Mia culpa.

The city’s statement on this indicates that the trees were disrupting the concrete around them. The site of those beautiful trees being cut down enraged me, and I overreacted. I have never claimed to be a journalist, but I do try to be factual. I was wrong in my conclusions about this instance.


Trees make a mess? Cut them down!


So, I was accused of being mental because I reacted (OK overreacted) to the cutting down the trees around the fountain at Escondido City Hall. Now, I’ve attended most of the city council meetings during the last year, and I do not remember, ever, any discussion of removing those trees. And I do remember times when the cones of those Podocarpus were underfoot and making stains on the sidewalk. But a danger to the public? Couldn’t the sidewalks be swept daily during the month or so they drop their cones for less than the cost of removing the perfectly healthy, robust trees? Trees that shade the fountain and absorb carbon dioxide?

Now, according to John Masson, those trees were removed due to the request of the city staff for “maintenance and safety”. Somehow, this, to me, represented the general attitude of the current city council and their reaction to anything that would enhance the environment or art or culture. Cut them down. They’re making a mess! Close the library, it costs too much money, and it mainly only serves brown people. And our voters don’t like brown people—who speak Spanish. Outsource the library—the library staff cost too much money, and we can hire two people to help out our buddy the City Manager, ex-City Attorney Jeff Epp by hiring two more people in his department. Never mind that he is already highly paid. https://www.californiacitynews.org/2016/07/californias-top-paid-city-managers.html

The city has outsourced the maintenance of its parks, to its detriment. I remember when my son played soccer 30 year ago in Kit Carson Park. It was lovely. The city cared about its parks. Now they’re a mess. I remember when going to the library was a pleasure, where people could relax and study.  The library has lost over 200 years of library experience. I mentioned that to Councilman John Masson, and he shrugged his shoulders. Had I told him the city had lost 200 years of police experience, he would have reacted with alarm. That’s the current city council’s blighted values. They seem to have forgotten the truth that was realized in the 19th Century, that schools are cheaper than jails. They are all for removing graffiti without addressing the underlying cause of graffiti. They are penny wise and pound foolish.

Mayor Sam Abed has a business called Pacific West Consulting that “specializes in how to describe a project to elected officials and the media.” http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sdut-escondido-mayor-launches-consulting-firm-2013mar02-story.html  He see no conflict of interest. He finds no problem accepting contributions from developers and then voting for their projects. It is all perfectly legal, but moral?

Children love the fountain at the Escondido City Hall. The trees provided shade over that fountain. The majority of children playing there are brown. Masson said the decision to cut down the trees was driven by staff. Maybe, but a staff employed by a mayor and city council who have often voted to make life more difficult for brown people who also speak Spanish. Those who are anti-immigrant, who support the current council majority, don’t differentiate between immigrants with green cards and those undocumented. I have observed their behavior. They object to brown people speaking Spanish. Those are the people to whom  Abed et al. want to appeal. That’s why they join with Trump’s suit against California’s SB 54—another boondoggle waste of city money. https://ablueviewescondido.com/2018/04/11/ego-hubris-and-the-curious-amicus-curiae/

That’s what is dividing Escondido, the good ole boy network that stirs up anti-immigrant passion to stay in office and continue their pay-to-play politics, and the rest of the city. Not to see this truth is what is “mental”.



Something you need to know about Mayor Sam Abed

I am posting, in its entirety, without any editing, the following article from the October/November issue of Alianza North County. This makes clear what many of us have known about Mayor Sam Abed for a long time. I am doing this with permission from the editor of Alianza North County.

My Meeting with Sam Abed


Wendy Wilson

October 9, 2018

Most people in Escondido are not required to meet with the mayor. I had to and was outraged. The following account is all from one meeting with Sam Abed. It gives you a good idea of who he is and what drives his policies.

As the local arts agency representative, my task was to present data about cultural tourism in Escondido and North County.

At the start of my meeting with Mayor Abed, he told me right off…My first priority as mayor is my personal finances.

