Thursday, June 30, 2011

Letters to the UT

Time to Take Action!

I attended the June 22 Encinitas City Council meeting and I felt sad.

I was sad at the illnesses and disruption of the lives of so many people who live near the development project on Hymettus Street caused by inadequate environmental protections, monitoring and enforcement. I want a City Council that demands that county and state environmental officials do their job and protect the health of the citizens. I want a City Council that cancels the permit for the construction if the developer violates the requirements for environmental hazard mitigation.

I was sad that so many people speak often and eloquently about open government and then the council votes to defend the city in court rather than release the draft of a traffic study, and after losing the case because the city failed to show a “compelling” reason to withhold the report, the city spends more time and money on an appeal.

I want a City Council that isn’t afraid to let citizens see what their tax dollars are paying for. I welcome the new city manager and hope he can address some of these problems, and I welcome the next election in hopes that the voters of Encinitas will select different council members who support open government, open meetings and have open minds. -- Lisa Shaffer, Encinitas

 This sounds familiar...

Budget surplus a mirage

The impression given by an article on a city budget workshop (“El Cajon ends fiscal year with surplus,” East County, June 16) amounts to putting lipstick on a pig. The story said the city will end the current fiscal year June 30 with a “budget surplus of $300,000,” and anticipates a “balanced” budget next year.

Councilman Bill Wells said the city still has a structural deficit of about $4 million. That is presumably the cumulative deficit accrued in prior years. If so, the $300,000 surplus for the current year was immediately gobbled up by the deficit.

At that rate, it would take 13 years to fully recover the deficit. The fact that next year’s deficit is “balanced” (in fact, a slight gain of about $71,000 is projected) means that a year from now, the city will still have a structural deficit of some $4 million. -- Robert Clark, El Cajon

Letter to the editor published here.

Happy now?

Corporate Ads to Save Government


Today, public places step toward advertisement saturated spaces allowing government to delay sending the debt crisis bill to the taxpayers. Leucadians speak out on fair and balanced fox news about this strategy. Watch below:


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We're special


Greek style financial meltdown in the USA would never happen. We are special.

From the Guardian
While Greece erupted in protest again, representatives of the country's government were trying to drum up international investors' interest in a "fire sale" of its national assets.

Up for sale are 39 airports, 850 ports, railways, motorways, sewage works, ... thousands of acres of land for development, casinos and Greece's national lottery. 
This in from Leucadia's own global finance guru, Two-armed Jack (to keep his identity a temporary mystery):

The same vultures the taxpayers bailed out are setting up pools of cash to start buying up public assets as the debt crisis catches up to the USA. Encinitas is screwed too. It is just a question of how many parks the city will have to sell to pay off its pension debt that exploded with one vote five years ago.
Sure would be a bummer if we had to sell the Hall park. I don't know about finance, but that would never happen. Americans are way smarter than the Greek. That's how we kicked their assess in WWII!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer of Fun on the Leucadia 101

Mark your calendar and tell your friends. More info at www.summerfun101.com.

(click to enlarge)

This is Leucadia. Be part of it.

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Surfboard and beach cruiser giveaways and beer garden on Saturday July 9th!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fastest Response of All Time

Encinitas and Vulcan

12:30 Crazy artist lady does performance painting without paint. Lots of graffiti.
2:51 Encinitas public works dude brings in some overtime cash.
5:30 Mark Patterson out in front of the TV cameras again.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Jerome Starts a Community Dialogue

Jerome Stocks should be thanked for participating in public dialogue. All too often our public leaders don't try to hard to engage the public and help them to understand what is happening.


See ‘Encinitas Silver Anniversary Blues’ simply the product of exaggerations, by Jerome Stocks

Because of this openness we now know a few things. Jerome addresses a few criticisms, doesn't get all the facts right, and shows how contorted his defenses can get–a very limber analysis of finances indeed.

Borrowing is easy when you don't consider the interest payments as part of the cost of purchase!

Stocks shows that he can be frugal on small items. Too bad they didn't publicly comb through the city's budget the same way, or show the same level of concern when taking on its big projects over the last 10years. The library cost $500,000 extra (according to the friends of the library), so that Dalager could get reelected, but Jerome will never admit that. Examples of $100,000 blow its are all too common. We even have million dollar examples! When you blow millions it gets tougher to pay for the little things (or big things like the Hall park).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whole Foods Video


I can't wait for the new Whole Foods to open in downtown Encinitas!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Car Smash



So much for the patio at the Beach/Tea House (north Leucadia Hwy 101)
Photos courtesy of Fred Caldwell.

Save the Art

News 10 reports Leucadian Mark Patterson will be paying reimbursing the city for the consultants work and helping to see the art is moved.



From the Huffington Post 
If the current actions contributing to a multifaceted degradation of the world's oceans aren't curbed, a mass extinction unlike anything human history has ever seen is coming, an expert panel of scientists warns in an alarming new report.

The preliminary report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) is the result of the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop examining the combined impact of all of the stressors currently affecting the oceans, including pollution, warming, acidification, overfishing and hypoxia.

“The findings are shocking," Dr. Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director, said in a statement released by the group. "This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children's and generations beyond that."


It will take more than feel good deeds to save the ocean. It will take deeds that do real good. What is shocking is how many self proclaimed environmentalists aren't willing take on or even speak about routes of action that will result in positive outcomes for the state of the world's natural resources. Bummer. Now, enjoy the wine and cheese.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Lesson from Vanity Fair

What eventually happens when you over borrow, promise more benefits than the future can afford, let the insider bro deals and minor corruption go without response and turn the government sector in the the wealth class? Vanity Fair has the answer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jerome Says He Reads the WSJ!

