Thursday, March 31, 2011

Summer's Hope

Summer's Hope Campaign Launch Benefits Local Yoga Teacher with Cancer
March 16, 2011 - Vista, California. The grass roots campaign "Summer's Hope", http://summershope.com has launched in the Northern San Diego Yoga community, benefiting long time local yoga and fitness instructor, Summer Autio, who has been battling ovarian cancer since August, 2006. The web-based campaign targets yoga studios, businesses, and individuals interested in offering events and promotions to collect funds to help offset Summer’s staggering medical expenses incurred while battling this disease.

Despite suffering painful side effects of weekly chemo and other treatments, Summer continues to teach and inspire students at studios throughout the area.  When she shows up “on the mat”, she inspires everyone to carry on despite life’s setbacks. She has been profiled in several publications, most recently in the Coast News, September 2010. 

Summer has earned a reputation as a rigorous, yet inspirational teacher who has attracted a large and loyal following; some students have been with her for over 25 years.  

Although the campaign officially launched February 28, 2011, 30 local yoga studios, retail/service businesses, plus dozens of individuals have already signed up to participate. The campaign has grown exponentially and taken on a national and international scope through the power of social media.  Online donations and support are coming in from as far away as Germany, Belgium, Australia and South Korea.
Contact:  Sherry Zak Morris, Owner
Yoga Vista, Vista CA

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Absurd Snowfall


USA Today 'Absurdly deep' Sierra snow great news for dry California 
After state water officials release the results of their latest snow survey Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to officially declare the drought over, said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor's office. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought in June 2008 and a state of emergency because of low water levels in February 2009.

Water deliveries are expected to be up this year! Yeah for water. Now poor people can afford to grow local.


Council Member Barth is known for following the rules. Jerome says the rules state that the SDWD needs to go to a weaker drought stage. The only thing absurdly deep at city hall is going to be the bull.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Firefighters Gone Wild



Valid concerns about extended fire department emergency response times in Olivenhain are overshadowing serious competency and conduct problems within the Encinitas Fire Department.

Having more fire stations or faster response times will not improve public safety if the Fire Department is negligently managed.

In January 2011, the Encinitas Taxpayers Association was informed by Fire Department insiders that numerous acts of neglect of duty and dangerous violations of San Diego County EMS protocols had taken place under the command of current Fire Chief Mark Muir and his management team. Those acts are outlined below.

Attempts were made to clarify the circumstances surrounding the misconduct with the Fire Chief, City Manager and eventually the City Council. The Fire Chief did not deny the occurrence of the incidents, but attempted to obscure the misconduct, and refused to explain what his policy was for disciplining firefighters who endangered the public.

We are suspect that the Fire Chief grossly failed to take appropriate management action.

Unlike in other jurisdictions, the City of Encinitas does not regularly report to the public information on disciplinary action. Unlike other cities, Encinitas has refused to release any information related to disciplinary, corrective action or investigations of misconduct.

All appearances from the Fire Chief, City Manager, and all five council members are of a city-wide cover up.

The taxpayers have a right to know the circumstances surrounding these acts, how this misconduct has been mitigated, and if the root cause leading to these acts has been identified and addressed. The public deserves to know whether or not negligence is rare or has become commonplace in the city’s fire department.

We are asking the citizens of Encinitas to simply contact the city council and request that they see that the fire department report their disciplinary history, just like other California cities. 

Below is a subset of acts reported to the ETA by firefighter insiders:



ACT 1. Failure to Respond / Abandonment / Neglect of Duty / Making False Statements


A Fire Captain repeatedly and maliciously neglected his responsibility to respond with his fire company to emergency medical incidents.  To avoid having to respond to emergency calls, the Captain would deliberately and intentionally place his company out of service or state that his company was located farther out than other companies by manipulating the apparatus on-board dispatch computer system.

In the fire service this action is rare and when it does happen it is call "sand bagging."  Firefighters figure this act of negligence out quickly and know when a unit sand bags. Why did it take numerous incidents to discover this misconduct?  Is this an acceptable practice in Encinitas?   In any well managed fire department the Captain would have been fired.



Act 2. Neglect of Duty / Violation of San Diego County Emergency Medical Services Protocol
A Firefighter/Paramedic assigned to a Paramedic Assessment Engine Company responded to a critical medical call and initiated Advance Life Support.  In the treatment of the patient, he was required to use drugs and other life saving equipment. 

Following the transfer of care to an ambulance crew and subsequent transport to a medical facility,  the Firefighter failed to restock the medical box with the necessary drugs and equipment as is required under the San Diego County Emergency Medical Services Protocol.

The remainder of the 24 hour work shift passed and there were no emergency responses that required use of the medical equipment.

Upon relief the following day, the on coming Firefighter/Paramedic never conducted an inventory check of the medical equipment. The medical box containing life saving drugs and equipment was depleted and not ready for service.  Responsible paramedics review the medical boxes’ inventory by upon starting a new shift. The Captain is ultimately responsible for the readiness of the apparatus, crew and equipment. 