I could not believe he said that out loud. The mayor’s priority was his own personal finances… Is he serious? Our tax dollars go to serve him?

A Vacant Building on Grand

Prior to this meeting, when I was operating the city’s art gallery, a fellow came in who said he was a friend of Councilmember Abed. He said Abed told him a hotel was coming to downtown Escondido, so he was going to buy the building where the city gallery was located, then triple the rent…so he could make a lot of money. Well, it turns out the city gallery, the gallery that belongs to all the citizens of Escondido, couldn’t pay the high rent Abed’s friend wanted, so it was forced out.

It turns out no one else could pay his rent either (three times the market rate). Thus, the building still sits vacant, as it has for the past eight years. This vacant building on Grand Avenue was brought to you by the man who is all about his own personal finances.

Does not believe in public education or public libraries

More shocking statements from the meeting: Abed said, I don’t believe the government should sponsor public education or libraries.

Again, I was shocked by what I was hearing. Whoa…he doesn’t believe in public education? The government should not fund public education? Why? Isn’t this a really fundamental thing and a basic tenet of American democracy? In what century is this guy living? Does he only want certain people to have education or access to education?

It seems Abed’s philosophy is in direct conflict with what Horace Mann, the father of public education believed, and what most Americans believe: Mann hoped that by bringing all children of all classes together, they could have a common learning experience. This would also give an opportunity to the less fortunate to advance in the social scale and education would “equalize the conditions of men.” Moreover, it was viewed also as a road to social advancement by the early labor movement and as a goal of having common schools.

Luckily, as mayor of Escondido, Sam Abed has not been able to close our public schools, but the library in an economically depressed part of town was permanently closed.
(Editor’s note: This piece was written before the Escondido Library was privatized.)

Opposed to Women in the Workplace

Another quote from Abed…I don’t think women should work.

I could not believe it. He had just been elected mayor and seemed almost high on power. I don’t know why he chose to tell me that. Was I supposed to be intimidated? It was not a surprise to me (after this meeting) when the mayor took office and got rid of the two high-ranking females at the City. He also immediately cut funding for female run non-profits in the city providing services to the community.

Despite Abed’s opinion, it has been illegal to discriminate against a person because of their gender for several years now. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

As an aside, if you have been the subject of discrimination by people like Abed you might be interested in reading a speech by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard which raised the issues of “sexism and misogyny” in a government. She also started the Global Partnership for Education Institute, which offers advice on how women and girls can overcome discrimination based on Gillard’s own experiences of gender discrimination. Gillard was the first and, to date, only woman to hold the positions of Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister, and leader of a major party in Australia.

Open Space and “Nature” are not a priority

During this first meeting, Abed continued to talk about his dislike of “open space.” If you see him, please ask Mayor Abed about “nature” or “open space.” It will be an eye opener, especially in North County where we love our vistas, vegetables, farming, lagoons and trails. He also rambled on about federal programs that he doesn’t have any say over, but he wants a say.

In case you were wondering where all the funds from these cuts would go…he didn’t mention returning money to taxpayers for all of the services he wanted to cut or has cut. In fact, he gave himself a raise soon after this meeting.

What “spending on the arts” really means

Before I moved away from Escondido, I heard Abed tell a large group of people that he spent more money on the arts than any other mayor in North County. Just to clarify: the city is required to maintain the Center for the Arts, meaning they must fix the plumbing and pay the utility bills and such. He views this as “art support.”

On the contrary, this is just a contract Mayor Abed cannot legally break. This is not “support” for the arts but merely building upkeep. Among his arts funding offenses, Abed refused to match National Endowment for the Arts funding for arts programs and artists in the city as well as cutting all funding for the Local Arts Agency and Municipal Gallery.

As mayor of Escondido Sam Abed has additionally reduced funding having to do with preserving the history of our region, arts and culture, job resource programs for high school students, as well as community services and education programs for children and seniors.

I think and “feel”(as he likes to say) that he is a terrible representative of anyone but himself.