Jerome Stocks is the fellow who strongly defended the retroactive, toxic, massive pension INCREASE that will saddle our future in debt. That decision will undermine all of the rest of the city's programs and is a financial time bomb. The pension debt will force harsh budget cuts in the future. It has already started. It is long past due for Jerome to take this issue on directly. 

It will impact the public. It will impact city staff. Most likely, the younger city staff are going to get the shaft and the senior staff who failed to step up to this will sit pretty.

Also responsible for fueling the disaster, is Dalager, Houlihan, and that lady that Chief Muir just appointed to the Olivenhain Municipal Water District (appointing one of your buddies was a good move Chief, but I'm not sure the ratepayers want a member of the pension disaster squad on their water board).

This week, when talking about pensions, Jerome was proud to announce he reads the WSJ. That means he must understand the structural problem and for some reason still isn't going to take it on after all these years.

A RECENT WSJ ARTICLE
Some public pension funds are finding themselves caught in a squeezebetween actuaries worried about future benefit costs and local governments worried about immediate budgets strains.

The tension was on display last week, when California pension fund Calpers decided to hold its expected annual return rate steady. The fund's actuary had recommended that the California Public Employees' Retirement System adopt a more-conservative long-term investment expectation; nearly a dozen local officials attended a meeting last week to urge Calpers not to change the rate.

Calpersagreed to the status quo, which will help the governments avoid higher-contribution payments near term. But if Calpers over time fails to hit its investment target, it eventually will come up short of its goals—potentially causing a burden that will fall on governments in the future.

The issue highlights a debate that has caught fire in recent months:whether the underfunding at many public pension funds is partly aresult of unrealistic investment expectations as well as accountingmethods that underestimate the true size of liabilities.

In deciding to keep its assumed investment return rate at 7.75%, theboard of the $227 billion fund cited hardships that a lower rate would inflict on local governments. Calpers also said it thought the return was achievable. The fund's decision is drawing criticism from some who contend it was made for the wrong reasons.

CALPERS
Associated Press
CalpersPresident Rob Feckner, left, and Vice President George Diehr last weekwhen the fund decided to hold its annual return rate steady.

"To say that you should adopt an assumed rate of return because you want tokeep contributions low is absurd," says Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who testified before a House panel last week. If Calpers's actuary is right, he says, "it means you will have to pay higher contributions in the future."


There are many things that can be done, but providing solutions to those who refuse to step up to address the problem is futile. The public looks forward to Jerome writing a response to all this and his explanation on why the city doesn't need to take action, and why the city should just grin and accept what ever CalPERs throws at them.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Haggo's Tacos!

Organic, just the way you like it!

What a Coincidence!

A few of us are back to working on the B.S. the city shovels on the city's public records release, specifically email policy and practices. Even the assistant city clerk who's job description requires knowledge of public records laws says ALL her emails are automatically DELETED after 30 days. This was her response when asked if she still has emails that clearly contain information related to public business (eg public records requests!).

Team ...Oh, come on now!

Worse, the city is saying it will not carryout any requests for public records that were executed through a gmail account or some other non-encinitas.gov accounts. This is really silly given the way they do the search within the encinitas.gov email accounts. They do not search the account. Instead they send an email to the official they THINK might have had such an email (remember that most of folks don't print out their emails and it all gets deleted) and ask, hey you got any email that might expose your malfeasance? If you haven't deleted that in the last 15seconds, will you send it over to the city clerk's office so some douchbag citizen can post it up on the web and prove that you've been lying for years? You sure you don't have any email to share?

For all you IT folks out there, the city says it scrubs its mail servers frequently so there is no way for the city clerk to do a search on the email themselves. I don't they can't afford a hard drive? Or is the burn it all attitude, to keep pesky citizens from getting to the truth.

When we checked to see what documents the council had received it turned out that the only council member who appears to come anywhere near following the spirit and the law of the California Public Records Act was Barth.

From the UT Watchdog this morning:
Scheer said the law generally doesn’t distinguish between public and personal email accounts; the main factor in determining whether an email is disclosable is whether it concerns the people’s interests.

“The law is clear enough,” he said. “The public is entitled to any public records about the public’s business whatever technology is used, from pencil and paper to text messages and email.”

Most correspondence by elected officials and executive staff is required to be preserved — and disclosed upon request — when it involves an issue affecting the public.

Enforcing public-records laws can be difficult if news agencies, watchdog groups and everyday citizens have no access to a politician’s personal emails, tweets, text messages or other communications, experts say.

“When a public official becomes a public official, they give up a certain amount of privacy,” said Peter Scheer of the First Amendment Coalition, a Northern California public-interest nonprofit. “It’s part of the deal. The public has the right to know quite a bit about what they do in the way of government business.”

Encinitas City Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar regularly uses a personal email account to communicate with city staff, reporters and others. She said she expects more privacy there than on a city account, even if the subject is city business.

“There aren’t rules that govern personal email accounts,” Gaspar said. “The rules cover, of course, the city email account. But there is some allowance for me to be a private person as well..."

Scheer said the law generally doesn’t distinguish between public and personal email accounts; the main factor in determining whether an email is disclosable is whether it concerns the people’s interests.

“The law is clear enough,” he said. “The public is entitled to any public records about the public’s business whatever technology is used, from pencil and paper to text messages and email.”

Why not stop playing games and lobby to change the law so that no written correspondence is public record?

Really? “There aren’t rules that govern personal email accounts,” Gaspar said. “The rules cover, of course, the city email account." So far the city staff has not been willing to justify statements like that. Gaspar is an elected official. I sure hope she can justify making a statement that seems to be a seriously twisted up reading of the open government laws. Worse, it is a practice that defies the voters' desire for our elected officials' writings related to PUBLIC business be open to inspection.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Motiviation for Trying to Hide the Fire Department Stuff

Two Fire Department Misconduct Document Examples:

 1. SANDBAGGING
...purposeful manipulations of the MDC units created hazardous situations and dangerously long response times... endangering the safety and lives or our citizens.




