Saturday, November 12, 2011

City Administration in Question





Encinitas and the Arab Spring 
 Cyrus K
 In case you were on another planet last Wednesday, a major affront to democracy and open government took place in our beautiful little beach community. As a group of citizens protesting the council majority's appointment of Mark Muir to fill Maggie Houlihan's vacated seat attempted to enter the council meeting room, they were shunted away by police to a separate room, while supporters of Mark Muir, wearing "Thank you Mark" stickers were allowed in. Within the council meeting room, a surreal portrait was presented, as though you were in the streets of Tripoli, or Cairo, or Dara'a, when the rulers filled the squares with pro-government ringers to create the illusion of popular support. In the absence of popular legitimacy, power always strives to create its impression, so that the malfeasance, incompetence and arrogant disregard of the public can continue unnoticed.

 The question here as in the countries of the Arab spring is - who's government is it anyway? By selectively filling the meeting room with supporters, the current council majority has made the statement that our city government is strictly for them, and those who support them. Unlike the middle east, their tools of tyranny are not guns and tanks, but rather the tyranny of the majority. The essential strategy is the same though - use power to gain power, and hope that the public either doesn't notice or is powerless to do anything about it.

Rather than mortars and rifles, in a peaceful democracy, our recourse is to conscientiously object to actions taken without conscience, at the ballot box, in print and in person. There is much to object to beyond just the Muir appointment. An unfunded pension liability of $39 million dollars; a deferred road maintenance bill of $17 million dollars; a long-term debt including lease-revenue bonds of $172 million dollars; $1.5 million dollars interest per year on the $31.5 million dollars owed for the Hall property ( while it just sits there ), and a projected development cost of $13 million. All this with $9 million in the bank ( figures drawn from the city's 2009 Annual Financial Report and the Calpers Actuarial Pension Study for Encinitas ). In addition, we should be vigilant regarding attempts by the sitting council super majority to alter zoning regulations in favor of the developers who fund their campaigns. As Maggie said, democracy is not a spectator sport.


To see if the city has a response, email the city manager at: citymanager@cityofencinitas.org.

9 comments:

  1. A little dramatic, no? The tyranny of the majority is actually democratic, yes?

    Muir might well have been antithetical to "Maggie's" slot, but let's not fall into knee-jerk silliness. This is Encinitas, not Cairo, Tripoli, or Damascus.

    Get over yourselves and look to the next election instead of whining over the majority's opaque actions this week.

    BTW, there was a very different report in this very blog of how the Sheriff's Office handled the situation. One representation is clearly a misrepresentation. Which is it? Just asking . . . .

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  2. It was both - A blatant show of force ordered up by Muir, Gaspar, Stocks, and Bond and a show of restraint by Captain Sarro and her deputies. She deserves credit for this. She had no choice in doing what the city ordered.

    The gang of four had a choice and decided to put on a "show trial" to intimidate the public and to influence the press coverage. There was something very Orwellian about the whole evening. The 15 minute break to congratulate Muir should have been done in the adjacent room after the meeting with cookies and punch, but then the press would have gone home.

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  3. Cardiffian: I agree it was a show of force by Stocks, Bond and Gaspar. But, exactly what was Orwellian about it? It's been a while since I read 1984, so maybe I am missing it?

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  4. Dr. Lorri,

    Putting the second-class citizens into the Carnation Room while the pigs celebrated in the main chamber brings to mind Animal Farm.

    And the huge police presence intended to portray dissenters as dangerous is a tactic straight out of 1984, where the powerful create phony threats (Emmanuel Goldstein, Eastasia, Eurasia) to keep the populace in line.

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  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orwellian

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  6. Thanks W.C. Unfortunately I had to work that night so I only got to watch part of it on television. I did see Lynn Braun-Marr and some others in the main chambers. Lynn had a sign that she was holding that I believe said "Dump Stocks". Another person had a sign saying "I voted for Maggie not Muir." Some also spoke against what had happened. How did the City keep out those who disagreed with the politics of this decision to make Muir the councilman? That's the part I am confused about. As I said, I didn't see the whole thing so I am wondering what their tactics were to discriminate who got to be in the main chambers and who did not. Thanks for any help on understanding this.

