MANN LIED – (submitted Dec.8th, 2007)

I’m going to shoot you in the face. I’m going to kiss you in the face. I only changed one word. Mr. and Mrs. Jones your daughter is dead. Mr. and Mrs. Jones your daughter is alive. Again, only changed one word. Charles Mann claiming victory after being ordered by Judge Warren Siegel to change 12 of 13 points in his “No on C” argument is ridiculous yet totally predictable. He and his golf buddies have been manipulating the media since they began their faux-environmental group in January of this year. This time they were called to the carpet and lost. How arrogant do you need to be to walk out of a courtroom after being handed your lunch and say you won? If you’re reading this, and you know Charles Mann, then you know what I’m talking about. Oh, by the way, Judge Siegel only changed one word in his ruling on 12 of 13 points, from innocent to guilty.

POLITICAL SELF PRESERVATION – (submitted April 8th,2007)

We all want to keep our jobs, right? And most of us, I would hope, have a desire to achieve beyond our current station in life. Sifting through the thousands of job-related decisions one makes each day, what percentage is truly for the good of the business and what percentage is completely self-serving? Maybe you don’t have a job like that. But if you’re a politician representing the city of San Clemente, you most certainly do. That specific consideration is waged on each and every decision you make. The question for you, as a political animal, is will the decision benefit the city more or benefit you more? Or, will it only benefit what you percieve as a positive political decision? At the March 20th, San Clemente City Council meeting I witnessed what I percieved to be political self-preservation at it’s clumsiest. Again, a predetermined G. Wayne Eggleston deliberated with image and image alone in mind. How else can you explain his reasons for voting against the rezoning of 7 acres of land from neighborhood commercial to residential. He stated that his two greatest concerns were;

a) the process in which the city undertook the project and

b) traffic.

a) It was made abundantly clear during the meeting that the process was standard protocol.

b) traffic,…Mr. Eggleston must have a very low opinion of his constituents intelligence, or as stated above, he only voted against the Amendment to make himself look good, or both. Who actually thinks that 135 units would dramatically affect traffic? Have you ever driven down Vista Hermosa? Have you ever been at the Vista Hermosa/La Pata intersection? As pointed out by Lori Donchek, the affected thoroughfares would retain “A” LOS (Level of Service) cIassifications. And at “A” classifications, motorists are able to regularly drive well above the posted speed limit. In a school zone, how safe is that? Mr. Eggleston shares some of the same charm and demographic as the late Liberace, and he has been equally successful in steering his following to support his agenda, but back to my original question; what percentage of the decisions are best for the city in which he serves and what percentage are solely for political self-preservation?

Jim’s Up To His Old Tricks Again – (SCTimes Mar. 22-28)

If you read the San Clemente Times “Letter to the Editor”(Mar.15-21, Vol. 2, issue 11) entitled “unplayable lies” by Jim Smith and you’re not a golfer, you didn’t get his attempt at being clever. Once again, just as with the flyers he and his clan littered your doorways and windshield wipers with, the half-truths and misleading statements came spewing forth like the projectile spittle of an onion-nosed, overzealous timeshare salesman. Mr. Smith stated that Pacific Golf has been open every day since July, 1988, and that one of the previous owners never filed for bankruptcy. Relevance please? Michael Rosenfeld didn’t file for bankruptcy either. But he did promise to keep the course open for the members, like Jim Smith who is a member, while he prepared a plan to make the club financially solvent. Mr. Smith stated that Golf Investment LLC does not own or operate any other golf courses. Golf Investment LLC is a limited liability company created specifically for Pacific Golf Club. The majority of the management team at Pacific has worked the better part of the last two decades for major “Golf Course Operators” and private golf clubs, mostly in California. Mr. Smith also has an LLC in which he operates just one business (which incidentally is not a golf course). Mr. Smith cited several clubs as examples of successful clubs he termed, “non-18 hole” business models. Of the courses he listed, all but two have hotels, homes, golf villas or condominium real estate attached. Only one has 27 holes, home of the Masters Tournament, Augusta National. If you visit his website, savesclopenspace.com, and read through the FAQ’s it becomes quite apparent that saving open space is not his objective. Hopefully, experienced golfers and all the citizens of San Clemente will recognize this ruse for what it is, a plain old lie.