2. BLOWING OFF RESTOCKING & CHECKING SUPPLIES OVER MULTIPLE SHIFTS
A quote from the expert EMS reviewer, "...if my 65-year-old mother had cardiac arrest outside Station [REDACTED]-anywhere from the 6th to the 8th, she would not have survived, and that to me is an egregious lack of duty... we are here for the citizens, and we grievously failed them.



LL and the other folks with the document packet,
You have the full packets. Please provide an overall summary of what's in the packets. Also, note some of the inconsistency in redactions and a few letters being exposed which allow the reader to guess the missing word. It will take some time to comb the material closely to be sure it is redacted correctly prior to posting. Do you offer to help? Also, please note how much was not released as indicated by the attachments list. 


Please post for the blog an answer to: 
Are these excerpts consistent with the story as you know it? 
What does the public need to know about these incidents to understand them?


I think the public will especially benefit from hearing a summary from folks who initially fought against the effort to release these documents and the those initially critical of Steve and the effort to bring this to light. PLEASE submit something.

Steve has been active in traffic calming, bicycle infrastructure, park issues, open government, and city administration. He has certainly paid attention to emergency services, but this story isn't about Steve, except for those who want so badly to deflect the story by taking shots at the messenger. The best way to carry out a vendetta against Steve is to explain away everything in the documents (and what was left out of the packets).


It is time for a Sunshine Ordinance.

 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

We're just victims of those CalPERS bullies

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Jerome said he would respond to this commentary. Current odds are running 5:1 that he will wuss out.

Park to Cost More than Budgeted... Just Weeks Ago






Entire document here: http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=676642&dbid=0. Well that's just 5 pages. There must be more stuff because it has taken since October 2009 to do this.

Don't forget this credible closed government move. Or the park fantasy budget talk by the council majority's icon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SwitchFootBroAm

Fort Encinitas

From the In Box:

It was ten years ago in June that the city council old timers Bond, Stocks, and Houlihan closed and locked the doors to city hall. The old doors were replaced with glass - a fitting reminder to taxpayers that from then on you could look in but weren't allowed inside without a special invitation. It was a great metaphor. It was transparent but it was faux. The public could see only what the council wanted the public to see and staff could step behind the corner when they didn't want their activities to be known.



Tin is the traditional gift for the tenth anniversary.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whole foods for Encinitas

Good thing those rumors about the loading dock problem weren't credible.

Is there really that much dog poo?

A private company is proposing to provide $16,000 worth of doggie waste collection bags for free each year to Encinitas parks and trails, if the city will allow advertising on the bag distribution posts.

The proposal, which the City Council is scheduled to debate at its Wednesday night meeting, could mark the first time that permanent advertising is allowed in an Encinitas city park, said Jim O'Grady, the city's interim parks and recreation director.

"This is kind of uncharted territory for us, but the signs are going to be fairly small," he said Monday.
The city has allowed sponsor signs at special events in the parks, but those haven't been permanent advertisements, O'Grady said.

The city is spending about $16,000 a year on its "Mutt Mitt" waste disposal bags, which are distributed for free at 19 locations within city parks and along city trails, a city staff report states. By giving away biodegradable bags, the city hopes to encourage pet owners to be responsible and to keep the parks tidy. See NCTimes.

A few years ago the Leucadia blog came out hard on the use of public park resources without holding an open process, where others could compete for the exclusive use of park space. We also warned against giving out contracts that provide the city or the public the "net revenues" without that number being explicitly defined and audited. Looks like the city of Encinitas is not into the competitive part of managed competition.


Is Ms. O'Grady really going to spend $16,000 on doggie mitts? 


Somebody do the math on this. How many doggie land mines is that a year? How many trash cans is that. How many poos per dog use hour is that!

Monday, June 13, 2011

New City Hall Art Exhibit

In Box:
Please join Juan for a reception Wednesday June 15th from 5 to 7 pm.

At the Encinitas City Hall:

Civic Art Gallery at the Encinitas City Hall
505 S. Vulcan Avenue, Encinitas CA 92024


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Creator Walks Among the Supporters

Photo: A. Quercus

Encinitas Skirmish in The War on Sex Offenders

There are two distinct bodies of literature on sexual offender law. The most important is that from the mass media, for example the "San Diego Union Tribune," that printed close to a thousand articles cheering on Chelsea's Law. Columnists vied with each other to most floridly express their loathing for the perpetrator of the crime, while praising this law and it's sponsor, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. There was so little space given for serious analysis, that the rare articles that made it to print died of isolation. This includes a single editorial that demanded elimination of excessive residence restrictions. It was ignored in the legislation and never mentioned again in the newspaper.

The other body of writing is from academic sources, the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, psychology and law that underlie the field of criminology. These research based, often cross cultural studies describe the political processes of creating this body of law, along with evaluation of their effectiveness. Such literature, examples of which I have referenced in my personal blog article linked below, are little read by the public, and have almost no effect on policy. I will not be writing here about this this body of research.

Readers of this blog are intensely interested in the small city of Encinitas California, and follow its council members like the general public follows Members of Congress,. So, this blog article will start with one event, a five minute segment of a city council debate over sending a letter of endorsement for Chelsea's Law. It's best to watch the video linked below and we can continue right afterwards. (for those who can't access it, or if you want the short synopsis in my recent article in Coast News along with additional references, it's here on my own blog AlRodbell.blogspot.com.) I'll continue with this excerpt from that article. In a break from a major focus of Lucadia Blog, this is not written to criticize or praise any of the members of the Council, but to illustrate a process of creating legislation in this area which transcends local politics.