There were no emergency responses on this shift.

By the next shift, almost 72 hours after the medical call that required Advanced Life Support intervention, the inventory of the medical box had still not been checked. The Firefighter/Paramedic during this particular shift was called to respond to a critical medical incident.  Upon arrival the Firefighter/Paramedic found that a citizen was in serious condition and would need Advanced Life Support intervention.  When the Encinitas Firefighter/Paramedic opened the medical box, he discovered that he didn’t have the necessary inventory and supplies that should have been used to help save a life.

Standing over a patient in need of emergency care is not the time for a Firefighter/Paramedic to discover he/she is out of supplies. That is why cities that value public safety are managed diligently, have strong leadership and discipline.  Fire department members should be dedicated, loyal and adhere to strict policies and protocols.  

In well run Fire Departments, emergency responders are responsible to ensure that all of their emergency equipment is ready.  They are mandated to perform daily, weekly and monthly checks of there apparatus and equipment-both medical and firefighting. Encinitas firefighters failed to do their job, they neglected their responsibility to serve the public and threatened the safety of the people they serve.

We have been informed by one fire department insider that the initial Firefighter/Paramedic who failed to restock the medical box had a history of disciplinary problems including an arrest for DUI, possession of cocaine and concealed handgun.


ACT 3. Delayed Response

A Paramedic Assessment Engine Company in the Village Park area of Encinitas regularly responds to a housing track that has access through a fire gate.  This gate greatly reduced response times to this track of homes. This company was unable to open the fire gate due to the fact they were unable to locate the keys to the lock.  The incident they were responding to was a cardiac arrest.   The unit decided to drive around to the community entrance.  This added an additional delay of over 10 minutes before vital life saving intervention could begin.  The patient died. 

The home in which the patient resided was within walking distance of the fire gate.

Again the department displayed a lack of readiness and discipline by not ensuring that the apparatus inventory is complete and prepared for emergency response.  There seems to be a pattern.


Other Acts

There are other act of unprofessional behavior, which we think the residents of Encinitas would be disappointed to discover.  We hope the city will promptly release the department’s disciplinary history to the public, as in other California cities, and once they do we will gauge the city’s reporting against the list of acts for which we have knowledge of.

Fortunately for the citizens of Encinitas there are some honest and diligent firefighters who work for the City.

It is up to you decide if we want a fire department with just some good Firefighters or a fire department that is well managed, loyal and dedicated to serving the citizens. 

Please, email your representative at city hall and ask that they release the fire department’s disciplinary history. 

The council’s email is council@encinitas.org.

Steve Meiche
Leucadia Resident, 26 years
Active Los Angeles City Firefighter/Paramedic, 31 years
Board Member, Encinitas Taxpayers Association

Monday, March 28, 2011

Planning for the Future of Encinitas

Encinitas is waaaay waaaay better than any other town. We are genetically superior and immune from poor planning because we are driven by an economic dream team.

CLAREMONT’S PENSION TIDAL WAVE IN THREE ACTS

John J. McDermott III

Prologue: “Party Like Its 1999”

The year 1999 was a heady one for California. The Internet Bubble was rocking and the stock market was shooting to the moon. In this festive mood Governor Gray Davis signed into law SB 400, which dramatically increased the pension benefits for California public workers.

Calpers assured us at the time that this generous pension party would not cost the state or cities a dime in extra taxes. As part of the sales pitch for the new pensions Calpers projected that the stock market would achieve an annual average rate of return of 8.25% in the years following1999. This allowed them to claim that the enhanced pensions would remain fully funded without taxpayer support. Implicit in the Calpers return number was that the Dow would reach 25,000 by 2009. This projection, made near the very peak of the Dot.com Bubble with the most overvalued stock market in history, was pure deception on the part of Calpers. This deception allowed them to convince gullible legislators voting on SB 400 that no new taxes would be used to fund the new pensions. But, not mentioned publicly was the fall back provision. That provision was to come to the taxpayers to fund the plan if stocks or real estate did something really crazy and unpredictable over the ensuing years, like fall back to their historical fair value.

Present Day: “The Hangover”

This is the situation our state finds it self in today: billions of dollars flowing out of the state general fund to Calpers. And this is money that will not be spent on our universities, parks, or healthcare for our poorest citizens.

It is not just the state that has to come up with more money to fund pensions due to Calipers’ malfeasance. Claremont, like all cities, has to cough up more dough as well. So where is the money going to come from?

This brings us to a recent city publication: “The Mayors Ad Hoc Committee on Economic Sustainability”. This report is obviously the product of many hours of hard work and I appreciate the authors’ frank recognition of the fiscal problems we face here in Claremont. However I disagree with the committee’s characterization of our fiscal problem as a revenue problem. Further, I disagree with the committee’s proposal to fix the problem by raising the utility tax instead of recommending that city employees immediately begin paying the employee portion of their pension. Currently the city picks up 100% of what is supposed to be the employee’s contribution.