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  7. Dr. Lorri,

    Ask Muir to look in to what happened and report back to us.

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  8. The only reason I found a seat was because I left the rally early, at ten minutes to six. After me, people opposing Muir were turned away, told "no room." What seemed alarming, too, was that people who wanted to speak were being told, "they already have the maximum number," or similarly, told no more speaker slips were being accepted.

    We had stopped by earlier, around 1 pm, and for the first time, ever, there were no speaker slips for oral communications or agenda items (there were no agendas, either; the swearing in should have been an agenda item so more people could have spoken) in the plastic cases on either side of the Carnation Room (Council Chambers). Cynthia called out Claudia who said "people were taking slips by the handfuls; we're not accepting speaker slips until 5; it's not fair to others."

    I had gone back at 4:55, to turn in speaker slips. There were already several there, on the counter, where the Clerk and Deputy Clerk sit. But I never saw any indication that people had taken "handfuls" of the speaker slips. None were passed around at the rally, that I saw.

    What was happening was that if someone had a sign, attached to a stick, then they were stopped at the door, and the stick was removed. Meanwhile, Mark Muir supporters, with their labels "Thank you, Mark" were going in, and were "saving seats." The seat where I sat, in the very front row, on the right, was supposedly "reserved." Mark Muir's son was saving the whole row, and told me, "I was going to sit there!" when I sat down. I suggested he take the next (empty) seat over.

    Staff and Council knew about the rally. Muir supporters hustled in before the rally ended; that's their right, but it certainly appeared to be "staged" so as to fill up the "main room" and force people who attended the rally to have to go to the Poinsettia Room. Some of the police, or maybe most, seemed calm. A few, at the door were somewhat heavy handed, I thought. They kept marching back and forth, clearing a passageway to the door. Of course, I realize there does have to be a cleared entrance and exit to the building. But there was no legitimate reason to have 30 police officers present. I found it to be suspicious that Christy Guerin, also a Muir and pro-development ex mayor was there. She was all in favor of the Eckes not having to retain part of their land in perpetuity as in the original agreement, ratified by the voters in 1994. As we know, her husband is a commander with the Sheriff's Dept. Once Christy became mayor, the police were much more of a presence at City Hall, following Russell and me out to the parking lot after we left, when we came to speak. This was witnessed by many of our friends.

    The intimidation tactics seemed to have "died down," until this past Wednesday. The officers were not pepper spraying people, as at the Francine Busby fundraiser, at a private home, but the sheer number of deputies present did feel threatening to those who have felt bullied by Guerin's "henchmen" in the past.

    Both Christy Guerin and her commander husband have received workmen's compensation settlements and benefits. Christy, after 10 years with the Sheriff, continues to receive $3,000 per month "retirement disability," according to her own admission to a reporter from the NCT. Although Christy said she is being compensated for "stress fractures," she was able to compete in running races both here and in Japan, on her taxpayer subsidized trips there. Christy's husband continues to work on the force, making over $100,000 per year, and Christy has been making over $80,000 as Brian Bilbray's district manager, not sure of her precise title. I'm glad she is no longer on Council; her bullying tactics are not missed.

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  9. Lynn: Did the sheriff follow you out this time? Also, since you went in early, did there seem like enough seats for the people who were outside to come into the main room. From what I saw on television, it appeared to be completely filled, but camera angles can be deceiving. As for saving seats, one of them was saved for me and at 5:45 I texted Mo Muir and said I could not make it as I had an emergency client. I set my television to watch when I was done. Are you saying more than one seat was saved by Mark's son? So, I am the culprit if it was just one seat. Sorry you have had so much trouble with the City-and I know you have. Do you blame this on Mark Muir?

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