----------

From The Coast News:

The political dynamics were clearly illustrated on May 26, 2010 (available on video drop down to discussion at 1hr 50 m ) when the City of Encinitas Council was asked to vote on endorsing a letter supporting the law.
Get Microsoft Silverlight

The law provides for up to life imprisonment for aggravated first offenses, at a cost estimated to reach over a hundred million dollars a year. As with the truism that prevention is more effective than incarceration, the belief that early inappropriate sexual activity is predictive of later violent crimes is equally uncertain. But by the time the issue came to the Encinitas Council this law was on steamroller, and sending the letter of support to the legislature seemed assured.

One member of the council, Maggie Houlihan, suggested that while she, like everyone else, abhors sexual violence this law should be considered in the context of other social needs. She suggested a modification of the letter of endorsement that would have noted the need for this larger perspective.

Councilman Jerome Stocks dismissed this vehemently, saying, "I don't want to hear about potential problems, let the legislature find the money." Maggie wasn't intimidated. After a sharp interaction, acknowledging that her vote against unconditional support of the bill would draw constituent's anger, she concluded with, "This is a much larger problem of our penal system."

The vote to send the letter was only opposed by Maggie, with the other three members who were clearly ambivalent not willing to go on record against it. Several months later at an election forum at Cardiff, I brought this up in front of the large audience. Candidate Dan Dalager (under siege for alleged corruption), whom I confronted for passively voting for this resolution, didn't defend his vote, but pointed out that three other members did the same thing.

Then, Teresa Barth, who was also on the ballot for the council, stood up and made a statement that explains much about the political process in our country at all levels. She said, "I didn't want to vote to send that letter. But, if I had voted against it, every candidate's mailer would have blasted me for not supporting Chelsea's Law, that I was soft on child sexual predators."

Maggie Houlihan may well have been the only elected official in California to publicly question Chelsea's Law.

----------------

I ended my Coast News essay with this:

The law was promoted, and accepted as being targeted for "the worst of the worst" the irredeemable sociopaths such as Chelsea King's killer John Gardner. Actually, the first person who was prosecuted under this law was Joseph Cantorna, a fifty five year old brain damaged man whose offense was inappropriately touching two boys whom he believed to be his grandsons. After the expense of pre-trial incarceration and preparing a prosecution under this law, it took the Judge five minutes to throw the case against this obviously incompetent person out of court.

I have written this synopsis of the half hour jail house interview with Cantorna, a man who still wants to play doctor with the little girls and boys. He doesn't want to do any harm, yet has a temper that explodes when he doesn't get his way. We, as a society, unlike others in other times, have decided to accept him, acknowledging his severe mental deficiency that precludes the development of sexual constraints that shape what we describe as acceptable behavior. Yet, when he is caught doing something rather minor, that is for his five year old mental-emotional age; with Chelsea's law, we have chosen not to segregate him from others in a protective place, but rather put him in a prison with hardened predatory felons to live out his life.

While I have a pretty good idea what is wrong with this system, getting it right is more of a challenge. And that's where I'll leave it; hoping to get some insights from others who may read this.

Al Rodbell
Encinitas Resident and frequent contributor to DailyKos.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Leunimog

Where in Encinitas would you expect to find a unimog? Leucadia! Lots of Leucadians are adventurous travelers

Built by Mercedes after WWII in preparation for WWIII many of them sat idle and were later sold for surplus. They are the go anywhere utility vehicle.

This Unimog's home base is Leucadia.

No answer from the big J.S.

Although Jerome was willing to respond to some other issues he completely ignored my questions related to the way the city manages its contracts and contractors. Here's my questions.

June 2, 2011
Jerome,

Saw your quotes in the UT.

Was the report substantially complete in March 2010, before the Calaware request or not? Did the consultant consider their work complete in March? Why was the [final] report dated March 2010? When were the consultants paid for completed the REPORT? Does the city make it a practice of paying consultants in full (for that portion of a contract) for something that has not been reviewed yet and approved?

Kevin

From the looks of the closed session packet it sure looks like it was completely complete and NOT DRAFT when the city said the document was still a draft and the city needed to time alone to finish the project.

The city holds no credibility when it says the document was just a draft. It would be an amazing story if the document was actually a draft and it would bring up so many more questions about city management.

Art Emergency?

May 18th Barth says she knows of damage to the art and doesn't know if it was intentional or not. See clip below (the clip has been fixed).









Get Microsoft Silverlight



The next week Barth, Gaspar and Houlihan voted to make protecting the art an emergency agenda item.

This part of the Brown appears to be the part that Jerome Stocks addresses in the next clip (from the following meeting).
54954.2.(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the legislative body may take action on items of business not appearing on the posted agenda under any of the conditions stated below. Prior to discussing any item pursuant to this subdivision, the legislative body shall publicly identify the item.
(1) Upon a determination by a majority vote of the legislative body that an emergency situation exists, as defined in Section54956.5.
(2) Upon a determination by a two-thirds vote of the members of the legislative body present at the meeting, or, if less than two-thirds of the members are present, a unanimous vote of those members present, that there is a need to take immediate action and that the need for action came to the attention of the local agency subsequent to the agenda being posted as specified in subdivision (a).

Notice the part that says the "agency", which is the city, can't have known about the issue. In this case, the potential danger from vandalism seems to have been discussed the week before.

Get Microsoft Silverlight



From Calaware:
“Emergency” meetings can be called by telephone notice to the members and convene an hour after local newspapers and broadcasters (that have requested such notice and provided phone numbers to be used) have been alerted. They may address only “matters upon which prompt action is necessary due to the disruption or threatened disruption of public facilities” caused by a “a work stoppage, crippling activity , or other activity that severely impairs public health, safety , or both.” The only closed session permitted is one addressing personnel or public access to facilities, as provided in Government Code §54957 (see 7 below), and then only if agreed to by two thirds of those present, or if less than two thirds of the body is present, unanimously . If the topic is a “dire” emergency , defined as being caused by criminal or terrorist activity , the meeting may convene as soon as any requesting local media have been alerted. Minutes and other meeting particulars must be posted for 10 days in a public place as soon as possible (Government Code §54956.5).