The city’s problem really is not a revenue problem. The city reaped a windfall of taxes during the housing bubble due to its attendant effects on property tax revenue and retail sales tax. Property tax revenue to the city went up from around 2.5 Million in 2003 to close to 7 Million in 2007 (Appendix A of the Committee’s report). This was a onetime windfall based on an unsustainable housing and credit bubble. However, the city budgeted as if this boom would continue forever: city general fund spending per capita outpaced inflation by a wide margin from 2003-2009.

Much of this growth in city spending has been on increased employee compensation and benefits. I encourage you to visit the State Controller’s website to review the city of Claremont salaries. Sixty-eight city employees had an annual direct compensation of greater than $100,000 in 2009 (newest data available). These employees will be receiving pensions that will be worth up to 70 to 90% of these salaries. For example, our assistant city manager made $199,919 in 2009 and will soon be eligible for a pension based on that pay level. His pension would be worth approximately $140,000 per year if he were to retire today. An equivalent annuity would cost you or I anywhere from $2.3 to $3.5 MILLION to purchase.

Some would have us believe that Calpers will “earn” its way out of its funding hole. The chances of that occurring are slim. Even at current levels equities are far above their historical fair value based on long-term earnings and dividend yields. Astute money managers, such as Jeremy Grantham and Bill Gross, feel it is likely we will not see pension investment returns beyond 5% annually from 2011 to 2020.

Before concluding, I want to be clear on one point. The older Calpers retirees, who did not get in on the 1999 SB400 bonanza, have very reasonable pensions. Thus when you hear Calpers propaganda such as “the average Calpers pensioner only has a $25,000 annual pension” you need to remember that number includes these older retirees as well as the many other retirees that were only public employees for a few years.


The Future: “It’s In Our Hands”

In addition to requiring employees to immediately pick up 100% of the employee pension contribution, the city needs to dramatically increase retirement ages and reduce pension percentages of final pay on a going forward basis. Retirement at age 50 or 55 for city workers at 70-90% of pay is frankly ridiculous. A plan is needed that is not dependent on taxpayer bailouts or stealing funds from important budget items such as parks, after school activities for children, and senior citizen programs.

These changes will require negotiations with a variety of bargaining units. Make sure your chosen city council candidate is up to the task. The message he or she should be sending to city workers should be clear: Claremont’s citizens love their city and appreciate the work you do. But, they are in no mood to pay additional taxes to fund extravagant pensions.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Olivenhain Gets Back in the Game

General Plan Update Meeting on Monday, March 28

Encinitas Senior Center from 6:00-9:00



For more information on this and other General Plan events visit www.encinitas2035.info or contact the Encinitas Planning Department at (760) 943-2101
 
Dear Friends and Neighbors,



I am writing to remind you that tomorrow night (Monday, March 28) the Encinitas Planning Department will be conducting a meeting to solicit citizen input for the updated General Plan.  Although the General Plan has been in place for 30 years and is not required to be rewritten, Planning is in the process of updating the present plan and has shifted its description of the plan from the "Constitution of the City" to a "blueprint for growth"  This shift away from an original plan that protects citizens' rights with regard to new development, concerns many who were involved in the original incorporation of Encinitas in 1980.



This meeting is an important opportunity for Olivenhain residents to voice their concern over a proposal which could change Encinitas from the livable city that we all love, to a city that is more crowded, with more traffic, more noise, and more pollution.



The Planning Department has expressed a desire to create a “sustainable” growth environment that allows for a growth in tax revenue, businesses, development and population.  Although there is nothing wrong in investigating these ideas and planning for the future, Encinitas residents from all 5 communities have expressed that they wish to preserve “community character.”  How can this be achieved if there are double the number of houses and residents than what we have currently?



This particular question has been brought into focus by Olivenhain neighbors concerned about the proposed development of the Dana Rullo Stables horse ranch property, which would disregard current zoning laws and would result in an increase in traffic, noise, and a number of other problems for local residents.  For more information visit www.savedesertrose.com.



If you do attend the meeting tomorrow and if you complete a survey, please be aware that in the past, the answer, “deserves consideration” was added to the “yes” answers to determine that “citizens” were in favor of a 3-story parking structure be built in the location of the current Henry’s supermarket.  This conclusion was reached based upon the responses of fewer than 30 Encinitas residents—some of whom answered “deserves consideration.”  Some have suggested that participants should respond to surveys with yes/no answers since answers of “deserves consideration” and “I don’t know” are sometimes added to other answers when city planners evaluate survey responses.



Sincerely,



Julie

Principles not Politics

 Ron Paul and Ralph Nader teamed up and spoke out against the political machine because they knew policy was more important than politics.

Donna Fry and Carl Demaio even teamed up because they realized the city needed them to put policy before personal gains, and the gains of campaign donors.

