an important issue in 2010. In 2009, both the San Dieguito Water District and the Olivenhain Water District declared a Level 2 Drought Alert. Water users have stepped up to the plate, reducing potable water usage in 2009 by 10.4% in the San Dieguito District and 14% in the Olivenhain Water District from the prior year.

More needs to be done as the region and state face challenges in our water supplies. We are working with a number of agencies to come up with long-term solutions.

Locally, creating and utilizing existing resources such as waste water is an infrastructure improvement that has been made. In coordination with the San Eljo JPA, the San Dieguito Water District offers recycled water in lieu of potable water for landscape irrigation. Recycled water for landscape and agricultural use represents 11% of the total water usage within the Water District. New facilities that came on line in 2009 with recycled irrigation water include the San Diego Botanical new Children’s Garden, the San Elijo Nature Center, Ocean Knoll Elementary School and the Quail Point residential development.

I encourage all of us to continue and increase our water conservation measures. The San Dieguito and Olivenhain Water District’s web sites and conservation personnel are great resources to obtain water saving programs and incentives. There are many other citizen services that are provided everyday; maintaining our drainage and water ways and clean water at our beaches, providing good planning, keeping our neighborhoods safe and clean, all contribute t the quality of life we enjoy in Encinitas.

There are 326 acres of City parkland, 3.5 miles of City run beach, and 40 miles of recreational trails. The City has a very active Community and Senior Center that is open 6 days a week. In 2009, 12,500 youths, young adults and seniors participated in one or more of the City’s recreation programs.

A project that the community has waited for many years is the 44-acre future park site off Santa Fe Drive known as the Hall property. The City acquired the site in 2001 and has been in the master planning and design approval process for over 8 years. The planning phase and preparation of necessary environmental documents have been completed, and various legal challenges have been addressed and dismissed by the courts. Construction plans are now underway and it’s time to build the park!

Work has begun on clearing the site. Phased development of the park will follow. The new park will be a tremendous community asset providing much need active and passive park facilities for all users. The time is right to begin construction of the new park. Construction costs are lower than they’ve been in years and later this year a contract will be awarded to construct the first phase of the park. The investment the City made in the Encinitas Library has paid off in citizen services. Over 400,000 visitors passed through its doors in 2009. The Encinitas Community Library has become the second most visited library facility in the San Diego County Library system, and our energy upgrades to city hall have made us the first city in San Diego County to win the EPA’s Energy Star award. I want talk a little about what really makes us a community. Public art can really bring out a community’s personality.


Since its unveiling in 2007, the Cardiff Surfer sculpture is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s hard not to chuckle at the various “costumes” the sculpture has adorned. We thank Mike Clark and Brad Maasen for showing us our town’s sense of humor. The Art Alive banner program is great! DEMA, Leucadia 101, and Cardiff 101 sponsor a program that showcases works of art hung on the streetlight posts up and down Highway 101. It’s business supporting art and art supporting business, with a lot of volunteers.

Our newest sculpture, the “Encinitas Child” is an example of what’s special with our town. It was commissioned by the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association in honor of their 20th anniversary. The bronze sculpture was designed and created by local artist Manuelita Brown to represent a generic little girl and the welcoming spirit of downtown Encinitas. But the site selected for the installation also had a history. Forty-three years ago, a little Encinitas girl, Paula Smith, was killed near that site when a car struck her bicycle. Forty three years later, no name, no date, just a memory of the tragedy, what other community would have made the effort? With a lot of local effort, her family and her history were tracked down. Her brother, Art, was located in Seattle. Through the generosity of locals, he was flown down to the sculpture’s dedication. If Paula had been wearing a helmet, or if there had been specialized attention close by,
she would probably still be with us.

Scripps Hospital has stepped up to work with DEMA and to incorporate her story into their brain injury education program for local kids. Do things like this happen in other places? This is a great town! Thank you DEMA, and Mrs. Brown and all others who made this possible.

2009 was a financially challenging year. As you know, many cities and school districts in our region and the state have reduced services, closed facilities and laid off employees. This was not the case in Encinitas.

We continue to plan our budgets on a 6 to 10 year horizon. We have a 20% reserve fund, $2 million emergency reserve, have switched to zero based budgeting and have used ‘golden handshakes’ in certain instances, to insure fiscal sustainability. We have started the process to update the city’s general plan. The public has shown up in droves at workshops to help chart our course for the next 20 years. It is this long-term planning that seems to set municipal government apart from other forms. We are a city manger form of government. The council sets policy, the staff works out the details. We are one of the best managed cities in the county. I want to thank Phil and our staff for making us look so good.

