Charter Stuff

There was a prayer at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, and I had the satisfaction of sitting it out—along with several others. The minister did mention Jesus, but his prayer was mainly for guidance for those present, and did not specify a particular neighborhood as especially evil, as was done on the March 19 meeting.

A group of speakers from Justice Overcoming Borders spoke, asking the Council to cease its program of police cooperation with ICE. They noted that this program destroyed the trust of police that is crucial to effective policing. One of the speakers, William Nava, startled me, a bit, with his claim that blacks never marry, that whites didn’t produce enough children, and so the country needed Latino immigration to provide an adequate work force. As someone who understands that overpopulation of our species is the greatest threat to all life on earth, I always find the insistence that a growing population is necessary for a healthy economy troubling. If we do not stabilize human population, and, indeed, over time, reduce it through natural attrition and reduced birth rates, we will use too much of our planet’s resources and endanger all life on earth. Well, actually, we are already doing so, some 25,000 species become extinct every year. Mexico’s reduced birth rate is one of the factors behind reduced immigration from that country.

The last of three public hearing agenda items was the Charter City Proposal. Comparing the public hearing on the Charter City Proposal, with the workshop on that proposal, I’m at a loss to see the difference in format. Asst. City Attorney Jennifer McCain presented the case for the Charter.

There were thirteen citizens who spoke—all against the proposal. At the workshop, there were four—also all against the proposal. The citizens noted that Escondido voters had decisively voted against this charter in 2012. Pam Stahl said that, if the Council majority insisted on a charter, such a charter should ensure that any change to the General Plan should be subject to approval by the voters of Escondido. She also said that any such charter should ensure that growth be made to pay for itself and that the measurement of that expense of growth be determined routinely.

Nina Deerfield remarked that the current City Council majority was clouded by cronyism—citing the closing of the Library on East Valley Pkwy, and subsequent use by their “good ole boy” friend, Dennis Snyder for his Heritage Digital Academy. She ended with the observation that they couldn’t write a better constitution for the City than the laws that have governed the City well since 1888.

Tom Cowan also noted that their charter had been voted down in 2012, because it was a bad charter.

Pat Mues queried why McCain was presenting a program about the benefits of becoming a Charter City to the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, at a closed venue—open only to Chamber of Commerce members who paid. She opined that the City should offer such a program to the public, free of charge. Hmmm. So City staff member McCain is promoting the Charter. Is she being paid for her services? If so, will the City pay for someone else to argue the demerits of a charter? The City was sued, and found guilty of presenting biased information in the 2012 election, is this not a similar presentation? Mues went on to argue that passing the Charter would give the City Council power to ignore the General Plan, and change zoning, ignore the requirement of General Law cities to have competitive bidding, change the waiting period for city ordinances to become effective, the number required to form a quorum of the City Council, change the time required to approve and implement city ordinances, and even the time and date of municipal elections. I’m not doing justice to all her amazing research, I refer to her blog, http://www.escondido2014.com.

Roy Garrett noted that he had lived in Escondido, “mostly happily” since 1969. He observed that there had been a change in the sense of community in the town since the proposed rental ordinance that had been proposed by Councilman Ed Gallo, Mayor Sam Abed and others several years ago. There had been a distinct movement to the right of the political spectrum; Escondido is now the eleventh most conservative city in the country. Passing the Charter would give more power to the conservative council majority. He cited the Council’s arbitrary closing of the East Valley Pkwy. Library as a reason that many were leery of giving the Council more power.

Andrea Seavey echoed other’s concerns that the conservative majority on the Council in no way represented the population of Escondido citing 2010 census figures.

Chris Nava reminded the Council that, basically the same Charter, had failed in 2012, with 53% of voters against it, and that this Charter had no resident input.

Patricia Borchmann had perhaps the best question of the evening—how much was this revote on the Charter costing Escondido taxpayers? At Abed’s urging, McCain said the expense was minimal at this point, when Borchmann asked the pertinent question “what about staff time?” That caused some obvious discomfort in both Abed and City Staff—turns out there is no computation as to how much time is actually spent by staff on this proposal.

Joanne Tenney also felt there would be too much power given to the City Council. Mark Skok asked why go to the time and expense of putting this Charter on the ballot again after the voters had said no. He referred the Council to the City of La Mirada who had determined that there was no economic advantage to becoming a Charter City. Laura Kohl said there had been no groundswell to revisit the Charter question, when they felt no impetus to revisit the closing of the library. Clarke Dailey asked why now? Why this Charter? And noted this was a bad Charter. He received considerable applause. Abed allowed that one applause was OK.

The public having spoken, the Council had its turn. Councilman Mike Morasco had summed up the public comments as a series of questions to the staff. The staff was quick to assure the Council majority that the Charter would not (necessarily) mean the City could run up a deficit, change voting times, change competitive bidding, etc. Councilwoman Olga Diaz asked that before the next public hearing on the Charter, the city provide background information. The Council majority all agreed that the fears voiced by the public were groundless. Masson went so far as to state that anything that was not specifically specified in the Charter, would be covered by state law.