Would Carl Demaio be tarred and feathered by the Encinitas City Council if he posted something like this to SDROSTRA?

The debate is now a question of pension reform light versus pension reform right. The Mayor said just a year ago that the pension system was already fixed. Now he’s admitting that there is still a problem and asking us to put another cosmetic band-aide on it. Enough is enough. We need a system that provides city employees with benefits that are no better, and no worse, than what the average San Diego taxpayer footing the bill receives.

The Mayor’s proposal will only PROLONG the current pension crisis by…
  • Keeping the current pension benefits in place for all current employees
  • Exempting half of all new hires from the defined contribution program
  • Allowing pension “spiking” to continue by using bonus-type pays to calculate life-long pension benefits.
  • Failing to require city employees to pay their fair share (50%) of the cost of pension benefits.
I’ve joined with a coalition of taxpayer and business to offer a real solution. Our ballot measure will SOLVE the pension crisis by…
  • Reforming pensions for current employees AND new hires.
  • Placing ALL new hires in the 401K system.
  • Ending pension spiking by requiring that pensions be calculated using base salaries only, not bonus-type payouts.
  • Requiring city employees to pay their fair share of the pension costs: 50%

There is no Carl Demaio in Encinitas. Compare Carl to Jerome Stocks who was happy to give long-term retroactive massive compensations raises to his friends and staff and the council majority who were afraid to discuss mild pension reform publicly before conferring with the staff bargaining units, behind closed doors.

Buyer's Delight: 1920 Paxton

Special location west of I-5 in Olde Leucadia, end of cul-de-sac in Nantucket neighborhood. Large, semi custom 2 story home with numerous upgrades, meticulous in details and adaptable to many lifestyles. 5 bedrooms with bathrooms en suite. True gourmet kitchen with stainless KitchenAid appliances and granite island open to Family room and breakfast nook. Artfully designed courtyard with water feature, fire pit, solar heated pool, built in BBQ and dining bar. Click to View Virtual Tour

Current Sticker Price $1.7 Million.



As of yesterday, the selling agent has no idea if anyone ever did the second set of surface soils tests that the city's own consultant recommended

The first buyers must have asked for the testing. They must have. You would think that before buying a home for over $2 million dollars they would make sure the soils were clean. The buyers might not have known of the soil problems, but all the local RE agents who do their homework should have known. It would not have been difficult to identify the problem and a remedy to the concern before closing the deal. The only time you don't collect the data is when you don't want to know the answer.


The tough problem now is, what to do if the soils are still contaminated. You can't do what the city is making developers do,  now that the public knows they can't trust the city to do the right thing.

Here is the Zillow history for 1920 Paxton.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Train Track Cops hassling locals today

If you live east of the tracks don't try to walk to your local small businesses because the Kooky Train Kops are out today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

CEQA Needs More Muscle (in some places)?

CEQA can use a little strength in places like where it addresses protecting public health. CEQA could use a little help in places like Encinitas.

A few years ago politically connected developers purchased some land in Leucadia and subdivided and built homes on it. The land was ex-greenhouse property. Growers around here used some pretty intense insecticides and soils around these operations have been found to be contaminated. The neighbors of the subdivision, including several technical experts, reviewed the subdivisions studies and found the city's actions lacking (and the city's consultant agreed).

EXCERPTS
09/19/2005 10:13 AM
to "Peter Cota-Robles"
cc"Greg Shields", "James Knowlton", "Masih Maher"
, "Patrick Murphy"

Peter Cota-Robles, P.E.
Director of Engineering Services
City of Encinitas


Subject: Potential Health Risk at Encinitas Tract 03-009, Barrett at Sheridan and Andrew

This letter is a request to evaluate potential health risks from soils that are potentially contaminated with greenhouse agricultural chemicals in Tract 03-009.

Tract 03-009, and the adjacent site, were excavated down approximately 2’
feet below grade. Approximately 8000 cubic yards were cut from the adjacent site and moved to 03-009 to make the final pad heights. There was no soil testing for agricultural chemicals below grade on either site.

Various reports from Leighton and Gradient document soils testing to a depth of 0” to 6”, find contaminants less than EPA limits, and conclude that these findings are similar to other studies where no significant sub su! rface contamination was found. No documentation of nega! tive su b surface soil test reports or literature searches for similar applications were provided to substantiate the conclusion.

The City’s soil consultant challenged the soil report conclusions as unacceptable, and determined that representative sub surface soil tests were needed to assure that there are no health risks from agricultural chemicals at this site, e.g., soil testing for agricultural chemicals is needed to assure that this project meets the standards of the City of Encinitas and that there is no possibility of worker, resident and neighbor exposure to hazardous materials.

Would you please assure that representative soil testing of Tract 03-009 is part of the final grading inspection. I suggest sampling at six sites on the surface, and at 1’ and 2’ below finished pad height.