2010 will present new challenges. The State Legislators continue to seek ways to “raid” local government’s pocket book. They just don’t seem to have the ability or desire to put their financial house in order. We plan our budgets 6 years out. They still budget 1 year at a time.

The courts and state are also rumbling to take away local land use decisions. We’ll fight tooth and nail for the physical and the fiscal control of our city. City revenues have dipped during the past year. Sales tax was down just over 10%, and is anticipated to continue to be weak throughout 2010, but we have accounted for this in our fiscal planning.
But concentrating on the adopted strategic priorities: public safety, infrastructure maintenance, and citizen services –will serve us well. Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you tonight. Life is good!
We live in Encinitas! I look forward to a great 2010.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

sweeping leucadia

Catching up with the incoming mail:
A bit of a strange interaction this morning prompted me to send the attached street sweeping shots along to you.

I was taking a shot of the street cleaner going by... The guy stopped, got out his phone, and went though the motions of taking a picture of me, and talking to someone on the phone. Then getting out and shooting shots of the rain-washed debris on the street.



It was early for me and I had inadvertently turned off the camera rather than taking a picture. By the time I got the camera back on and shot this, he had already stopped both the rotating brushes and the vehicle. Clearly the process had missed the meat of the mess from a bag of concrete that someone had dropped in the middle of the north bound traffic lane. It SEEMED to me that he was, somehow, perturbed by my taking photographs of the procedure.



State of the City


Mayor Dalager gave a state of the city address last night. Anybody go?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Muni Refi

This one is from the Blog of San Diego. It's about San Diego, but its also about Encinitas.

03/24/10 How the Mayor's staff lied about the $185 million bond.
by Pat Flannery


Have you ever had a sickening feeling that someone is lying to you but you can't quite put your finger on how they are doing it? That's how some members of the City Council must be feeling regarding the Mayor's contentious $185 million "lease-lease" bond issue - those who are not in on the lie, that is.

At Tuesday's adoption hearing Carl DeMaio expressed frustration at Chief Financial Officer Mary Lewis and Debt Management Director Lakshmi Kommi. He then changed his vote to a "No" from the "Yes" he cast on March 9, 2010 at its introduction. It now has two votes against it. It will need 6 votes on April 26/27 to approve its Preliminary Official Statement (POS), the final step before issuance.

I am hoping that either Sherri Lightner, Tony Young or Marti Emerald will yet take the moral high road on this deeply flawed refinance deal and say "No" to the Mayor and his Wall Street cronies.

Here is the big lie that is being told to the City Council by Mary Lewis and Lakshmi Kommi: they keep saying that the City is obligated to take out the Bank of America's $103 million 2009 loan by June 2010 (they prefer to use "refund" rather than "refinance").

I am not sure that even Carl DeMaio gets the cunning of what Lewis and Kommi are doing to him, but at least, unlike most of his colleagues, he actually cares. He keeps asking Lewis and Kommi for an economic justification for refinancing a 5.2% interest rate to a 5.7%, as required by City policy. In response, Lewis and Kommi draw a distinction between an "economic" refunding and a "non-economic" refunding. A "non-economic" funding would be a bit like a "force" in baseball.

But has this (financial) batter, the City, really become a (financially) forced runner? I did a thorough examination of the paperwork to test the Lewis/Kommi contention, that the City really has no choice but to "take out" B of A's $103 million loan with another lender. If so, Lewis and Kommi would be right, the refinance would not be an "economic refunding", it would be a "force play". If not, Lewis and Kommi are lying.

Here is the Independent Budget Analyst's (IBA) Report from when this bond was first attempted on April 1, 2008 (the irony of that date will not be lost on anybody who watched the Item being heard at City Hall on Tuesday and this - more about that incident later).

Note that on page 4 of the IBA Report, its author, Jeff Kawar, wrote:

"The 2008A Bonds (it started out as 2008A but because of a delay it became 2009A) have been structured with a two-tiered pricing that establishes a fixed rate for the first two years (estimated to be approximately 3.46%) and, if necessary, resets the fixed rate for years 3 through 10 at 2.25% above a specified Bank of America cost of funds rate. If the fixed rate for years 3 through 10 were to have been reset earlier this month, it would have been approximately 4.45%".