Wendy Wilson is the past Director of the Escondido Arts Partnership, Escondido Municipal Gallery. She is the past curator of Niki de Saint Phalle, Mythical California and Contemporary Constructions, Matthew & Iris Strauss Family Foundation.


Mind Boggling Event

Today was another absolutely mind boggling day for me. There have been many since the beginning of the Trump phenomena. On a Facebook group, I posted a picture of the front door of the Republican Party on Grand Ave. in Escondido with the comment that it reflected Republican attitude. Somehow I found the image amusing. To me, the welcome with the caveat that people were not welcome to use the restrooms was a self-apparent reflection of Republican disdain of people who were not “good enough”. What followed was an eruption of condemnation that I was totally unprepared for—but probably should have been. It is still amazing to me that people cannot see the Republican hypocrisy that is so evident to me.IMG_4316 (1)

Several people simply didn’t “get it”. They went into diatribes about how the public using restrooms in businesses was something that was often not allowed by signs. The entire conversation then disintegrated into something that the first critic of the photo railed against—partisan bickering. Well it did, and I am guilty. It was truly not my intent.

I was just as taken aback in July when a man, I greatly respect asked:

A hypothetical question to Trump uber critics. It is an honest non-rhetorical question searching for an honest answer: In our nation’s glorious past, there’s always been a “loyal opposition” to the POTUS holding office and his party. For the most part — with some exceptions over the years — the opposition has usually been civil, respectful to some degree to the person in office and directed at his policies and record, not him personally. Lemme restate there have been exceptions (JFK, Reagan, Bush43, Obama) but nothing anywhere the level of shrieking and even the hysteria against the current president. The hypothetical question is this: In a post-Trump era, will this level of incivility, savagery, and disinformation become the norm in future oppostion strategies? Will opposition parties return to some level of political normalcy in the future or will we continue to shriek, persecute our opponent’s supporters and maintain the societal and political grand canyon we’re carved out in our nation? As much as I pray that somehow we could do so now, I’m asking the question to see if these behaviors will be added to poltical tool kits against future administrations. Thoughts and please let’s keep the posts civil and even thoughtful.

I was astounded. This was after the Helsinki conference in which Trump basically sided with Putin against the FBI. I did not respond, but I will now.

As a proud “uber critic” of Trump I will say that this is not an unprecedented level of “shrieking and hysteria”. I remember going to a town hall meeting in 2009, hosted by Darell Issa. I wrote a letter to the Times Advocate at the time stating:

After attending the farce of a “town hall” meeting organized by Congressman Issa and the right wing radio host Rick Roberts  (760 AM, the same radio station that broadcasts the delusional Glenn Beck, who called President Obama a racist,) I was losing hope. Racism was rampant. A man behind me insisted we could clear out the prisons by sending home the illegal aliens. A blond beside me muttered as we were rising for the Pledge of Allegiance, that we’d better hurry “before they take away our flag.” During that Pledge the crowd loudly emphasized the words “under God,” suggesting agnostics like me weren’t good Americans. I’ll match my patriotism to the man who claimed to be a “domestic terrorist” any day. Issa did not reprimand that man; rather, he reprimanded patriots like me who booed.

Congressman Issa, when talking about the deficit, seemed to say “Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again…” It was like being in a room filled with 1,500 Archie Bunkers—couldn’t wait to get home to wash off the excrescence.

The hatred of the Tea Party members towards Obama at the time seems as vicious as what I’ve observed against Trump. The difference is that now, a substantial part of the population is objecting to the incompetent, ignorant, buffoon now in office.

While he was running for president making ridiculous statements, I continued to think, time and again, that what he just said would be enough to end what seemed a charade of a campaign. I couldn’t believe anyone would take him seriously after his first incendiary speech upon announcing his candidacy, in which he branded Mexican immigrants as rapists, drug traffickers and “some…good people”.  This outrage was followed by “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.” I thought he would appall the voters when he belittled John McCain’s service saying “[h]e’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?” Then there was his outrageous comment about Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”And then there was his statement about his supporter, I now believe is probably true:  I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/the-155-craziest-things-trump-said-this-cycle-214420

I summarized my objection in a former blog: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/11/16/horrified-terrified-and-angry/

But nothing seems to move Trump’s supporters. His extreme behavior seem impervious to reason. I am continually astounded and surprised. Today, the New York Times has exposed his outrageous financial crimes and tax avoidance. Will this finally be the straw that breaks the back of the Republican true believers in this American Mussolini?




