A Question of Ignorance

So, another thing the City Council tried to sneak by on the consent calendar at their February 14, 2018 meeting was another $70K for the Reidy Creek Golf Course. Whoa, I’m jumping the gun a bit here. I just realized I didn’t mention in my last blog that the sixteen-year extension of Heritage Charter School’s lease was also on the consent calendar. Things on the consent calendar are usually voted on without discussion or debate. Consent calendar items can be pulled from the calendar by a Council member or by the public, so the item can be discussed and debated. Paul McNamara had pulled item ten about the Heritage lease. Patricia Borchmann pulled item five containing the increased funding for the Reidy Creek Golf Course. The item 5 was innocently entitled: Financial Report for Quarter ended December 31, 2017 and Budged Adjustment. Borchmann objected to this attempt to sneak the increased funding by the public.

Councilwoman Olga Diaz said that every time the expense of the golf course was more than anticipated. There never seemed to be an answer provided to the council about what to do about this problem. One golfer had complained to her that only one person was manning the golf course when he was there. She noted that J.C. Resorts (the company the city hired to run the course) ran several golf courses successfully, and held lots of tournaments. Was the city prohibiting such tournaments? Assistant City Manager Jay Petrek told her that neither the city or J.C. Resorts prohibited tournaments, but the small size of the clubhouse limited the range of such tournaments. He noted that there were always at least two or three employees on duty, but that they were working with the city to save money, and staff was the most expensive expense for the course. Deputy City Manager of Administrative Services, Sheryl Bennett, explained this year the tunnel under North Broadway on the course had been flooded, and that had significantly reduced business.

Diaz suggested that perhaps the city should look into getting another company to run the course. She wanted to read the city’s contract with J.C. Resorts.

City Manager Jeff Epp patronizingly explained to Diaz that the contract with J.C. Resorts had been approved by the city council, and it could be difficult for the city to dissolve. He pointed out the golf course did pay, in part, for the city’s debt service on the bonds the city had issued to pay for the course and the flood control basin, and if the course was closed, the city expenses would increase. He said he would be “more than happy” to let Diaz read the contract with L. C. Resorts, sarcastically adding that it was great reading.

Councilman Mike Morasco started his comments with “[i]gnorance is bliss!” I found his comments to be so uncalled for and rude to Diaz, that I had to go back to the video of this part of the meeting to rehear his statements as my anger distracted my attention for a few minutes. He used the golf course at least three times a month. He said there were always six employees, and he knew them all. They loved what they did, and were always very cordial. He knew that many coaches, teams and clubs used the course. It was an executive golf course, which meant it did not offer all the services of a full blown course. The flooding of the tunnel had discouraged regular customers, because they did not like to drive across Broadway.

Mayor Sam Abed accused Diaz of always picking on that golf course. The city had a $4 million recreational department—why didn’t she look at some of the other programs to save money?

The item was passed with the usual “four yes votes, Diaz voting no.”

I’ve written about this fiasco before. https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/04/05/beware-of-developers-bearing-gifts-of-golf-courses/

One thing that Bennett said caught my attention when she was explaining about the flooding, she said there were water table issues. Now just recently, the council approved the North Avenue Estates project, where the council was assured by the developer’s engineer that the additional drainage into the North Broadway area would not increase the water table level. (See: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2018/01/15/same-ole-crony-capitalism/ ) If the existing water retention basin is already so saturated it is flooding in the tunnel under Broadway, how can it handle additional runoff? The city reimbursed New Urban West for its costs in constructing this water basin, which doesn’t seem to be working effectively.

Many more people used the East Valley Pkwy branch of the Escondido Library than this golf course. Councilman Ed Gallo, Morasco, and Abed all voted to close that library. But, unlike many of the golfers, the users of that closed library were not part of the good ole boy network. To close that library and privatize the one remaining public library in Escondido, is an exercise in true ignorance—ignorance of the value of libraries and the value of an educated populace in maintaining a democracy.

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10 thoughts on “A Question of Ignorance

  1. blaisej92027

    Mr.Abed has no room to talk to anyone about “Always picking on” anything, given that “illegals (sic)” are Sam’s go-to explanation for every leadership shortcoming he has demonstrated in his years at the dais. Hypocrite!