In his Conclusion, on page 5, he wrote:

"The proposed 2008A Bonds are effectively a two-year financing with a firm obligation to refund or re-price the debt in June of 2010".

Here is an Executive Summary given to City Council on April 1, 2008 by Lewis and Kommi themselves. They confirm the above IBA Report.

On page one they wrote:

"Therefore, instead of fixing an interest rate for the full 10 year borrowing term which would be higher than for a borrowing term for 2 years, working with the Purchaser, a two-tier pricing (described below) was structured: a lower fixed interest rate (based on a 2-year index plus fixed spread) for the first two year period and if the City is unable to refund the 2008A Bonds by 2010, a higher interest rate (based on an 8-year index plus fixed spread) for years 3-10."

But Lewis and Kommi are now telling the City Council that the City is obligated to "take out" Bank of America in June 2010 with another lender, when all it is obligated to do is reset according to a pre-agreed formula.

Here you will see and hear them repeatedly and shamelessly telling the City Council that the City has an obligation to "take out" Bank of America with a new loan on the open bond market.

That is a flat out lie for which they should both be fired.

The truth is that the City negotiated a low "teaser" rate for the first 2 years of a 10-year loan.

In June 2010 the loan automatically resets to a slightly higher fixed rate for the remaining 8 years, until 2019. That rate is currently 5.2%. Not a bad deal, better than what they can get on the open bond market right now. We are NOT being forced to go to the open market for another 8 years.

Yet Sanders wants to wipe out this bought-and-paid-for $103 million loan, fixed at 5.2% for 8 years. He wants to refinance it at 5.7%. Why? He wants to pay Wall Street $1.8 million in fees for the privilege. If we cannot get one more City Councilmember to oppose this madness on April 26 we deserve what we get from City Hall. Surely one of the other six will join DeMaio and Frye to defeat this obscene waste of public money.

So, why on earth is Sanders pushing this $185 million "bond-doggle"? His CFO assured City Council that he doesn't need to do it for budget reasons. Nor can he do it for policy reasons as this "refunding" would not comply with the City's strict policy requiring an "economic saving". The proposed "take out" refunding would increase the interest rate by a half percent, not decrease it. That is a denial of good government. It is a waste of public money.

Why is Sanders' CFO required to tell such a blatant lie to keep her job? She has said that this is not being done to save the City a short term $3 million in annual debt service (principle and interest). Besides, only the interest portion of that $3 million "savings" would be charged to the General Fund, the principle on these loans is charged to various capital funds.

The Mayor is telling us that he has no choice but to add $100 million long term debt, for virtually no short term gain. Does he think we are stupid?

Maybe he is just a sucker for slick Wall Street salesmen, but my guess is that it is something else, like an elaborate smoke-screen to free the Chargers from their Qualcomm debt. Debt-free the Chargers would get a clean bill of health from the NFL to go wherever they please.

What's in it for Sanders? A nice job with the NFL? He likes those Red Cross, United Way type of jobs, where he doesn't have to go to work every day. He could even have an apartment in New York, near Wall Street, near where his wife comes from. Our Jerry is no fool.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Strange Neighbors

Michelle "Bombshell" McGee who is at the center of the riveting Jesse James/Sandra Bullock controversy can often be seen checking the surf at Beacon's. That's right, she is a sometimes Leucadia resident. Hooray!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mayor Pro Tem

Appointment of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor is officially done via a vote but had traditionally been done through taking turns. When the council skipped Houlihan over for Mayor ( http://tinyurl.com/yej9l7k ) a few years ago Houlihan spent weeks worked up about the issue.

Recently, Barth was skipped over for Deputy Mayor and Houlihan happily accepted the post instead.

Earlier this month the council reviewed their policy on appointing the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Here is the video of the discussion about the policy. You can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Blog in Town

A long-time blogger has moved back to Encinitas and is blogging away about our hometown. The blogger covered the New Encinitas G.P. workshop in the latest post. Clicky

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gullible small town sued!

Excerpt from Courthouse News.com:

Encinitas Accused of Illegal Vacation Tax
By TIM HULL

Encinitas charges an illegal annual $150 "short term rental fee" to discourage landlords from renting beach homes to tourists, a class action claims in Superior Court.

Lead plaintiff Chris Carrico, who owns a property management firm that rents beach houses, says the fee is an extra property tax that violates the California Constitution.

