McCarthyism in San Clemente?

San Clemente still embroiled – You’re a Jerk, and I’m not

In response to Jim Cogan’s letter, (San Clemente Times, Vol.3, Issue 45, Nov. 6-12, 2008)
Mr. Cogan is a wonderful writer. His eloquent, articulate and image-evoking pen is no doubt the reason he is so revered. Writing style aside, his robust command in communicating a message is equaled by few, particularly in the hack-ridden “letter to the editor” arena. I may not always agree with his position, but I delight in his wit and rhetoric.

Comparing Rick Collins effort to enlighten San Clemente to McCarthyism however, is farfetched. The tactics may bear similarity, but certainly not the motivation. A recent newspaper article publishing an email thread proving councilman Wayne Eggleston was less interested in due process than a business owner’s rights was reason enough to question his integrity.

Planning commissioner Brenda Miller, a fervent Charles Mann supporter and intimately involved in the anti-measure C effort and Mann campaign, exercising illegal behavior could be seen as an example of corruption and cronyism. The Mann campaign website proudly displays an image of Mann and Eggleston smiling near the Marine monument in the pier bowl. Mr. Mann’s attempts to mislead the residents of San Clemente on the measure C ballot arguments were well documented.

The problem was that the Pacific Golf rezoning issue made Charles Mann a rockstar. Save San Clemente Open Space, (Mann, Jim Smith and Gary Hopp) set up a perfect Davy and Goliath scenario and Pacific fell full-force into the trap. I mean how hard is it to vilify a “Los Angeles” developer. That said, it was important to loosen the foundation of what could be perceived as a collusive power grab in city hall. The only way to broadcast that message effectively was with a broad stroke in a grand gesture. That’s precisely what Mr. Collins did. You may not agree with Mr. Collin’s but there is truth in what he says, and if at the very least it leads you to pay closer attention to what takes place at 100 Avenida Presidio, it was worth it. Sorry Mr. Cogan for the poor grammar.

San Clemente: Congratulations Bob, Jim and North Beach

The highly emotional, and sometimes controversial November 2008 elections in our Spanish Village by the Sea are behind us, FINALLY!

City council incumbent Jim Dahl and newcomer Bob Baker narrowly beat Steve Knoblock to nab two city council seats.  Measure W (North Beach Project) was approved by 53.4% of the vote.  Measure V (open space initiative) was a clear winner.

This political season was once again rife with vehement disagreement and biting criticism.  Opposing sides accusing each other of deception and fact distortion.  Apparently it’s not enough to simply disagree on an issue in today’s political climate and sort things out with intelligent thoughtful debate.  One group here in San Clemente finds it necessary to exaggerate certain aspects of an issue, and when that doesn’t work, they simply use their own math and spend tens of thousands of dollars to saturate the landscape with their skewed message of divisiveness.  Self-proclaimed defenders of posterity, employing questionable tactics in an exercise of ruthlessness.

One Notable event this cycle includes Save San Clemente Open Space stalwart and planning commissioner Brenda Miller being popped for illegally removing anti-Mann/Baker signs.  Ms. Miller was a fervent opponent to Measure C and intrinsically involved the Save San Clemente Open Space activities with Charles Mann.  Obviously, Ms. Miller was also involved with Charles Mann’s bid for a seat on the city council.  I remember Ms. Miller from the referendum petition drive in the summer of 2007 and a wave of suspicion washed over me upon learning that she had been chosen to be a planning commissioner for the city. Her recent actions in the removal of legally placed campaign signs is unacceptable and her next official move should be resignation of her position.  It would be the honorable thing to do, however honor is an unpracticed trait in the crowd she runs with.

Poor grammar aside, my heartfelt congratulations to Barack Obama, and the democrats, Jim Dahl, Bob Baker and the supporters of Measure W.  My intentional omission of Measure V is predicated on the opinion that the spirit behind it was purely for campaign purposes.  This assertion is supported by the actual text of the measure itself.  Upon close inspection of the document there is overwhelming evidence that it simply has no teeth, no current application and most likely will be shelved and forgotten.

Residents First?

Are the residents really first? or is it just another political slogan?

Can Mann be trusted?
Can Mann be trusted?

City council candidates Charles Mann and Bob Baker regularly reference their participation in Save San Clemente Open Space (SSCOS), a group formed to stop the rezoning of 50.5 acres at Pacific Golf and Country Club. Candidate Mann is a founder of SSCOS, however Mr. Baker originally was a supporter of Pacific’s plan to convert 9-holes of private recreational open space into 224 single family homes and Golf Villas.   Actually each of the founding members of SSCOS signed petitions in support of the project initially.  One of the SSCOS founders (a real estate developer) even demanded right of refusal on two lots or houses.  When contemplating casting a vote for someone to represent my best interests as a resident of San Clemente, I’ll consider those who come closest to my views on civic issues.  But first I need as best as possible to develop a level of trust for that individual, which includes gaining a sense about one’s ethics, honesty and overall character.  On the national level we have a plethora of media reports as well as sites like factcheck.org and snopes.com to monitor the veracity of statements made by the candidates, and stories or accusations related to them. On the local level it’s more difficult to determine who to trust.

The deception employed by SSCOS was addressed when Judge Warren Siegel ordered Mr. Mann to modify the language in 12 of 13 points in the arguments against Measure C he submitted to be included on the Feb. 5th ballot.  Judge Siegel ruled that the text was “false and misleading”.  However Mr. Mann, in Orwellian political doublespeak, claimed a victory.  Two examples of unethical behavior from SSCOS include:

A founder of SSCOS attended and spoke at the emotionally charged Talega parents meeting regarding the Capistrano Unified School District boundary changes in Dec. 2007.  He told the parents that if Measure C passed, their children would have less chance of attending their neighborhood school, Vista Del Mar, because the proposed development fell within Vista Del Mar’s boundaries.  The allegation was false, children from the proposed development would’ve been slated to attend Clarence Lobo, and the man speaking was not a parent of school age children, nor a resident of Talega. An obvious use of deceptive tactics to take advantage of San Clemente resident’s emotions.