    Blaise Jackson

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. SoCal Baker

    I really don’t get this obsession with the East Valley branch library. To close a golf course will cause blight especially since it was built to mitigate a flood zone but to close a commercial building is simple because you can always get a new tenet. As someone that lives on a closed golf course, ECC, I can say its not fun and I would rather have it open and loosing money than closed and attracting vagrants. Since Escondido is filled with NIMBY’s I would rather see Reidy Creek up and running than closed and be a blighted area since it will be next to impossible to build anything of real value in its place. Unlike the East Valley branch library at least Ready creek makes some money to help cover the cost; the Center for the Arts lost money for years but I don’t see you advocating for its closer. With all due respect, Escondido was ran into the ground and finally we have a city council that is really trying to clean up and improve our city unlike the previous city councils led by Jerry Harmon which did nothing about the prostitute motels, homeless invasion of Grape Day and the Gang bangers.

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    1. mmliles Post author

      If you don’t understand the value of a library, I doubt I can explain it to you. If the city had not made such a bum deal with New Urban West, and had made them put in a proper flood control, we would not be in this mess. In the 19th century people were smart enough to figure out that schools are cheaper than jails. Libraries are much cheaper than jails. There have been years when the golf course has not made enough to even cover its operating expense, much less the debt service. I am not advocating for the closure of the golf course so much as pointing out the poor priorities of this city council.

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      1. SoCal Baker

        I agree that the city is better off spending money on libraries and schools than a golf course thats why I support the potential bond mesure for the new Grape Day/ main library expansion. I think your energy should be focused on those things than to constantly harp on the past which is still a hang over from past councils like Harmon’s . I think Escondido should fund a free bus trolley from East Valley to the main library, so we can tie the city together and maximize the use of the main library, Arts Center, and Grand. We can have a great city if we just pull in the Sam direction and drop these petty squabbles. You have to admit that Haritage charter has improved the neighborhood more than the East Valley branch ever did not to mention all the kids that have benefited from a better school, just look at the test scores.

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        1. mmliles Post author

          Easy to have good test scores when you don’t have as many English learners. Look at their demographics. What would have improved that neighborhood much better than Heritage, would have been Hi-Tech Hi–a school that, unlike Heritage, emphasizes science including evolution. Personally, I think it would be much better to leave the library where it is, and enlarge it, and put more “park” in Grape Day park, as well as reopening a branch or two around town–and get it out of the hands of the profit motivated LSS. To have a great city we have to understand the demographics of the town–and that means getting anti-immigrant demagogues like Abed out of office.

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          1. SoCal Baker

            So to be clear you would rather have segregation than a unified city, separate but equal is your preference. I think a main library that all the citizens use is better than separate sub-libraries is the preferred policy to unify a city. New York City has Central Park and the main library which brings alll the citizens together, unless you think that not a good idea. Unification, in my humble opinion is always preferred and should be encouraged in order to make a city strong, unless you believe that separation and isolation is a better option?

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          2. mmliles Post author

            There is nothing in my comments that indicates I advocate segregation. Having a library closer to where you live is not being separatist. New York City has many public libraries. As noted in the CSUSM study, many students used that library that they could walk to after school. Are you saying that all of east Escondido is now Latino?

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          3. SoCal Baker

            I am pretty sure that I did mention race nor was I talking about race, perhaps you see things through a racial lens but that was not my intention. Escondido needs to unify around some common civic features, whether its the Art center or the Main Library or Grand, we need to connect the city so we won’t have an area of the city that feels overlooked or not included. I know you tend to view city politics and decisions based on class and race, but we would be better off ditching it and unifying. Look if Diaz and Masson can work together getting a bond passed to expand Grape Day park and a new larger Main Library at Grape Day than you know its a great idea. Lastly, as for the CSUSM student project survey, I question its rigor and since the students selected were based and assumptions not on a blind sample so I will take its findings with a grain of salt.

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          4. mmliles Post author

            You specifically spoke of segregation–that ‘s usually a reference to race and ethnic groups. I do not view city politics based on class and race, I view them on the crony capitalism of the good ole boy network that benefits the BIA and business, and leaves the rest of the citizens behind. I doubt very much that Diaz will work for this bond now that they have privatized the library. This council majority has repeatedly made life more difficult for poor people. Closing down the East Valley Pkwy library deprived many students and citizens of a safe place to study, or use computers–that’s a fact. Libraries add much more to a community than golf courses. Before you can unite the city, you have to get rid of the divisive council members who encourage the anti-immigration sentiments in the town.

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    2. Chris Nava

      Closure of the East Valley branch library produced a blight of its own – it created a quality of life vacuum for the many residents who live in that part of the city by depriving them of a valuable educational and community enriching resource. How can you compare a library which attendance records showed heavy use with a failing golf course that is nothing but a drain on the city budget?

      What priorities!

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