From FAC:
A legislative body may discuss a nonagenda item at a regular meeting if, by majority vote, the body determines that the matter in questions constitutes an emergency. The Brown Act provides for emergency meetings to be held by a legislative body with little or no notice to the public, depending upon the situation. When a majority of the legislative body determines that an emergency situation exists, it may call an emergency meeting. (Gov’t Code § 54956.5).

According to the California Attorney General’s Office, the Brown Act defines an emergency as a crippling activity, work stoppage or other activity which severely impairs public health, safety or both. (Gov’t Code § 5795605(a)(1)). Absent a dire emergency, at least one hour before the meeting, telephonic notice must be provided to all media entities that have requested that they receive notice of any special meetings called pursuant to section 54956. (Gov’t Code § 54956.5(b)).

A dire emergency is a crippling disaster, mass destruction, terrorist act, or threatened terrorist activity that poses peril so immediate and significant that requiring a legislative body to provide one-hour notice before holding an emergency meeting may endanger the pubic health, safety, or both, as determined by a majority of the members of the legislative body. (Gov’t Code § 54956.5(a)(2)). At the conclusion of such meeting, the minutes of the meeting, a list of persons who the legislative body notified or attempted to notify, a copy of the roll call vote, and any actions taken at the meeting must be posted for a minimum of 10 days in a public place as soon after the meeting as possible. (Gov’t Code § 54956.5(e)). Furthermore, as a general rule, emergency meetings may not be held in closed session.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Email about the Art

From: Anton Gerschler
sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2011 8:34 PM
To: City Manager; gsabine
Subject: Surfing Madonna

Gentlemen:
Confirming our conversation today, I am privileged to represent the artist who created the so-called "Surfing Madonna." His name is Mark Patterson, also a long-time citizen of Encinitas.

Fox News San Diego. It was on the 6 p.m. news tonight and wil be on again tonight at 1 0 p.m. The entire interview
wil be posted shortly on the station's website. As we discussed, Mark never expected or intended the response that his work has gotten: Before you judge or questionthe artist's motives, please watch the entire interview.

http://ww.fox5sandiego.com/news/

As you will see, Mark said, "This is my gift to the community. It came from inspiration. It has an As I told you in advance, Mark gave a television interview today to    Loren Nancarrow of important message of 'Save the Ocean'."
Today, with Mark's permission, I spoke with the City's consultant Andrea Morse of Sculpture Conservation Studio, Inc., in order to provide her with the technical details necessar to safely remove the ar without destroying it, if    that is what ultimately    must be.done. The removal, done properly, would leave only 18 small screw holes in the wall, all easily filled and causing no substantial or permanent damage.

During that discussion, Ms. Morse said that it was her conclusion that the piece is a beautiful piece of art, that the installation was "well thought out" and excellently mounted in a protected area. We hope you agree. She said it wil be her recommendation to the City that the mosaic be covered until it could be officially made "public ar." We think that is worthy and acheivable goal for us to work towards 6/9/2011 together. If it remains the City's decision to remove the art from its present location, be assured that Mark and I wil cooperate fully    in the City's effort to remove the art work and re-locate it to a suitable new location.

Sincerely yours, Anton C. Gerschler, Esq.

Anton C. Gerschler
914-A North Coast Highway 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 633-4060 (office)
(6l9) 507-9411 (cell)

From the NCTimes:
Three people with the Los Angeles-based Sculpture Conservation Studio discovered the words "Ark" and "Patterson" written in marker on the very upper edge of the piece during an investigation Tuesday morning. At first they said someone named Mark Patterson could be the artist, but they took another look and had second thoughts, saying the letters could have been written after the piece went up.
 Mark says he has friends inside city hall. It is good to have friends inside city hall under the current form of government.

Artist Comes Forward

Full interview is here. It is cool that Fox News puts up entire interviews, not just the sound bites.

The part where he says he wore a hard hat during the installation so that he wouldn't be hit by a car seems thin. He didn't dress up to be deceptive and not look like he was doing something he wasn't authorized to do?

I missed the part where he explains why he didn't come forward before the city hired a consultant to figure out how the piece is affixed. Anybody catch that?

I also missed the part about how we are suppose to act on the message. What actions are we suppose to take to save the ocean?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Our Trip to San Diego

My fam won a weekend trip to a San Diego resort hotel and I (Kevin C) wasn't able to get a few blog posts in that I know a few people are waiting for. Here's the evidence and a few reflections. 

If you like visiting cities and you got money, San Diego is spectacular place to visit.



We stayed at the Sheraton, where the Inspiration is docked (you can rent this classic yacht or buy tickets for scheduled cruises). It is a great way to spend time with your favorite people while cruising through the heart of San Diego.
fdafd

Little Italy has a multi-block long farmers market. You can buy oysters grown in Carlsbad (but you can't get them in Leucadia?)

 

If you want to live in high density, mixed use, with all the bells and whistles (of mass transit) there are tons of opportunities. The option is available today for San Diego, already.


No time to fix the photo. This is on the county building.

Someone took the time to carve, "Good government requires the intelligent interest of every citizen" into that building.

Without transparency interest is ruined and manipulated. Citizens can not make intelligent appraisals of their representatives without transparency. That transparency can not be selectively endorsed to the benefit our friends or policy goals.