Then something very unusual happened. Abed opened up the public discussion again. First he recognized William Nava, who had become so irritated during the discussion that he had yelled at the Council. Nava repeated the argument that the Charter had been voted down in 2012. Then Abed recognized Borchmann who deferred to Mues. Mues, read from the League of California Cities website¬¬–noting that they all agreed this was a good website, noting that anything that was deemed a municipal affair, as opposed to a state affair, could be legislated by the council of a charter city. City Attorney, Jeff Epp, actually agreed with Mues—but, of course, that would never happen with this Council. They would never change the date of elections, etc.

The last public speaker, Dan Robertson (sp?) noted that the reopening of the public discussion was the most productive part of any of the Council meeting he had ever attended. Diaz agreed. So do I.

So, the Council majority argues that the Charter will give them local control—but really no more control as a Council than they now have. One wonders why? As others have observed, the obvious answer is to bring out their base to the polls. They will advertise this as a way to get out from under the evil, Democratic state control. They will advertise it will be a blow against unions.

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12 thoughts on “Charter Stuff

  1. Kent Smith

    Hi Margaret, My, but you are prolific…still it’s hard to imagine you being startled by anything going on in that chamber. Sure enjoy your writing, I can imagine what things are like in there thanks to your graphic descriptions. Hope my comments never rub you wrong… Sincerely, Kent Smith

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  2. Katherine Fromm

    I felt the comment by William Nava that Blacks didn’t marry was not
    an appropriate way to plead for the city council to rescind their support of border patrol tactics. Minorities in a city which is actively castigating the deprived should not pick on another minority. It was not a good
    argument to says that a population will provide more children, given that Blacks don’t marry. That argument did not make me less likely
    to support the cause for which these people filed into the meeting
    and voiced their opinions. But I do not like such tactics, and I would
    advise such a group NOT to do it again.

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  3. Frank Woolridge

    Ambassador Julian Nava did not state that “Blacks didn’t marry”; he stated that “Blacks
    tend not to marry” which is an accepted fact by most academics. It is sometimes necessary to state facts that may be upsetting to some people in order to support an important principle.
    Stating a fact is not picking on the minority. Especially this fact is not picking on a minority. There is a definite trend in most of Europe for couples not to marry. The present President of France has never been married but had a long relationship with a woman with whom he raised 3 or 4 children. Our American society needs to be aware and accept more facts in order to have good government policies.

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  4. mmliles Post author

    I am sorry that I heard Mr. Nava’s name incorrectly. However I find his argument that population must increase to support the economy still troubling. Having fewer children is a good thing. Overpopulation is a fact. I agree with you entirely, that good government policy must be based on facts–not patriarchal mythology. Good government policies would include free access to family planning.

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  5. Frank Woolridge

    Ambassador Nava was clearly referring only to the U.S. population. I agree that world
    overpopulation is a fact and suspect that Ambassador Nava would also agree. I also agree that good government policies would include free access to family planning. One cause of the overpopulation is the dogma of some religions that birth control is against the will of God; this results in overpopulation in many areas of the world.

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  6. mmliles Post author

    With only about five percent of the world’s population, the citizens of the USA use about twenty-five percent of its resources. It’s not just the number of people, it’s the amount of resources used. Overpopulation is one problem that contributes to the amount of resources used–the amount used by each of us is inseparable from that problem. Again, I object to Nava’s argument that the USA must increase its population in order to have a healthy economy. Untrue. Italy has increased it GDP fifty times in the last half of the twentieth century, its population (mainly Catholic–supposedly forbidden to use birth control) has remained stable. The key to saving the earth is to have sustainable economies, that thrive with stable or declining populations.

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  7. Frank Woolridge

    Nava did NOT make any argument that the USA must increase its population in order to have
    a healthy economy. In fact, the only time he mentioned the word “population” he stated
    “hispanics are the working population”. He was simply stated that, according to scholars,
    the USA needs immigration. The fact that Italy, a tiny fraction of the Catholic population
    of the world has managed to remain stable does not address the world overpopulation
    which has approximately one billion Catholics.

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    1. mmliles Post author

      Actually that Nava’s point entirely–that the USA needs Latinos to increase the work force. There would be no other way to interpret his statement. France, Spain, Portugal, Austria are all very Catholic countries. Very Catholic Mexico has a very moderate birthrate now.

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  8. Sid

    The discussion of increasing population/declining resources is interesting. Especially so in light of published statistics suggesting that our nations’ birth rate is too low to maintain America’s Anglo – Christian culture. Immigration, legal and otherwise, is filling the gap producing population growth, fueling stress upon all national resources. Do those trends along with worrisome trends in public education and declining real incomes suggest to you the US might eventually become a third world country?

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    1. mmliles Post author

      Overpopulation is not a national problem, it is a global problem. If we do not stabilize population, the entire world will become impoverished below third world standards. Our planet has undergone five major extinction events–the last time when the dinosaurs were done in by a meteor encounter. We are now in the sixth major extinction event, caused by the use of too many resources by too many people. If we wish to maintain any sort of quality of life on this planet, we need to stabilize global population now.

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        1. mmliles Post author

          Of course not. Simply make birth control methods available to women and they will use them–regardless of education, regardless of wealth, regardless of culture, regardless of religion. Martha Campbell’s (U.C. Berkeley) study demonstrates this thoroughly. Jared Diamond has noted that all island civilizations, that have survived, had a method of birth control.

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