Carrico says the goal of the ordinance, in addition to collecting money for the city, is to drive out what the city perceives as rowdy summer tourists by fining landlords who can't control their tenants.

"A gullible Encinitas City Council, listening to an outspoken minority of 'locals', apparently believes, wrongly, that excessive noise, drunkenness, vandalism, trash accumulation and illegal parking is rampant in Encinitas and would not exist but for this specific type of vacationer," Carrico says.

He claims the poorly written, vague ordinance unfairly holds landlords liable for tenants' behavior. He says the ordinance exempts hotels from the same "stringent regulations and very stiff penalties" if their guests misbehave.

"The same misconduct that would be subject to fine and permit revocation when committed by a short-term visitor [less than 30 days] is not actionable under this ordinance when committed by renters of long-term rentals, hotels, or owner-residents," Carrico says.

Landlord fines start at $250 for a complaint not handled with 24 hours, and increase to $500, $750 and $1,000 for subsequent violations.

Carrico estimates the class at 200 landlords. He says summer rental income makes it possible for many beachfront homeowners to pay their mortgages.

The class seeks declaratory judgment voiding the ordinance and the fee, and their money back. It is represented by Edward Teyssier. read the rest click here

*Blogger's note - I disagree that the purpose of the $150 is to discourage people from renting out their homes in the summer. You can get big money for renting out a beach house for a week, $150 is hardly going to discourage that. My view was that all the local motels and hotels have to pay taxes, so if homeowners suddenly decide they are in the tourism business they should have to kick down some of the same taxes too.

I love this this quote: "A gullible Encinitas City Council, listening to an outspoken minority of 'locals', It's hilarious how the word locals is in scrotation marks. And, you know the council rarely folds to small groups of NIMBY's in this town so that logic is flawed. Good luck with your lawsuit dood.

A previous post about short term rentals clicky

Sunday, March 21, 2010

General Plan Update

From the LTC:

Please be at PE Central School at 185 Union Street & Vulcan

Monday, March 22nd from 6 pm to 8 pm for Leucadia

This General Plan workshop is focused on Leucadia, please bring
your ideas and be part of the process.

We live in a historic area, let's help plan our future!


The Wave blog reported on earlier workshops and explains what to expect tomorrow.

I didn't know we had a Soup Plantation

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vantage Point

For a good time have lunch on the Kotija patio and watch the chaos
that is the 101/Leucadia Blvd intersection.

Pedestrian At-Grade Crossings

San Clemente
San Marcos

Here is an excerpt from a UT article on the San Marcos at-grade ped crossing:

When schoolchildren and adults approach the 100-foot passageway, they will see signs in English and Spanish that tell them to look both directions.

When trains approach, warning bells and flashing lights will go off, and wooden rail gates will descend and close off the crossing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Leucadia Delivers: Bamboo 2 U

My wife had been looking for a surfboard wall mount for a nine months. We aren't very discriminating and we are not cut out for being conspicuous consumers (we're pretty frugal and unwanting), but we couldn't bring ourselves to purchase just any old surfboard mount.
The particular board to be hung was deeply meaningful to my wife's family (read the related Surfy Surfy post here). The mounts that she found in the surfshops and on-line would not have done justice to the intimate craftsmanship and symbolism of the board her dad had shaped before he died.

The perfect mounts were in Leucadia the whole time. Right next to Caldwell's antiques...



...is Bamboo 2 U & Tiki's Too.
After all the years of Tommy Bahama's sales we had never been inside Bamboo 2 U. Had we gone in we would have know to check out their stock much earlier. They have tons of really interesting stuff for all sorts functions.

No surprise, there's lots of tropical style & surf art and furnishings. They also have an online catalog of tiki's and bamboo furniture.

They still have a set of tiki surfboard wall mounts for sale.

We grabbed the palm tree set for the balsa board.


Leucadia has some cool little shops.

Tonight

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Save $810k by reading the Leucadia Blog


The Leucadia Blog reported in 2008 that one of the newly built houses in the Nantucket development could not be occupied until local Development Maestro David Meyer built a "low income" housing unit for the subdivision. Well, that hasn't happened. (Interestingly, the home that housed a family that appeared to be very low income was leveled years ago).

The unoccupied "new" house went into foreclosure and was sold at auction. The Voice of San Diego has a great story (updated link) about some sucker buying the place for $810,000 thinking he was getting an awesome deal. He apparently didn't do the slightest bit of digging into the property or the history of the subdivision before buying the unusable house.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Breaking News: Linda has withdrawn her request to hold a surf contest at Swamis.