 

We made lots of decisions to avoid several small side trips that required getting in our automobile because there is not enough parking near some of our destinations, or it cost an arm and a leg to use a private lot. Some vendors lost out on a possible purchase from us and we lost out because we didn't get to do a couple things. (Before you go bonkers, we pretty much can't stand being in a car and DO and DID walk a lot of miles. The issue was with time. The car saves time.)


We didn't take the bus to Cabrillo NM, but there is a route down the point.

 




There was lots of public art. Lots of sculptures. Many of which were of great symbolic value, that reflected the city's history and connection to the military. I think of the USS Midway as being more important physical symbol than most of the art that we saw. A lot of what is down there could have been found in any city and very little of it provided a clear sense that it was created by the people of San Diego.

I didn't see anything that was "art" that drew nearly as much inspiration and interst as the Surfing Madonna. The Surfing Madonna was not created by someone who lives in Chicago. I couldn't say that about San Diego's art.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

More cracks in the city's story

This the table of contents for the agenda package for last week's closed session.


It shows the draft that the city is withholding is dated December 2009.

The next version was March 2010 and that was the last version.

In summer 2010 the city said the report was just a draft.

Curiously, in court the city did not try to claim the draft document exemption and that was why it shouldn't be released. But, that is what they were telling the public.

I don't get it.

From Fire Chief Muir, this week:
There was no intent to hide information concerning misconduct within the Department... The City could not officially comment on these cases of misconduct until it was determined that doing so would not violate individuals’ rights. Care was taken with the release of this information—which Mr. Meiche unfortunately characterizes as a “cover up”.

Below is a response by the city to a records request.


In February, Muir indicated that he would not be releasing information on the incidents and on March 9 the city informed the press that it HAD deliberated on the request for information on the misconduct and the answer was, NO. No you can't see it.

Muir's statement, above, appears to be misleading by leaving out that the city was refusing to release information or discuss the problems. Can anyone reconcile the inconsistency? If not, I'd say its fair to describe the situation as the city was trying to cover up the problems and hoping questions would simply go away.

Well, Calaware won in court and helped "educate" the city that the records should be released. I wonder why none of this was mentioned in Muir's story.

It sure is easy to hide problems when the city violates the open government laws.

ping-pong rally's on


Perhaps some enlightenment is warranted here, and you might want to do a bit of research and amend your response.

The way you addressed Mr. Meiche as “LA City Firefighter Steve Meiche” is not appropriate.  He has been addressing you and the Management of the City of Encinitas, as a concerned resident of over 20 years, homeowner, father, and member of the ETA.  His 30 years of experience in the Los Angeles Fire Dept gives him knowledge, experience and credibility of his concerns.  He is not representing the Los Angeles Fire Dept in his inquiries.

Bloggers note: Meiche has been active in watchdogging and organizing going back to the 90's and the majority of the issues he has championed have not been related to FD management. 

Muir's Statement:

“The actions the City has specifically taken during this time period in response to misconduct or violations of policies within the Fire Department have been made available to the requesting party. I do not know of any other city that has allowed this type of information to go public (including the City of LAFD).”
This is inaccurate.  The Los Angeles Fire Dept has a practice of making employee misconduct and corrective action public record.

Please refer to

Your Statements:

“The process that led to the release of this information was very deliberate, since it involved personnel matters. The city consulted with the City Manager, City Attorney, Personnel Director and other individuals as to the extent of the information that could legally be released. The City could not officially comment on these cases of misconduct until it was determined that doing so would not violate individuals’ rights. Care was taken with the release of this information—which Mr. Meiche unfortunately characterizes as a “cover up”.”

Under the “Brown Act”, you are mandated under state law to release the requested information no later than 10 days after request.  This release of information took [a long time].

bloggers note: Written requests for information on the incidents were sent to the Chief in February. The Chief refused to share any information at that time. He wrote that such information was confidential.  Most of the council, including Barth, did not act on the requests for assistance in gaining information on the incidents. Stocks responded strongly, but was not exactly helpful in releasing the documents. The city changed its mind months later on the cusp of the Cummins legal victory and the support of Calaware.

“As an Encinitas resident, I am very active in volunteer efforts and organizations serving our community (personally raised many thousands of dollars for both the Encinitas Library and Quail Gardens; as well as contributions to many other local charities).”

blogger's note: As fire chief he's does have a lot of disposable income!

“I expressed an interest in becoming a member of the Encinitas Taxpayers Association (ETA) in an e-mail to Kevin Cummins on December 31. Within a week’s time, I was invited to the ETA’s January meeting and asked to speak for 15 minutes, answering questions about specific fire department issues (response time/staffing, management practices and fire stations). As with my involvement in any other community group, my interest was not related to my position as Fire Chief and I envisioned my participation in their group strictly as a private citizen--not representing the Encinitas Fire Department and independent of my job duties.”

As the Fire Chief you are subject to the “Hatch Act”, and are to maintain an apolitical position with respect to the city that employs you.  Soliciting or maintaining membership in any political organizations and/or activities within the city of Encinitas either on or off duty is inappropriate, unethical and quite possibly illegal.  As a member of City Management you should be willing to attend meetings to discuss your official duties and responsibilities.  Your avoidance of the ETA meeting as a guest speaker due to potential uncomfortable questions is simply cowardice and unprofessional.

David Smith
bn: Caring Encinitas Resident

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Encinitas Fire Chief Muir Addresses the Issue

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to the inaccuracies reported by LA City Firefighter Mr. Meiche:

•LA City Firefighter Steve Meiche says: The documents related to fire department disciplinary records provide evidence that the Fire Chief attempted to engage in a cover up over the accusations of misconduct within the department...

Encinitas Fire Chief: Since 2006 (public information requested for last 5 years), the City has engaged in disciplinary proceedings with five of the Fire Department’s sixty-three employees, with actions ranging from a written reprimand to a “last chance” agreement. Acts of misconduct occur in any organization and the number of occurrences during this time span is considered low in public safety organizations of similar size. The actions the City has specifically taken during this time period in response to misconduct or violations of policies within the Fire Department have been made available to the requesting party. I do not know of any other city that has allowed this type of information to go public (including the City of LAFD).