Thank you, Michael Schwaebe



After a month of complete silence and follow up request for a response:

"Peter Cota-Robles"
To Michael Schwaebe
10/25/2005 05:27 PM
cc "Greg Shields"
Subject Re: Potential Health Risk at Encinitas Tract 03-009, Barrett at SheridanandAndrew



Michael - Greg has informed Barratt that soils testing will be required on all lots prior rough grading sign-off and release for construction of the housing. Greg can provide you more detail if needed. - Peter

Peter Cota-Robles
Director of Engineering Services
City of Encinitas
505 S. Vulcan Avenue
Encinitas, CA 92024
760-633-2770

According to Michael Schwaebe the testing for soil contamination NEVER happened. This delayed respond by the city engineering department was a successful effort to keep Schwaebe from making an issue of the soils. Schwaebe went back to his life only to find out later that the testing did not happen. I wonder how often citizens get hoodwinked.

One week ago Kevin C sent an email to Greg Shields in the Depatment of Engineering to find out if they would like to comment on Schwaebe's assertion. The engineering department did not respond.

Since the Barratt project and the Hall park process, citizens have begun to realize that our city's unique soils contamination problem was being brushed  off by the city . CITIZENS have pressed hard on the city to change its practices.  Notice which council members called those citizens names for bringing up problems their own consultants agreed with.

Contrast what happened at the Barratt development to what happened at the new Hymettus project (see photos below).

The developer spent weeks digging a giant hole. They pushed the surface soil to the bottom and covered it up. It is expensive.


Most people in the public just assume that their government is watching out for them. In some places that is true. Fortunately, there were a group of people in Encinitas who knew it wasn't always true in Encinitas

LTC about the LNA

From the LTC,

To all dog lovers:


The Leucadia Neighbors Association is inviting suggestions for ways Leucadia can be more accommodating for dogs and their human companions. The group is also inviting comment on whether to include dog stations along Highway 101 and Neptune Ave and at the Beacon's Beach Parking lot as part of Greenscape, Leucadia Neighbors proposed alternative to the Streetscape project.

Comments can be posted at the Leucadia Neighbors website, www.leucadians.com.

An open discussion of Leucadia challenges and opportunities will be held Monday, March 28, 6pm-7:30pm at the Encinitas Library. Leucadia residents are encouraged to participate.

For information and meeting reservations: www.leucadians.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jerome Stocks Expected to Recover from Gullibility Virus

Did Jerome bring up the topic of American oil reserves the last time he drove his wife's electric car to  a drum circle at a community garden to protest the pumping of fossil fuels for the production of plastic bags?

 

Excerpts from JS's blog:

I got this email earlier today, just after I drove my all electric Nissan Leaf past a bunch of gas stations advertising $4.00+ prices for a gallon of gasoline. As a side note, based on miles per Kwh and the price of electricity, I’m paying the energy equivalent of about 20 cents per gallon driving the Leaf… But back to the email below… I clicked on the various USGS links, and if this isn’t true, it’s a fantastically well done bit of fraud: Please read on…


The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska ‘s Prudhoe Bay , and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable… at $107 a barrel, we’re looking at a resource base worth more than $5…3 trillion.

“When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea..” says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature’s financial analyst...

However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken’s massive reserves….. and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels.  And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL!
That’s enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 2041 years straight...


They reported this stunning news:  We have more oil inside our borders, than all the other proven reserves on earth.. Here are the official estimates:  – 8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia
- 18-times as much oil as Iraq
- 21-times as much oil as Kuwait
- 22-times as much oil as Iran
- 500-times as much oil as Yemen
- and it’s all right here in the Western United States.
HOW can this BE? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this? Because the environmentalists and others have blocked all efforts to help America become independent of foreign oil! Again, we are letting a small group of people dictate our lives and our economy…..WHY?...

Don’t think ‘OPEC’ will drop its price – even with this find?  Think again!  It’s all about the competitive marketplace, – it has to. Think OPEC just might be funding the environmentalists?

Got your attention yet?  Now, while you’re thinking about it, do this: Pass this along.   If you don’t take a little time to do this, then you should stifle yourself the next time you complain about gas prices – by doing NOTHING, you forfeit your right to complain. Now I just wonder what would happen in this country if every one of you sent this to every one in your address book.


Bloggers thoughts: Is it personal actions like driving a Leaf, confessing your environmental sins, supporting trendy green causes that feel good, labeling fun hobbies sustainable, participating in drum circles, selling all your automobiles, or lobbying hard for policies that have a long-term end game that gives our grandchildren a better world than our parents', that matters? Does Jerome advocate for end game policies? Does anyone?

Seeing how Jerome rarely blogs about the City of Encinitas, maybe he will write something about CEQA.


CEQA to be Improved

From the Inbox:

Exploiting the hardships caused by the economic climate and the state budget crisis, special interests are redoubling their efforts to pass legislation that would dismantle the Golden State’s premiere environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

Individuals and organizations concerned about the public’s health and well-being, the environment and good government must push back this dangerous new wave of attacks on CEQA. 