Linda Benson held a press conference at the SRF grounds today
announcing she has decided not to attempt to hold a surf contest at
Swamis.
Word is the press conference was very classy and positive.
Let's thank Linda for doing the right thing and respecting the wishes
of SRF
Let's all move forward together.

Sent from my groovy iPhone
www.surfysurfy.net

Women's Longboard Championship to be Held in France


The ASP is recognized by the media, surf industry, and professional surfers as surfing's sanctioning organization. The ASP plans on holding the women's world longboard championship in France. See their updated schedule here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sand Fail


Photo and story from the North County Times: Sand deliveries halted to Moonlight Beach
"There just wasn't as much beach-quality sand material at the construction site as hoped, Encinitas city program manager Katherine Weldon said Friday.

See, I'm not just a NIMBY a-hole, sometimes I am right.
Previous post: Leucadia Blog: Will JP Cry Uncle?

Cool old truck spruces up Leucadia Blvd/Orpheus intersection




Friday, March 12, 2010

El Nino thrashes Cardiff Reef

The beach bar-b-que this weekend has been canceled.
El Nino has beat the hell out of Cardiff Reef this winter with mega-high tides and huge storm waves.
The popular surfboard racks before El Nino.
The popular surfboard racks after El Nino.

Carnage
Cardiff still offers the best longboard wave in north county.
Notice anything missing from this photo?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Government




Officeholders are the agents of the people, not their masters.
President Grover Cleveland

The art of government is to make two-thirds of the nation pay all it possibly can pay for the benefit of the other third.
Voltaire

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

Stray Observations from the city council meeting re: the Swamis contest

1. Linda Benson's presentation of the contest was flat, passionless and uninspired. She had zero enthusiasm and zero stoke. I was pretty shocked about this. I was expecting to maybe having my mind changed by her presentation, instead I came away feeling bad for her. She seems like a really unhappy person. I want to take her surfing and cheer her up.

2. I enjoyed all the different speakers on both sides of the issue. Our town has come classic characters.

3. The contest opponents were so afraid of bad mouthing Linda that they heaped gobs of praise on her and I think actually helped give the council confidence that she could pull this event off. I myself feel less confident in her abilities as a organizer after her flat presentation.

4. If the contest goes forward the K Steet streetfair should be axed. It's going to interfere with SRF too much and it's too far away from the actual contest venue.

5. It's obvious that SRF does not want the contest, they were very polite about it, but it was easy to read between the lines. They might cancel their own women's only meditation retreat that weekend due to the contest. That is wacky irony. I think the contest promoter should read between the lines and take a hint.

6. To me Swamis is not the same as a golf course or a soccer field or a park gazebo, but to some individuals in the city it's the same. All public spaces can be reserved for special events?

7. Swamis is already an economic draw as is, I'm not sure this contest will generate business like some people claim. Too bad we can't compare sales tax revenue collected on the weekend of the contest to the same weekend without.

8. Swamis: great wave/bad venue. This really sums it up. So the logic is that the special permit process will determine if Linda can pull off the logistics of a tricky venue. My question is, if she fails does she get a second chance? I would guess most likely.

9. I was called a fear monger early on for warning that contest always beget more contest so I was glad this became a legitimate issue that both sides addressed. There was even some council discussion on how to insure we have only one contest a year at Swamis.

10. So if we end up having only one contest a year at Swamis, is this really the one we want? My opinion is we could craft a better contest.

11. This "World Championship" contest is not sanctioned by the Associated Surfing Professionals or ASP, the governing body of professional surfing. Encinitas may end looking like a bunch of crazy hicks holding our own World Championship contest. Maybe we should have our own World Series of baseball at the YMCA fields.

12. I entered the fray and spoke at the podium. I got super nervous at the last second and kinda blew the first minute (which flies by at light speed by the way). I even abandoned my planned remarks and launched into something that has really been bothering me. I proposed that we end segregated surfing now and forever. Surfing does not benefit from gender separation. I truly believe that if we do have a contest at Swamis it should be coed. This is totally unprecedented and if city boosters want to be put on the map for having a surf contest then a coed event would draw a lot of attention. Maybe I will apply for a special permit to have a coed surf contest at Swamis?

13. The city voted 3-2 to move forward with the special permit process. Jerome Stocks and Teresa Barth voted NO. Dan Dalager, Maggie Houlihan and Jim Bond voted YES.