There was no intent to hide information concerning misconduct within the Department. While the City of Encinitas respects the confidential nature of disciplinary proceedings with its employees and acknowledges that it must comply with specific legal requirements when administering disciplinary actions (such as the Firefighters Bill of Rights), it is nonetheless committed to openness and transparency with the public in regards to the outcome of these proceedings. The process that led to the release of this information was very deliberate, since it involved personnel matters. The city consulted with the City Manager, City Attorney, Personnel Director and other individuals as to the extent of the information that could legally be released. The City could not officially comment on these cases of misconduct until it was determined that doing so would not violate individuals’ rights. Care was taken with the release of this information—which Mr. Meiche unfortunately characterizes as a “cover up”.

•LA City Firefighter Steve Meiche says: Fire Chief Mark Muir, was a no show when scheduled to meet with the Encinitas Taxpayers Association in January to discuss leaks about the misconduct and current state of fire department oversight...

Encinitas Fire Chief: As an Encinitas resident, I am very active in volunteer efforts and organizations serving our community (personally raised many thousands of dollars for both the Encinitas Library and Quail Gardens; as well as contributions to many other local charities). As a fiscal conservative and a resident looking to continue my service to the community after my retirement, I expressed an interest in becoming a member of the Encinitas Taxpayers Association (ETA) in an e-mail to Kevin Cummins on December 31. Within a week’s time, I was invited to the ETA’s January meeting and asked to speak for 15 minutes, answering questions about specific fire department issues (response time/staffing, management practices and fire stations). As with my involvement in any other community group, my interest was not related to my position as Fire Chief and I envisioned my participation in their group strictly as a private citizen--not representing the Encinitas Fire Department and independent of my job duties. I found this request from their organization odd, given that any other Encinitas residents attending their first ETA meeting would not be placed in this situation and asked to answer questions such as these that were related to their profession. I indicated that I would be more than happy to answer general questions pertaining to the fire service and my personal experience. I ultimately declined to attend the January meeting because I felt that the invitation was disingenuous and was uncomfortable at the prospect of being placed in a position where I was asked questions on matters of a confidential nature or those that required a detailed response.


•LA City Firefighter Steve Meiche says:“These acts of misconduct were extremely serious and were signs of poor leadership from the fire department administration...”

Encinitas Fire Chief: These were situations that required discipline and such matters were handled through the discipline process, which involved a thorough investigation by fire department management and the City’s Personnel Director. I worked closely with the Personnel Director to ensure that the process was judicious, within the scope of the City’s legal authority and effective in addressing the misconduct and preventing future occurrences. The discipline process and past practices have been thoughtfully carried out to the extent the law allows within the Encinitas Fire Department. I take such incidents very seriously and have in the past approved the termination of employees for misconduct or failure to meet our standards.

The City takes appropriate action to change or eliminate any inappropriate behavior. City and Fire Department policies are continually established and updated, and ongoing training is conducted to ensure compliance with rules and enforce proper behavior. Fire Department administration consistently follows best management practices when addressing such incidents within the Department. The City takes immediate action on incidents such as these and management takes the appropriate response based on the situation. The discipline process and past practices were thoughtfully carried out to the extent the law allows (including compliance with the Firefighters Bill of Rights, one of the many legal requirements that the City must comply with when administering discipline to employees).

As the Fire Chief, I’m very proud of the progressive and professional fire department we have in Encinitas. Our fire department provides exceptional customer service, which I’m constantly reminded of by our community citizens. This year, the San Diego Taxpayers Association awarded our Department, along with the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach and the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (RSFFPD) the Regional Golden Watchdog Award for the work we have done in developing a cooperative partnership and sharing senior fire management staff, thereby collectively saving over one million dollars. Furthermore, when I first became Fire Chief, I implemented our Department’s Saving More than Lives program that encourages senior staff and managers to reduce costs, identify alternate sources of funding (such as grants) and create efficiencies. Our Department continues to maintain an excellent rating from the Insurance Services Organization (ISO), which, in turn, ensures that residents’ insurance rates remain lower than other jurisdictions. Also, during my tenure firefighter training has improved, as well as the resources firefighters rely upon to effectively respond to emergencies.

I am proud of the work our Department does and the exceptional service it provides in responding to over 5,000 calls annually, in addition to its other responsibilities including fire prevention and public education. The Encinitas community also recognizes the outstanding service the Department provides. Those who had a personal experience with the Fire Department gave it a satisfactory rating of 95% in the City’s last community survey in 2007 (the last time the City conducted a survey).

•LA City Firefighter Steve Meiche says: According to the new 2011 budget, the fire department projected a 6% increase in budget without any justification. “It is possible they could be factoring in a raise for fire department employees. No one knows” added Meiche....

Encinitas Fire Chief: The budget does not include raises for firefighters, fire chief officers or other employees. The budget increase of $639,452 is off-set by an estimated $450,000 in revenue received from the cooperative fire management services agreement (RSFFPD, Solana Beach and Del Mar’s share of services that Encinitas staff provides). The remaining increase is primarily due to increases in retirement rates and health care benefits. It is important to note that the retirement benefit Encinitas provides firefighters (3% @ 55) is less than that of a number of other cities (many provide 3% @ 50). The April 27th City Council Agenda Report introducing the two-year operating budget provides greater detail regarding the Department’s budget.

In light of current economic conditions, the Department has taken steps to reduce staffing (not filling two full-time positions) and lower costs. Last year, the retirement of an Encinitas Deputy Chief responsible for training created an opportunity to contract with RSFFPD for the same services but at a reduced cost. Encinitas’ cost was reduced from $138,223 to $78,066 (shared resource). In addition, one position in the Fire Prevention Division has remained un-filled, for a savings of approximately $108,000 last year.