A correction:

In my last post I said Abed referred to the 2000 units in the parking lot area–that was incorrect. He was referring to the downtown area, not the parking lot, where  only 100 or so units are planned.

Some Observations about the Mayoral Forum

Except for the 45-minute late appearance of a candidate for the 2nd District Escondido City Council Seat, there were no surprises at the September 25th forum held the First United Methodist Church.

The forum started with the mayoral candidates, Paul McNamara and Sam Abed. McNamara thanked the church for hosting the event and stated his belief that the city’s potential was not being reached, and that it was known as “for lease Escondido”. Abed chided McNamara for tearing the city down—the city was excellent, and he had no idea what McNamara was talking about.  Abed made his usual boast that $2 billion had been invested in the city. Well, not sure where that $2 billion was spent—but it definitely wasn’t spent on Grand Ave, where 356 – 340, 249, 141, and 101 East Grand, and 101, 102-106, and 138-142 West Grand are all available for lease. http://www.loopnet.com/california/escondido_retail-space-for-lease/. With the proposed building and (at least temporary) loss of Parking Lot 1 across from the City Hall, the number of Grand Ave. vacancies will probably snowball  Abed boasted that “over 2,000 new businesses”, and “over 1500 new jobs” had been brought to Escondido. So, evidently, quite a few very small businesses. The only expansion of businesses I’ve noticed seems to be that of coffee houses—not exactly a font of high-income jobs.

When asked about the homelessness problem, McNamara observed that there could be no one size fits all solution, noting that the police were at the forefront of handling the problem. He advocated partnering with faith groups. Abed agreed that it was a complex problem, then went into to his usual “blame the state” game saying that recent laws had released hundreds of thousands from prison, thus the increase in the homeless population, as usual offering no data to support his premise.

The sale of the city’s parking lot was the next question. Abed insisted that nothing had been decided. Well, actually, the city has entered escrow on the sale of that property for “fair market value.” The decision to add 2,000 units where the parking lot was, was approved by the public when they approved the new general plan in the November, 2012 election Abed insisted. McNamara noted that Abed was again not listening to the people in Escondido, and he would stop the project if possible—arguing that what was needed was more parking, not less.

McNamara felt that the city should reopen a library in the East Valley Pkwy area, and did not think that outsourcing the library services was a good idea. Abed again insisted that the city had to outsource the library services to save $400 K a year in library expense and $10 million over ten years in pension expense. Of course during the period the city outsourced the library the city also hired new people in the city manager’s office, as well as hiring someone to oversee the city’s recreational and library services, making that $400 K savings very debatable.

Abed insisted that developers have to mitigate for any traffic impact their developments bring—yes, all of us who have lived in Southern California for more than a few years know how well that works out, not! McNamara noted that Abed and his colleagues had wanted to use the city’s parks to develop waterparks or bike racing parks—talk about traffic increase!

McNamara cited the success he had on the Palomar College Board in seeking other revenue sources to help solve the threatening pension deficit problem. Abed noted that he had been able to get the city employees to agree to the minimum pension benefits allowed under California law.

Both candidates agreed that housing was too expensive.

Abed railed against SB54, and how the city police cooperation of ICE had deported 2,700 illegal immigrant criminals. McNamara noted that SB54 did on prohibit cooperation with ICE on immigrants who had committed one of 800 crimes. Left unsaid was the lack of trust by the immigrant population that may very well lead to unreported crimes.

When asked to describe a time when they were able to bring a group of diverse people together, McNamara spoke of responding to 9/11 while an officer in the Marine Corps. Abed spoke of how much he and other businessmen on East Valley Pkwy. were able to improve the area.