14. This doesn't mean the contest is going to happen, but the contest is going to happen. Trust me, Linda is lawyered up pretty good and they will make sure all the concerns will be addressed (some of the concerns were pretty far fetched you guys).

15. It's okay to sell out a surf spot if you are a surf legend.

media coverage:
SignOnSanDiego
North County Times

Monday, March 08, 2010

Guest Editorial: No Raise for Cotton

On March 10 at the upcoming City Council Meeting, the Council will be considering granting the City Manager, Phil Cotton an 11% raise that will exceed $240,000 a year not including benefits. This proposed raise comes at a bad time when the economy has not turned the corner to recovery and people are still losing jobs and taking pay cuts. The question I have regarding a pay raise for the City Manager is... Does he really deserve a raise based on his performance?

The City Council created a two member committee to evaluate and make a recommendation regarding a possible City Manager contract adjustment. Teresa Barth and Jerome Stocks were on that committee. As you may know, they don't agree on much, and in the case of giving Phil Cotton a raise, it holds true, as they returned split recommendations.
It is shocking that the City Council would even consider giving the City manager a raise of this magnitude. Barth is not backing a raise at this time, and Stocks has a "Let's give him everything" approach.

Please spend a few minutes and take a look at the agenda item and see just what they both have to say. Take note of the comments and the justification behind Stocks recommendation to grant the raise. http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/weblink8/0/doc/654963/Page1.aspx

I feel a raise for the City Manager is absurd, and that he has done a very poor job. He has only contributed to creating and harboring a corrupt culture of management within our city. So, with that being said, I decided to evaluate Phil Cotton's performance myself, from a citizen's perspective.

The evaluation that Stocks used was based on the following categories:
• Individual characteristics
• Professional Skills and Status
• Relations with Elected Officials
• Policy Execution
• Reporting
• Citizen Relations
• Staffing
• Supervision
• Fiscal Management
• Community

My comments may be considered a little over the top, but I feel they are accurate. What do you think? Has the City Manager earned a raise?


• Individual Characteristics
Good old boy. Got appointed from within. DID NOT have to compete with anyone for the position. The City never held a competitive selection process for the position of City Manager at the time Cotton was appointed. Is this selection process commensurate and consistent with the other cites in our Region?

The City Council has full control of Phil Cotton because, in the Municipal Code it states that: The City Manager serves at the PLEASURE of the City Council. What's their pleasure today?


• Professional Skills and Status
Military man. Takes orders and gives orders. Information on a "Need to Know" basis only. "Don't Ask... Don't Tell." Cotton has surrounded himself with cronies, secret hand shakes and, the philosophy of ...You Got My back... I'll Get Yours. Oh, and don't forget... A Code of Honor! Remember, It was not a competitive open selection process for the City Manager position. He was appointed from within. It was the good old boy secret hand shake! The City has a pattern of using this type of selection process.


• Relations with Elected Officials
Remember, he serves at the City Council's PLEASURE.


• Policy Execution
Cotton's style must be, a "whatever works" style. The City has plenty of policies. It has the Municipal Code and its Ordinances as well as the Administrative Manuals. The City Attorney, Glenn Sabine, will allow Cotton's boys to push the limits and manipulate the Municipal Code, and completely ignore the Administrative Manual and Administrative Policies.

Cotton has pushed the limit so much so that the City Council is amending the Administrative Manuals to possibly cover up staff's remiss in following City policy. See the agenda item from the February 24, 2010 Council meeting agenda, item #9. Stocks and Dalager are clearing the books and I'm sure that Cotton has his hands in it.

Perhaps something along the lines of....Lets-get-those-policies-off-the-books-fast-before-someone-finds-out-we-haven't-been-following-them...

http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/weblink8/0/doc/654496/Page1.aspx


• Citizen Relations
To my knowledge, I have never witnessed Cotton exhibit any effort at community relations or have any involvement with the citizens. You'll never see him at civic events. He doesn't address the public. Doesn't return emails or phone calls. Has anyone ever heard him speak at a city council meeting? I'm not sure he's even breathing sometimes when I see him at the city council meetings. Cotton doesn't encourage his staff to seek citizen's input. He does not support transparency. Does he really demand his department heads serve the public and citizens?

I believe he has isolated himself from the public.