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify these inaccuracies. I feel very blessed to be able to work, live and play in Encinitas…

Sincerely,
Mark Muir
Encinitas Fire Chief


KC's note: I believe (no time to review my records right now) that questions were emailed to the Chief after he decided not to attend the ETA meeting and that rejections of records request for related information followed the meeting. The Chief is not a regular citizen. He is the head of a department and it silly to not take the opportunity to have him address the ETA about how his department.


SEMI-BREAKING NEWS
The Police Chief of Chula Vista has announced he is going to toss out the privacy rights of his officers to, "make sure we maintain confidence in our community." Chula Vista will be posting disciplinary problems of their officers, even stuff that happens off duty!

Maggie Still Mad at the Leucadia Blog

Maggie was once huge fan of the Leucadia Blog. Huge.


Somewhere she began voting for personal expediency over substance, which is a tough route to take if you don't like to be questioned (she did vote for Prop A and Prop C, which got crushed by her own supporters, which is weird). This is the blog post that changed the future of Encinitas. Ever since then, it has come across that it didn't matter if Maggie had to toss her principles out the window to vote against anyone that had been critical.

Two days ago, the council voted to try to keep the documents secret and appeal the Cummins case.  Mayor Bond said there was the biggest crowd ever to speak before a closed door session. It was reported that crowd included the press and former Houlihan supporters. These former Houlihan supporters were all asking for open government. 

Only Barth voted to end the struggle against transparency. Houlihan, Stocks, Gaspar, and Bond voted to appeal and drag this thing on. It is a secret on what legal grounds the council decided to appeal.  It is rumored that the city's bill is up to $60k and Cummins' bill is up to $30k (don't forget that Cummins attempted to avoid this lawsuit).

It can't be that she wants clarification on what documents are legal to withhold, because just two years ago she VOTED AGAINST a sunshine ordinance process that would have allowed HER to set a bright-line on what documents could be withheld, and a process for adjudicating citizen protests without going to court. Why would should vote against open government multiple times?

It is rumored that Maggie voted to waste tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in an attempt to drain Kevin's bank account and cause him to fold. Is that more plausible than Maggie is really against open government? Is it more plausible than Maggie really is under the influence of key staff people like Sabine?  Is it more plausible that she doesn't understand what she is doing?

4th of July a month away...

And once again we have no fireworks celebration planned. I assume it's because the Encinitas city council still hates America.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Encinitas Fire Department Management Update

 From the In Box:

The City of Encinitas Releases Fire Department Disciplinary Files

Under threat of legal action, the City of Encinitas has released documents that confirm the accusations of gross misconduct and negligence by fire department employees.  The accusations were posted on the Leucadia Blog and other media outlets earlier this year. The release comes after months of refusals to the request for information on these incidents.

The City is under immense pressure for their lack of transparency and disclosure of public documents.  The release falls on the heels of a successful lawsuit against the City for withholding the release of a public document which shows the City has fallen behind on road maintenance. The suit was filed by Encinitas resident Kevin Cummins.   In the lawsuit, a superior court judge told the City of Encinitas that it was not in compliance with the law and required the City to release public documents.

The documents related to fire department disciplinary records provide evidence that the Fire Chief attempted to engage in a cover up over the accusations of misconduct within the department.  Fire Chief Mark Muir, was a no show when scheduled to meet with the Encinitas Taxpayers Association in January to discuss leaks about the misconduct and current state of fire department oversight. Additionally, members of the City Council and City Manager refused to confirm or deny the misconduct or respond to requests for the release of the related documents.

“I’m happy that the City was finally pressured into releasing the documents, although the documents appear to be incomplete” states Steve Meiche, an Encinitas resident and fireman.  Meiche caught wind of the misconduct and wanted to find out the depth of misconduct and confirm the seriousness of the acts. “These acts of misconduct were extremely serious and were signs of poor leadership from the fire department administration.”

Meiche said that after he reviewed the investigations of misconduct done by the fire department, it appeared they were not thoroughly investigated and incomplete. “It's obvious they are still covering up” said Meiche. 

Meiche, a board member for the Encinitas Taxpayers Association says "The City has been covering up problems and in doing so have successfully manipulated the public's perception of the City's administration and financial status. One way they have been doing this is by constantly limiting the public's access to information."

The release of these documents comes at a time when the fire department union enters into negotiations for a new contract in July for pay and benefits.  According to the new 2011 budget, the fire department projected a 6% increase in budget without any justification.  “It is possible they could be factoring in a raise for fire department employees.  No one knows” added Meiche. 

The fire department projected $11,721,038 annual budget for 2011, a budget increase of $639,452 or 6% from the previous 2010/11 budget.  Additionally, the 2011 budget is a $1,464,671 increase from the $10,256,367 actual fire department budget of 2008/09. 

Meiche sums it by saying: “Something is not quite right here in Encinitas, there seems to be a lot of collusion and misinformation within our city government."

Tony Goes for Full Frontal Transparency



Dear City Council,

I'm writing to ask you to reconsider the need to go into Closed Session to discuss the appeal of the decision of Superior Court Judge Timothy Casserly in the Kevin Cummins vs. City of Encinitas case. The public deserves to hear your deliberations about whether to incur additional costs in an effort to deny the public access to public records.

If the City Attorney insists that something about the possible appeal must be discussed outside of public scrutiny, at least vote to open up afterwards and inform the public as to what your vote was and your rationale.

Here's a link that speaks to my request:

http://www.firstamendmentcoalition.org/2009/06/opening-closed-session-agenda-items-by-a-city-council/

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tony Kranz