City staff or the city council?
What's missing here? Who is directing the bureaucrats.
How much free reign do they have and do they control council members? How much control of the city policies do they still have?
For years, staff were excused because people would say staff were just doing what the council wanted, even if the council didn't express those desires in public and even if they did things that were clearly biased or just plain wrong.
There is good evidence that staff were given information on the inclinations of the council in informal backroom conversations and communications, where the public could not hold anyone accountable and it made nobody accountable to the voters. Others would say that staff would force council members to submit to their will or not be treated nicely in those backroom interactions. If staff were not happy, selected council members would not get to direct staff to do things in the backroom anymore. If this was true, it was a barter system and nobody was accountable.
Shine the sunlight on those interactions. The legitimacy of the unauthorized and subversive actions taken by staff, that make some council members feel like they can't even ask questions or propose an idea, will only continue with the will of the council.
There is a new council. It is up to them to lead into the fundamental changes and do that is going to require a real clear effort. Anything smelling like business as usual must be addressed or citizens and staff will come to expect, business as usual. Peripheral fluff work is nice, but lack of clear responses from the council on those apparent business as usual activities wipes out the confidence of those who hoped for meaningful and lasting change.
Longtime city watcher Deitmar Rothe writes in a TCN commentary:
The council then voted unanimously to order City Manager Gus Vina to hire a consultant for analyzing the impacts of the initiative. Gus Vina stated that he had already set the process into motion. How could he have done this, unless City Manager Vina had already agreed with council on how they should vote in, what many feel, was a sham public hearing?Two LB contacts have said that one council member was asked about this. The CM said that Gus was just going off the information he gleaned from his conversations with the individual council members and was being efficient by getting the ball rolling.
Mayor Barth included a link to this commentary in her weekly email to supporters and followers. She often makes comments about issues in the links. She took the 5th and remained silent instead of addressing Dietmar's comments.
Comments in Barth's emails are like these:
Regardless of how you feel about the Right to Vote Initiative the meeting to craft the council statement at an public meeting was an unprecedented exercise in open government. This would have NEVER occurred with the previous council majority.
Encinitas tries to preserve small town character
When I spoke to the reporter I said we, meaning the council, would write the argument against. The council did include in the ballot statement a commitment to propose changes to the General Plan to require zoning changes and General Plan updates to be approved by a public vote.
If the commitment is for this to be a simple change to the general plan and not get a watered down initiative and not be bait for a bait and switch, then get this on the agenda and write the EXACT language. Simple. A couple weeks of work and done. They promise to do it anyways. Do it now. It is so simple and there won't be details that will water it down.
See Encinitas Undercover for more calls for this silly request for actually doing it rather than "committing" to do it. It would also build trust if all the members of the council stopped talking about abstract "possible" problems with the upzoning initiative and became specific. They should engage their supporters who wasted thousands of hours collecting signatures on a super lame and flawed initiative. Mayor Barth obviously knew about these flaws long ago before people wasted their time. That sort of things really calls for a big round table meeting.