• Staffing
As a loyal 30 year union member, what can I say, we do have some hard working and are dedicated people that work for the city. Most are the worker bees. It is management where the City falls short. Mismanagement, incompetence, complacency, minimum effort. He does not demand that the department heads display loyalty, courtesy, commitment and professionalism to the citizens. That is the Management Staff Phil Cotton has assembled.

I don't see Cotton exhibiting any strong leadership to his staff. He was a marine that served our country, (and we DO thank him for that). But, now in his position as City Manager, he is condoning corruption and mismanagement. He does not hold his department heads accountable for their actions, but allows them to do what they want, or he ORDERS them to do what HE wants, or what the city council wants. The Hall House could be an example. He's served his country, but he fails to serve the citizens of Encinitas that pay for his over-inflated salary.

He doesn't even live in our city! Maybe if he were paying taxes in the city that he's employed by, it would soften the blow a little.


• Supervision
I don't think Phil Cotton is interested in supervising given the mismanagement he allows to happen. It doesn't appear that he scrutinizes his subordinates' decisions or actions. He must either have a "hands-off" supervision style or an authoritarian/military style, being the Marine that he is. (Remember... Code of Honor.)

By the way, did you know the City of Encinitas has no Civil Service or Municipal Personnel Complaint Tracking System? You cannot file a complaint against a City Employee. There is no process. The front desk at City Hall will direct you to fill out an Ordinance Violation Complaint. That's the only kind of complaint they process! You try and write the department heads... Good luck... The City Manager... Yea Right, like he's going to do something. You go to the City Attorney... he says, "Uhhhh, I take direction from the City Council as per the Municipal Code. Talk to them"...

The City Council goes into the "ignore mode." We have all seen that act. I think that policy is somewhere in the (tongue-in-cheek) "Secret Policy Manual"... The policy states: "If a citizen complains or challenges the City, IGNORE them at all costs, hopefully they will go away". They should work with the citizen to resolve the issue but that might take too much effort.

Here is an example of what could happen... A City employee could, theoretically, tell you to your face... Eat S#*t you A-hole. You would be pissed, and march down to City Hall to file a complaint, right? Well... City Hall has no process for handling Personnel Complaints. Yes, a municipality that has no complaint tracking system for staff.


• Fiscal Management
Lets call it creative... I will use an excerpt from Charlie McDermott's blog post a few day's ago, because he put it so well:

"The rating agencies that the City Council hides behind use a convenient snapshot approach that ignores all the obvious future obligations and revenue shortfalls to say “all is well”. If you were to use reasonable real world comprehensive financial analysis that included future tax revenue drop offs, the looming pension liabilities, and the crater that used to be the CalPERS pension fund – all is not well.

Lastly, these were the same rating agencies that said that Lehman, Bear, AIG, Enron, FreddieIndyFannie, Countrywide, B of A, WaMu, etc. were just fine – mere months before they were vaporized. They lied then and your 401K got hammered and they are lying now and YOUR city will pay. Encinitas is not immune to these problems we are just currently better off than other cities and earlier in the process of circling the drain.

In the near future when the pension shortfall costs and our current fixed debt payments collide with declining tax revenues; services will have to be drastically cut because the our City Manager and City Council created spider web of legal contracts that put the payouts to union employees above all else – like roads, water, etc.

But before they move to cut our services they will continue to operate in denial and cook up all forms of abusive fees and taxation to paper over the truth. The water tax was just the canary in the coal mine.

By the time the forced cuts come the decent, friendly, but seemingly uninformed public will realize they have been had and will push back very hard. But it will be too late, and so our mess will go to the courts and all these platinum retirement packages and will be cut down and OUR city services will operate on life support - there will simply not be enough money to go around."

• Community
Phil Cotton's contributions to the community are negligible and harmful at best. He harbors a culture of mismanagement and corruption.


I conclude:
Stocks states in his recommendation that: Cotton's current salary is "substantially below that of other City Managers in comparable Cities throughout the Region." Let me get this straight... $2000 a month raise + Benefits = Commensurate... Got it! A $26,000 a year raise and we are on par with everyone. Who are the comparable City Managers in our region? How many cities in our region have a population of 60,000? How many Encinitas Citizens live on on near $26,000 a year?...

This Blog is great, it helps the citizens blow off steam and frustration but does not document the individual taxpayer's interests and feelings on this issue or any issues. Posting to this blog anonymously and complaining does nothing. If a few hundred angry residents that share my sediments, flood the Council with emails urging them to not give the City Manager a raise, then we, the people, are taking action.