The GOP Five are holding the budget hostage, demanding major concessions to CEQA that weaken the environmental and public health protections.  Governor Brown thinks a good environment is a luxury of the rich and now that California is broke we can't afford it anymore.

In February, Senator Canella introduced SB 241—a measure that would allow 125 projects to receive immunity from CEQA.  Now he is working as part of the GOP Five on a more sweeping proposal attempting to attack CEQA from all angles.

Get a message to Governor Brown TODAY -- Email, write or call Speaker Perez and Governor Brown to oppose measures that rollback the public health and environmental protections in CEQA. Use the sample letter below for your message.

Speaker John Perez: 916-319-2046 fax 916-319-2146 or speaker.perez@assembly.ca.gov
Governor Jerry Brown:  916-445-2841 fax 916-558-3160 or http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php

Email, write or call your state representatives, urging them to oppose bill SB 241 (Canella) and similar proposals.  Let them know why CEQA is important to the health & well-being of their constituents; if possible, mention a development in their district that was improved by CEQA and/or one that runs the risk of being added to the list of 125 projects exempted from CEQA.  A sample letter is provided below.

To find the name & contact information for your Assembly member and Senator go to the following website; search by address or zip code.  You may have to call their district offices for email addresses.   http://www.legislature.ca.gov/legislators_and_districts/legislators/your_legislator.html.

For examples of how Californians have benefited from CEQA go to: calheroes.com

Write a letter to your local newspaper.  Let readers know why CEQA should not be weakened.

Educate and mobilize your friends, family and organizations to take action.  Distribute this action alert to your network.  Individuals and groups that are concerned about your community’s well being should be motivated to defend CEQA.

For more information or to receive regular updates about this campaign contact: Jena Price with the Planning and Conservation League at jprice@pcl.org or 916-313-4508.

 Jennifer Cannon

The Leucadia Blog loves to get email from tree huggers.

Update II: City Manager Retirement

Gaspar responded, and forwards this from the city's human resources department through the city manager's office.

We cannot have a different/individual tier of CalPERS benefits for just the City Manager.

CalPERS does not work with local agency retirement benefits based on individual employees.  From the perspective of CalPERS, the Encinitas City Manager is just one more employee in the City’s group or class of miscellaneous employees.  All of the City’s group or class of miscellaneous employees have the same local agency “contract for benefits” with CalPERS.  The local agency cannot offer one miscellaneous employee a different (more generous or less generous) CalPERS retirement formula than the whole group or class.

There may be options available if City Council wants to offer more generous retirement benefits to a City Manager candidate.  In addition to the CalPERS retirement benefit, City Council could contract for a City paid deferred compensation (IRC section 457 or 401a) benefit or a PARS (Public Agency Retirement System) supplemental benefit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Encinitas City Manager Stuff

The council continues to hold “for show” meetings. The hearing to consider the qualifications desired in the next city manager appears to be the most recent example.  The council claimed they wanted to include the public in the process, but there were whiffs of insincerity.

I asked the City Manager Search Subcommittee (Stocks and Houlihan) how public comments would actually be used in the process. No reply. Why no reply? Well, public comments were collected after decisions appear to have been finalized. Indeed, this time the council didn’t even bother with a ceremonial vote. They just announced what criteria would be forwarded to the city’s search firm without a vote. The criteria had been finalized before the public meeting. Most of the public speakers didn’t realize this.

I spoke and simply stated that I thought the council should consider asking candidates if they would be open to a 401K retirement rather than a pension. We have at least two council members (Barth and Gaspar) who indicated in the last campaign that they are interested in pension reform. The hiring of the new city manager was a great opportunity to start over, at least for this single employee. The city manager would oversee any forthcoming citywide pension reform and it would be good for her to set an example.

It turns out that someone in charge already decided the new city manager would be getting a CalPERs 2.7 percent at 55 retirement package. I can find no evidence that the council ever publicly endorsed or discussed these terms of employment. The council must have approved this or passively endorsed it because the job advertisements clearly state the new city manager will get a defined benefits retirement package.

I thought the council is supposed to hold a vote, on record, regarding terms and conditions of the manger’s employment. I asked council members Gaspar and Barth if they approved this pension plan for the new city manager. Barth claims she was unaware of any decision. Gaspar eventually responded (after I began circulating this editorial). She said there has not been council discussion of the benefits package. She also says that she’s now looking into the possibility of giving the city manager an alternative retirement plan. She didn’t mention that when I spoke in front of council weeks ago. She says there is still plenty of time to figure it out, but it seem to me like it’s a little late.

I accidentally came across the city manager job advertisement, which clearly states the position comes with a 100 percent CalPERS pension. Peckham and Mckenney, the city’s search firm, had printed the advertisement. This seemed odd because I had not been told about this. I had been in correspondence with the firm trying to find out how the public’s input would be used, because there seemed to be an issue given that the City Council never voted to endorse any of the ideas presented by the public. 