The superintendent at Pacific and his wife were enthusiastically involved in the attempt to educate residents during the referendum petition drive in the summer of 2007.  A neighbor and close friend was approached by an SSCOS founder as she left Wal-Mart and aggressively encouraged to sign the petition.  When the neighbor refused, citing her friendship with the couple, the man lied saying that the wife had already signed and the superintendent wanted to, but would be fired if he did. The neighbor knew better and left.

Switched positions mid-game
Switched positions mid-game

These two examples of questionable ethics were not isolated events, in fact they illustrate the standard operating procedure of the organization that candidate Mann lead.  Mr. Mann continues to mislead residents in his statements regarding Measure W.  Is this the behavior of a candidate you can trust?

Lastly, I am saddened when viewing the images of our wounded brave men and women of military who are risking their lives to give you the opportunity to choose this November.  But I am enraged at the dishonor shown these protectors of our quality of life by those who disregard integrity and choose to manipulate the masses for their own self-serving agendas. Please choose wisely in November.

David Kelsen,

Former Director of Food & Beverage

Pacific Golf and Country Club

There’s an “I” in San Clemente

“The leaders spoke in warped, vicious hatred that disregarded the truth almost completely, while the majority of the ‘common folks’ who agreed spoke out of ignorance warped by the ravings of their leaders”. -W. Eugene Smith.

The action of the movement residents of San Clemente are currently witnessing is positive. The empowerment of the constituency really is the motivation behind the composition of our constitution. The intentions fueling the energy behind the popular political positions we’ve faced these last six months have been innocent, powerful, yet directed. Directed and manipulated by the leaders of each of these seperate conspiratorial factions. There was a pact, an alliance born out of a desire to win. A need to win above all else. Above truth, above fair-play, above common-sense, above everything. Vicious charges? Maybe. A team of volunteers on one side of an issue scour the city and illegally remove the legally placed signs of the opposition. “Merely playing the game” is a response I’m given. Although that game could result in negative legal repercussions. Words disquised as informational material are strung together to emphasize perspective, instead of educate. Opinion is counted as fact, and defended. I don’t believe our founding fathers intended decisions to be made by one insulated, independent head supported by a recruited band of ignorants, or the mal-informed, but they most likely suspected something of the sort would occur. And it has. We are so busy with our busy lives that we don’t read the too far past the headline. And we’re so weak, that if all our friends have been converted, we follow along to remain part of the group. Regardless of how we feel on the issue, regardless of how it effects the community as a whole. That’s not true of everyone, but you know someone where that applies. So what do we do? Just give up like the Game 6 Lakers? No, we move on. As a community we will benefit from the participation and engagement of our citizenry in the operation and direction of our city, but it is a double-edged sword. If there is a passion to involve oneself in a cause, nurture the passion with knowledge. Don’t turn a blind eye or dismiss the ill behavior of those with authority in your group, because you are then an accessory. We can build a path together, where honest debate and respectful disagreement can actually enormously enhance our returns, or we can follow the herd right off the edge of the cliff. Questioning authority is not contemptuous. But taking action without understanding is.

POSTSCRIPT

Amazing ride. Protagonists, antagonists, passion, hostility, clandestine operations, derision, deception, “Spins”, petitions, court rulings, and finally a controversial ballot measure where 50% of the voters in the city participated in a Primary election. Any pollster will tell you that is a high percentage for any election, but particularly so for a primary. Ultimately there was a victor and the defeated. In the case of Measure C, San Clemente, what does the victory mean? You saved open space? You prevented traffic congestion? Maybe, maybe not. I wish that for just one election people would actually read up on an issue and not just the signs along the side of the road. A victory for the NO’s here means that the patch of dirt on Vista Hermosa/La Pata will remain so for many years to come, that a new Senior Center will not be built anytime in the near future, nor the wall necessary to complete the new fire station. Parents will still have to drive their sports playing children to Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano because the city they live in won’t accomodate them. We’ll stay the same, stagnant. We will have Charles Mann’s favorite nine-holes. Unless of course the club closes. Hooray.

Counter-Productive

Lie to me. Persuade me to fight your fight.  I’ve waited my whole life to save 9-holes of a private golf course.  I’m passionate about being used.  You know I only read the headlines.  Your seductive catch-phrases and hooks have my complete attention, today.  The facts aren’t important as long as we look good right now.  Our children/grandchildren will celebrate our vapidity/shallowness.  After all, we look good right now.  Follow the herd.  Always follow the herd.  Good.

YES ON MEASURE C

YES ON MEASURE C, SAN CLEMENTE

The faux-environmental group, “Save San Clemente Open Space”, blatantly misleads the residents of San Clemente by gathering their signatures on the premise that the voters should decide the fate of “Open Space”. Then when they get the opportunity to have the residents actually vote on the issue, they turn around and plead with the City Council to have them repeal their approval of the project. Thereby taking the vote away from the residents. The very tool they used to get us to sign in the first place.

This is a remix of an earlier clip, the sound is cleaned up a little and the correct logos are inserted at the end.
[flashvideo filename=http://www.flatheadenterprises.com/streams/yesOnMeasureC.flv width=”450″ height=”366″ /]

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

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