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

San Clemente: Yes on Measure W

The Miramar theater
The Miramar theater

I’ve been staring at the embarrassing, dilapidated, health hazard we call the Miramar theater for several years now in the hopes that someone would either burn it down or blow it up. But then along comes The Lab. My first experience with the Lab was the Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa. The architectural design is artistic and smart, but besides that, there weren’t any mega-monopolistic corporate chains within smelling distance and the atmosphere was cool and relaxed. Upon initial earfull that the Lab was doing North Beach I immediately gained a historical perspective. Well that’s not true, but it did suddenly justify not decimating the Miramar. Why? Parking. You can wax nostalgic all day long, but if there’s no place to park, nobody’s coming. The passing of measure W validates the idea of a Miramar renovation. If you are a Miramar supporter, but against Measure W, then you are contradictory and therefore irrelevant.

Dave Kelsen
San Clemente Resident