Peckham & Mckenney continued to present vague assurances that the public’s comments would be utilized. It was a snow job. Not once did the firm indicate my comments regarding pension reform for the city manager were worthless for the selection process because the decision had already secretly been made. Peckham & Mckenney had already been instructed to offer a CalPERS pension and they printed up advertisements saying so.

It sure looked like Peckham & Mckenney were aiding the city’s manipulation of the public. I let the firm know of this conclusion and asked them to explain why they never mentioned the retirement package had already been established and asked for them to tell me the conclusion was wrong. They told me they couldn't answer those questions and to direct my questions to the city.


Update: It has been weeks since I asked the council to consider asking candidates if they would accept a defined contribution package. It has been over a week since Gaspar claims to have contacted HR to ask them about the option. I have sent follow up emails to her and the entire council asking what factual information was provided to the City Council. Right now it sure seems like the city wants that information to be kept secret. 
KMC

Nothing on TV Monday Nights?

A standing room only crowd attended the ECIP meeting last night. Some of the topics covered were open government, environmental issues, upzoning, low income housing. senior transportation, and pension debt. Some revelations drew gasps from the audience. A lot of people did not know about some of city's recent history as the crowd was a mix of folks, from all parts of the city. There were some good challenging questions. There was also a common theme among the comments; city hall has forgotten that their duty is to the people.

Charlie McDermott presented some stuff on pensions. Here is a sample. (click to enlarge)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Issues Not Important?


Encinitas Citizens Initiative Project

Monday
March 21, 2011
San Diego Credit Union Meeting Room
501 North El Camino Real

Presentations start at 5 pm

Target Greatland to be even greater

Too bad we are about to allow a lame Wal Mart into our town...

Grow Local



NCTimes Farmers Pinched by High Water Prices
A vise grips farmers in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties: Recent rises in water prices and increasing foreign competition have made farming a break-even business for many, but cratered land prices make it difficult for those with debt to get out of the business, say farmers and real estate agents.

Conditions are particularly severe for local producers of avocados, a particularly thirsty crop. Long the center of U.S. avocado production, the region has dubbed itself the Avocado Capital of the World, with a 22-mile stretch of Interstate 15 named the Avocado Highway by state officials.

But new pressures beset local farmers. Drought and population pressures have reduced the supply of water and sent prices higher

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Encinitas Golf Course Comes Back UP

This Wednesday the Council will hear about the golf course again and vote on moving around some money.

Carving at Swamis




In about three weeks the city is planning on having a big dedication to celebrate the carving.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

BIG Cracks at City Hall

NCTimes It takes two to get an item on the agenda

"I'm going to support it because I can't certainly subscribe to what it was before," Barth said, mentioning that she would like to have the 60-day time-limit to make certain an item gets on the council's agenda quickly. 

Others on the council said they didn't see a need for a time limit at this point, saying council-requested items do end up on agendas and very seldom fall through the cracks.

The city council promised several times to agendize a discussion of the disposition of the city's property on Quail Gardens Drive. That discussion has not happened.  It won't be heard publicly because the council is too afraid of the public.

Only under pressure, Council Members have spoken as if they have a secret plan for the site. A public discussion of the topic would make them have to dredge up old and secret, if passive, decisions and it could ruin their secret plans.

Kevin C. requested that the city bring up the property for discussion as far back 2007, and the whole council said they were for the sunshine (who could be against a public discussion of a public asset, when put on the spot?).


Well, those in power were against a public discussion of this public asset. The meeting never happened. Yes, Kevin reminded them and they ignored it.

A good retrospective read on why the council should have had the discussion prior to borrowing $20 million, is Matt Walker's 6 points, which explains a whole different financial approach for the city and shows that Kevin C wasn't the only one talking about pension reform before the market crash.

Leucadia to become more Radioactive



Monday, March 14, 2011

PEC Garden

Paul Ecke Central School edible gardens was featured in edible san diego (click to read).


Copious hours of effort of community volunteers (including Leucadia bloggers) have turned the gardens into a reality. A nice donation from Paul Ecke III funded the enterprise.  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

85th Percentile

What is the 85th Percentile Speed? 
The 85th percentile speed  is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the motorists drive  on a given road, unaffected by slower traffic or poor weather. This speed  indicates the speed that most motorists on the road consider safe and reasonable under  ideal  conditions. It is a good guideline  for the appropriate speed  limit  for that road.