Mr. Kettle? My name is Pot

Jim Smith’s recent letter (SC Times, Vol. 2, issue 40) alleges that Pacific Golf Club’s owner has begun a smear campaign and that “Personal attacks are bread ‘n’ butter favorites”. And if that were true, he would know. He and his group started their smear campaign and personal attacks months ago. He also alleges that general manager Shahin Vosough “tries to discredit an open space supporter”, as he himself attempts to discredit Mr. Vosough. He asserts that Mr. Vosough is trying to fool readers about the size of the boondoggle, while he tries to fool readers about the scope of the project. Confused? You should be. There is a boondoggle afoot, but it rests solidly on the shoulders the faux-environmentalist group “Save San Clemente Open Space”. If their name reflected their true motivation, it would read “Save Muirfield, My Favorite Nine Holes”, because that is the only open space issue they have ever addressed. Mr. Smith refers to the survey that was distributed to the membership as “highly flawed”, citing that the members were never told the land was zoned open space. So when Mr. Smith signed the questionnaire (in favor of the project, by the way) that stated, “I acknowledge that the property owner will be developing a portion of the property and agree to have my name added to a petition requesting the City of San Clemente to approve the rezoning of this land to allow for development”, what did he think? This whole debacle is yet one more instance of a small special interest group with enough money to make a big enough noise using the tried and true tactic of emphasizing imminent doom and pushing your emotional buttons. Don’t be fooled by a few selfish disgruntled golf members.

David Kelsen

Not Again (Sun Post News – 06/5/2007)

Isn’t ironic that the group “Save San San Clemente Open Space”, used a Cree Indian prophesy as a moniker on their webpage? And that co-founder Charles Mann would suggest at the March 6th City Council meeting that open space is a birthright? Mr. Mann wasn’t born in the United States. How do you think the Juaneno band of Mission Indians, San Clemente’s original denizens, would feel about that?

In response to a letter to the editor on April 19th, Jim Smith(SSCOS founder) took a statement out of context. When Mr. Rosenfeld said words to the effect of “we’re barely making it” he was referring to the margin on the project, not club operations. Club operations are solidly in the red.

About open space: “Open space” has become a technical term, a category, and it’s interpretive. The definition of Open Space in California Government Code Section 65560:(b) states that “Open-Space land” is any parcel or area of land or water, which is essentially unimproved… which this particular parcel of private property clearly is not. The open space that San Juan Capistrano is buying back is unimproved, natural habitat. Not a developed, graded, private golf course.

The fact is that this project, if approved, falls well below the number of residential units already allowed for in the San Clemente Specific Plan. The fact is, Talega, Rancho San Clemente and Forester Ranch built well below their original targets. The fact is that the predominant use of the property at Pacific Golf Club will remain the intact. Not to mention that the city stands to benefit substantially not only from the funding predetermined in the development agreement, but from the vital resource and integral element to our community resource that this club represents.

David Kelsen

I wish you would just die – (Sun Post – 6/24/2007)

The battle has become more important than the cause for the opponents of the Pacific Golf project. Sadly evidenced in this cryptic quote from a petitioner and directed at one of Pacific’s supporters.

You could minimize the intent by saying it was in the heat of the moment, but the truth is that this Pacific supporter was quietly standing near when the opponent in question stated coldly and deliberately, “I haven’t wished this on anyone, but I wish you would just die.” The two had never before met.

Other supporters of Pacific have been called “scumbags”, “cockroaches”, “paid thugs” and a myriad of similar defamations. Sheriffs have been called in, stories were fabricated in order to have supporters forcibly removed, all the while diverting the valuable attention of our law enforcement away from actual crimes possibly taking place and wasting more of our tax dollars.

Jim Smith, Save Open Space (SOS) organizer, was quoted in a Sun Post News article (Thurs. June 21, “Pacific Golf referendum drive heats up”) saying “the democratic process is really being strangled here”. I had always thought that democracy was about choice.

Is the act of offering more complete information, or more sides of an issue strangling democracy? I always thought it was a responsibility. Is he suggesting that democracy exists as long as the other side doesn’t fight back?

There have been a number of one-sided regimes in history, but my teachers had called those forms of government something else. Maybe Jim went to a different school than I did. While only slightly surprised, I am deeply ashamed of the behavior of these individuals. They are not a product of San Clemente’s new component in Talega and they are not outsiders.

Most of these opponents are well into their fifties and beyond, and purport to be long-time residents. Shame on you. And for the misguided few helping this disingenuious lot, read up on the facts, please. But don’t believe me, simply pay attention to these peoples behavior and what they are saying.