Abed got a bit defensive when asked if public officials should profit from city business. He avowed he and his colleagues always abstained from any decision where they had a conflict of interest—to say otherwise was simply political grandstanding. McNamara answered with a simple “no”. There should never be any suggestion of a “pay to play” situation.

McNamara said that the solution to gang problems had to include looking at what caused the problem. He felt the police did not get enough credit for what they did. People should be given an alternative to gang life, many joined gangs because they felt they did not belong anywhere else. Abed felt illegal immigration contributed to the problem.

In summing up, Abed said he was very proud of his record and the city was on the right track. McNamara said the city had enormous untapped potential, the downtown could become a thriving community. Its leaders must not continue to regard recreation as an unnecessary expense.

More on the City Council Forum in a few days.


I attended tonight’s forum for the mayoral and city council races at the First United Methodist Church in Escondido tonight, and will write my impressions of the event later this week. But tonight’s appearance by newcomer to the race for the councilmember for Escondido District Two, Nicole Downey, brought back memories I would like to share. I don’t know what John Masson ever did to Downey, but I don’t think she likes him very much. I wrote a piece that was published in the North County Times back in November of 2012 when Masson was first appointed to the City Council. The one who accused him of being drunk and jumping into a pool, naked, was Nicole Downey. She made similar accusations tonight. But this was one of my better efforts—would like to refer you to the original piece in the North County Times, but all the old issues of that paper were “disappeared” when the San Diego Union Tribune took over, and dissolved it. So here is my copy:

Except for the accusation that one applicant for the council seat vacated by Marie Waldron had once, while drunk at a party, stripped naked, flipped off his audience, and jumped into a swimming pool, things went pretty much as expected at Wednesday’s Escondido City Council meeting.

Fateful agenda item 13, “Discussion and possible action or appointment to fill council vacancy,”  began with statements from the applicants, even though Mayor Sam Abed and Councilman Mike Morasco preferred to get the bothersome comments from the public out of the way first.  Councilwoman Olga Diaz was able to point out the logic of starting with the applicants.

Their comments about their backgrounds, concerns, and views included: strengthening Escondido’s infrastructure, praise of the current Council, need to increase revenue, praise of the current Council, eligibility due to being a 10th generation American, praise of the current Council, view from a new resident, being a third generation Escondidan, praise of the current Council, and need for graffiti removal. Several had strong resumes, including the two favorites, John Masson, the anointed Chamber of Commerce candidate, and Don Greene, the third highest vote getter in the November election. But, I found the most compelling speaker to be someone who wasn’t a candidate, Miranda Griffith, who spoke for her mother, Carmen Miranda. I’d like to see Griffith on the City Council.

Then the public spoke. The speakers who pleaded for either a special election for filling Waldron’s seat or the appointment of Don Greene, were intermingled with the “suits” who spoke for John Masson. The one surprise was a comment from highly respected Escondido historian, Carol Rae, that perhaps the appointment of Don Green would balance the Council between the interests of the business community and ordinary citizens.

Mayor Abed quoted the laws giving the council the right to select Waldron’s replacement.

Diaz suggested that the law was the minimum of what the civic obligation of their council should be. She urged her colleagues to suspend their haste, glean the most eligible from the list of applicants, hold a public forum where these applicants could be questioned by Escondido’s citizens, and then decide.

Morasco smugly asserted that any vote for him was also a vote to fill Marie Waldron sainted seat with someone with her values. It was Marie Waldron who initiated Escondido’s infamous proposals to make landlords immigration agents, and to restrict parking in order to discourage extended (read Latino) families from occupying a single family houses.

Councilman Ed Gallo argued that never before had an appointed council member been the third highest vote getter. Diaz noted that mindless adherence to the past meant that there could never be change for the good.

Gallo moved to appoint Masson. Hearing no second, Abed seconded the motion. The motion carried with Diaz voting no. The good ole boys won again, but for how long? Latino citizens have begun to organize. The times they are a changing, and the good ole boys aren’t going to be ready.