I'm writing the City Council urging them to NOT restructure the City Manager's contract. Please spend a few moments and bang out an email to Stocks, Bond, Dalager and Houlihan. C.C. Cotton just to let him know how you feel. Also thank Teresa for a wise recommendation.

Steve Meiche
Leucadia Resident

Sunday, March 07, 2010

City to Build New Parking Lot

On this week's agenda is a contract to build a new 80 space parking lot in the NCTD corridor. The city will be awarding $1 million for the project. It should be completed just in time for the Pacific Station rush.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tony Announces


Hello, my name is Tony Kranz and I would like to serve you as a member of the Encinitas City Council. To get my campaign started, there will be a free coffee party at the Pannikin on Sunday, March 14th, from 6-8 p.m. Stop by and introduce yourself and let me know what you think are the most important issues facing our community.

I’ve been a lurker on the Leucadia blog for the last several years and have enjoyed the energy and information that gets exchanged here. I intend to use this forum to present ideas and, through the commenting that might follow, I look forward to learning about some of your ideas (Anonymous though they may be). If you would like to comment off the blog, send an email to tony@kranz4council.com

In this first post, I wanted to share the picture above, which is from a couple weeks ago following the Iwo Jima Reunion held at Camp Pendleton. I’m on the left and my brother Jimmer is on the right. The man in the middle is my father, Jerry Kranz, who came to California in the early 40’s for Marine Corps boot camp. He later fought in many Pacific battles, and was lucky enough to survive and return to his home in Minnesota, where he took advantage of the GI Bill and became a teacher. In 1960, having finally tired of shoveling snow, he returned to California to teach PE and coach at Earl Warren Junior High. I was eight months old at the time, so didn’t have much choice in the matter, but I’m very happy that my parents decided to make Encinitas our home.

Obviously, Encinitas has changed a lot since 1960. It is my firm belief that knowing how it was is very useful when making decisions that will significantly effect how it will be. I look forward to earning your vote so that you trust me to help guide our community into the future.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Trainspotting

Community Warnings


From the Sheriff's Dept


On 2-24-10 about 1430 hours, William Harris approached a five year old female victim at Dog Beach in Del Mar and rubbed his unexposed genitals in front of her. The victim and her father were playing with their dog at the beach, and did not know Harris's identity. Harris was followed by the victim's father as the suspect tried to escape off the beach. The victim's father used his I-phone to video the suspect running off the beach and to his vehicle, which was a white 1986 Volkswagon van. The victim's father was able to record the vehicle license plate and the suspect making admissions to the incident. The victim later disclosed there had been at least two instances when an unknown male adult had exposed himself or made lewd gestures to her at this same location. The incident was reported to the Sheriff's Department and was documented by Sheriff's patrol personnel.


Investigators from the Sheriff's Department Child Abuse Unit, using the video evidence were able to determine the identity of the suspect as 59 year old William Harris. Harris is a convicted felon and registered sex offender, per 290 PC. Harris lived and was registered in the City of Carlsbad.


On 3-2-10 Sheriff's Child Abuse Detectives served a search warrant on Harris's residence at 2550 Unincornio Street in Carlsbad in an attempt to locate further corroborating evidence. Harris was present at the home and was taken into custody without incident. Harris was subsequently booked into Vista Detention facility for felony 647.6©(2) PC Annoying or Molesting a Child with a prior offense.

Sheriff's Investigators are interested in determining if anyone witnessed this incident or has further information about another unreported incident involving this location. Anyone with more information, please contact Sheriff's Child Abuse Detective Chris Davis at 858-974-2310

...

From a L.B. reader:

This morning, my dog found a large, very strange piece of meat about 6 feet off the trail along Quail Hollow between the sidewalk and the eastern-most part of the trail that runs along the street. It appears to be a large animal tongue (probably beef) that’s been split down the middle, stuffed with pieces of broken glass and other unidentified substances, and then tied shut with a red cord and a black cord. I reported it to the Parks Department, and they recommended I contact the Sheriffs Department. I spoke with an officer on the phone, but since no dogs or people were hurt, they will not be investigating. They will make a report, however.


I have discarded the tongue-stuffed-with-glass-and-who-knows-what-else, but please watch your dogs. It appeared to be placed deliberately in thick brush so that it wouldn’t be easily noticed by a person. I’m worried it might not be the only one. Feel free to call me if you want more info or see anything similar.


Thanks!

D. Neuberger