David Kelsen

GOOD DEED, BAD DEED (Sun Post- 4/10/2007)

(At the April 3rd, 2007 San Clemente City Council Meeting, Charles Mann produced a document that he claimed would legally prohibit any development at Pacific Golf Club)

Sabotage, false pretense, fact distortion, grand-standing. The group, “Save San Clemente Open Space”, really should change the name of their website to; www.savethebestnineholesatpacificnomatterwhowemanipulate.com. I submit to you that when Charles Mann said he couldn’t believe that the Pacific attorney had never seen the deed restriction, he knew full well that a quitclaim deed also existed. These are the tactics that this group has been using all along. They are not interested in saving open space, their only concern is saving 9-holes of a private golf course, and they don’t care who they use to achieve their objective. If they are so concerned about “open space”, then where were they on March 20th when the city council voted 4-1 to rezone seven acres of city owned land for residential development? There was a front page article in the Sun Post the day of that particular city council meeting. Surely someone must’ve seen it. Instead, they chose to unveil this latest bit of inconsequential pap at a time that they knew they could garner attention. If the lack of ethics that this group continually displays, and the slimy methods that they employ appeal to you, then by all means, support their cause. After all, as a resident of San Clemente who is not a member at Pacific, think of all you have to gain if the application is denied. For instance, you could go play golf at the club. Well, no, you have to be a member to be able to do that, besides, if the application is denied, Mr. Rosenfeld will close the club because it loses money every single day. Obviously, Mr. Mann and Mr. Smith think that Michael Rosenfeld should continue subsidizing their golf game. Oh, wait, I know…, deny the application so we have more “open space”. Well, actually, the real estate in question is private, so non-members are not allowed on the property, nor can it be seen from the street. Of course if the application is approved, part of the reconfiguration would allow for public trails to be built around the club connecting all the way down to the beach, for all of San Clemente to utilize, but let’s not get confused with the facts. Oh!, Oh!, traffic, that’s it, traffic. As if 300 units inhabited by mostly retired, or semi-retired amongst a community of several thousand family units in Talega, Rancho San Clemente and Forster Ranch would make any perceivable dent in day-to-day traffic. Please, where did common sense go? What percentage of the decisions affecting our city is based on political self-preservation as opposed to what is actually good for the city?

OPEN SPACE NOT THE ISSUE – Sun Post (3/8/2007)

How does it feel to be duped? It makes me kind of angry. The small group of Pacific Golf Club members who orchestrated this campaign against their own club are not interested in Open Space or Traffic. Their intentions are not honorable and their tactics are deplorable. Since when has saving a portion of a Private Golf Course become a noble cause? You’ll have to excuse me, I grew up in the sixties, and there weren’t too many crusades to save Private Golf Courses in those days. And I can promise you that a Private Golf Course was never referred to as “Sacred Open Space”, as it was on Tuesday night at the March 6th, City Council Meeting. The admitted assumption by this group, dare I say “special interest” group, is that the owner will be forced to sell the property back to the bank. Who will in turn sell it to a Golf Course Operator, who will continue to operate the club in its current 27-hole configuration. The assumption is that life will continue as usual, no crowded fairways, no waiting for tee-times, all the luxurious amenities that a Private Club member demands. And they have you, the homeowners in Rancho San Clemente to thank for it. So what do you, the homeowners in Rancho San Clemente receive in return? “O”, goose egg, squat. I’m sorry, you’re not a member, get off my property. Oh, you can see it from afar…well not really. The visual buffer that Council man Eggleston referred to in his prepared dissertation, doesn’t really apply unless they decide to build a housing development in the Dog Park, the Industrial Park or Camp Pendleton. By the way, I was under the impression that our elected officials were interested in what we, the public who voted for them, had to say. I was at the city council meeting, I watched as Wayne Eggleston sat and listened intently to the public hearing, holding his hands together in front of him the entire time by the tips of his fingers almost prayer-like in contemplation. But when he spoke at the end, he read from a prepared written statement. He hadn’t written anything down, save for a few quick notes all night. If you had millions of dollars riding on a vote, wouldn’t you be just a little upset that one of the votes was so predetermined that a multiple page dissertation had been prepared? I mean what’s the point?

They lied to us. They repeatedly told us the housing was high-density condos, but it was never that, public records back that up. They told us that this project would hurl us into gridlock, but the reports from the independent consultants the city hired and our own city traffic engineers indicate that that is far from the truth. They used slogans like “SAY GOODBYE TO THE BEACH” and “OUR CHILDREN ARE AT RISK”. They sent duplicates, triplicates and quadruples of letters and emails to the city council. Before the meeting got started they threatened the council with a lawsuit and a referendum. Less than an hour before the proceedings a 22-page document with attachments was received by the city attorney that was prepared by a law firm in L.A. to debunk the EIR, which the city attorney described as a ploy written by someone who wasn’t familiar with the area or the project. Of course the EIR was completed over a year ago, and there were public hearings, so there was ample time and opportunity to question it then, but that’s not very dramatic, that’s not very “Law & Order”. But don’t confuse me with the facts. The lesson here is that if you need to get something by the City Council, play dirty.

David Kelsen