See the 85th percentile for your street

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It Might Get Worse in Japan

Explosion Destroys Building at Nuke Power Plant
Backup power system not enough at Nuke plant


From Popular Mechanics:
During the first six decades of the nuclear age, however, fewer than 100 people have died as a result of nuclear power plant accidents. And comparing modern nuclear plants to Chernobyl—the Ukrainian reactor that directly caused 56 deaths after a 1986 meltdown—is like comparing World War I fighter planes to the F/A-18. Newer nuclear plants, including the fast reactor now being developed at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), contain multiple auto-shutoff mechanisms that reduce the odds of a meltdown exponentially—even in a worst-case scenario, like an industrial accident or a terrorist attack. And some also have the ability to burn spent fuel rods, a convenient way to reuse nuclear waste instead of burying it for thousands of years.

Friday, March 11, 2011

View of Leucadia

Click to Clean up

 
 This is titled leucadia,leep it funky.. ~~~alan casagrande

 Check out the cool stuff at www.bongobaystudio.com 

Tsunami Warning for West Coast

The National Weather Service estimates the tsunami's California arrival time at 8:41 a.m.

The tsunami will act like an extreme tide movement. It probably won't be large here but it may catch morning beach walkers off guard. If you have any friends or relatives who like to walk along our bluff in the morning make sure they are aware of the warning.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Opportunity to Address the Fundementals

California allows citizens to implement solutions if their representatives fail to take action.


Encinitas Citizens Initiative Project

Community Workshop Invitation



The Encinitas Citizens Initiative Project is seeking the community’s help.


The Encinitas Project was formed to develop public policy solutions to difficult issues facing the city, which have been marginalized by the Encinitas City Council. While the Council makes progress on safe issues, we will tackle the big issues ignored by our Council by putting them on the ballot. To be successful, the Project plans to focus on a set of issues and solutions that are recognized and supported by a vast cross section of Encinitas residents.

You can help. Please give us your input at the first Encinitas Project citizens’ workshop to be held:

March 21, 2011
San Diego Credit Union Meeting Room
501 North El Camino Real

Presentations 5-6 pm
Panel Q & A 6-6:30 pm
Breakout Discussions 6:30-7:00 pm


Citizens have already proposed a diverse set of candidate initiatives:
Open Government
Increased access to public information and decision making. Ensure accountability for open government law violations.

Competitive Management Practices
Require competition and oversight in contracting. Require competitive appointments to top city positions.

Pension Reform
End the practice of passing all the risks of pension debt to our children.

Upzoning (Increasing Development Rights to Allow Higher Building Density)
Ensure taxpayer subsidized developments benefit the public's interest.

City Council Organization
Term-limits and rules for council appointments.

Low Income Housing
Increase access and oversight of mandated programs. Ensure taxpayers are not being cheated in related development schemes.
Current project participants span the political spectrum and have come together to achieve common goals. The objective of this first workshop is to identify and select which issues should be tackled first.

For more information or to suggest other issues and solutions to be considered email encinitasproject@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Pension Matters

Pension policy matters because if you get it wrong you won't be able to do all that fun stuff and "do-good" stuff in the future, when the bill comes due. Encinitas is a young city. People like to say that we are doing better than other cities, but what decisions did the city make that are different than most of the cities that have the bill for their short-sightedness at their door step?

EU just ran post on the troubles that Costa Mesa is running into. Those troubles were planted DECADES ago.

So lets compare:
Non-safety Staff
PERS 2.5% @ 55 
Safety Staff
PERS 3.0% @ 55

Non-safety Staff
PERS 2.7% @ 55
Fire
PERS 3.0% @55

The public has brought alternative approaches to the council over the years--no action by the council, other than taking on way bigger/stupider risks.

Just as a comparison for all those folks who work in less strenuous jobs in the private sector:
You also have defined benefits for part of their retirement. It is called social security. 

Social Security Full Retirement Age is 67 years old if born after 1960. The earliest you can pull SS is 62. As the baby boomers draw down funds and rosy predictions fail to materialize, younger private sector employees who have been PROMISED the same retirement benefits will find that those promises can not be kept. A choice will have to be made, reduce benefits to current AND future retires or reduce benefits from future retirees. For some reason people think it is more fair to take something away that has been earned but never been held than to take away something that is already in someones hands.

City and state employees will go to the taxpayers for more money for their failed retirement funds at the same time the taxpayer's own social security benefits are getting pulled out from under their feet. We may be heading toward a society where only those who get lucky and get a government job get to retire.


LB notes: 
No one ever took the $100 challenge to explain how we dodge a pension meltdown by doing nothing different.
Dear anon pension posters, this is the place to put your comments.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Leucadia 101 Main Street Assoc Membership Meeting March 3rd 6:30 pm

Leucadia 101 Main Street's Annual Membership Meeting

WHEN: March 3, 2011

TIME: 6:30 - 8:00 PM

WHERE: Encinitas Civic Center, Poinsettia Room


· Meet the Board of Directors and hear our goals for 2011.

· Principle Planner Diane Langager will also present an overview of the N. Hwy 101 Streetscape refined phase I plan and discuss the next steps.

· Find out more about our Main Street Committees and how you can get involved!

Please Join Us ~ All Are Welcome!